Toronto is a fabulous place to visit any time of the year, but the winter season is truly something special. There are a host of Christmas markets, winter festivals, and live experiences that will dazzle the whole family, so we’ve put together a list of some of our favourites that you won’t want to miss.
Visit the St. Lawrence Christmas Market
The St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto is already regarded as one of the finest food markets in the world, and during the holiday season, it steps up its game even more! In addition to the regular vendors, you’ll see more artists, craftmakers, and artisans, with unique and beautiful gifts for purchase. Click here to take a tour of last year’s market and get an idea of the whole experience, and click here to see a full list of attractions for 2023.
Lumiere: The Art of Light
This is a beautiful outdoor light festival, created by local artists and free to the public. Located at Trillium Park, Lumiere typically takes place between March and May, just as the temperatures start to rise again. Each year brings a different theme to the exhibition, with past seasons looking at concepts like ‘renewal’ and ‘collaboration’.
Trillium Park is roughly a 20-minute drive from Pantages Hotel, the Hotel Victoria, Anndore House, and the Novotel!
Distillery Winter Village & Christmas Market
Open from November 16th until the new year, view spectacular art displays, sing along with holiday carolers, meet Santa Claus and enjoy live music at the historic Toronto Distillery. Vendors selling all kinds of wares will pop up in unique winter-themed cabins, and the food – as always – will be unforgettable. Free for kids 9 and under, general admissions starts at just $15 per person.
From January to March, you can also catch the Toronto Light Festival here, which serves to raise & brighten spirits during cold winters and uncertain times. The Distillery District is within walking distance from the Novotel Toronto Centre hotel.
Winter Stations Toronto
During the winter, the lifeguard stations along Toronto’s east-end beaches aren’t in use – that’s why, in 2014, local artists conspired to host an annual Winter Stations event. Bringing in artists and designers from around the world, each lifeguard station is transformed into a stunning art display, making for a romantic and insightful walking tour!
The 2024 event takes place at Woodbine Beach in late February, and is roughly a 20-minute drive from Pantages Hotel, the Hotel Victoria, Anndore House, and the Novotel!
The Bentway Skate Trail
Located under the Gardiner Expressway, the Bentway Skate Trail is a beautiful public space that’s utilized all year round – but wintertime brings it to life with a unique skating rink that allows you to loop and traverse around a winter wonderland. You can catch live concerts and performances, enjoy hot chocolate and food trucks, and feel like a local at this unique and historic park. Skate rentals are available on-site, parking is close by, and you can get a free hour of wifi to upload all of the Instagrammable moments you’re going to have!
The Bentway Park & Skate Trail is a 15-minute drive from the Novotel Toronto Centre hotel.
WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland
If your family is headed to Toronto between Nov. 17th, 2023 and Jan. 6th, 2024, don’t miss the magic of WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland! Now in its fourth year, this annual tradition brings together all of your favourite things about the holidays – from hundreds of beautifully illuminated Christmas trees to ice skating, rides, live shows, and experiences you’ll never forget.
The festival has dozens of food vendors, serving up Canadian classics like funnel cakes, turkey dinner mac & cheese, and poutine, along with fan favourites like fried chicken, burgers, and pizza. For the grown-ups, you’ll be able to purchase ciders, wines, and spiced eggnog, or stick to delicious non-alcoholic options like hot cocoa, milkshakes and even lemonade. If you feel like getting fancy, Jack Frost’s Igloo Village will allow you to book your own private igloo for dining and concierge service.
Canada’s Wonderland is located in Vaughn and is approximately a 45-minute drive North from downtown Toronto.
Want To Stay Inside?
Warm up at the Allan Gardens Conservatory. You’ll feel like you’re visiting the tropics as you stroll through their five lush greenhouses, which have been a Toronto staple for more than 100 years.
If you’re travelling with kids (or just happen to love immersive, interactive learning experiences), hit up the Ontario Science Centre. Regarded as one of the best science centres in the country, you can work your way through numerous exhibits, from dinosaurs to the human body, to outer space!
Last but not least, visit the CN Tower. Easily Toronto’s most recognizable landmark, you can enjoy unparalleled views of the city, dine at the luxurious 360 restaurant, and take a trip all the way up to the SkyPod – the highest observation centre in the Western hemisphere.