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 Centre. The popular event at Natrel Rink sees local and international DJs spinning tunes you can skate to on Saturdays throughout the winter (to February 15) and the first one happens on December 14. What better way to warm up on a cold day than to skate to the beat?
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. courtesy of Hot Docs for the Holidays. Various holiday-themed films are on offer, including It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas. 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 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 running through December 22 and includes the Holiday Market, one of the largest sustainable holiday markets in Toronto inlcuding everything from handmade jewellery and original artwork to clothing and bath and body care. There are also food trucks and food stalls in case you need a bite to eat, a skating rink (compete with fire pit for warming up) and live music on Sunday afternoons.
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 charming Christmas market and winter carnival from December 7 to December 23. You can expect lots of festive decorations, vendors selling locally-made goods, hot drinks, skating, food, rides and games.
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 behind the scenes at Santa's workshop where you can check out computers printing out lists of children’s names, presents on conveyor belts, snowmen making snow angels and at the push of a button, get a high five from a robot. Over at Holt Renrew, the holiday window displays Christmas trees decorated with snow-dusted pine cones alongside traditional shopping carts full of white teddy bears.
Do Some Skating
By the time mid-December rolls around, most of Toronto's public skating rinks have opened. They're free to visit (although skate rental will cost a few dollars if you don't have your own). There are rinks all over the city, but some popular choices include Nathan Philips Square, Harbourfront Centre's Natrel Rink and The Bentway Skate Trail, which also features an on-site winter village featuring hot drinks and warming stations. They also offer free skate lessons for both kids and adults if your skills could use a brush-up.
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.