Even though it’s snowy and the temperature falls bellow zero, Toronto is bustling with festivities and holiday cheer in December. If you find some time outside of holiday shopping, you'll have plenty of events and activities to choose from — including the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery Historic District, the One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale, Breakfast with Santa, and the annual classic The Nutcracker. Here are some of the best Toronto events that make December the most magical and charming month of the year.
When: November 28–December 8
The One of a Kind Christmas Show & Sale is a Canadian shopping tradition that's provided Torontonians with unique handcrafted items since 1975. The show attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year, and this year, it will host more than 800 artisans. In addition to all the original Christmas gifts, the One of a Kind Christmas Show & Sale offers exciting seminars, featuring home styling tips, tricks for holiday meals, garden design advice, gift ideas (including fun gift picks for men), and a thrilling fashion show.
When: November 29–December 15
Where: Distillery District
Each holiday season, the historic Distillery District celebrates the traditional sights, sounds, and scents of Christmas with local vendors and craftspeople, family-friendly entertainment, shopping, and much more. Hundreds of original, local, and handcrafted products are showcased and sold, accompanying delicious meals, warm drinks, musicians, carollers, and children’s choirs. If you’re planning to visit this free event, you can look forward to a 45-foot white spruce tree donated by Trees Ontario, Bavarian brass band concerts, and a huge variety of performances — including The Scat’rBugs, The George Kash Christmas Experience, Steven Taetz, La Chorale Francophone de la region de York, Pearl Haze, and many others. You can find the event schedule here.
When: December 5–December 7
Where: Holiday Inn Express (30 Norfinch Drive)
Looking for a unique Christmas gift or a nice addition to your holiday table? Then you shouldn't miss The Toronto Antique Glass Holiday Show & Sale, which offers a large inventory of glassware and tableware, including more than 600 goblets, early Canadian and American pieces, Depression Glass made between the 1860s and the 1950s, Heisey Glass, Fint glass, oil lamps, miniatures, and much more. The show starts at 10:00 A.M. on all three days, ending at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday and Friday and at 4:00 P.M. on Saturday.
Etobicoke Lakeshore Christmas Parade
When: December 7
Since 1991, businesses, organizations, and residents of Etobicoke have been coming together to welcome Christmas in a wonderful event and celebrate the spirit of the neighbourhood. As many as 70,000 people attend the parade, which features 10 marching bands,15 professionally built floats, entries from schools, boy scouts and girl guides, businesses, and service clubs as well as corporate neighbours. Plus, after the parade, you can go skating with your family at the Skate with Santa outdoor skating oval, with music by a Salvation Army band until 3:00 P.M. The parade starts at 10:00 A.M., and there's free hot chocolate.
When: December 7–December 23
Where: Casa Loma
Bring your children to Casa Loma and enjoy a charming breakfast with Santa followed by a self-guided tour of the castle and the opportunity to join Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, and the bad old Captain Hook on their adventure filled with excitement and fun. The story is divided into three segments, each in different parts of the castle. Admission is $25 plus HST, and the breakfast starts at 8:30 A.M. The Peter Pan performance is included in the castle admission.
When: December 14–December 15
Where: The Theatre Centre (1087 Queen Street West)
Toronto’s biggest indie craft fair has been encouraging crafty events in Toronto as well as supporting independent craft businesses for seven years. City of Craft 2013 provides a unique blend of craft exhibition and community trade show. The juried craft sale features more than 50 vendors, workshops, craft-based installations, craft-related programming in local businesses, galleries, and much more. The event starts at 11:00 A.M. on both days and ends at 6:00 P.M. on Saturday and at 5:00 P.M. on Sunday. Admission is $2, and children under 12 have free entry.
Dundas Street West/Ossington Food Tour (Best of the West)
When: December 14
Dundas West and Ossington are filled with trendy restaurants, bars, and cafés — and the Best of the West food tour provides a unique opportunity to discover the best culinary establishments in the neighbourhood. Your guide will show you some of the local culinary highlights during a leisurely stroll through the neighbourhood, including six stops for generous tastings as well as uncovering some of Toronto’s hidden gems, such as a buried creek and an old bakery factory. The tour costs $70. It starts at 12:30 P.M. and lasts approximately four hours. Note that participants must be at least of legal drinking age (19 years or more).
When: December 14–January 4
Where: Four Seasons Centre (145 Queen St. West)
Each year, the National Ballet of Canada presents its version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Christmas tale The Nutcracker. James Kudelka’s production provides a refreshingly traditional version of the story, filled with everyday beauty and childhood dreams, underscored by Tchaikovsky’s glorious, timeless music — an all expressed through breathtaking choreography. Tickets range from $25 to $184 and are available online here.
When: December 15
Where: Artscape Wychwood Barns (601 Christie Street)
Artscape, a non-profit urban development organization, introduces the first year of the annual Made in Canada Show at the Artscape Wychwood Barns. As the name suggests, this exhibition focuses on the best that Canadians have to offer — including fashion, food, crafts, jewellery, accessories, art, and innovation. As well as delicious cuisine, fashion shows, and shopping for original Canadian-made gifts, visitors can look forward to listening to local musicians. If you want to get some creative ideas for Christmas decorations or gifts, then this is the right place. Admission is free and the event starts at 10:00 A.M.