Eight festive holiday markets and events to check out.

Guest Contributor December 03, 2019
Parents taking a photo with their young daughter at an outdoor holiday event.

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and there is so much to do and enjoy.

Have you seen the endless array of holiday events and Christmas markets that are happening all over South Central Ontario? Grab the kids, get in the car, take a day trip or go for a night out in the city. Eat delicious treats, breathe in the winter air, and take in the sights and sounds.

Here are eight places to do that.

Toronto Christmas Market.

Tuesday – Sunday, November 14 – December 22, 2019, Distillery Historic District, Toronto

The Toronto Christmas Market has been named one of the best in the world. It’s when the city’s Distillery District transforms into a traditional European-style Christmas market bedecked with gorgeous lights and decorations and featuring a massive, Ontario grown Christmas tree (for photo ops). The market features hundreds of vendors selling crafts, toys, clothing, decorations, gifts and lots of delicious food and drink, as well as live entertainment and caroling. Kids can ride a merry-go-round, visit Santa’s house and snack on many sweets too. The atmosphere is truly magical at this market (but it gets crowded on the weekends. Try to go on a weekday during the day. It’s worth the day playing hooky).
People walking around the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District at night.

Ottawa Christmas Market.

Friday to Sunday, November 29 – December 22, 2019, Casino Lac-Leamy Plaza at Lansdowne, Ottawa 

Our nation’s capital is getting its own European-style Christmas market for the first time this year! The Ottawa Christmas Market will feature vendors, local craftsman, delicious baked goods and plenty of holiday cheer. The market launches on November 29th with JUNO Award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter, Chantal Kreviazuk, performing songs from her first Christmas album, “Christmas Is A Way of Life, My Dear.” The event will also feature the third annual lighting of the Lansdowne Christmas Tree with REDBLACKS’ mascot Big Joe Ho Ho and his friends Sparky and Riley Raccoon, players from TD Place sports teams, the REDBLACKS’ cheer team, carolers and Santa Claus.
Three friends enjoying hot chocolate at a Christmas market.

Ottawa Farmers’ Market.

Select dates, November 30 – December 22, 2019, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa

Also in Ottawa is an annual indoor Christmas Market in Lansdowne Park North, featuring more than 100 vendors selling local agricultural products, crafts, holiday decorations, jewellery and more. The market also offers a gift wrapping station, live music, horse and wagon rides and visits with Santa Claus.
Mother and young child looking at ornaments at a holiday market.

A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle.

Daily – Dec 1st, 2019 to Jan 5, 2020, Nightly – Dec 16, 2019 to Dec 30th , 2019, Casa Loma, 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto

Casa Loma will host a range of holiday activities and performances during A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle. These include shows by illusionist Professor Wick and skaters Glisse on Ice. Casa Loma promises holiday magic throughout the castle and dazzling décor, featuring a 40 ft. tall Christmas tree in the Great Hall plus eight signature trees created by Canadian designers, and a glittering lighting display in the garden. Children’s activities include visiting Santa in his workshop and making festive arts and crafts. Evenings feature fire performers and performances by the Casa Loma Holiday Orchestra.
Casa Loma castle in Toronto.

Polar Express Train Ride.

Select dates, November 21 - December 21, 2019, 50 Isabella Street, St. Jacobs 

The Waterloo Central Railway  becomes the Polar Express this holiday season, bringing the beloved children’s tale of a magical train ride to the North Pole to life. Travelers are encouraged to wear their pyjamas on this one-hour, round-trip journey aboard a vintage locomotive, during which hot chocolate and treats are served while passengers can read along with the story of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. Upon arrival in the North Pole, passengers are greeted by Santa and his helpers and presented with gifts of silver sleigh bells. And on the return trip, the onboard crew leads a Christmas carol singalong!
Young boy dressed as a train conductor standing beside a train.

Christmas & Holiday Village at Drysdale's Tree Farm.

Weekends, November 16 – December 15, 2019, 6635 Simcoe County Rd 56, Egbert

Drysdale’s tree farm becomes a magical winter village featuring activities for kids and families during for the holiday season. Choose and cut your own Christmas tree and enjoy face painting, magic shows, train rides, horse-drawn wagon rides, outdoor entertainment and more. Drysdale’s also offers visits with Santa in his house and a bonfire with marshmallow roasting!
Dad and three kids taking a cut evergreen tree back home.

Nutcracker Ballet.

December 12, 2019—January 4, 2020, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen Street West, Toronto

The National Ballet of Canada’s beloved version of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite is one of the most remarkable in the company’s repertoire. The show features 233 performers and is a decades-old holiday tradition around here. Set in 19th century Russia, this adaptation by James Kudelka follows the adventures of squabbling siblings, Misha and Marie, on a magical night journey through the mystic lands of the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy where they are forced to learn to get along and work together to defeat the Mouse Tsar.
Tanya Howard with Soo Ah Kang and Meghan Pugh in The Nutcracker, The National Ballet of Canada.

Christkindl Market.

December 5-8, Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St. W. Kitchener

Since 1997 Kitchener City Hall has been home to Christkindl Market, a local version of the traditional German Christmas markets. This year’s Christkindl is bigger than ever and features 100 vendors in an outdoor village of wooden huts and inside Kitchener City Hall, selling decorations, treats, giftware, crafts and more. Visitors can stroll through the village and sip hot Glühwein, take a carriage ride, and enjoy live entertainment from bands, choirs and dance troupes. Kids’ entertainment and activities include puppet and magic shows, storytellers and workshops.
Children and parents shopping at the Christkindl Market at Kitchener City Hall.

Photo credits: The Nutcracker Ballet performance photo by Karolina Kuras, courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada. Christkindl Market photo, courtesy of Kitchener's Christkindl Market.