December, for many of us, is an expensive month. The lead-up to the holidays means spending more than you normally would, on food, gifts and going out. So why not take a break from all that spending and take advantage of some of the many free things to do this month? Here are ten totally free things to do in December in Toronto.
Enjoy a DJ Skate Night at Harbourfront
DJ Skate Nights are back at Harbourfront. The popular event at Natrel Rink sees local and international DJs spinning tunes you can skate to on Saturdays throughout the winter (to February 18) and the first one happens on December 17. Singer/producer/songwriter Katie Stelmanis, who performs under the name Austra, will be the first DJ up to bat, getting skaters moving from 8 to 11 p.m.
Catch a free holiday flick at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
For a lot of people, watching holiday movies is often a favourite way to get into the holiday spirit. You can catch a few beloved Christmas classics for free at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Bloor St. At various points between December 17 and 22 you can head over to see Elf, White Christmas, Love Actually, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Jingle All the Way and The Holiday at various times. Free tickers are offered on a two per-person, per film basis and it’s encouraged to bring a donation of rice or dried beans in support of The Stop.
Check out Kensington Market Winter Solstice
Celebrate the longest night of the year in Kensington Market with the annual Winter Solstice Parade. December 21 marks the shortest day and longest night of the year and this year that event happens on Wednesday the 21. Presented by Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, the parade departs at 7 p.m. at the corner of Oxford and Augusta. The event is free, but if you’d like to buy a lantern to carry as you walk with the parade you can do that on the steps of St. Stephen’s Community House from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Take in a free concert courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company
The Canadian Opera Company’s free concert series is a great way to enjoy some music without having to spend any money. Concerts take place in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre most Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, and some Wednesdays at noon or 5:30 p.m. The free series features both established and emerging artists from around the world. There are a variety of genres represented, including vocal, piano, jazz, dance, chamber and world music so there’s plenty to choose from based on your musical tastes and interests.
Head to Winter Village at Evergreen Brick Works
There’s always something happening at Evergreen Brick Works and this winter is no exception. Winter Village is a multifaceted event that starts on December 10 and includes the Makers Market in partnership with Etsy where you can browse and shop homemade gifts and other artisan goods. There’s also the Sipping Container where you can stop for a mulled wine, craft beer, eggnog, seasonal cocktail or coffee and tea and cozy up to the fire. In addition, the Winter Village also includes the Street Food Market where you can pick up some food from over 15 vendors selling street food-inspired dishes from around the world.
Make Your Way to the Junction for Santa in the Junction
On Sunday, December 4, starting at 11 a.m. head to Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood for a full day of Christmas themed activities and shopping. The street-wide holiday market (including both indoor and outdoor shopping) will span Dundas St. west from Indian Grove to Quebec Ave. Santa and his elves will be at the Junction Train Platform and Mrs. Claus will be reading holiday tales. The free event also includes performances by Creative Children’s Dance Centre in the windows of participating businesses, live holiday music and holiday-themed workshops. When you need a break, hot chocolate and other goods will be offered by local cafes and restaurants.
Go to Holiday Fair in the Square
The ever-popular Toronto Christmas Market is already up and running (and free during the week), but the city is getting a second Christmas Market in the form of Holiday Fair in the Square at Nathan Philips Square. The square will be transformed into a traditional European Christmas market from December 8 to December 23. You can expect lots of festive decorations, vendors selling locally-made goods, hot drinks, food and more.
View the holiday windows
Every year you can see some seriously festive window displays in downtown Toronto. Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue have put together impressive displays well worth a trip downtown to see. The theme of the Bay’s window is “Enchanted Forest” and they’ve got five animated windows depicting scenes of a winter filled with 29 cheerful animatronic woodland creatures. Not to mention over 350 square feet of LED walls to further add to the enchantment. Saks Fifth Avenue's Land of 1000 Delights window displays along Queen and Yonge Street feature nine vignettes set in fantasy music boxes. The windows will be on display through to January 3.
Browse the Union Station Holiday Market
From December 5 to 16 you can experience the Union Station Holiday Market for free as a way to get into the holiday spirit and if you do feel like spending money, picking up some unique, handmade and local goods for gifts or stocking stuffers. The festive market runs Monday to Friday from 730 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
See the Christmas Flower Show at Allen Gardens Conservatory
Flower fans take note. During the Christmas Flower Show all of Allen Gardens Conservatory is decorated and filled with thousands of flowering plants, including over 30 varieties of poinsettia and photo-worthy seasonal topiaries made entirely of plant material. If you go on the first Sunday in December for the show's grand opening you can also enjoy horse and wagon rides, carolers, hot apple cider and a visit from Santa.