25 FREE Toronto events worth checking out in December

Nov 28 2018, 9:01 pm

It’s no secret that December is always one of the most expensive months of the year.

To ensure you can still get out and have some fun (without breaking the bank), we’ve put together this free events guide that’s filled with a variety of fun and festive events happening almost every night of the month.

Happy holidays!

Toronto Christmas Market


Toronto Christmas Market

What: Rediscover the magic of Christmas at the Toronto Christmas Market. Here you’ll find an assortment of artisan vendors, an Instagram-worthy Christmas tree, live music, incredible Christmas decorations and so much more. Admission is free during the week.

When: Now until December 23 (closed on 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 District
Price: Admission is free of charge on weekdays until Friday at 5 pm

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

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: December 1 to January 6
Time:  5:30 pm to 11 pm
Where: Wellington Park, 50 Bonnie Drive, Simcoe
Admission: Free

Burlington Festival of Lights

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

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
Free to attend

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

Skating at Harbourfront Centre

What: When the weather starts to drop, it means it’s officially time to go skating. And it just so happens that the city’s most scenic rink has opened its doors for the winter season. The Natrel Rink is complete with heated indoor change rooms and its own rink-side bar and grill for those interested in getting a snack post-skate. The best part? Skating at the Harbourfront rink is totally free. 

When: Now until spring
Time: Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday, 9 am to 11 pm; Sunday, 9 am to 10 pm
Where: Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West
Price: Skating is free

December Really Really Free Market

What: You read the event name correctly, everything is free. No money. No swapping.
If you do bring items to share, bring them before 3 pm and make sure they are clean and in working condition. During the Market, there is a limit to the number of items you can take, which is one large shopping bag per person (two bags for families of three or more people).

When: December 1
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Campbell Park, 225 Campbell Avenue
Price: Everything is FREE

Free Taiwanese Fried Chicken at Monga

What: To celebrate the grand opening of their new space, Monga will be offering their first 100 pieces of fried chicken for free. Once those first 100 pieces are gone, you’ll be able to buy one fried chicken combo and get a free pound of wings for the rest of the weekend.

When: December 1
Time: Noon
Where: 5 Northtown Way
Price: FREE

Old Town Cavalcade of Lights



What: Festive lights, hot beverages, and live entertainment and holiday songs, what more could you want? Bring an unwrapped new toy for 51 division’s annual holiday toy drive and help cram a cruiser.

When: December 1
Time: 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Where: Berczy Park, 35 Wellington Park
Price: Free to attend

Holiday Fair in the Square

What: Holiday Fair in the Square, in support of Epilepsy Toronto, is back and bigger than ever and the fair will be running from December 1 to 23 at Nathan Phillips Square. Now in its third year, Holiday Fair includes an open-air artisan village. There will be over 50 talented vendors selling gifts and special treats, just in time for you to cross off your list.

When: December 1 to 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

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: December 1 to 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

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: December 2 to 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

Ugly Holiday Sweater Pub Crawl

What: Check out three pubs in Liberty Village, partake in an ugly sweater competition and take a swing at trivia, all through this pub crawl event. There will be complimentary food and drink, plus plenty of festively fun times.

When: December 6
Time: 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Where: Barcelona Tavern – 109 Atlantic Avenue
Price: Free

Black Lab Brewery: Beer, Dogs and Trivia


@helmutthepug / Instagram

What: Dogs and beer? Talk about man’s best friend. Rover, a pet-sitting and walking service, will be hosting human and dogs alike at Black Lab Brewing on December 6. At the pup-friendly event you’ll be able to test your random knowledge at trivia, and you’ll find a special edition food pop-up and prizes!

When: December 6
Time: 7:30 pm to 9 pm
Where: Black Lab Brewery, 818 Eastern Avenue
Price: You guessed it, free

Free Pancakes at Fuwa Fuwa

What: Yonge and Eglinton are about to get fluffy. Fuwa Fuwa, which took The Annex by storm with soufflé pancakes in the spring, is about to open a second location further uptown. To celebrate the grand opening, the spot will be offering free pancakes this month.

When: December 7 and 8
Time: 12 pm to 2 pm
Where:  2471 Yonge Street, Toronto
Price: FREE

Lavender 9.0 – HoliGay edition

What: Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to party the night away at this holiday party. Lavender is a party for lesbian, bi-sexual, pan-sexual, queer women, nonbinary and trans people and you’re invited to dance and hang out with the team this December.

When: December 8
Time: 10:30 pm to 2:30 am
Where: Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street
Price: It’s pay-what-you-can, although event organizers won’t turn anyone away who can’t pay

Regent Park Multi-National Holiday Market

What: At this holiday market, you’ll be able to try food from over 10 countries including Ethiopia, Lebanon, Trinidad and Sri Lanka. You’ll get a passport that allows you to go to different stations, granting you access to the food of that region. Talk about a holiday vacay.

When: December 13
Time: 6 pm to 8 pm
Where: TD Learning Centre – 540 Dundas Street East
Price: Free

Hot Docs’ Free Holiday Classics Screenings

What: Come and get into the holiday spirit at a free screening of your favourite holiday movies! Hot Docs Cinema will be hosting free screenings of Love Actually, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, and more!

When: December 14 to 31
Time: 8:45 pm to 9:30 pm
Where: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West
Price: Screenings are free, maximum two tickets per person

DJ Skate Nights

DJ Skate Nights

Harbourfront Centre/Facebook

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 15 to February 16 (Saturday evenings)
Time: 8 pm to 11 pm
Where: Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West
Price: Skating is free

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

What: The Bentway’s unique figure-eight skate trail opens for its second season this month, 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
Below the Gardiner Expressway at 250 Fort York Blvd
Price: Free

Toronto Etsy Christmas Market

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
Church of St. Stephen in-the-Fields, 365 College Street
Price: Admission is free

NYE at Nathan Phillips Square

What: Nathan Phillips Square is hosting a massive New Year’s Eve celebration to ring in 2019. This year, partygoers can look forward to ringing in the new year with thousands of other Torontonians, skating on the famous outdoor ice rink to the sounds of a local DJ, in addition to a spectacular fireworks display at midnight.

When: December 31
Time: Party kicks off at 8 pm
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto
Price: FREE

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