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27 things to do in Toronto this weekend: December 21 to 23

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Ainsley Smith Dec 21, 2018 5:00 am 481

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only a few days away.

And if you’re looking to get out of the house or enjoy some last-minute holiday fun, here’s what’s going on this weekend in the city from December 21 to 23.

Have a great weekend, Toronto!

Friday, December 21

Waterloo Central Railway Polar Express

Polar Express

Polar Express/IMDb

What: All aboard! This holiday season, you’re invited to embark on a magical holiday journey as you take a ride on the Polar Express. Operated by the Waterloo Central Railway, as soon as you step on board, you’ll be whisked away to the sounds of the beloved film’s motion soundtrack. Passengers can then sit back and relax as they enjoy freshly prepared hot cocoa and holiday treats as they are read the classic holiday story.

When: Now until December 22
Time: Select times available, check the website for details
Where: 
Waterloo Central Railway Train Museum Platform, 50 Isabella Street
Price: Available online from $49.99 per person

A Christmas Carol

What: Get into the Christmas spirit as you enjoy this new and immersive adaptation of Dickens’ timeless holiday classic set in the historic Campbell House Museum. Audience members will be whisked into the world of Victorian London and follow flinty miser Ebenezer Scrooge on his ghostly journey of redemption.

When: Now until December 22
Time: Various show times each day
Where: Campbell House Museum, 160 Queen Street West
Price: $20 to $30

Toronto Christmas Market

What: Always festive, always fun, always filling, you can count on the Toronto Christmas Market for your food and drink fix. Whether you’re craving savoury sausage, sweet sugar cookies or warming mulled wine, there’s something here to satisfy you.

When: Now until December 23 (closed Mondays)
Time: Tuesday to Thursday, 12 pm to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday, 12 pm to 10 pm; Sunday, 12 pm to 9 pm
Where: The Distillery Historic District
Price: $6 admission fee on weekends only

Holiday Fair in the Square

Holiday Fair in the Square

What: Now in its third year, Holiday Fair includes an open-air artisan village with over 50 talented vendors selling gifts and special treats, just in time for you to cross off your list. Don’t forget to swing by the JP Wiser’s booth where you can sample some delicious whisky and #HolditHigh to your friends by recording a toast to them. Find the booth at the Polar Point bar area, right behind the Toronto sign.

When: On now until December 23 (closed Mondays)
Time: Tuesday to Thursday, 4 pm to 9 pm; Friday to Sunday, 12 pm to 10 pm
Where: Nathan Phillips Square
Price: No cover

Cinesphere Fall Film Series

What: Toronto’s Cinesphere theatre at Ontario Place will be screening several iconic films over the next few months as part of its fall and winter programming. The Cinesphere will screen a number of iconic films including Ghostbusters, Alien, Aliens, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Blade Runner 2049 in IMAX, The Fifth Element and Die Hard. 

When: Screenings running till December 23
Time: Showtimes vary by day
Where: Cinesphere at Ontario Place, 955 Lake Shore Blvd West
Price: $15 for adults

Miracle on Queen Street

What: This Christmas-themed bar is popping up on Queen Street West is officially open. Bring your Grinchiest-friend along… this spot’s sure to get everyone in the holiday mood with their elaborate decor and seasonal cocktails.

When: Now until December 26
Time: Monday to Friday, 5 pm to 2 am; Saturday and Sunday, 12 pm to 2 am
Where: 251 Queen Street West
Price: Pay for what you order

Aurora Winter Festival

aurora winter

engclau/Instagram

What: For the first time ever, Aurora Winter Festival will transform Toronto’s Ontario Place from November 29 to December 30 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 December 30
Time: 4 pm to 10 pm
Where: Ontario Place, East Island
Price: $19.99 for general admission

Evergreen Winter Village

What: Glide around the free skating rink, shop local vendors at the holiday market, and feast on festive foods during your visit. Hungry for more? The food vendors will change week to week, featuring appearances from Chocosol Traders, Get Your Own Taters, The Arepa Republic, Fully Loaded TO, The Food Dudes, and many more.

When: Now until December 31 (open every weekend)
Time: 10 am to 5 pm (10 am to 3 pm on December 24)
Where: 550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
Price: Entry is free

Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic

What: Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville will be transformed into a winter wonderland this holiday season. The annual event will illuminate the neighbourhood this December, creating a unique destination for patrons of the neighbourhood to shop, dine and take in the area’s art and culture while surrounded by festive lighting.

When: Now until December 31
Time: After sunset
Where: Bloor-Yorkville Village
Price: 
Free to attend

Happy Place Toronto

Happy Place

@melchristandsin/Instagram

What: Happy Place is an interactive, 20,000-sq-ft immersive exhibit with larger-than-life installations and multi-sensory themed rooms, and it’s on a mission to spread happiness here in Toronto and around the world.

When: Now until January 1
Time: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 am to 8 pm; Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 8 pm (closed Tuesdays)
Where: Harbourfront Centre
Price: 
From $32

A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle

What: Toronto’s iconic castle is being transformed into a magical winter wonderland this month and will feature a wide range of activities and thrilling performances that are sure to be fun for the whole family.

Daily: Now until January 6, 9:30 am to 5 pm
Nightly: December 17 to December 23, 5 pm to 9 pm
Where: Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace
Price: From $22.15 to $32.49

Simcoe Christmas Panorama

What: Although this is a bit of a trek from Toronto, it’s perfect for those wanting to go on a festive road trip. Each year, Simcoe puts on an incredible light display called Christmas Panorama that features over 60 dazzling light displays. The spectacle shimmers with thousands of lights transforming the downtown parks into a winter wonderland, attracting visitors from across the province and the US.

When: Now until January 6
Time: 5:30 pm to 11 pm
Where: Wellington Park, 50 Bonnie Drive, Simcoe
Admission: Free

Burlington Festival of Lights

festival of lights

Burlington Festival of Lights/Facebook

What: The Burlington Festival of Lights is the city’s longest-running festival, which lights up the waterfront from dusk to dawn over the holiday season. Now in its 23rd year, the festival will feature 60 festive displays that can be viewed up close or from the warmth of your car.

When: Now until January 8
Time: After sundown
Where: Spencer Smith Park, Burlington, Ontario
Admission: Free

Winter Flower Show

What: Add some much-needed colour to your life this winter at this annual flower show. Breathtaking floral scenes with thousands of colourful blooms, vines and lush plants from around the world will transform Alan Gardens into a memorable, must-see winter destination.

When: Now until January 9
Time: 10 am to 5 pm; with extended hours on select dates to 7 pm
Where: Allan Gardens Park and Conservatory, 19 Horticultural Avenue
Price: Free

The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls

What: The annual Winter Festival of Lights stretches over eight kilometres in Niagara and will run through to the end of January. Attracting over one million visitors annually, this incredible spectacle is Canada’s largest lights festival. Just imagine a breathtaking, colourful scene with millions of sparkling lights and animated displays that extends to Dufferin Islands.

When: Now until the end of January
Time: After sundown
Where: Niagara Falls
Admission: Free

Light Up the Beach

beaches light up the beach

Light Up the Beach/Facebook

What: Now in its 11th year, Light Up the Beach features more than 80,000 twinkling lights along the Toronto Beaches boardwalk to support The Michael Garron Hospital Foundation. The light display is truly a sight to see and a holiday tradition that every Torontonian should enjoy.

When: Now until mid-February
Time: 7 pm
Where: At the foot of Leuty Avenue, The Beach
Price: Free to visit

Winter at Ontario Place

What: Following last year’s successful inaugural winter program, Ontario Place will once again come alive this winter season. Running from now to March 17, the West Island of Ontario Place will be home to the Winter Light Exhibition, free public skating on a synthetic rink and community bonfires. This year, visitors can also look forward to a series of DJ nights at the iconic waterfront venue and bring a range of beloved films to Cinesphere.

When: Now until March 17
Time: 6 pm to 12 am
Where: 955 Lake Shore Blvd. West
Price: Free to attend

29th annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice

What: Celebrate the return to warmth and light in the heart of Kensington Market over the Winter Solstice. Support local merchants and unique culture of Toronto’s beloved neighbourhood over the holidays!

When: December 21
Time: 6:30 pm to 10 pm
Where: Kensington Market, Augusta Avenue and Oxford Street
Price: FREE to attend

Opening weekend at The Bentway

bentway

The Bentway

What: The Bentway’s unique figure-eight skate trail opens for its second season this weekend, just in time for the holidays! Once again, skate rentals and skating lessons will be offered, in addition to “curated” food and beverage options on select dates, and an expanded winter village full of snuggly blankets, warming lounges and fire pits.

When: December 21 to 23
Time: 12 pm to 9 pm
Where: 
Below the Gardiner Expressway at 250 Fort York Blvd
Price: Free

Saturday, December 22

Hot Docs for the Holidays: It’s a Wonderful Life

What: Come and get into the holiday spirit at a free screening of your favourite holiday movies! This Saturday, you can enjoy Frank Capra’s classic tale of a family man learning to look at his life in a whole new light on Christmas Eve, which remains no less enchanting today than when it was first released.

When: December 22
Time: 10:30 am to 12:40 pm
Where: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West
Price: Screenings are free, maximum two tickets per person

Neighborhood Holiday Party

What: The Great Hall has teamed up with West Queen West to host a neighbourhood holiday celebration this Saturday with all proceeds going towards CAMH. There will also be a mini market hosted by The Trinity Bellwoods Flea featuring a number of local small businesses for those looking for last-minute handcrafted gifts.

When: December 22
Time: 11 am to 2 pm
Where: The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street West
Price: Admission is free

Toronto Etsy Christmas Market

november 10

Etsy Christmas Market/Facebook

What: If you’re looking to give more one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season, you’ll find them at the fifth annual Etsy Christmas Market. Hosted by the Toronto Etsy street team, this festive marketplace will feature awesome handmade, vintage, and delicious wares all made by the team members.

When: December 22
Time: 11 am to 5:30 pm
Where: 
Church of St. Stephen in-the-Fields, 365 College Street
Price: Admission is free

The Nutcracker

What: This weekend, Torontonians can see an unforgettable production of The Nutcracker featuring ballerina powerhouses Anastasia Stashkevich and Vyacheslav Lopatin, principal dancers of the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

When: December 22
Time: 2 pm and 7 pm
Where: Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front Street East
Price: From $67 to $142

12 Beers of Christmas

What: The Gladstone Hotel knows how to holiday. Pals, a hallmark-Toronto venue, ugly Christmas sweaters and plenty of beer? Get your tickets quickly because this event is bound to be a blast.

When: December 22
Time: 6 pm to 9 pm
Where: Gladstone Hotel – 1214 Queen Street West
Price: $30 to $35

DJ Skate Nights

Toronto Events

Harbourfront Centre/Instagram

What: Sharpen your skates and skills at Toronto’s number one outdoor winter party. This year you can expect another stellar lineup of DJs that will bring the heat to your Saturday nights.

When: December 22
Time: 8 pm to 11 pm
Where: Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West
Price: Skating is free

Sunday, December 2

Breakfast with Santa

What: Enjoy a delicious breakfast, followed by arts and crafts, cookie decorating and ice cream for the kids. Santa will be arriving from the North Pole at 12:30, and there will be a special treat for those who come dressed in an ugly Christmas sweater!

When: December 23
Time:  10:30 am to 2 pm
Where: Joe Bird – 207 Queens Quay West
Price: $25 to $30

Hot Docs’ Home Alone Quote-Along

What: Come and get into the holiday spirit at a screening of one of the best Christmas movies ever made: Home Alone. Throw on your favourite ugly Christmas sweater and attend the 5th annual Home Alone quote-along featuring with subtitles, karaoke-style, so you can get rowdy and shout out your favourite lines (“Buzz, your girlfriend, WOOF!”)

When: December 23
Time: 9:30 pm
Where: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West
Price: Start at $13

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Ainsley Smith
Ainsley is a Staff Writer at Daily Hive. She's a former Vancouverite turned Torontonian who is passionate about avocado toast, aesthetics, and avocado toast aesthetics. Story idea? E-mail her at [email protected]

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