The ultimate guide to family-friendly events and activities in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (the GTA) this holiday season. Things to do in Toronto Christmas 2023 that the entire family will enjoy and a couple that are just for adults.
Christmas season in Toronto is the most magical time of the year for families. Everyone is in the mood for celebrating and there are many fun festive events taking place over the coming weeks. These are our recommendations for the best things to do in Toronto for Christmas 2023 – a list of (mostly) family-friendly events and activities in the city of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (the “GTA”) for the 2023/24 holiday season plus an event in Niagara Falls that is worth the drive.
Most recently updated November 2023
The Toronto Santa Claus Parade
The Original Santa Claus Parade is back with amazing floats, bands, marchers, the Celebrity Clowns and of course, Mrs. Claus and Santa!!! The Toronto Santa Claus Parade kicks off the city’s holiday celebration in November when thousands of people line the streets along the route for the annual running of the parade that has become a Toronto Christmas tradition. Can’t make it to the parade? It airs on television on CTV.
Where: Starts at Christie Pits and ends at the St. Lawrence Market
When: Sunday November 26, 2023, 12:30pm
More Info: www.thesantaclausparade.ca
Santa Claus Parades in the GTA
Smaller parades in other communities in the GTA include:
- Santa’s Parade of Lights, Oshawa – Saturday November 18, 2023, 6:00 pm.
- Ajax Santa Claus Parade – Santa’s Spectacle of Lights, Saturday November 25, 2023 evening parade begins at 6 pm.
- Santa Claus Parade, Whitby – Whitby Santa Claus Parade returns to the Brock Street parade route on Saturday December 2, 2023, 10:00 am.
- Milton Santa Claus Parade – Sunday November 26, 2023, starting at 1:30 pm. The 2022 Parade Theme is Christmas in the Movies.
- Santa Claus Parade, Oakville, Santa Claus is landing his sleigh in Oakville for this year’s parade on Saturday, November 18, 2023 beginning at 9 a.m. Please bring a donation of non-perishable food items for community food banks.
- Burlington Christmas Parade – Burlington’s annual Santa Claus Parade will take place on Sunday December 3, 2023 at 2:00 pm in downtown Burlington.
- Brampton Santa Claus Parade takes place on Saturday November 18, 2023 at 5:00 pm with a new route starting at Bramalea Rd & Central Park Drive ending at North Park & Jordan Blvd.
- Newmarket Santa Claus Parade, Saturday November 18, 2023, 11 am – 1 pm. Attendees are encouraged to bring their letters for Santa Claus and a non-perishable food item for the Newmarket Food Pantry.
- Markham Annual Santa Claus Parade – Saturday November 25, 2023 at 11 am Main Street Markham.
For a complete listing of Santa Claus Parades in the GTA refer to www.ToDoCanada.com
Santa at the Eaton Centre
Enjoy the decorations at the mall during the Christmas season and while there enjoy a visit with Santa. Santa will be on Level 4 of the mall (he hasn’t returned to his log cabin since the pandemic) and will be sitting in an oversized chair with room for visitors to sit next to him on the chair. There will also be small stools next to Santa’s chair or you can stand next to the chair if you’d prefer to maintain more distance.
Masks are not mandatory under current health and safety guidelines. It is at the discretion of each guest if they want to wear a mask. It is also at Santa’s discretion if he wants to wear a mask or not.
Visits are are approximately 5 minutes and are by reservation only in 2023. Pre-book your visit online for $15 to reserve your spot. It is recommended that your group size is limited to 6 people. Tickets include your visit and up to 5 professional digital photos.
Reservations may also be made for visits with Sensitive Santa in conjunction with Autism Speaks Canada. Sensitive Santa provides a sensory friendly environment with lower lighting and quieter surroundings for children with autism and their families.
Where: Level 4, near Indigo
When: November 17 – December 24, 2023
More Info: CF Toronto Eaton Centre
CF Music at the Eaton Centre
‘Tis the season to be jolly! Visit the CF Toronto Eaton Centre and enjoy live musical performances of your favourite holiday songs performed by various artists as you shop for the perfect gift. These performances are complimentary and open to all mall visitors.
Where: Eaton Centre, Level 1
When: November 18 – December 23, 2023
More Info: www.shops.cadillacfairview.com
Visit with Santa at Sherway Gardens
Enjoy an in-person visit with Santa (by reservation only) at Sherway Gardens this holiday season. Santa will be sitting in an oversized chair with room for visitors to sit next to him on the chair. There will also be small stools next to Santa’s chair or you can stand next to the chair if you’d prefer to maintain more distance.
Each visit will be approximately 5 minutes. Masks are not mandatory under current health and safety mandates. Each ticket is $15. Sensitive Santa experiences are also available for children with autism and their families in conjunction with Autism Speaks Canada. Numbers are limited so book as soon as possible.
Where: Sherway Gardens – in front of Saks Fifth Avenue near entrances 4 and 5, 25 The West Mall, Etobicoke (QEW and 427)
When: November 17 – December 24, 2023
More Info: CF Sherway Gardens
The National Ballet of Canada – The Nutcracker
James Kudelka’s stunning version of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic The Nutcracker has been performed by The National Ballet of Canada since 1995. Ballet companies all over the world perform The Nutcracker during the holiday season, each with a special take on the beloved classic. The National Ballet of Canada has one of the finest versions in James Kudelka’s staging which opens at a Christmas Eve party in rural 19th-century Russia.
Prices vary by performance – discounted children’s tickets are available.
Where: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West, Toronto
When: December 8-30, 2023
More Info: www.national.ballet.ca
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra – Handel’s Messiah
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra will perform the must-see classic, Handel’s Messiah, at Roy Thomson Hall this holiday season. Dame Jane Glover leads your Toronto Symphony Orchestra; the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, prepared by Artistic Director Jean-Sébastien Vallée; and four outstanding soloists in Handel’s cherished oratorio, Messiah.
While masks are no longer required, they are strongly encouraged for the safety of everyone attending a TSO performance.
Where: Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto
When: Sunday December 17 – Saturday December 23, 2023
More Info: www.tso.ca
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra – TSO Holiday Pops
TSO Holiday Pops is back for four performances at Roy Thomson Hall December 11 – 13th.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke welcomes legendary Canadian jazz vocalist Molly Johnson and the Etobicoke School of the Arts Holiday Chorus for a musical celebration of the holiday season. Enjoy timeless classics and festive favourites as your TSO gets you in the holiday spirit faster than you can say, “Fa la la la la!”
The TSO is a Toys for Tots partner and will be celebrating the magic of music and the spirit of giving by encouraging patrons to bring a new, unwrapped toy to performances of TSO Holiday Pops.
While masks are no longer required, they are strongly encouraged for the safety of everyone attending a TSO concert.
Where: Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto
When: December 11 – December 13, 2023
More Info: www.tso.ca
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra – Home Alone in Concert
The TSO’s popular Film with Live Orchestra is back in 2023 with Home Alone in Concert performances Thursday December 7 – Saturday December 9, 2023 at Roy Thomson Hall. Macaulay Culkin stars as an inventive eight-year-old, accidentally left alone over Christmas, who repeatedly outsmarts a couple of bone-headed burglars. This beloved holiday film features renowned composer John Williams’s delightful score performed live to picture by your TSO.
The TSO is a Toys for Tots partner and will be celebrating the magic of music and the spirit of giving by encouraging patrons to bring a new, unwrapped toy to performances of Home Alone in Concert.
While masks are no longer required, they are strongly encouraged for the safety of everyone attending a TSO concert.
Where: Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe Street, Toronto
When: December 7 – 9, 2023
More Info: www.tso.ca
Additional Theatrical Performances in Toronto
Disney in Concert: The Muppet Christmas Carol – Experience the classic Charles Dickens holiday tale as told by the Muppets in a family-friendly screening of the complete film with the score performed by the TO Live Orchestra. Approximate running time of film is 1 hour and 25 minutes plus there will be a 15 minute intermission. December 15, 2023 at 7 pm and December 16, 2023 at 2 pm and at 7 pm. Performances at Meridian Hall, 1 Front Street East, Toronto. www.tolive.com
Mariah Carey is celebrating the holiday season with a Christmas tour which will run for 13 dates including a stop in Toronto! Mariah Carey – Merry Christmas One and All will be at the Scotiabank Arena on November 27, 2023 at 7:30 pm. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.
Chris, Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical – the world premiere of a heartwarming new holiday musical full of mischief and mistletoe, twisted ankles and tangled heartstrings. December 5 – 31, 2023 at the Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge Street, Toronto. Approximate running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes including intermission. www.tolive.com
Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff – Not a holiday themed performance but a fun theatrical experience for families over the holiday season. Playing to sold-out houses all over the world, the Oliver Award-nominated show takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books into 70 hilarious minutes. We saw the show more than 10 years ago when it first played in Toronto and loved it (Review of Potted Potter)! December 21, 2023 – January 14, 2024 at St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East, Toronto. Appropriate for ages 6+. www.tolive.com
Second City Toronto presents Holidazed and Confused – a heaping serving of seasonal satire that’s the perfect alternative to those same old holiday shows. Festive family gatherings, office parties, and even classic holiday movies will all get roasted like chestnuts on an open fire. So put on your ugliest sweater and get ready for this fast-paced comedy revue stuffed with seasonal songs, sketches, and of course a generous helping of our world-famous improv comedy! Parental discretion advised. Contains language and subjects intended for an adult audience. Approximate running time is 2 hours with intermission. Performances at Theatre ’73, 1 York Street, November 23 – December 31, 2023. www.secondcity.com
The Second City’s Improv Holiday Brunch – comedy and brunch at Toronto Mainstage, 1 York Street, Toronto. Sundays at 1 pm – November 26th – December 31st, 2023. Approximate running time is 70 minutes with a 15 minute intermission. Rated R. December 4, 11, and 18, 2022. www.secondcity.com
It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play will be onstage at Young People’s Theatre, 165 Front Street East, Toronto from November 20 – December 30, 2023. Transport yourself to 1945 Bedford Falls, as an ensemble cast of five retells the story as a vintage radio broadcast. Run time is approximately 85 minutes. There will be two Relaxed Performances available on December 1 and December 2. Recommended ages 10+. www.youngpeoplestheatre.org
The Mississauga Living Arts Centre generally presents a number of holiday performances during the holiday season. In 2023 live performances include In the Christmas Mood presented by The Glenn Miller Orchestra; Cirque Musica Holiday Wonderland (a holiday-themed Cirque-style show); Holidays by Request presented by the Mississauga Festival Choir; The Nutcracker performed by The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine; A Merry Motown Christmas; and performances by the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra and the Mississauga Symphony Youth Orchestra. Check website for details. 4141 Living Arts Drive, Mississauga. www.livingartscentre.ca
Mirvish presents The Illusionists: The Magic of the Holidays for one week only (8 shows) November 28th – December 3rd, 2023. This year’s family-friendly show promises even more illusions, close-up magic, mentalism, daring escapes, and technological spectacle performed by master entertainers who’ve captivated audiences worldwide. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King Street West, Toronto. Approximate running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes including intermission. www.mirvish.com
A Christmas RockStory is an electrifying and heartwarming stage show that combines the excitement of rock music with the festive cheer of a Christmas circus! Saturday December 16th at 7 pm; Paramount Fine Foods Centre, 5500 Rose Cherry Place, Mississauga. www.paramountfinefoodscentre.com
Cavalcade of Lights Tree Lighting Ceremony
The Cavalcade of Lights is a free event which is held annually in Nathan Phillips Square. Inspired by international lantern, fire and light festivals, this year’s festivities will transform City Hall and its surrounds into a dazzling wonderland each night.
Opening Night celebrations on Saturday November 25th feature family-friendly activities, live entertainment and the grand illumination of Toronto’s official Christmas tree.
Glide into the holiday spirit with nightly ice skating on Toronto’s iconic rink and marvel at the enchanting light installations adorning Nathan Phillips Square.
When: November 25, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West at Bay Street.
More Info: City of Toronto – Cavalcade of Lights
Light Up the Square – Mississauga
Mississauga kicks off the holiday season with an annual free event at Celebration Square featuring the official lighting of the Christmas tree (at 7 pm), live entertainment, public art installations, photos with Santa and his elves, the Holiday Street Market by Street Easts, the opening of the skating rink and more – all surrounded by twinkling lights.
(To be confirmed: Also ring in 2024 at Celebration Square with with high energy performances by international recording artists, grab a bite to eat from one of the many delicious food trucks, and enjoy an explosive fireworks show at midnight.)
Where: Celebration Square, 300 City Centre Drive, Mississauga
When: Opening Night – Saturday November 25, 2023, 5 – 10 pm
More Info: www.mississauga.ca/events
Holiday Window Displays
One of my favourite things to do during the holiday season is browse holiday window displays. Hudson’s Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue on Queen Street in Toronto hold an annual unveiling of their holiday windows in early November. It can get a bit crowded here at times but the magical Christmas windows are a must-see each holiday season.
It’s also worth heading up to Bloor Street as well to check out upscale shops such as William Ashley China, Roots, Holt Renfrew and others that go all out on their spectacular window displays as well as the Yorkville district where the BIA celebrates the season with an annual illumination of the neighbourhood in festive lighting from late November until December 31st. Not to be missed!
York Durham Heritage Railway Santa Train Ride
All events are on specified dates – check the event calendar on the YDHR website for details and to book tickets.
Each year the York-Durham Heritage Railway operates a popular Santa Train – Santa’s North Pole Experience on specified Saturdays and Sundays during the holiday season. The beautifully decorated trains leave from Uxbridge Station and ride through the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine. Allow 2 hours for the experience that includes the grounds show as well as the train ride with onboard entertainment for children of all ages, activities and visits with Santa. Seating is limited and by reservation only so book early to avoid disappointment. November 25 – December 21, 2023.
This year the York-Durham Heritage Railway will also be providing service to the North Pole as an unforgettable night time experience. The North Pole Experience – ‘How the Train Saved Christmas’ Light Up Event includes a meet-and-greet with Santa Claus, a special keepsake, seasonal treats and hot beverages. Available on specified dates from November 24 – December 23, 2023.
Another festive event is the Christmas High Tea and Train Ride where you can watch the countryside roll by as you travel through the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine in all its winter wonder while listening to delightful music and enjoying the Christmas tea white glove service. December 1, 8, 15, 2023
Where: Uxbridge Station, 19 Railway Street, Uxbridge, Ontario
More Info: www.ydhr.ca
Halton County Radial Railway Christmas on the Rails
Celebrate the holiday season by riding the Halton County Radial Railway vintage street car on two kilometres of scenic track through the woods with snow on the trees (hopefully), Christmas carols in the air and a visit from Santa! Weather permitting. Tickets sold at the door.
Where: 13629 Guelph Line, Milton, ON
When: December 2, 3, 9 and 10, 2023, 1 – 7/8 pm.
More Info: www.hcry.org
The CP Holiday Train
The CP Holiday Train (now the CPKC Holiday Train) is happy to be back in 2023 celebrating its 25th year!! The CP Holiday Train program launched in 1999 and has since raised more than $22.5 million CAD and collected more than 5 million pounds of food for communities along CP’s routes in Canada and the United States.
The CP Holiday Train program has two trains that make stops in both Canada and the U.S. The two trains will depart on a festive journey through the U.S. and Canada from November 20 – December 19, 2023 bringing holiday cheer and concert performances to communities along CP’s network. Stops in the GTA include Bowmanville, Oshawa, Milton, Hamilton, Toronto and Vaughan.
The Holiday Train is about 1,000 feet in length with 14 brightly decorated rail cars and each car is decorated with hundreds of thousands of technology-leading LED lights and holiday designs. Holiday train events are free but food or monetary donations to the local foodbank are requested.
Each train stop lasts about 30 minutes and includes a band performing a mix of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs for the crowd. Entertainers on the Canadian Holiday Train this year include Anyway Gang, BRELAND, Kiesza, MacKenzie Porter, Seaforth, Tyler Shaw, Dallas Smith, Tenille Townes, Trudy, and Virginia to Vegas. Check the CP website for information about additional stops across Canada.
Where: 750 Runnymede Road, Toronto
When: November 28, 2023, 8:15 pm
More Info: www.cpr.ca
One of a Kind Show and Sale
Purchase unique, handmade gifts at the annual One of a Kind Christmas Show & Sale – one of the largest and best attended craft shows in North America. Since starting in 1975, the show and sale has been celebrating craftsmanship, cultivating creativity and connecting the community with the aim of delivering a shopping experience that is truly ‘one of a kind’.
This year’s Christmas show runs for 11 days and features 650+ artisans from across the country. Accessible by GO Transit and TTC. Children 4 and under are free, discounted admission for children/youth aged 5-17, college and university students with ID, and seniors ages 65+. New this year – your admission ticket includes free re-entry for the duration of the show.
Where: Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place, Toronto
When: November 23 to December 3, 2023
More Info: www.oneofakindshow.com
Polar Winter Festival
Polar Winter Festival took a break in 2022 with plans to return in 2023 but updated information not yet available.
New in 2021, last year’s drive-through festival is now walkthrough in a new location! Polar is Toronto’s first and biggest walkthrough holiday winter festival since the start of the pandemic! The winter wonderland on the Exhibition Grounds includes holiday decor like giant teddy bears at Santa’s Toy Shop, tunnels of starry lights at the Polar Ice Tunnel, selfies with Santa, a Christmas carousel, Santa train ride, an outdoor cocktail lounge with roaring firepits, a food market and more.
Guests are invited to explore the festival grounds at their own pace while maintaining social distancing. The proper use of masks is required on all rides and when physical distancing isn’t possible.
Ticket entry times are sold in 30 minute time slots but once inside you can stay as long as you like – most guest stay about 1.5 hours. Purchasing tickets online in advance is recommended. General Admission for 13+ is $19.99 plus fees and HST; 12 and under is $14.99 plus fees and HST; 2 and younger is free. Rides and Santa Photo are not included in the general admission fee.
Where: Exhibition Grounds – Bandshell Park, 100 Prince Edward Island Crescent, Toronto
More Info: www.polarwinterfestival.com
Holiday Fair in the Square
Holiday Fair in the Square is moving North to Mel Lastman Square in 2023!
Holiday Fair in the Square combines the charm and elegance of a Christmas market with the excitement of a winter carnival and light show. The fair features an artisan marketplace, visits with Santa, Polar Point Bar, Santa’s Village, rides and games, the Fireside Lounge, entertainment, photo ops and food trucks.
Admission is free and Holiday Fair in the Square is a dog-friendly event. This event supports Epilepsy Toronto. Accessible via TTC. Check out #HolidayFairTO on social media!
Where: 5100 Yonge Street, North York
When: December 1 -23, 2023 (Closed Mondays)
More Info: www.fairinthesquare.ca
Nights of Lights
Holiday Nights of Lights is an immersive walk-through experience like none other, featuring more than 1.5 million LED lights animated and synchronized to everyone’s favourite Holiday tunes. Back for the fourth year, the event will be bigger and brighter with new displays and interactive activities!
Upon exiting the light show, visitors can enter the market which includes unique shopping, entertainment, midway rides, visits with St. Nick at Santa’s Den, Blizzard Bar, a fireside lounge, over a dozen food trucks and Holly Jolly Lumberjack Axe Throwing!
Where: Scarborough Town Centre Outdoor Parking Lot, 500 Progress Ave., Scarborough
When: December 1, 2023 – January 7, 2024 (Open Thurs – Sun and daily starting December 21st). Closed Christmas day.
More Info: www.nightsoflights.ca
Swedish Christmas Fair
The Swedish Christmas Fair intended to hold a hybrid event in 2023 but, unfortunately, lost their event space so there will be no in-person fair this year. Orders can be placed online to be picked up in person and the SWEA organization is working diligently to find a new home for the Christmas Fair next year so they can continue this popular cultural holiday experience in Toronto.
The live Christmas fair is back in 2022 after two years of online sales! The Swedish Christmas fair is a two-day holiday extravaganza that attracts thousands of people each year who come to experience Swedish Christmas food, design, folk art, crafts, and traditions.
Visitors to the fair can enjoy children singing carols at the Lucia procession, folk dancing and singing, craft making and more. It’s also the perfect place to sample delicious Scandinavian food and do some Christmas shopping from vast selection of Swedish design products and folk art for sale. There will also be the traditional Glögg stand (Swedish mulled wine), Swedish candy, and the traditional Swedish dance around the Christmas tree to celebrate the holidays!
Admission to the event is free.
Where: Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas St. East, Toronto
When: Saturday November 19, 11 am – 5 pm, Sunday November 20, 11 am – 4 pm.
More Info: SwedishChristmasFair.ca
The Distillery Winter Village
Toronto’s historic Distillery District is inviting visitors to experience a charming Winter Village once again this holiday season. Visitors this holiday season will enjoy starlit canopies, a 56 foot tall Christmas Tree in Trinity Square (the tallest ever at the Distillery Winter Village), and festive music throughout the district.
Distillery District shops, galleries, and restaurants will be open, offering a unique blend of specialty gifts, art, cuisine and fashion in our open-air, safe environment of pedestrian-only streets – perfect for holiday shopping! There will be more than 20 vendor cabins in place this holiday season, Santa will be in his new location in the Pure Spirits Courtyard and his band of merry elves will be strolling the cobblestone streets.
Be sure to stop by the many festive décor features and photo ops including the iconic “Heart of Christmas” to round out the seasonal fun!! (Share your best pics and tag @distilleryTO #DistilleryWinterVillage)
The Distillery Winter Village opens each day at 10 am – tickets are required after 4:00 pm – check website for details. General Admission is $15 (non-refundable) and there are more expensive flexible options available as well. Kids 9 and under are FREE of charge. No on-site ticket sales – tickets must be purchased in advance. Ticket indicates entry time – there is no limit to how long you stay.
Where: Distillery Historic District, Toronto
When: November 16 – December 31, 2023. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
More Info: www.thedistillerywintervillage.com
Royal Botanical Gardens – Holiday Traditions
Winter Wonders is a unique outdoor experience that guides visitors along Hendrie Park’s picturesque pathways adorned with charming festive lights, new interactive light to sound installations, and magical displays that celebrate the magic of the winter season.
Pre-purchased timed tickets required – you may arrive any time within 30 minute window. Food and drink available for purchase throughout the experience. The walk is 1.5 km and takes approximately 1 hour. Adult admission $20 (+HST + Service Fee); Child age 3-12 $16 (+HST + Service Fee); Babies/Toddlers 0-2 Free but ticket required for entry. Thursday to Sunday, November 23 to January 7
The ever-popular RBG Botanical Train Display returns in 2023! Huge planters made from almost 700 kg of cedar filled with 2,500 plants create a seasonal backdrop for seven different lines of model train tracks. Follow the trains on their journey past scale models of iconic Canadian landmarks constructed entirely from plant materials! Included with General Admission ticket. Display remains open during Winter Wonders evening hours and requires a Winter Wonders ticket during that time period. November 23 to January 7
Don’t miss a ride on the RBG Express during your day visit the Gardens. Purchase tickets at the door to take a round-trip train ride through beautiful Hendrie Park to round out your RBG experience. $10 per train car with a maximum of 4 people per car. First train at 10:15 and last train at 2:45. November 23 to January 7
Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus – Pre-registration is required for this popular breakfast event which sells out quickly. December 9, 10 and 16, 2023
Where: Royal Botanical Gardens, 680 Plains Road West, Burlington, Ontario
When: November 23, 2023 – January 7, 2024 (Closed December 25, 26 and January 1)
More Info: www.rbg.ca
Allan Gardens Conservatory Winter Flower Show
2023 – Allan Gardens Conservatory is undergoing renovations – there is a holiday crafts session for families scheduled for Saturday December 9th but no Christmas Flower Show again this year.
The Christmas Flower Show is the highlight of year at Allan Gardens Conservatory which is decorated with flowering plants and poinsettia and topiary creations inspired by the holiday season. The event also features horse and wagon rides, carolers, hot apple cider and a visit from Santa. The grand opening of the show is the first Sunday in December and it runs until mid-January. The conservatory can also be enjoyed by candlelight on several weekends. There is also a Christmas Chrysanthemum Show held at Centennial Park Conservatory.
Where: Allan Gardens Conservatory, 19 Horticultural Avenue, Toronto (south side of Carlton Street between Jarvis and Sherbourne Streets); Centennial Park Conservatory, 151 Elmcrest Road, Toronto (west of Renforth Avenue and north of Rathburn Road)
More Info: www.toronto.ca
Not yet confirmed if Northern Lights will return for the 2023-24 holiday season. Northern Lights is an outdoor immersive walkthrough experience that wraps you up in the lights, sights, sounds, and feeling of the holidays. Bring your festive spirit and explore everything you love about the most wonderful time of the year including larger-than-life holiday decor, light installations, incredible photo opportunities, a vendor market, and selfies with Santa and the Grinch.
Where: Grand Bizarre at Exhibition Place, 15 Saskatchewan Road, Toronto
When: December 1, 2022 – January 8, 2023, 5:00-10:00 pm most nights
More Info: www.northlightsto.ca
Casa Loma at Christmas
My favourite time to visit Casa Loma is at Christmas when it’s decked for the holidays and there are special activities and entertainment for guests. This year visitors can celebrate and take part in the holiday magic at Casa Loma during two special festive events – Christmas at the Castle and the Holiday Lights Tour.
This December experience the magic of the season at Casa Loma’s Christmas at the Castle. Casa Loma will host a wide range of activities and thrilling performances that are sure to be fun for the whole family. Guests will be surrounded by holiday magic throughout the castle which will be resplendent with holiday décor including a 40 foot tall tree in the Great Hall and additional trees by talented Canadian designers. As always kids are invited to visit Santa in his castle workshop and participate in festive arts and crafts, visit with wintery holiday mascots, and much more. Select dates December 2023 – January 2024
Visitors will also be able to experience the magic of the season this year at Casa Loma’s Holiday Lights Tour through the gardens and tunnels of the property all decorated for the festive season. Designed as a self-guided walk, guests stroll through the property’s grounds while enjoying the spectacular decorations, outdoor lighting displays and live performances. Select dates December 2023 – January 2024, 5-10 pm
The Holiday Lights Tour is not included with a general admission ticket to Casa Loma and there is a discount for booking online in advance. Please note the entrance is on the southwest corner of the property at Davenport Rd. and Walmer Rd. This event is primarily outdoors and in the tunnels and requires walking approximately 2km.
Where: Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, Ontario
When: December 1, 2022 – January 8, 2023
More Info: www.casaloma.ca
Holiday Activities at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre
Holiday Bricktacular will take place at the Legoland Discovery Centre Toronto beginning early December when the Centre will be completely transformed into a winter wonderland with a LEGO® twist! Take a family photo with a giant holiday LEGO® tree, witness the breathtaking MINILAND, and celebrate the holidays with unique seasonal build activities.
Visit the Centre on New Year’s Eve as well for a countdown to 2024 and an epic balloon drop at NOON!! December 31, 2023 at noon.
Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto, 1 Bass Pro Mills Drive, Vaughan
When: December 1 – 24, 2023
More Info: www.toronto.legolanddiscoverycentre.ca
Toronto Zoo Holiday Activities
The Toronto Zoo has a number of fun activities planned this holiday season and will also be open on Christmas day!
Elf at the Zoo – Hang out with everyone’s favourite mischief-maker in the Front Courtyard on Saturday November 25th and Sunday November 26th. The Elf on the Shelf will be spreading cheer, posing for photos, and creating unforgettable moments for kids of all ages. 11:00-11:30; 12:00-12:30; 1:00-1:30 and 2:00-2:30. Free with admission.
Free family photos with Santa will also be available outside the Zoo’s entrance on Sunday November 26th as part of the Coca-Cola Holiday Caravan. Zoo admission is not required but you will have to pay for parking if not taking public transit. 10 am – 4 pm.
The Toronto Zoo Holiday Marketplace will take place Saturday November 18 and Sunday November 19, 2023 – 11 am – 4 pm. This 2-day indoor/outdoor market will showcase over 40 amazing artisans, processors, and producers from our local and surrounding communities. Shop local for gifts for the upcoming holiday season and enjoy festive photo opportunities while exploring the Zoo with friends and family. Holiday-inspired food and drink will be available for purchase. Free with Zoo admission.
The Zoo’s 12 Days of Holiday Enrichment returns this year with special programming with the animals from December 27, 2023 – January 7, 2024.
Where: 2000 Meadowvale Road (north of Highway 401). Accessible by car and public transit.
When: Dates and times vary – check website for details.
More Info: www.torontozoo.com
Holiday Hills at Stackt Market
Holiday Hills is back this year and bigger than ever transforming STACKT into a show stopping winter wonderland where you can immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with a whole roster of cozy, fun and festive activities and experiences.
Holiday Hills is a FREE festival that will take over a whole city block of Toronto with immersive photo installations and experiences, eye-catching holiday ambience, unique hospitality concepts, small business holiday shopping, community-led events, workshops and family programs.
Features this year include a 20 foot Christmas tree in the marketplace, the Disco Mistletoe and Speakeasy Whiskey Bar, a 120 foot tunnel of lights, curling lanes, Fizz & Fire patio with s’mores kits, weekly free live music nights, one-of-a-kind shopping and more! Check website for details.
Where: Stackt Market, 28 Bathurst Street, Toronto
When: November 17 – December 31, 2023
More Info: www.stacktmarket.com
Christmas at Black Creek Pioneer Village
The holidays are a great time to visit Black Creek Pioneer Village to experience some old-fashioned Christmas fun. During Christmas at Black Creek, families can tour the historic houses to learn more about the origin of Christmas traditions, take part in special activities, sample some traditional Christmas foods and sing along to Christmas carols.
There are two holiday events at Black Creek Pioneer Village in 2023 – Santa at the Village and Festive Nights select dates in December.
Santa in the Village is a daytime experience that includes crafts, games, music, sweets, hot cocoa, fireside story, photos with Santa and more. December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 and 23.
VIP Visits with Santa can also be booked to get an exclusive time slot with Old St. Nick before the Village opens.
On Festive Nights, visitors can enjoy the holiday village warmed by the glow of twinkling lights, cozy fires, and old-fashioned oil lamps while experiencing the warmhearted festivities of the season, including live entertainment and samples of delicious holiday treats. Saturday December 2, 9 and 16, 2023 at 6-9 pm.
Where: Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, Toronto
When: Christmas programming on weekends starting December 2 – December 23, 2023 – check website for details.
More Info: www.blackcreek.ca
Historical Sites in Toronto
Many of the historical sites in Toronto plan special activities for the holiday season.
Mackenzie House – The historic house remains under restoration in 2023 but the print shop is open. Festive Card Printing at Mackenzie House will be available on select dates from November 29, 2023 – January 7, 2024 and the popular Hogmanay celebration featuring an evening of live music will take place on December 30, 2023. 82 Bond Street, Toronto. www.toronto.ca
Colborne Lodge – Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories at Colborne Lodge will take place on 4 dates between December 7 and December 15, 2023. There will also be a winter craft drop-in program on select dates from December 13, 2023 – January 8, 2024. Located at the south end of High Park. www.toronto.ca
Spadina Museum – Candelight Tours – see the lavish 55-room mansion fully decorated for the holidays, just as it was in the 1920s. Fridays and Saturdays from December 1-22, 2023. 285 Spadina Road, Toronto. www.toronto.ca
Todmorden Mills – Enjoy a holiday-themed tour of Todmorden Mills’ two historic homes and learn about food and festivities from many traditions. Sample treats and gather with friends and family over crafts and games throughout the day. November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024. 67 Pottery Road Toronto. www.toronto.ca
Skating at Nathan Phillips Square
During the winter months, the reflecting pool in Nathan Phillips Square outside Toronto City Hall becomes one of the most popular and largest outdoor skating rinks in the city. There is a change room facility, public washrooms and skate rentals available. Admission to the rink is free.
Where: 100 Queen Street West, Toronto (at Bay Street)
When: Generally open by early December but weather dependent. Open daily 10 am – 10 pm.
More Info: www.toronto.ca
Springridge Farm Holiday Activities
Get into the Christmas spirit with a visit to Springridge Farm to visit their brand new Christmas Gourmet Shoppe as well as the ever popular bakery and Barn Market and pick out a fresh cut Christmas tree.
Where: 7256 Bell School Line, Milton, Ontario L9E 0N7
When: Open 9 am – 5 pm daily until Christmas.
More Info: www.springridgefarm.com
Downey’s Farm Market
The Christmas at the Farm event this year will include a visit with Santa as well as live entertainment, wagon rides and visits with the farm animals. Visitors will also be able to see the Elves Square, play Reindeer Games, make Reindeer Food and take pictures in Christmas scenes around the farm. This is an outdoor event so dress for the weather. $23.99 per person (ages 2+) plus HST – Nonrefundable – purchase tickets online in advance.
Downey’s will also have fresh cut Christmas trees, wreaths and garland available for purchase in the Farm Store as well as an assortment of scrumptious Christmas baking, fresh free-range turkeys and Christmas gift baskets. (beginning November 24th)
Where: Downey’s Farm Market, 13682 Heart Lake Road (north of Brampton)
When: November 25 – December 17, 2023
More Info: www.downeysfarm.com
Holidays at the Royal Ontario Museum
ROM for the Holidays 2023 progamming TBA. During ROM for the Holidays, the Royal Ontario Museum turns into a winter wonderland for parents and children with extended programming and fun activities over the winter break. Programming is designed to enhance the ROM’s major exhibitions.
The popular Wildlife Photographer of the Year annual exhibition will open on November 25, 2023.
Where: 100 Queen’s Park, Toronto (main entrance on Bloor St. West)
When: December/January during Christmas break (The ROM is closed on Christmas day)
More Info: www.rom.on.ca
Magical Christmas Forest at Kortright Centre
Once again this year, families can experience the magic of Christmas at the Kortright Centre. This self-guided experience includes a winter wonderland filled with lights, wagon rides, Santa in his cabin, festive music, children’s activities and hot chocolate for the whole family! This is an indoor and outdoor experience so dress for the weather.
Advance timed entry tickets are required and can be booked online.
Where: 9550 Pine Valley Drive, Woodbridge (south of Major Mackenzie Drive, west of Highway 400)
When: November 24 – December 23, 2023 (selected dates and times – check website for details)
More Info: www.kortright.org
WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland
Canada’s Wonderland is magically transformed into a winter Wonderland full of enchantment and holiday cheer for Winterfest – an immersive holiday experience for the whole family! This event features more than a dozen live shows and holiday entertainment, millions of spectacular lights, and hundreds of beautiful Christmas trees throughout the park, including two 50-foot Christmas trees on International Street.
Winterfest activities include cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, letter writing at the North Pole Post Office, meeting the Peanuts at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree Lot, family photos with Santa and exciting rides. Visitors can also enjoy shopping at a traditional Christmas market and treating themselves to festive treats including hot cider and hot chocolate.
Don’t forget to bring your skates – the Royal Fountain will be transformed into Snow Flake Lake for holiday season skating. (Skating reservations must be made online in advance. $10 for 30 minutes if you bring your own skates and $15 with rental including helmets.)
Where: Canada’s Wonderland, 1 Canada’s Wonderland Drive, Vaughan, Ontario
When: November 17, 2023 – January 6, 2024 (select nights)
More Info: www.canadaswonderland.com
Glow Christmas – Toronto
2023 – It doesn’t appear that Glow will be taking in place in Toronto this holiday season. Glow returns to Toronto in 2022 after a 2 year pause. At Canada’s premium indoor Christmas festival, you and your loved ones are invited to savour delicious food, sip on holiday inspired drinks, shop for one-of-a-kind gifts, decorate cookies with Mrs Claus, enjoy story time with Santa’s helpers and then visit with Santa himself —all beneath the glow of a million twinkling lights.
Tickets are timed entry and it is recommended that they are purchased online in advance to avoid disappointment at the door.
More Info: www.glowgardens.com
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada – Breakfast with Santa
Get into the fish-mas spirit at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada with the return of Breakfast with Santa! At this festive early morning breakfast, visitors will dine with some very special guests all the way from the North Pole, explore the Aquarium before opening, and snap a photo with Santa and his elves to take home!
This special event will have a limited capacity and tickets are on a first come first serve basis so be sure to book early! Admission is $60 + HST for adults (age 14+) and $45 + HST for children – includes admission to the aquarium.
Where: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, 288 Bremner Blvd., Toronto
When: December 9 and 10, 2023. 7:00 am – 9:00 am.
More Info: www.ripleyaquariums.com/canada
Miracle Toronto Christmas Cocktail Bar
Looking for a night out to celebrate during the holiday season without the kids? Miracle is a Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar that serves holiday cocktails in a festive setting. With kitschy holiday décor, professionally-developed cocktails and the nostalgic energy of the best office party you’ve ever been to, Miracle is sure to get even the grouchiest grinch in the holiday spirit.
Kids are also welcome to visit Miracle on Bloor St. every day until 9 pm. There will be a selection of non-alcoholic drinks available as well as Christmas cookies and large pretzels on the menu.
$1 of every drink sold is donated to Nellie’s Shelter, an organization providing shelter, education and advocacy for women and children in the GTA. $40,000 was raised for Nellie’s in 2022 and the hope is to increase that amount in 2023.
There will be no large party bookings this year – operating on a walk-in basis only.
$5 cover charge per person.
Where: 875 Bloor Street W. (Bloor and Ossington), Toronto
When: Opening Friday November 17, 2023; Mon – Wed 6 pm – 12 am/Thurs & Fri 6pm – 2 am/Sat 2 pm – 2 am/Sun 2 pm – 12 am.
More Info: www.miracletoronto.com
The Thirsty Elf
The Thirsty Elf is another holiday-themed pop-up where Christmas sweaters, kitschy décor and cheerful, festive cocktails with names like Gingerbread Beach House and Christmoose S’more will get patrons into the spirit of Christmas!
Opening night takes place on Wednesday November 22nd and after that The Thirsty Elf will be open Thursday through Saturday 5-10 pm. Walk-ins only. Must be 19+. 1 hour seating time.
Where: The Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front Street West, MM Level
When: November 22 – December 22, 2023
More Info: www.thefairmontroyalyork.com
Winter Festival of Lights – Niagara Falls
The annual Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights is Canada’s largest free outdoor light festival. Experience the spectacular displays with millions of lights and spectacular displays on an 8km route along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and across the tourism district of Niagara Falls.
You can admire the lights on foot or you can enjoy the festive lights from the comfort of your vehicle by driving the full route. The length of the route means you won’t be able to see all of it on foot so the best option is driving then parking to get out of the car and have a closer look at your favourite displays. Be sure to dress for the weather if you plan to walk any portion of the route!
The “Sparkling Winter Lights” Falls illumination will celebrate the beauty and majesty of the winter season. The display features the subtle and sometimes harsh movements inspired by winter in the north from gentle snowfalls to the aurora borealis gliding over snowy tundra, to blizzards and the frosted falls. The Festival will illuminate Niagara Falls for 51 nights 26 nights of fireworks!
The self-guided Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights Hot Chocolate Trail is back for 51 nights this year. The trail will lead to delicious stops of chocolatey concoctions created by chocolatiers, chefs and mixologists at some of the area’s excellent restaurants and bake shops across Niagara Falls.
The OPG Santa Meet and Greet with free digital photo will take place on select nights in December at the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse.
Where: Most illuminations are on the Niagara Parkway between Clifton Hill and Dufferin Islands
When: November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024. Lights are on 5 pm – midnight including holidays.
More Info: www.wfol.com
Burlington Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights is a free event that illuminates Burlington’s waterfront through December to early January each year. Visitors to the festival can stroll the 60 magical holiday lighting displays set up outside at Spencer Smith Park on the Burlington waterfront.
The Candelit Stroll will open the Festival of Lights on November 24th starting at 6 pm. The annual includes carolling, a tree lighting, visits with Santa, hot chocolate and more.
As part of Lights from the Rooftop you can enjoy the Burlington Festival of Lights from the rooftop at Joseph Brant Museum during the Candlelit Stroll on November 24 and every Thursday evening in December from 6-9 pm. FREE hot chocolate and popcorn will be served!
Where: Spencer Smith Park, 1400 Lakeshore Road, Burlington
When: November 24, 2023 to January 8, 2024 – Daily 4pm – midnight
More Info: www.burlingtonfestivaloflights.com
Christmas Town Mountsberg
Celebrate Christmas this year with a visit to Christmas Town at Mountsberg Conservation Area. The experience begins with a guided woodland wagon ride to Santa’s magical village Christmas Town where your little ones will enjoy a scavenger hunt, a Christmas craft, an ornament keepsake, cookie decorating and hot chocolate, and a private family visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at their cabin in the woods.
Reservations are required and can be booked online using the Conservation Halton reservation system. This event sells out very early! Cost is $39 per adult + HST and $35 per child + HST. No charge for babies under the age of 1. Most of the program is outside so be sure to dress appropriately for the weather.
A self-guided experience, Storytime with Santa, will take place on November 25 and 26, 2023. This does not include a wagon ride or a private visit with Santa but does include a group story reading with Santa, craft making, a holiday scavenger hunt, cookie decorating and hot chocolate. Cost is $26 per adult + HST and $22 per child + HST. Also expected to sell out.
Where: Mountsberg Conservation Park, 2259 Milburough Line, Campbellville, ON
When: November 16 to December 23, 2023 from Tuesday to Sunday (November 25/26 excluded) for the guided Christmas Town experience. Storytime with Santa will take place November 25 and 26.
More Info: www.conservationhalton.ca
Twinkle After Dark
To be confirmed if this event will be returning in 2023. Celebrate the season at Twinkle After Dark (formerly known as Country Bright), a fully-illuminated walk-through experience at Country Heritage Park in Milton. Encounter whimsical displays, life size snow globes and familiar characters as you stroll through listening to your favourite holiday tunes.
Immerse yourself in a charming country setting with 19th century barns and natural scenery brought to life through lights and sound under a winter nighttime sky. Featuring historic buildings, holiday projections, costumed actors, festive music and a main street that is truly awe-inspiring! Santa will be at his house and letters can be deposited in his special mailbox.
Snack foods such as cookies, popcorn and BeaverTails as well as hot chocolate and apple cider will be available for sale.
Tickets for the event are available online only. The 1 km walk is entirely outside and takes place rain, snow or shine so be sure to dress for the weather.
Where: Country Heritage Park, 8560 Tremaine Road, Milton
When: November 24 – December 28, 2022
More Info: www.twinkleafterdark.com
Do you have a favourite holiday activity or event in Toronto or the GTA that isn’t listed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it.
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