From November 28th to December 21st, the historic Distillery District in the east end of Toronto is transformed into a picturesque European-style Christmas Market. Whether you are looking for unique gifts, amusement for your kids, or to instill some Christmas cheer into a scrooge, you will find it here.
The Distillery District is always charming, but add to that the twinkling lights, pop-up carolers, a massive tree, and of course Santa, and you have Christmas magic. It also helps that the whole area is licensed, so plenty of opportunities to sip on mulled wine to keep you warm and tolerant of the crowds. The area is fairly small, but packs in a lot of sites along the way.
Regularly scheduled entertainment on the main stage features singing, dancing and storytelling plus pop-up performances around the district. Other activities include a ferris wheel, carousel and visiting Santa for the kids and lots of different art galleries, unique shops, and edibles for the adults. Some of my favourite year-round shops include Lileo for their always on trend and great quality clothing, Fluevog for the uniquely Canadian shoes, and Biltmore Domicile for little vintage pieces mixed in amongst their custom sofas.
The market takes on a very different persona by day and night, and my personal preference is definitely the night. The wood-burning outdoor firepits and glowing lights make the area feel so cozy. The mulled wine, hot toddies and other forms of holiday “cheer” flow much more freely at night as well, and you might even find some rowdy warming areas near the bars. The Mill Street Brewery is a popular spot to visit after the market closes or any time of year.
The Christmas Market is open six days a week from 10am-9pm on the weekends and 12pm-9pm on weekdays (closed Mondays). You can also check out Soulpepper’s excellent production of A Christmas Carol at the Young Centre for Performing Arts while you are there, but be sure to get your tickets in advance so you don’t miss out ($29-$89, 7:30pm with an additional 1:30pm show on Wed, Sat, Sun). Keep in mind that parking in this area can be a nightmare on busy weekends, so try public transit or taxi. While it is a bit out of the way from most Toronto attractions, this one is really worth taking in if you want to feel that holiday spirit.