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School of Continuing Studies | University of Toronto

What to Do in Toronto During the Holidays

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The holiday season in North America is known for being a little over-the-top: with seasonal lights, Christmas trees, and holiday decorations going up all over the cities across the continent. Every street corner you turn will hold something different for you to see. This is also a time of the year when friends, families, and loved ones come together, sometimes travelling large distances to spend time with each other. The holiday season is also known as the “season of giving”. This not only refers to the tradition of gift giving that we participate in but also is said with the idea of giving back to the community. A good way to give back is through food and toy drives, like the one we had here at the English Language Program (ELP). People participate by donating food and toys to people in need who may go hungry or do not have the means to buy presents for their children. The holidays are about coming together and cherishing the time spent with loved ones while celebrating with gifts, decorated trees, and food!

Though ELP will be ending our current session on December 15th, Toronto will still be busy with many activities for you to participate in while we are closed. Our next session starts January 8th but until then, here are some activities you can do in Toronto during the break!


Distillery District Christmas Market

If you missed our ELP visits to the Christmas Markets this December, do not worry because the Christmas Market is open until December 23rd. This is one of Toronto’s most popular places to visit during the holidays, so make sure you’re ready for a crowd if you plan on going on the weekends. Admission is free on weekdays from Tuesday to Friday at 5:00pm and $6.00 on weekends starting at 5:00pm on Fridays. Here you’ll be able to indulge in traditional Canadian dishes like poutine and beavertails, and shop at the kiosks, see the festive lights, and see the huge Christmas tree that is put up each year. Don’t miss it!


Holiday Window Displays

At the heart of downtown Toronto and inside the Eaton Centre, there are spectacular indoor light displays, like a three-story Christmas tree, that you can enjoy while shopping for your holiday presents. Nearby at the Hudson’s Bay on Queen St. West, they are known for creating holiday-themed animatronic window displays that are a big attraction for city-goers. Window displays can also be found throughout December at the Saks Fifth Avenue on Yonge Street, William Ashley China on Bloor West, and Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street West.


Casa Loma

This holiday season, Casa Loma transforms their grounds into a Christmas haven! Celebrate the season at the 150 Years of Canadian Christmas at Casa Loma which runs daily from December 2nd to January 7th, 2018 from 9:30am – 5:00pm. Here you will be able to enjoy shows by illusionists, walk the festively decorated grounds, and visit Santa in his castle workshop! Casa Loma also turns into a Winter Wonderland at night and is a great opportunity to experience Toronto’s castle. This event opens on December 18th and runs until January 7th, 2018 from 5:00-9:00pm. Please be aware that the Winter Wonderland at Casa Loma event will not be available December 24th, 25th, 31st and January 6th.


Evergreen’s Winter Village

If you got a chance to volunteer at Evergreen Brick Works during the warmer seasons, you will definitely want to return to their winter village that is open until February 28th. You will be able to indulge in the street food market and Farmer’s market, shop for holiday gifts, and enjoy the outdoors. Admission is free for everyone and includes ice skating through their nature trail.


New Year’s Eve in Toronto

To celebrate the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, Toronto hosts celebrations all over the GTA! The biggest attraction in the city will undoubtedly be the New Year’s Eve celebrations at Nathan Phillip’s Square. This year’s event entertainment is sponsored by Tim Hortons and you will be able to participate in ice skating, enjoy live music and DJs, and see the spectacular fireworks show as you ring in the new year in the city. This event is free for all who attend and begins at 8pm on December 31st.

If you want to get a little farther out of the city, there will also be a New Year’s Eve event at Celebration Square in Mississauga. Here you will also be able to enjoy live entertainment, ice skating, tasty food trucks, and a firework finale!

Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre will be hosting a skating party on New Year’s Eve where you will be able to ice skate from 10:00pm – 2:00am along to music from a live DJ or take a break from the fun with late-night snacks. You will be able to skate for free but skate rental might be of additional cost.

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