Toronto is a must-visit destination when coming to Canada. Toronto was first established as a hub of trade by the indigenous peoples and founded as a city by European settlers in 1793. Toronto has since grown from its industrial and trading past into a beautiful city defined by its multiculturalism, which shines through in it’s food, music, and art. This massive city will blow you out of the water, packed to the brim with activities, restaurants, museums, and more.
From major concerts to sporting events and festivals happening every weekend, there’s always something happening in Toronto. Toronto is a wonderful destination in summer and the shoulder seasons, fall and spring. Most people miss out on just how fun it can be to visit Toronto in the wintertime, especially around Christmas. After the first few snowfalls in December and tourism dies down, the city comes alive again as people prepare for Christmas and enjoy Christmas events. Enjoy this festive season in one of Canada’s most unique cities!
- Christmas in Toronto
- Top Tours
- How to Get to Toronto
- 20 Things To Do At Christmas In Toronto
- 1- Visit the Distillery District Christmas Market
- 2- Skate at Nathan Phillips Square
- 3- Shop the Holiday Hills Market at Stackt
- 4- Watch the Cavalcade Of Lights in Front of City Hall
- 5- Walk Through Casa Loma for Christmas at the Castle
- 6- See the Bright Lights at Casa Loma’s Holiday Lights Event
- 7- Walk Through the Northern Lights Festival at Exhibition Place
- 8- Shop and See Canada’s Tallest Christmas Tree at Eaton Center
- 9- Visit the Glow Christmas Event at the Toronto Congress Center
- 10- Get a Unique Gift at the One Of A Kind Winter Show
- 11- Grab a Holiday Drink at Miracle
- 12- Gaze Back in Time at the Hudson’s Bay Holiday Windows
- 13- Jump Into the Holidays at Winterfest (Canada’s Wonderland)
- 14- Take an Evening Stroll Through Yorkville
- 15- Have a Hot Chocolate and Skate at the Bentway
- 16- Have a Christmas High Tea at the St Regis
- 17- Feel the Holidays Come Alive at The Thirsty Elf
- 18- Experience Christmas Magic at Niagara-on-the-lake
- 19- Dine in an Igloo in St. Jacobs
- 20- Enjoy a Night Event at the Polar Winter Festival
- Bonus: The Santa Clause Parade
Christmas in Toronto
Weather in Toronto at Christmas
In December, the weather in Toronto can be quite cold compared to the balmy 30°C summer months.
Temperatures start to drop in early December from 3°C to -5°C.
Temperatures around Christmas will certainly be in the negatives, but it shouldn’t be colder than -10°C.
Heavy snow and rain might impact your travels, so it’s best to prepare with warm, waterproof jackets and boots.
It seems as though the summer festival season never ended! Something is going on all across the city each weekend leading up to Christmas.
The bright holiday lights and snow cover create some picturesque scenes across the city to warm your heart.
Although Toronto can be notoriously gloomy in the winter, it’s still an excellent time to escape some of the crowds and enjoy the bright and festive season.
How to Get to Toronto
Toronto is a pretty easy destination to access internationally and locally.
International flights arrive multiple times daily at Toronto Pearson International Airport and its inner-city airport, Billy Bishop.
Both airports have direct lines to Downtown through the local transit, TTC, and regional transit Metrolinx.
Locally, Toronto is easily accessible from other cities in Ontario and Quebec by major highways as well as regional bus and rail services operated by Go Transit, Ontario Northland and VIA rail.
20 Things To Do At Christmas In Toronto
1- Visit the Distillery District Christmas Market
The Distillery District Christmas Market is arguably one of the best Christmas Markets in the country.
Set against the historic, industrial background of the Distillery district and lit beautifully by warm Christmas lights and decorations, being here feels like magic.
Wander the cobblestone streets through this historic district and check out the fun holiday stalls and shops.
Live music events, Holiday photo walls, interactive activities, and a 51-foot-tall Christmas tree make the Market buzz.
Food and drink vendors can be found all across the market, making it easy to spend the entire day and night here.
This fantastic holiday event is 2 km East of Downtown and is easily accessible by transit.
It’s not advisable to drive due to parking restrictions and availability.
2- Skate at Nathan Phillips Square
The Nathan Phillips Square ice rink is one of the most popular ice rinks across the city, especially around the holidays.
Glide under arches of lights to music and refine those skating skills.
The rink has skate rentals and sharpening, as well as hats, gloves and helmets for rent.
Nathan Phillips Square ice rink is a great beginner-friendly rink, and you’ll see lots of families, kids, and beginner skaters practicing here.
It’s a fun holiday activity for people of all ages.
Nathan Phillips Square is right Downtown and is easy to get to by walking or public transit.
It’s not advisable to drive due to traffic and parking restrictions.
3- Shop the Holiday Hills Market at Stackt
Holiday Markets are found all across the city, but this unique West end market is one of the most popular in the neighbourhoods.
Made up of stacked, converted shipping containers and right beside the train tracks, it fits the industrial aesthetic perfectly.
This market comes alive at Christmas with wonderful warm lights and seats around the fire pits to warm up.
Shop the 24 rotating markets for the perfect Christmas gift, or settle in for a brew and live event.
An evening at Stackt is definitely one of a kind.
Stackt Market is in the West end of Downtown, just 2.3 km from the city center.
Driving can be difficult due to traffic and parking, but it’s easily accessible by transit.
Recommended tour: Kensington Market -Toronto’s Neighborhood International Food Tour
4- Watch the Cavalcade Of Lights in Front of City Hall
The Cavalcade of Lights is one of the city’s most revered holiday events every year in front of City Hall.
This event has been enjoyed by visitors and locals since 1967 and continues to impress every year.
Come to the opening ceremony and watch live performances and the lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree.
Even if you can’t make opening night, the festive light decorations last all season long.
City Hall is right in the middle of Downtown, making it easy to walk or take the bus.
Driving isn’t recommended due to traffic and parking restrictions.
Recommended tour: PATH – A Walking Tour of Toronto’s Underground City
5- Walk Through Casa Loma for Christmas at the Castle
Feel the holiday magic at Casa Loma with their Christmas at the Castle event.
This event happens inside and outside the castle and features beautiful holiday decorations, activities, and events.
Wander through the Gothic Revival castle and feel what Christmas might have felt like in 1914.
Take a self-guided walk through gardens and tunnels to check out the light displays before heading to the Great Hall to see the 40-foot-tall tree.
Seeing one of Toronto’s most unique attractions decked out for the holidays is a must-do at Christmas time.
Casa Loma is 5.9 km from Downtown in the beautiful South Hill neighborhood.
Driving is possible, but the parking and street parking is limited so it’s best to venture to this unique attraction by local transit.
6- See the Bright Lights at Casa Loma’s Holiday Lights Event
Another fun Casa Loma event is the Holiday Lights Tour.
This tour can happen all through the Christmas season and takes you all across the Castle grounds for a spectacular lights display.
Enjoy a hot chocolate and wander the castle grounds under the Christmas lights and decorations.
It’s the perfect evening activity.
7- Walk Through the Northern Lights Festival at Exhibition Place
If you haven’t gotten your fill of festivals, head on down to the Northern Lights Festival at Exhibition Place for an immersive holiday experience.
This festival brings the sights and sounds of the holidays alive with its larger-than-life decorations and photo opportunities across the festival grounds.
Best viewed at night, it’s the perfect holiday photo-op.
Don’t worry about the chilly evenings, they have heated towers and fire pits scattered across the grounds to warm up.
Exhibition Place is 3.9 km from Downtown and very accessible by local transit.
Driving might be difficult due to parking restrictions.
- Museum of Illusions Admission in Toronto
- Hockey Hall of Fame Admission Ticket
- Art Gallery of Ontario: General Admission
8- Shop and See Canada’s Tallest Christmas Tree at Eaton Center
Of course, Toronto’s largest mall goes even bigger for the holidays and you can shop the over 200 stores for perfect holiday gifts.
The mall features top brands like Apple, H&M, Sephora, Nike and Kate Spade.
It’s also home to Canadian-made brands like Hudson’s Bay, Canada Goose, Lululemon, and Roots.
What makes the Eaton Center stand out for the holidays are it’s gigantic Christmas decorations.
Scattered throughout the mall, you’ll find Canada’s largest Christmas tree and light-filled reindeer that tower over the shoppers.
It’s a holiday sight to see.
The Eaton Center is in downtown Toronto and is very accessible by driving, transit, or walking, making it an easy to visit destination.
Recommended tour: Fashion Shopping Tour in Toronto with a Local Stylist
9- Visit the Glow Christmas Event at the Toronto Congress Center
Don’t want to wander the chilly streets to see stunning holiday displays?
Check out the Glow Christmas Event at the Toronto Congress Center.
This massive holiday event happens indoors and away from the cold every year.
Check out live performances and events, shop till you drop from the local maker’s market, and don’t forget to see the fantastic multicultural lights displayed across the hall.
The Toronto Congress Center is 25 km from Downtown in Mississauga.
It is accessible by transit, but driving and avoiding multiple transfers is best.
Recommended tour: Exhilarating 120km Aerial Tour of Toronto with iflyTOTO
10- Get a Unique Gift at the One Of A Kind Winter Show
Make a splash on Christmas morning by getting gifts for the whole family from the One Of A Kind Winter Show.
Since 1975, crafters and local artisans have been coming together to sell their wares for the holiday season.
Each year, the show has become larger and larger, featuring more one-of-a-kind products that make great gifts for friends and family.
You can find something for everyone at the show or just browse around.
The artisans are eager to have a chat and share the holiday spirit.
The One of a Kind winter show is hosted annually at Enercare Center.
It’s a 4 km drive from Downtown and is accessible by public transport.
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11- Grab a Holiday Drink at Miracle
Miracle is a fun and festive holiday cocktail bar that makes the perfect backdrop for an evening out with friends.
This holiday bar literally decks the halls each year with cute and kitschy decor and photo props.
They serve a long list of holiday-themed cocktails to really set the mood.
Miracle is a pop-up bar that comes to Toronto every year.
They usually occupy a space in the West of Downtown, but the location can change.
It’s best (and easiest) to take public transit if you want to enjoy those holiday cocktails to the fullest.
12- Gaze Back in Time at the Hudson’s Bay Holiday Windows
Every year, Hudson’s Bay turns its display windows along Queen West into the most wonderful and magical Christmas dioramas.
Watch as magic holiday trains circle the mountain track and marvel at how much time it took to put them together.
The company changes the windows each year, so there’s always something new and exciting to see.
The Hudson’s Bay holiday windows are Downtown and can be easily accessible by public transit or on foot.
13- Jump Into the Holidays at Winterfest (Canada’s Wonderland)
Not only is Canada’s Wonderland an exciting summer destination, but the magic also comes alive for Christmas.
At Christmas, the grounds of Canada Wonderland turn into a winter wonderland with lights, live shows, and ice skating.
The grounds are turned into differing Christmas-themed neighbourhoods, each with its own charm!
Wander the brightly decorated neighborhoods shopping, snacking, and soaking in the holiday atmosphere.
Some rides are still open as well, so after your skate on Snowflake Lake, head on over to the antique carousel or the thunder run if you’re brave.
Canada’s Wonderland is in Vaughan and can be reached by public transit, but it’s best to drive.
14- Take an Evening Stroll Through Yorkville
Yorkville is one of Toronto’s ritziest neighbourhoods and is known far and wide for its luxury brand stores and high-end restaurants.
Many celebrities are spotted in Yorkville dining in patios or shopping along Bloor West.
At Christmas time, this neighbourhood comes alive with elegant lights and Christmas decor lining the side streets.
Spend a romantic holiday evening with a hot drink, wandering the festive streets.
Yorkville has limited parking but is easily accessible by public transit.
Recommended tour: Toronto Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours
15- Have a Hot Chocolate and Skate at the Bentway
Another unique ice skating rink in Toronto hides under the Gardiner Express Way near Fort York.
This 1.75 km skating trail is a wonderful place to get out and practice your skills or enjoy a chilly December evening.
The Bentway offers free skate rentals, so no worries if you didn’t bring your own.
After a fun-filled evening of skating, grab a warm holiday drink and a traditional Canadian dessert: a beaver tail.
The Bentway is easily accessible by public transit or driving and is just 3.4 km from Downtown.
16- Have a Christmas High Tea at the St Regis
High tea at the St Regis Hotel is already an iconic Toronto activity, but around the holidays, high tea becomes a sophisticated and festive event.
Dine on festive-themed cakes and bites with a cup of warm holiday tea or a glass of bubbly.
Enjoy this unique activity when the elegance of the St Regis becomes festive for the holidays.
The St Regis is easily accessible by walking and public transit but due to it’s Downtown location, driving isn’t advisable because of parking limitations.
17- Feel the Holidays Come Alive at The Thirsty Elf
Flock to the Fairmont Royal York for a holiday drink at the Thirsty Elf.
This holiday pop-up bar is known for its delectable Christmas-themed cocktails served with fun and festive glassware.
The beautiful holiday decorations are a great photo opportunity and really put you in the Christmas spirit!
The Thirsty Elf is a pop-up bar that comes to the Fairmont Royal York every year; it’s easily accessible by walking or public transit.
Downtown has limited parking, so it’s best to ditch the car.
Recommended tour: Toronto Bar Hunt: Take On Toronto Bar Crawl
18- Experience Christmas Magic at Niagara-on-the-lake
Niagara-on-the-lake is a popular day trip from Toronto just around the other side of Lake Ontario.
This adorable small town also makes a fun holiday getaway.
The town decks the halls for the Christmas season, and all the shops are in the holiday spirit.
Roam the Downtown-turned-Christmas-village, stopping in at all the little stores along the way.
Many restaurants in the area offer a nice holiday dinner to indulge in before heading back to the city.
Niagara-on-the-lake is 129 km from Downtown Toronto and takes approximately two hours to get there.
It’s accessible by Go Transit and Via Rail, but it’s best to drive.
Recommended tour: Niagara Falls Tour From Toronto with Skip-the-Line Boat Cruise
19- Dine in an Igloo in St. Jacobs
This is truly a unique winter experience and just a short drive away from Toronto.
St.Jacobs is a small town 121 km from Toronto, and they host a special dinner event where you can dine in a heated igloo.
Enjoy some tacos, nachos, and other Mexican snacks in such a unique setting.
St. Jacobs is also a great town to explore and do some holiday shopping, the perfect day trip! Grab your partner or a friend for this special holiday activity!
It’s possible to take transit with a combination of Go Transit and public transit, but it’s best to drive.
20- Enjoy a Night Event at the Polar Winter Festival
The holidays are a time for gathering, and what better time to gather than at the Polar Winter Festival?
This walk-through holiday experience is sure to be one to remember.
Larger-than-life holiday decorations and a crystal tunnel are the main features in addition to the holiday market and live performances.
Rides and food trucks can be enjoyed by everyone at this beautiful outdoor festival.
The Polar Winter Festival is held at Bandstand Park, a 5.9 km drive from Union Station in Downtown Toronto.
It’s easily accessible by both transit and car.
Bonus: The Santa Clause Parade
If you are visiting Toronto for an extended stay before Christmas, it’s worth catching the Santa Clause Parade.
This parade has been kicking off the holiday season since 1905 with beautifully decorated and elaborate floats and live performances.
The parade usually happens in late November and runs down Bloor and College Street.
Don’t miss this historic Christmas event to kick off the holiday season.
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