November marks the beginning of the holiday season in Toronto, making it a busy month for everyone getting ready for all the requisite shopping, party-hopping and gifting that goes with it. But if you’re looking for something to outside of all of your holiday-related to-dos, there are lots of options, from film festivals and Christmas markets. Here are 10 of the best things to do in November in Toronto.
2016 Home & Lifestyle Expo (November 4-6)
Head down to the Toronto Congress Centre November 4 to 6 for the Home and Lifestyle Expo to get everything you need to improve your home or tackle upcoming home projects. There will also be expert designers, decorators and planners on hand who can help with any home improvement or décor-related questions you might have. Shop for anything from household appliances and patio furniture, to carpet, tile, laminate and hardwood flooring.
Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival (November 4-12)
Started in 1993, the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival tackles issues surrounding mental illness and addition. It was the first film festival of its kind in the world and is currently the largest. The festival features work presented by both Canadian and international filmmakers. The goal is to present works that spark dialogue and break down myths and increase awareness surrounding addiction and mental illness. There will be 18 films in total shown at Revue Cinema, Art Gallery of Ontario and Workman Arts Theatre.
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (November 4-13)
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is back again with its array of things to see and do, from live entertainment and food, to agricultural competitions and horse show events. See some animals, sample some delicious food at the Love of Food Sampling Pavilion, check out a rodeo, see a culinary competition, or listen to some live music – just to name a few things you do during a visit. The Fair will also be hosting the Ontario Craft Beer Awards on November 4 and the Ontario Cider Awards on November 10.
Reel Asian International Film Festival (November 8-19)
Canada’s largest Asian film festival takes place November 8 to 19 and features films and videos by East, South and Southeast Asian artists in Canada, the U.S., Asia and all over the world. This year marks the 20th edition of the Reel Asian International Film Festival and films will be screened at venues in Toronto, North York and Richmond Hill. In addition to film screenings, the festival also includes parties, forums, workshops and galas.
Hot Docs Podcast Festival (November 18-20)
This year marks the very first for the Hot Docs Podcast Festival happening November 18 to 20 at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Podcasts can be a great way to pass the time on a long commute, they make us laugh, make us think and can teach us something new. Now you can see live episodes of your favourite podcasts presented on stage. Many of the award-winning podcasters who take to the stage will be presenting their podcasts live for the first time ever, or for the first time in Canada. Some to expect include Criminal, Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids, Sook-Yin Lee’s Sleepover, Mystery Show and Under the Influence with Terry O’Reilly.
Toronto Christmas Market (November 18-December 22)
Experience the magic of a traditional European Christmas market at Toronto’s own Christmas Market taking place once again at the historic Distillery District. The atmosphere is lively and festive and if you’re having any trouble getting into the holiday spirit, a visit to the market should have you feeling warm and fuzzy in no time. Sip a hot toddy in one of the beer gardens, browse and shop vendors selling crafts and ornaments, visit Santa’s house or a life size gingerbread house, listen to some live music and more during your visit. The Toronto Christmas market is free during the week and $6 on Saturdays and Sundays when it tends to be a lot busier.
Swedish Christmas Fair (November 19-20)
Get a taste for all things Swedish this month with the Swedish Christmas Fair being held at Harbourfront Centre November 19 and 20. You’ll have the chance to shop the selection of imported handmade crafts, Christmas decorations and textiles and there will be plenty of Scandinavian treats to try. In addition, there will be Swedish dancing, craft making, carolers which you can enjoy while sipping a glass of glögg (a type of Swedish mulled wine).
Santa Claus Parade (November 20)
The big guy with the white beard makes his way from the North Pole to Toronto on November 20 for the city’s annual Santa Claus Parade. The fun starts at 12:30 at Christie Pits Park and ends at St. Lawrence Market. Bring some hot chocolate, wear layers and settle in for a glimpse of Santa.
Cavalcade of Lights (November 26)
Toronto’s Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Philips Square is when you get to see Toronto’s official Christmas tree illuminated for the first time. It takes two weeks to decorate and string lights on the tree, which is usually between 15 and 18 metres tall. Last year’s tree was covered in over 700 ornaments and a whopping 525,000 lights. In addition to the lighting ceremony, Cavalcade of Lights also involves fireworks, live music and a skating party on the rink at Nathan Philips Square.
One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale (November 24-December 4)
Get all of your holiday shopping done in one place with a trip to the One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale happening November 24 to December 4 at the Enercare Centre at Exhibition Place. There will be over 800 Canadian artisans, designers and makers showcasing their wares, including 187 that are totally new to the show. The emphasis here is on showcasing unique, handmade goods that range from food and fashion, to housewares, furniture and jewellery. The show also features a series of free, DIY workshops where you can learn directly from the makers, including workshops on stencilling, cookie decorating and bullet journaling.