40 events worth checking out in Toronto this December

Nov 26 2019, 8:46 pm

December is here, Toronto. Break out the scarfs and boots, brew up the hot cocoa, it’s time to get cozy. The days might be shorter than we’d like, but there’s still plenty of great things to do.

The Toronto Christmas Market

What: The Christmas Market will feature daily entertainment on the outdoor stage, beer gardens, mulled wine, and various vendors, all wrapped up in holiday magic. Climb into your warmest gear and get to the Distillery District for some Christmas cheer!

Remember to get photos of The Market’s famous 50-foot tree, which will flood the space with the glow of its 40,000 lights.

Where: The Distillery District
When: Now until Sunday, December 22 (closed on Mondays)
Tickets: Available online

Tunnel of Glam

Tunnel of Glam

What: The celebrated Tunnel of Glam returns for its second year. Members of the public can visit this outdoor, 80 ft. pedestrian tunnel lined with 14 million reversible sequins for a delightfully festive and immersive winter time destination.

When: December 1 to January 6
Where: 1501 Yonge Street
Admission: Free

A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle

What: Toronto’s only castle will host a wide range of activities and thrilling performances that will be fun for the whole family. Enjoy new shows by famed illusionist entertainer Professor Wick and ice skating performers Glisse on Ice. Guests will be surrounded by holiday magic throughout the castle which will be resplendent with holiday décor,

When: December 1 to January 5
Time: Daily, December 1 to January 5, 9.30 am to 5 pm; nightly, December 15 to December 30, 5 pm to 9 pm
Where: Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace
Admission: $30, available online

Miracle on Ossington pop-up bar

What: All this Christmas cheer is probably going to make you want a cocktail. Start a new tradition by heading west to the Miracle on Ossingting pop-up. Sip on holiday-themed drinks while sitting warmly among with a huge amount of fun, kitschy holiday decorations.

When: Now until December 26
Time: Monday to Friday, 5 pm to 2 am; Saturday to Sunday, 2 pm to 2 am
Where: 146 Ossington Avenue

Sippin’ Santa

What: What’s better than one winter pop-up? Two holiday winter pop-ups, that’s what. Get your Christmas spirit with a Tiki twist that’s full of music, themed drinks

When: Now until December 26
Time: Monday to Friday, 5 pm to 2 am; Saturday to Sunday, 2 pm to 2 am
Where: 1369 Dundas Street West

FAO Schwarz Holiday Pop-Up

What: Explore larger-than-life treasures for the holidays from one of the world’s most iconic toy brands. Plus, check out the FAO Schwarz pop-up and events in-store. There’s drum lessons for kids, a holiday photo booth, and more. Instagram will thank you.

When: November 22 to December 7
Time: 10 am to 9 pm
Where: Hudson’s Bay, 176 Yonge Street
Admission: Free, register online for activities

Canada’s Wonderland WinterFest

What: Canada’s Wonderland is transforming the park into a magical winter wonderland for its new immersive, holiday event and it all kicks off this weekend. Winter festival goers will experience enchanting themed areas adorned with more than five million holiday lights, festive décor and three 15-metre-high Christmas trees. There will also be tons of music and Christmasy activities for everyone.

When: Now until December 31
Time: Times vary, check online
Where: Canada’s Wonderland, 1 Canada’s Wonderland Drive
Tickets: Start at $21.99, available online

Martin Scorsese: A Retrospective

What: He’s one of the globe’s greatest and most iconic of filmmakers. See 27 of the master’s feature movies, playing into the new year, and see what makes Marty one of the best.

When: Now until January 4
Time: Times vary, check online
Where: TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West
Admission: Prices vary, available online

Aurora Winter Festival

What: For the first time ever, Aurora Winter Festival will transform Toronto’s Ontario Place into a hidden village with enchanting elements inspired by the North Pole including magical characters, captivating light displays, endless fun, games, and activities.

When: Now until January 5
Time: 4 pm to 10 pm
Where: Ontario Place, 955 Lake Shore Boulevard West
Price: $17.99, available online

In the Realm of Oshima: The Best of Japanese Master Nagisa Oshima

What: Running 11 films created by Japanese filmmaker Nagisa Oshima, this run of movies hosted by TIFF is a serious piece of reference material for anyone looking to tell stories through moving pictures. See Oshima’s classics, from Boy to the deeply satirical Pleasures of the Flesh.

When: Now until December 7
Time: Times vary, check online
Where: 350 King Street West
Admission: Prices vary, check online

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

What: The longest-running and most prestigious nature photography competition in the world returns to the ROM for the seventh year in a row. Whether you’re a nature lover, aspiring photographer, or simply love a perfectly captured moment, you will appreciate the talent and technical expertise required to photograph such rare and surprising glimpses of the diverse life on this planet.

When: Now until March 29
Time: 10 am to 5:30 pm
Where: Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Park
Admission: $31 for adults, $24 for students, $18 for children, available online

Leslieville Winter Market

What: Every Saturday you can shop baked goods, crafty gifts, and a huge selection of prepared food at the Leslieville Winter Market. It’s a celebration of all things local and seasonal, so don’t miss out.

When: Now until December 10
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Jonathan Ashbridges Park, 20 Woodward Avenue
Admission: Free

The One of a Kind Show

What: The first day of the month, is the last day of the show. While this market is much larger than your typical artisan market, the One of a Kind Show is the perfect opportunity to shop for Canadian handmade goods while the weather is still somewhat reasonable.

When: Sunday, December 1
Time: Times vary
Where: Enercare Centre, 100 Princes’ Boulevard
Admission: $15, available online

Andrei Tarkovsky | Solaris

What: See Andrei Tarkovsky’s increadible masterwork of cinema. Ground control has been receiving mysterious transmissions from the three remaining residents of the Solaris space station. When cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is dispatched to investigate, he experiences the same strange phenomena that afflict the Solaris crew, sending him on a voyage into the darkest recesses of his consciousness.

When: Sunday, December 1
Time: 6 pm
Where: The Royal Cinema, 608 College Street
Admission: $12, available online

Late Mic T.O.

What: Late Mic Toronto, the only late-night talk show that is also an open mic. Submit monologue jokes to be read at the top of show and sign-up to perform stand-up (three minutes) or sit on the couch and have a chat/do a bit/play a character/do whatever (five minutes).

When: Monday, December 2
Time: Sign-up at 7:45 pm, show at 8 pm
Where: The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave

Friends Trivia Night

What: PIVOT! Think you know everything about Friends? Tuesday night, fans of the hit TV show are encouraged to participate in the sixth edition of Friends Trivia. There will be three rounds, with 15 questions each.

When: Tuesday, December 3
Time: 6 pm to 9:30 pm
Hemingway’s, 142 Cumberland Street
$8.50 per person

Andrew Marantz on “Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation”

What: For several years, Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker staff writer, has been embedded in the worlds of social-media entrepreneurs, who changed the way we communicate, and with a group of people he calls “the gate crashers” — the conspiracists, white supremacists, and nihilist trolls who have become experts at using social media to advance their corrosive agenda. Hear him discuss the topic and his experiences learning from both parties.

When: Thursday, December 5
Time: 5 pm
Where: Rotman School of Management, 105 St George Street
Admission: $37, includes a copy of the book, register online

Rock Band Night

What: Come powerslide into Rock Band stardom. Move the jam sesh out of your living room and into an IRL venue. There’s a massive setlist to choose from and it’s open to all levels of skill. Come shred a pattern of colours and find out if it will be you and your friends reigning victorious.

When: December 5 and 19
Time: 8 pm to 12 am
Where: Power Up Bar, 38 Wellington Street East

Undaunted: Into the Open

What: Get ready for a jam of both new originals and beloved songs played on booming drums; story vignettes on resistance, resilience, and what lives on through collective struggle; and collaborations exciting new guest artists.

When: December 5 to 8
Time: 8 pm
Where: Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis Street
Admission: $25 to $35, available online

Headstones and Finger Eleven

What: Are you ready to rock like it’s 2002? Canadian power band the Headstones and their special guest Finger Eleven are in the city playing old and new hits.

When: Saturday, December 7
Time: 8 pm
Where: The Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne Street
Admission: $39.50, available online

ANIMALIA: Animals in the Archives

What: In this exhibit, you’ll learn about five distinct animal groups in Ontario — fish, bears, horses, dogs and birds — and discover how animals connect Canadians to the land, provide food for many, help people get around, and enrich their lives. The diverse ways humans have recorded, remembered, and affected other animals often says as much about us as it does about them.

When: December 7 to January 1
Time: 8:30 am to 5 pm
Where: Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd
Admission: Free

Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical

What: Based on the smash-hit movie Bend It Like Beckham, this musical follows two west London girls on and off the pitch. Making its North American debut in Toronto this play is written by Gurinder Chadha, the writer of the original film, with lyrics by Phantom of the Opera’s Charles Hart, and music by award-winning composer Howard Goodall.

When: December 7 to 24
Time: Shows at 2 pm and 8 pm
Where: St. Lawrence Centre, 27 Front St E
Admission: Tickets start at $79, available online

Celine Dion: Courage World Tour

Céline Dion

Céline Dion/Facebook

What: First Cher, now Celine. Toronto has never been more fabulous. Continuing a fall season of incredible music, the Quebec-born diva is done with Vegas and in the city as part of her world tour.

When: Monday, December 9
Time: 7:30 pm
Where: Scotiabank Arena, 40 Bay Street
Admission: Tickets start at $150, available online

Festival of Cool: The Arctic

What: This all-ages festival is inspired by and celebrates the International Year of Indigenous Languages with programming from across the Arctic Circle including contemporary music, film, visual art and thought-provoking panels – proving that even extreme cold can be cool. The majority of the Festival of Cool’s programming is FREE to attend.

When: December 10 to 15
Time: 10 am to 6 pm
Where: Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West
Price: Many events are free, register online

Anime! at the Revue: Tokyo Godfathers

What: From the award-winning anime director Satoshi Kon, the visionary behind Perfect Blue, and the legendary anime studio Madhouse, comes Tokyo Godfathers. The story of three homeless people who discover an abandoned baby and join together to reunite mother and child. Presented in stunning 2K.

When: Wednesday, December 11
Time: 7 pm
Where: Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Avenue
Admission: $15, available online

Drunk Feminist Films: You’ve Got Mail

What: Join Drunk Feminist Films on a journey back to a time when we all thought the internet wasn’t a terrible hellscape. Starring Tom Hanks as Jeff Bezos and Meg Ryan as the Alive Woman, You’ve Got Mail will remind you that capitalism is a parasite and small business owners are probably better off writing children’s books that will be sold by the corporation that shut them down.

When: Thursday, December 12
Time: 8:30 pm
Where: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West
Admission: $18.25, available online


What: You’ll feel like a monkey gone to heaven after you see these 80s rockers are still as awesome as ever. They’ve also brought Kristin Hersh to play as well, so it’ll be a concert not to miss.

When: Thursday, December 12
Time: 7 pm
Where: The Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne Street
Admission: Tickets start at $75, available online

The Ark Car + Noah & Friends present: Biblical Boogie

What: This evening will be full of bumping music, with performances and surprises. This is a costume themed event inspired by the BCE (Before the Common Era) that’s also raising money for a good cause. There will be a full line up of DJs, so come ready to dance.

When: Saturday, December 14
Time: 10 pm
Where: 209 Geary Avenue
Admission: $20 and up, contact organizer for code

Psychedelic Babylon: Prog Sessions vol.1 w/ Atmos & Metronome

What: It’s time for one last prog session before settling in for a long winter’s sleep. Things will get wild at this late night (and early morning) event. Party till the sun comes up and have some fun.

When: Saturday, December 14
Time: 10 pm to 6 am
Where: 17 Regent Street
Admission: $35 to $45, available online

Schütz’s Christmas Story

What: Celebrate the season with one of the brightest musical jewels of early-Baroque Germany: Heinrich Schütz’s The Christmas Story. The performance includes internationally-acclaimed English tenor Charles Daniels in the role of the Evangelist. He will be accompanied by a band made up of recorders, cornetti, sackbuts, violins, violas da gamba, keyboards, and theorbos.

When: December 13 to 15
Time: Friday and Saturday, 8 pm; Sunday, 3 pm
Where: Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West
Admission: Tickets start at $62, available online


What: Cinesphere is killing it with the holiday classics this year.  This particular December weekend the iconic landmark is running Scrooged, staring Bill Murrey. Watch him take a page out of Dickens as he plays a modern Ebeneezer.

When: December 13 to 15
Where: 955 Lake Shore Boulevard West
Admission: $15, available online

Said the Whale

What: A band that’s spent more than a decade touring together, Said The Whale is bringing their indie musical stylings to Toronto this fall. Every ticket for this show includes a digital download of Said The Whale’s sixth album, Cascadia.

When: Saturday, December 14
Time: 7 pm
Where: Phoenix Concert Theatre, 410 Sherbourne St
Admission: $28.50 to $88.50, available online

The Trinity Bellwoods Flea – Happy Holidays Market

What: The over 100 vendors at this holiday flea should make finding that perfect gift for everyone on your list the easiest part of the holidays. Avoid the malls and shop a selection of artisans, makers, and crafters, all local.

When: Sunday, December 15
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Where: The Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. W
Admission: Free

The SpongeBob Musical

What: One of the most recognizable cartoon figures in pop culture has been turned into an award-winning hit. Treat yourself to The SpongeBob Musical and see what Patrick and the gang look like as dancing, singing humans. Now on tour after debuting on Broadway, it will be in the city for three days.

When: December 17 to 19
Time: 7:30 pm
Where: Sony Centre, 1 Front St E
Admission: Tickets start at $63, available online

A Christmas Story

What: Based off the movie, this theatrical production of A Christmas Story has all the classic hallmarks of the film, from the leg lamp to pink bunny PJ’s to a young man’s quest for an air rifle.

When: Friday, December 20
Time: 7:30 pm
Where: Lower Ossington Theatre, 100 Ossington Avenue
Admission: $59.99 to $69.99, available online

Addams Family Christmas Bazaar

What: It’s a show of local odd crafts, fashion, and other accessories. Food and drinks will also be offered in this “Christmas in Halloween theme” style event. There will also be a costume contest with prizes and live entertainment.

When: Friday, December 20
Time: 2 pm to 9 pm
Where: See-Scape, 347 Keele Street
Admission: Free

Die Hard

What: Christmas movie or not, it’s the time to watch John Mclean take Gruber out. See Bruce Willis at the peak of his powers as an 80s action star. (He even had hair.)

When: December 20 to 22
Time: 7:30 pm
Where: 955 Lake Shore Boulevard West
Admission: $15, available online

The Music Of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” 

What: Head to the Dakoda Tavern for an all-ages rendition of the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’ll be full of good feels and great options from the kitchen.

When: Saturday, December 21
Time: 2 to 4 pm
Where: The Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Avenue
Admission: $10, available online

Ontario Science Centre Winter Pop-up Market

science centre

Ontario Science Centre/Shutterstock

What: What’s better than one of the country’s premier public science centres? Why a science centre and seasonal market gifts of course. Find the perfect locally made geode while enjoying the awesome attraction.

When: December 27 to January 4
Where: Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Road
Admission: Free

Drakemas: Drake Holiday Dance Party

What: Don’t be upset this holiday season. Call the broskis and head out to a ridiculous event. Show your love for this great city of ours by celebrating everyone’s favourite member of the Raptors, Drake.

When: Saturday, December 28
Time: 10 pm to 2 am
Where: Sneaky Dee’s, 431 College Street West
Admission: $5, available online

Glow Party at Fiction Nightclub

What: Barbara Ann Scott Ice Trail is opening at College Park. There will be activities for the whole family, including ice sculptures, fire pits, and a Fire Juggling, Fire Eating, Fire Breathing performance that you won’t want to miss. Bring your skates, or borrow from the Toronto Public Lending Library.

When: Tuesday, December 31
Time: 1 to 5 pm
Where: College Park, 444 Yonge Street
Admission: Free

Peter SmithPeter Smith

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