If you have yet to stop by Toronto’s beloved Winter Village set in the charming Distillery District, you’ve only got a few weeks left to do so and catch one of the top Christmas villages in the world.
Open since mid-November, the holiday-themed festivities will run right up until December 31. Decorations and shopping will continue until January 7, but most of the entertainment ends on New Year’s Eve.
Between all the bustling crowds, twinkling lights, sounds, and attractions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed once you’re there, so we’ve put together a checklist of 8 essential things to make sure you do and see while at the Winter Village.
1. Visit Santa Claus
You can catch Ol’ Saint Nick at the Winter Village every weekday between 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., and on weekends from 12:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. He’ll also make an appearance on stage at Santa’s Tower of Toys on weekdays at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on weekends at 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
2. Marvel at the majestic Christmas tree in Trinity Square
The Winter Village’s centrepiece and shining star is its stunning 15 metre tall Christmas Tree, and is undoubtedly one of the most impressive in Toronto. This year, the White Spruce tree sponsored by Dior sparkles with silver and gold decorations and countless twinkling lights, perfect for a photo op.
3. Grab a bite to eat at one of the various food cabins
While the Distillery District is known for its incredible restaurants year-round, one of the best things to do during the Winter Village is to sample small bites from a variety of international food vendors while they’re all in one place. From mini pancakes and donuts to raclette, poutine, and grilled cheese, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your cravings.
4. Catch the Candy Cane Carolers
Join in and sing your favourite Christmas songs with the Candy Cane Carolers, who will be performing on evenings daily throughout the week, and multiple times on weekends. If you don’t know all the words, you can follow along as the lyrics will be projected onto the Singing Wall on the Spirit of York building. Visit the website to find the full schedule of performance times.
5. Warm up with a hot beverage
It sure gets chilly in Toronto this time of year, but luckily, the Winter Village has some great seasonal beverages to warm you up. You’ll find hot apple cider, mulled wine, and hot cocoa at a number of cabin vendors placed throughout the market, or pop into SOMA Chocolatemaker or Cacao 70 for a fancier hot chocolate, both of which made our top hot chocolates in Toronto list.
6. Do some last minute holiday shopping
The Winter Village is the perfect place to pick up some unique or locally-made gifts at one of the many boutiques or pop-up vendors. From clothing and accessories to candles, hot sauce, and beauty products, there’s something for everyone on your list.
7. Snap an Insta-worthy photo
The market has Instagrammable settings everywhere you turn, and this year, they’ve brought in some new decor for your perfect Christmas-themed background. While crowd favourites like the 7′ tall snowpeople and “Heart of Christmas” sign are back this year, don’t miss the new Candy Cane Forest on Gristmill Lane, cut-out photo ops for you and your pup, the 3-D life-sized greeting cards throughout the market, the vintage Christmas card photo wall on Case Goods Lane, and Santa’s Tower of Toys on the Pure Spirits Patio.
8. Countdown to Christmas
Finally, feel the holiday excitement in the center of the market with the famous Countdown to Christmas sign. Each day, the digital display shows how many days remain until Christmas, set to the sounds of holiday tunes and magical light displays.
The Winter Village is currently open from Sundays to Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Entry is ticketed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after 4 p.m., and for the week of Christmas from December 18 – 31 after 4 p.m. You can enter for free during any other time. The Winter Village will be closed on December 25.
General admission tickets are $15 and flex tickets are $18. Kids under nine can go for free. Tickets must be purchased online ahead of your visit.
Since the market usually is busiest from 5-9pm, we suggest going during the weekdays or avoiding peak hours.