Toronto Christmas Market by Pat & Keri
December in Toronto can be freezing, but don’t let the chill keep you away from enjoying everything that the city has to offer. Loads of festive events will be on, but there is much more to it than just celebrating the holiday spirit. Check out our list of event suggestions and head out to the snowy streets.
November 30th to December 16th
Once again, the Distillery District will host the traditional Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market that brings the romance and magic of central European cities straight to Toronto. The market takes place over the several weeks before Christmas and showcases unique, traditional, handcrafted artisan products from local artists as well as celebrates the tastes and scents of the festive season through delicious food and drink served onsite (hot whiskey and apple cider plus some poutine and freshly prepared chestnuts eaten at the lovely little campfire close to the Christmas tree with your loved ones is the kind of experience that will be kept in your heart for a long time).
It’s believed that the tradition of Christmas markets originated in the 15th century in Germany and has spread all over the world ever since. These events should always be accompanied by merry music, carollers, and performances by a children’s choir, who greatly contribute to the unique atmosphere of the markets. This year even hosts some special shows by Bavarian brass bands and classical organ artists!
Concerning the drinks, there are many stalls full of authentic holiday beverages prepared, with mulled wine being one of the top choices that can keep you warm during the freezing Canadian nights. Mulled wine is wine that’s served hot with the best choice of spices that create the taste of Christmas, so don’t miss the chance to taste one of Europe’s favourite winter drinks. In addition, there will be several beer gardens offering a variety of craft beers that will surely be appreciated by all beer enthusiasts.
Children will enjoy talking to Santa, who shows up every day, or taking a stroll through the magical Fairy Tale Forest maze leading all the way to Santa’s cabin. Story-telling nights featuring Grimms’ fairy tales are also part of the program and St. Nicholas Day will be marked by the arrival of St. Nicholas himself.
The Herbie Fund and The Hospital for Sick Children invites guests to its 30th annual Mistletoe Ball and Auction at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. All the money collected at this exclusive fundraiser will be sent to the Herbie Fund, which financially supports children all around the world who need to undergo life-saving surgeries. Guests can look forward to a delectable dinner, a dazzling entertainment program, and both live and silent auctions full of outstanding items. Tickets for this major fundraiser are by no means cheap: each guest is asked to pay $1,000.
November 27th to January 6th
Visit the Spadina Museum Historic House and gardens to experience the age of jazz musicians, prohibition, cities full of bootleggers, the Great Gatsby, and flappers. This holiday season, the museum decided to celebrate Christmas by recreating the feel of the Golden Age and introducing visitors to the way people lived their lives before the latest economic crisis (who knows, will there be similar exhibition about our life before the crisis in 100 years?). The admission fee to a Roaring ’20s Christmas varies from about $4.50 to $8.25.
Spadina Museum by Vytas Bru
December 1st to February 23rd
Seven years ago, the Natrel Rink at the Harbourfront Centre was first turned into a huge dance floor for skaters with an exclusive lake view. Ever since, organizers haven’t missed a single year to invite Toronto DJs to bring some heat to the freezing Toronto nights by playing the best dance tunes across the genres (dub, disco, hip hop, deep house, electro, and more). DJ Skate Nights have free admission; you might only have to pay for skates if you forget to bring your own. The whole event is rather weather-dependent, so some nights might get cancelled, but hopefully Mother Nature will be merciful and allow most of the shows to go on!
November 24th to December 23rd
Every December weekend, the Black Creek Pioneer Village brings a recreation of original Victorian Christmas customs and festivities. Visitors will enjoy the opportunity to roast chestnuts on an open fire the way our ancestors did, take a ride around the village in horse-drawn wagons, help skilled Victorian bakers to decorate cookies, or join in on tastings of flaming plum pudding. Santa Claus and his elves will be hanging around in their workshop, waiting for kids to stop by, and a fun tin soldier puppet show will be performed. Since there would be no Christmastime without gingerbread, you can also find a miniature Black Creek Village made of gingerbread.
December 7th to December 9th
The Metro Toronto Convention Centre will host one of the biggest events for all lovers of motorcycling and easy rides. The truly impressive list of exhibitors includes top producers such as Suzuki and Yamaha but also some more unique organizations such as Vintage Road Racing Association and Peru Motors. Organizers have also prepared many fun events, such as the annual She Rides Night, celebrating women who engage in sport riding, and the Yamaha Riding Academy for Kids, where children will have a chance to take a free ride on the latest Yamaha TT-R off-road motorcycle, supervised by skilled instructors.
Amnesty International is commemorating International Human Rights Day by encouraging all their supporters and friends to engage in their Write for Rights campaign. Amnesty International has proven that simple letter-writing can save lives and exert pressure on governments to release or improve the conditions of prisoners of conscience around the world. Everybody can help by writing a letter and joining the biggest letter-writing event of the year that’s almost simultaneously organized in more than 80 countries worldwide. Last year, the 2011 Writeathon saw the highest number of letters; will 2012 beat the record?
December 19th to January 5th
Since 1995, the National Ballet has kept the tradition of featuring the magical story of the Nutcracker every festive season. The touching version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Christmas story ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ turned into a ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky has forever become a part of the Toronto’s Christmas. Fall in love with the adventures of Marie and Misha as they enter the fantasy world accompanied by a broken nutcracker that has come to life. Choreographer James Kudelka took care of the breathtaking choreography and to shows his admiration for Tchaikovsky with the story’s setting in Imperial Russia, with its glittering opulence and enchanting folk customs. One of the Christmas must-dos.
December 21st to December 30th
The Rogers Centre will host the stunning show Disney on Ice: Worlds of Fantasy. Four favourite Disney stories will come together, performed by top skating stars. Visitors can look forward to meeting characters from Cars racing around the ice, Ariel and other mermaids in her underwater world, Tinkerbell accompanied by fairies, and even Buzz, Woody, and Jessie from the Toy Story films. Discover the world of magic, special effects, and breathtaking skating and artistic achievements that will become one of the dearest memories shared with your kids. Tickets prices range from $40 to $90.
Come over for the Toronto Zoo’s annual New Year’s Eve Family Countdown for a kid-friendly celebration of the new year that ultimately leads to a special Kids’ Countdown at 8:00 P.M. Kids will have a chance to visit some of the favourite wild inhabitants of the Americas & Australasia Pavilions and participate in the Tundra Trek accompanied by skilled keepers. Organizers have also prepared a rich entertainment program, including Kung Fu Panda (a meet and greet with Po is on the schedule), the Majinx Magic Show, and a ‘That ’60s Show’ tribute band. Adult admission is $20, while children under 12 pay $12.