Capture the holiday spirit at nine of the city’s most cherished, festive traditions—some of which have been thrilling locals for generations.

Ice skating Toronto’s outdoor rinks and trails

Tis the season to hit the ice at one of the city’s open-air rinks. With the iconic TORONTO sign as a backdrop, Nathan Phillips Square’s famous rink is a must-skate for any visitor, but it’s not the only cool place to show off your skills. 

Glide along The Bentway’s looping 220 m (722 ft) skate trail beneath the Gardiner Expressway or try the family-friendly path at the east-end’s Evergreen Brick Works. – Skate seasons vary; check links for info

Getting festive at The Distillery Winter Village 

Inspired by Europe’s outdoor markets, The Distillery Winter Village at the Distillery Historic District has quickly become one of the city’s favourite and most Instagrammable holiday events. 

Stroll the cobblestone streets lined with wooden kiosks where you can purchase handmade gifts from 65+ local artisans. Music, twinkling string lights, a 17 m (56 ft) Christmas tree, carollers, buskers and a strolling Santa and elves all add to the storybook magic. – November 16–December 31, 2023

GET THE INSIDE SCOOP: Everything You Need to Know About the Distillery Winter Village

Winterfest Canada's Wonderland
Enjoy Canada's Wonderland's festivities at Winterfest

Exploring WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland

It’s not the North Pole, but you’ll find a world of holiday spirit just 30 km (19 miles) north of Toronto at Canada’s largest theme park, Canada’s Wonderland

During WinterFest, the theme park transforms into an immersive holiday experience for all ages, with millions of spectacular lights, ice skating on Snow Flake Lake (advance online reservations required), Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, live holiday shows, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus and select amusement park rides open for exhilaratingly festive winter fun. – Select dates, November 17, 2023 - January 6, 2024

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Checking out holiday window displays

The tradition of holiday decor goes back to the 1920s when seasonal store windows attracted shoppers to visit Toronto’s two biggest retailers at the time.

A century later, festive displays still attract crowds of revellers. Explore the dreamy, wishlist-inspiring windows of Yorkville’s Mink Mile. In the west-end Junction neighbourhood, the Window Wonderland festival invites shoppers to use an augmented reality (AR) app to watch the various window displays come alive. – Mid-November 2023–January 2024

Take a break from shopping while at the Eaton Centre and enjoy Rowland Emett’s whimsical Dream Machines. Cadillac Fairview and Ontario Science Centre have partnered together to bring these kinetic sculptures to downtown Toronto this holiday season. Showcased in the holiday display windows (along Yonge Street, just south of Dundas Street), these unique sculptures come to life every half hour from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

Note: The Hudson’s Bay windows won’t be displayed this year due to construction along Queen Street W.

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Photographing the city’s most epic Christmas trees

A towering Christmas tree works magic when it comes to getting people into the festive spirit. Two of downtown’s biggest, brightest trees are at Nathan Phillips Square and The Distillery Winter Village, where each beautifully decked-out tree tops 15m (50 feet) in height. – Mid-November 2023–January 2024

Counting reindeer at the Santa Claus Parade

A Toronto tradition since 1905, hundreds of thousands of people line the parade route of the Original Santa Claus Parade to welcome Saint Nicholas each year. The parade will take over downtown streets with larger-than-life floats, magical characters, special performances, and Santa and Mrs. Claus, of course. It’s a celebration not to be missed! – November 26, 2023

Celebrating City Hall’s Cavalcade of Lights

It’s “bright lights, big city” at this annual free event that marks the official start to Toronto’s holiday season. The family-friendly Cavalcade of Lights celebration at Nathan Phillips Square features the lighting of Toronto’s 15 m (50 ft) Christmas tree, live musical performances, ice skating and more. – November 25, 2023 - January 7, 2024

Catching the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker

The National Ballet of Canada has made the performance of The Nutcracker, a cherished holiday season tradition. The company’s take on the beloved classic is James Kudelka’s 1995 staging, which opens at a Christmas Eve party in rural 19th-century Russia. – December 8–30, 2023

Celebrating the longest night at Kensington Market’s Winter Solstice Festival

One of Toronto’s most memorable holiday events, Kensington Market’s Winter Solstice Festival Parade celebrates the longest night of the year with music, jugglers, stilt walkers, lion dancers and lanterns as it winds through the streets of this bohemian neighbourhood. 

If you can’t make the parade, check out the market’s eclectic mix of shops for gift-giving ideas and treat yourself to authentic Mexican churros from Pancho’s Bakery and an eggnog spiced latte from Fika Café. – Date TBD