The holiday season is going to be very different this year as efforts to contain the second wave of the pandemic continue. Many favourite events and activities that are part of Christmas in Toronto and the rest of Ontario have been cancelled, however, some are being modified to meet public health guidelines and creative new socially distanced events are being launched.
If you’re looking for an up-to-date list of things to do in Toronto during the 2021 holiday season then you might like to read The Ultimate Guide to Family-Friendly Holiday Events and Activities in Toronto and the GTA (2021)
Most Christmas events and activities in Toronto and the rest of Ontario in 2020 will be outdoors, drive-through or virtual so we can enjoy the season while staying safe!
These fun and festive things to do in Toronto and within driving distance of the city during the Christmas season 2020 are sure to get you in the holiday spirit!
This list will be updated as information about additional events becomes available.
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Terra Lumina at the Toronto Zoo
11/23/2020 – The Toronto Zoo is currently closed due to new restrictions for City of Toronto.
Terra Lumina, described as an “enchanted night walk into a bright future”, is a fun outdoor experience for all ages. After nightfall at the zoo this winter, visitors can enjoy an immersive experience which includes vibrant lighting, multimedia effects, breathtaking video projections and an original score along a 1.5 km walking path.
Terra Lumina is an outdoor event and takes about an hour to complete so be sure to dress for the weather.
Terra Lumina will be open on select nights with limited capacity and safety measures in place in 2020. Face masks are mandatory when indoors, at certain animal viewing areas and whenever you can’t maintain 6 feet distance from others. All tickets must be purchased in advance and online.
Tickets are $29.99 + HST Adults; $24.99 + HST Child (3-12); $27.99 + HST Seniors (65+)
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
Toronto Zoo Holiday Marketplace
11/23/2020 – The Toronto Zoo is currently closed due to new restrictions for City of Toronto.
For the first time this holiday season, the front courtyard at the Toronto Zoo will be transformed into a seasonal marketplace, showcasing some amazing producers, processors, and artisans.
The market place opens at 2 pm each day and is free with zoo admission during the zoo’s operating hours (until 3:30pm). Admission is $5.50 + HST per person 3:30 – 8 pm. Pre-booked timed-tickets are required to visit both the zoo and Holiday Marketplace.
Where: 2000 Meadowvale Road (north of Highway 401). Accessible by car and public transit.
When: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays November 20, 2020 to December 20, 2020 + December 21, 22, and 23, 2020 . Hours: 2-8 pm
More Info: www.torontozoo.com
Toronto Zoo Holiday Drive-Thru
This holiday season, come out to the Toronto Zoo Holiday Drive-Thru for a family-friendly and COVID safe experience! See the beauty of winter at The Toronto Zoo as you and your family drive through a special holiday route from the safety and warmth of your own vehicle.
Along the route you will drive past the zoo’s 35 foot tall Christmas tree as well as the new Holiday Marketplace before a drive-by visit with Santa Claus followed by Santa’s cottage where some of his reindeer (caribou) reside and the Enrichment Toy Workshop where you can see some of the Toronto Zoo Elves making toys for the animals.
The drive is approximately 15-20 minutes. The cost is $20 per car for members and $25 for non-members. Timed tickets must be pre-purchased online. The zoo will be accepting donations of non-perishable food items and toys for families in need. Food donations will be going to Second Harvest and toy donations will be going to the Toronto Firefighters Toy Drive.
Where: Experience begins at The Toronto Zoo Drop Off Loop (Zoo Rd, Scarborough Ontario M1B 5S4 for GPS).
When: November 28, 2020 – December 21, 2020 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
More Info: www.torontozoo.com
Polar – Drive Through Event
Polar, Canada’s first multi-level, drive through holiday experience will take place this year at the Toronto Pearson airport. Each of the six levels of the drive-through will feature its own themed environment, filled with iconic holiday elements including a light tunnel, a winter wonderland and the jolly old elf, Santa Claus, himself.
Suitable for all ages. Tickets must be purchased online in advance for a designated time slot. Admission is $45 per car.
Where: 6145 Viscount Road, Mississauga, Ontario. Located at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.
When: November 27, 2020 – January 3, 2021
More Info: www.polar-drive.com
Santa’s Drive-Thru Village
This holiday season enjoy a fully contactless drive-thru ride at Santa Claus Village, showcasing during day time an impressive display collection of world-class Christmas themes, giant licensed balloons as well as a massive synchronized animated LED Lights show at night time. Tune into the radio for the musical accompaniment along the 45 minute drive.
This event is presented by Improve – Canada’s largest home improvement centre. Visitors must remain in vehicles at all times. Timed tickets must be purchased online in advance. Ticket prices per vehicle start at $19.75 (plus $2 fees including taxes). A Family Car Pass (includes 4 people) is $51.75 including taxes.
Where: Improve Canada Centre, 7250 Keele Street (Between Steeles Ave. and Highway 7)
When: November 26-29, 2020 from 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
More Info: www.santadrivethruvillage.com
Black Creek – Enchanted Christmas Village
11/23/2020 – Event has been cancelled as Black Creek Pioneer Village is temporarily closed due to new restrictions for City of Toronto.
The holidays are a great time to visit Black Creek Pioneer Village to experience some old-fashioned Christmas fun. Guests will discover the joy of an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas while touring the main street of the Village, alight with oil-lamps, and a crackling bonfire. Stops on the tour will include a performance of a holiday story, tin lantern and candle making demonstrations and a chance to snap a (physically distanced) selfie with Santa!
To manage visitor flow and ensure visitor capacity limits are maintained, only guests on the Enchanted Christmas Village tour or Storytime with Santa program are permitted to visit the Village this holiday season.
Enchanted Christmas Village Tours last approximately 100 minutes and will be available Saturdays and Sundays from December 6 – 20, 2020 plus December 22 and 23rd. Storytime with Santa is a 90 minute activity on specified dates from December 5 – 23, 2020. Tickets must be purchased in advance online for both.
Where: Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, Toronto
When: Various dates in December. Check the website for details.
More Info: www.blackcreek.ca
Canadian Tire Christmas Trail
A one-of-a-kind completely outdoor drive-along experience through thousands of twinkling lights, fun and interactive displays, festive treats and live entertainment. At the end of the 1.5 kilometre trail, there will be a carefully curated Christmas display to capture a beloved photo with Santa while maintaining a safe distance.
Tickets must be purchased online. There are NO onsite ticket sales. The cost per vehicle is $25.00 + HST. All proceeds will be donated to Canadian Tire Jumpstart charities. Masks must be worn when communicating with event staff.
This event was sold out as of November 17th. Check the website for any cancellations or in the event that additional dates are added.
Where: 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, North York, ON M3J 2P3 (adjacent to Black Creek Pioneer Village)
When: Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 – Sunday, December 20th, 2020
More Info: www.ctchristmastrail.cventevents.com
Glow Gardens – Niagara Christmas
Just last year Glow Gardens, a family-friendly indoor wonderland with interactive light gardens and illuminated structures launched in Toronto, however, they have had to change things up this year for safety reasons. Instead there will be an outdoor drive-through Glow Gardens light festival in the Niagara Region.
Glow Gardens is transforming the outdoor park space of Safari Niagara into a 3-kilometer, twinkling Christmas landscape with over a million lights featuring larger-than-life reindeer, teddy bears, ornaments and a 30+ foot tree! Enjoy the spectacular lights from the safety of your car and tune in to Glow FM on your car radio to to sing along to set the mood with holiday favourites.
Tickets must be purchased in advance online. Ticket price is $30 per vehicle (maximum 7 visitors).
Where: Safari Niagara, 2821 Stevensville Rd, Stevensville, ON L0S 1S02
When: November 18, 2020 to January 2, 2021
More Info: www.glowgardens.com/niagara-christmas
Holiday Magic Market – Old Mill Toronto
11/23/2020 – Event postponed due to new restrictions for City of Toronto.
Since most of the Christmas markets have been cancelled this year, I was thrilled to discover that Old Mill Toronto would be hosting their first ever holiday market this festive season to showcase local businesses. Visitors to the market will enjoy the opportunity to shop local, enjoy freshly baked sweet treats, sip on warm cocoa or hot cider, gaze at the winter wonderland lights, and participate in a children’s scavenger hunt.
Admission will be Adults $8, Children 5-11 $5 (plus tax and Eventbrite service fee). Children under 5 are free. Timed Entry Tickets must be purchased in advance as there will be capacity limits (maximum 50 people in the market at one time) to manage social distancing and crowd control. Tickets go on sale November 13 at noon. Masks will be mandatory.
Where: Old Mill Toronto, 21 Old Mill Road, Toronto
When: Specified dates from December 4 to 22, 2020 – 4pm – 10pm
More Info: www.oldmilltoronto.com
The Distillery District – Winter Village
Unfortunately, the annual Christmas Market had to be cancelled this year as the crowds that attend are too large for safe physical distancing so the Distillery Historic District has launched a Winter Village instead.
Visitors to the district will enjoy starlit canopies, a Grand Christmas Tree in Trinity Square (until January 10), holiday photo opportunities and festive music throughout as part of the charming Winter Village experience. Distillery District shops, galleries, and restaurants are open, offering a unique blend of specialty gifts, art, cuisine and fashion in an open-air, safe environment of pedestrian-only streets. Many of the businesses are offering curbside pickup and online shopping. The cobblestone patio will also be used throughout the winter for outdoor dining.
During the holidays, there will be no paid entrance fees, tickets, or reserved time slots for the Distillery’s Winter Village. On Friday evenings and weekends there will be security to monitor traffic and if capacity is reached, measures will be taken to control traffic and temporary closures may be imposed to allow safe physical distancing.
Where: Distillery Historic District, Toronto
When: November 12, 2020 – March 31, 2021
More Info: www.thedistillerydistrict.com
St Jacobs Holiday Art Market
It’s always worth the drive to visit the St Jacobs Market District but it’s even better during the holiday season when you can enjoy winter treats, find unique gifts created by local artists and see the wonderful displays in the Festival of Trees. Get all of your holiday essentials for making fabulous meals and holiday decor at St. Jacobs Market District.
Masks are mandatory when entering any of the market buildings and social distancing is encouraged.
Where: 25 Benjamin Road, Waterloo
When: Thursdays to Sundays December 3-20, 2020
More Info: www.stjacobsmarket.com
Outdoor Ice Skating
This is definitely going to be the year to embrace outdoor winter activities like skating! 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.
Nathan Phillips Square will host free, drop-in programming from December 2nd to March 22, 2020. Visitors can take advantage of free skate instruction, DJ Skate night and more.
Another free outdoor skating option in the city this winter might be the Bentway Skate Trail under the Gardiner Expressway on the lands of Fort York National Historic Site. The Harbourfront Centre rink will be closed this winter skating season. The City of Toronto also has a list of outdoor rink locations.
When: Generally open by early December but weather dependent.
Ross Petty Virtual Pantomime
One of my family’s favourite holiday traditions when our kids were younger was attending a performance of the annual pantomime staged by Ross Petty Productions at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. While live performances are cancelled this year, the show will go on with a virtual performance of Home for the Holidays!
Home for the Holidays will feature favourites Eddie Glenn, Dan Chameroy’s “Plumbum” and more as well as Roberta Battaglia, a sensational 11 year old singer who recently won the Golden Buzzer award on the NBC-TV smash hit series America’s Got Talent.
The 1-hour show will be available anytime from 10:00am EST – 9:00pm EST on Saturday December 19th and Sunday December 20th at a cost of $35 per household. The production will be in support of Kids Help Phone, an organization supporting Canadian young people who are struggling with mental health during COVID-19.
Where: In the comfort of your home
When: Saturday December 19 and Sunday December 20, 2020
More Info: www.rosspetty.com
Holiday Nights of Lights
Holiday Nights of Lights is a socially distanced, fully contactless drive thru experience. It’s an immersive experience like none other, featuring more than 1,000,000 LED lights animated and synchronized to holiday tunes. The drive is 2.25 km and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Suitable for all ages. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. Pricing is per car depending on the number of people in the car. $25 up to 2 people; $40 up to 5 people; and $65 up to 8 people.
Where: Revel Park, 80 Interchange Way, Vaughan (located just off Highway 7).
When: November 20, 2020 – January 7, 2021; 5:40 – 10:30 pm
More Info: www.nightsoflights.ca
Holidays at the Royal Botanical Gardens
New for 2020, historic Hendrie Park will be transformed into a winter wonderland of nature and light for a unique outdoor experience – Winter Wonders. Visitors will enjoy festive music while strolling Hendrie Park’s picturesque pathways adorned with charming festive lights for the event including 7 magical displays that tell the stories of unique winter wonders!
Light fare including hot drinks and holiday treats will be available to purchase along the trail.
The RBG Express train will also be available for paid rides through the wintery Hendrie Park gardens.
Where: Royal Botanical Gardens, 680 Plains Road West, Burlington, Ontario
When: Wednesdays to Sundays November 18 to December 23; December 27 -30; January 2 and 3, 2020 5 – 10 pm
More Info: www.rbg.ca
Bluffs Winter Wonderland
Bluffs Winter Wonderland drive thru experience will bring holiday cheer to all as visitors drive along a 1KM decorated lit path inside the Eglinton Go south parking lot. The path will pass by Reindeer Way, Snowman Alley, The Enchanted Forest and end at Santa’s House for a distanced meet & greet with Santa Claus! A special mailbox direct to the North Pole will also be available for letter drop off outside Santa’s House.
The show is designed to last approximately 10 minutes. Tickets must be reserved online prior to arrival. The event is in support of Feed Scarborough.
Experience was sold out early, however, new dates and times have now been added.
Where: *New location – Eglinton Go south parking lot (2995 Eglinton Ave. E., Scarborough)
When: November 27 – December 20, 2020
More Info: www.bluffswinterwonderland.com
Casa Loma Holiday Light Tour
11/23/2020 – Event postponed as Casa Loma is temporarily closed due to new restrictions in City of Toronto.
Experience the magic of the season this year at Casa Loma’s self-guided Holiday Light Tour through the gardens and tunnels of the property all decorated for the festive season. Guests will be able to stroll through the property’s grounds while enjoying the spectacular decorations and outdoor lighting displays in a safe environment.
The Holiday Light Tour is not included with general admission to Casa Loma. Tickets are date and time specific and must be booked online in advance. The Holiday Walk admission price is $35 per person and the Premium Holiday Walk which includes hot chocolate and a cookie is $43 per person.
The entrance for the Holiday Light Tour is on the south west corner of the property at Davenport Rd. and Walmer Rd. This event is primarily outdoors and requires walking approx. 2km, including various sets of stairs. Guest Screening/Contact Tracing, Physical Distancing, Masks/Face Coverings Required.
Where: Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, Ontario
When: December 3, 2020 to January 3, 2021. Opens at 4 pm daily. The Holiday Lights Tour is available Christmas Day (December 25th), however, Casa Loma is closed that day.
More Info: www.casaloma.ca
Journey Into Enchantment – Markham
Experience the magic of more than a million lights along a 1.6 km route at the Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham where you will encounter dazzling animated displays, static displays, music shows, simulated starburst fireworks lights, and a spectacular tunnel as you drive through in the comfort of your own vehicle. The event is raising funds for Sick Kids Hospital and Toronto Animal Shelter.
Prices vary starting at $29.95 + HST for an 8 passenger vehicle visiting on a Monday – Thursday evening. All tickets are sold online, however, a time slot does not need to be booked. Event will be traffic controlled.
Where: Angus Glen Golf Club, 10080 Kennedy Road, Markham, Ontario, L6C 1N9
When: November 20, 2020 to January 7, 2021
More Info: www.magicallights.ca
Christmas at Downey’s Farm
Santa and his elves will be dressing extra warm as their visit to Downey’s Farm in Caledon will be an outdoor event this year. The Christmas at the Farm experience includes visits with farm animals, hot chocolate and cookie decorating and a socially distanced visit with Santa. Visitors will also be able to see the Elves Workshop and take pictures in Christmas scenes around the farm.
Tickets must be purchased in advance online. The cost is $21.95 per person + HST. Visits will be limited to 45 minutes in order to comply with updated capacity restrictions.
Where: Downey’s Farm Market, 13682 Heart Lake Road (north of Brampton)
When: November 21, – December 20, 2020. Check website for time slots available.
More Info: www.downeysfarm.com
Winter Festival of Lights – Niagara Falls
The 38th annual Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights is Canada’s largest free outdoor light festival. Experience the spectacular displays with 3 million lights on an 8km route along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and across Niagara Falls.
Wide open spaces make for easy physical distancing so that 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 Falls Illumination will take place nightly this year (4:30 pm – 2:00 am), however, there will be no fireworks in accordance with provincial health and safety guidelines to limit group sizes for events.
Where: Most illuminations are on the Niagara Parkway between Clifton Hill and Dufferin Islands
When: November 14, 2020 – January 10, 2021. Lights are on 5 pm – midnight including holidays.
More Info: www.wfol.com
Magical Christmas Forest at the Kortright Centre
Once again this year, families can experience the magic of Christmas at the Kortright Centre. During Magical Christmas Forest, the forest comes to life and is transformed into a winter wonderland with lights, crafts, activities and treats for the whole family. Visits with Santa this year will be outside his cabin.
This is an entirely outdoor experience so dress for the weather. Advance tickets are required and can be booked online or by calling the Kortright Centre. Each experience is 2 hours in length based on the time slot selected when purchasing tickets. Cost is $29 + HST for adults and $24 + HST for children.
Where: 9550 Pine Valley Drive, Woodbridge (south of Major Mackenzie Drive, west of Highway 400)
When: Starts November 27, 2020 – December 23, 2020 (specified nights – check website for details)
More Info: www.kortright.org
Lights On Stratford – Winter Festival of Lights
It’s a bit of a drive from Toronto, however, there’s a brand new winter festival of lights planned for Stratford which promises to be very creative. Stratford is home to some of the world’s best artists and Lights on Stratford plans to draw on their talent to craft a truly unique experience transforming the downtown core with luminous art and interactive light installations.
The exhibits will be found in six locations and will be launched on separate dates – Market Square light sculpture installations (Nov 19); Tom Patterson Theatre light experience (Nov 26); Storefront light displays (Dec 1); Tom Patterson Island light installations (Dec 10); City Hall projections (Dec 17); and Shakespearean Gardens of a Thousand Lights (Jan 2).
Lights on Stratford is free to the public and designed to be safely enjoyed with physical distancing.
Where: Stratford, Ontario
When: Beginning mid-November 2020 – mid-February 2021. Light displays will not be operating on December 25, 26 or January 1.
More Info: www.lightsonstratford.ca
Burlington Lakeside Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights is a free event that will be going ahead this year with a few safety modifications. Visitors to the festival can stroll the 60 magical holiday lighting displays set up outside at Spencer Smith Park on the Burlington waterfront.
There will be no opening ceremony this year and displays will be centralized to make it easier to facilitate drive-by viewing. Physical distancing reminders will also be placed throughout the park.
Where: Spencer Smith Park, Lakeshore Road, Burlington
When: November 27, 2020 to January 8, 2021 – Daily 4pm – midnight
More Info: www.burlingtonfestivaloflights.com
Bingemans Gift of Lights – Kitchener
Another attraction that is a bit of a drive from the GTA is Bingemans Gift of Lights in Kitchener. Gift of Lights, a family-friendly drive-thru holiday light display with two tunnels and over 300 animated and static light displays, is the largest holiday light display in Southern Ontario. The venue also has designated “walk-only” nights when visitors can enjoy the displays on foot.
Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Price varies by date – a single vehicle up to 8 passengers is either $20 or $25 depending on date selected. Walk Only tickets for designated dates are $5 per person.
Where: 425 Bingemans Centre Dr. Kitchener, Ontario. Enter through the Camping Entrance.
When: November 14, 2020 to January 3, 2021 (weekends in November and then daily)
More Info: www.bingemans.com
Christmas at Mountsberg Conservation Park
Storytime Magic with Santa at Mountsberg (a Conservation Halton Park) is returning this year with a few adjustments. Take your litle ones to Mountsberg for a scavenger hunt through the woods and Santa’s magic village, hot chocolate and cookies, and a Christmas craft. Finish out the day with virtual Christmas story time (Santa learned how to use Zoom!) inside Mrs. Claus’ cabin kitchen.
Reservations are required and can be booked online using the Conservation Halton reservation system. Cost is $25 per adult + HST and $20 per child + HST. Most of the program is outside so be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Face coverings will also be required.
Where: Mountsberg Conservation Park, 2259 Milburough Line, Campbellville, ON
When: November 20th until December 24th, (evenings and weekends Tuesday-Sunday)
More Info: www.conservationhalton.ca
Miracle Toronto – Christmas Pop-Up Bar
11/23/2020 – Closed due to new restrictions in City of Toronto. Online store is open.
Looking for a night out to celebrate during the holiday season without the kids? Miracle is a Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar in Toronto’s west-end 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.
This season, Miracle will be entirely outdoors and closely following city guidelines to keep all of staff and guests as safe as possible. New location at Stackt Market on Bathurst Street.
Where: Stackt Market, 28 Bathurst Street
When: November 20 – December 26, 2020. Closed Mondays. Hours vary.
More Info: www.miracletoronto.com
Country Christmas Drive-Thru
Drive a 2 kilometre scenic loop of Christmas lights and decorations at Country Heritage Park while listening to a musical score on the radio.
Tickets are available online only and must be purchased in advance. Tickets are $10 per vehicle.
Where: Country Heritage Park, 8560 Tremaine Road, Milton
When: Wednesday through Sundays December 2nd-6th and 9th-13th, 2020
More Info: www.countryheritagedrivethru.com
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