Holiday celebrations are back for winter 2021. Here’s a roundup of exciting limited-time-only events to make your Toronto vacation merry and bright!

Magic is in the air, as many of last year’s paused winter festivities have returned for 2021. Some of Toronto’s favourite landmarks and attractions are going all out for the holiday season: here are eight festivals, markets, exhibits and events that will get you into the spirit.

A polar bear swims at the Toronto Zoo
Get wild this holiday season at the Toronto Zoo

Toronto Zoo Holiday Marketplace

We all go a little wild when it comes to winter festivities — and there’s nothing more wild than the Toronto Zoo (Canada’s largest)! In addition to seeing your fave animals, you’ll be able to browse (on select dates) the Toronto Zoo Holiday Marketplace, showcasing amazing artisans and producers. Don’t forget to explore the zoo’s 10 km (6 miles) of scenic trails, then cozy up in an indoor pavilion to check out the wildlife of the Americas, African Rainforest, Malayan Woods and Australasia. – Runs November 19 to December 23, 2021

The 360 restaurant at the CN Tower
Dine in the sky at the CN Tower's 360 Restaurant

Holiday dining atop the CN Tower 

Is there anything more magical than delectable food, sparkling company… and spectacular views of the city lights? That’s what’s on the menu at 360 Restaurant, which provides a breathtaking vantage point 350 m (1,151 ft) above the twinkling city streets. Feast on dishes like prime rib and house-smoked salmon while sampling the 360’s famed “cellar in the sky” with 550 international and Canadian wines on offer. BONUS: Complimentary access to the CN Tower’s LookOut and Glass Floor levels with the purchase of a prix fixe by each guest. – Holiday menu runs December 1 to 24, 2021

WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland

Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart, put WinterFest at the top of your list. An immersive holiday experience for the whole family, this event features live shows and holiday entertainment, ice skating on Snow Flake Lake and even a few rides. Canada’s fave amusement park lives up to its name, with hundreds of beautiful Christmas trees and millions of spectacular lights throughout the park, including two 15 m (50 ft) Christmas trees. – Runs to December 31, 2021

National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker 

Hailed as “the best Nutcracker on the planet” by The Globe and Mail, the National Ballet of Canada’s performance of The Nutcracker is a must-see. James Kudelka’s famed adaptation puts a Canadian spin on the Russian classic, including snowballs, dancing bears and farm animals.  – Runs December 10 to 31, 2021

Holiday events & Picasso at the AGO

Art galleries are a cultured way to escape the chill on colder days. This season, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) offers festive foods and unique gifts. Whether it’s a seasonal menu at the AGO Bistro or one-of-a-kind artist gifts at shopAGO, the possibilities seem endless. As for the art itself, do carve out time for Picasso: Painting the Blue Period, an icy colour that sums up the season. – Runs to January 16, 2022

royal-ontario-museum-michael-lee-chin-crystal-night
The ROM has an exciting line up of year-round exhibits to explore

Unmasking the Pandemic at the ROM 

Although an exhibit about the pandemic might be far down on anyone’s festive-celebration list, the holidays are also a time for gratitude, reflection, creativity and imagination. All of that and more is on display at Unmasking the Pandemic: From Personal Protection to Personal Expression at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). You’ll walk away astounded at the artistry of each mask. Vehicles for poetry and protest, these art pieces act as a time capsule to our recent struggles and the growth that has come from it. – Runs to February 21, 2022

Snow Magic at Ontario Place

Ignite your imagination with a fire-breathing dragon, glowing orb and other magical light works. You’ll encounter these and other art installations — 18 in all! — as you drive along a 1.7 km (1 mile) lakeside route. Ontario Place’s Snow Magic promises a spectacle inspired by fire, ice and light, all set to an awe-inspiring soundscape playing on your car radio.  – Runs to January 16, 2022

Renaissance Venice at the Gardiner Museum

When it comes to the holidays, it’s always appropriate to lean into the glitz and glamour! And there may be no better place to indulge than the Gardiner Museum’s Renaissance Venice: Life and Luxury at the Crossroads. Whether you visit on your own or with a festive date, don your best as you browse the exhibit’s 100+ objects, including shimmering maiolica, textiles and metalwork that once belonged to Europe’s wealthy elite. – Runs to January 9, 2022

Holiday Lights at Casa Loma

This December experience the magic of the season at Casa Loma’s spectacular Holiday Light Tour. Wander through a dazzling lighting display in the gardens and tunnels, 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 in a safe environment.

Polar Winter Festival

Transport yourself to Winter Wonderland at Toronto's biggest walkthrough winter festival. The Polar Winter Festival is an immersive experience located on the Exhibition Place grounds. From giant teddy bears at Santa’s Toy Shop to tunnels of starry lights at the Polar Ice Tunnel, there are tons of photo opportunities, attractions and experiences that will take your breath away. Don't forget to snap a selfie with Santa!