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Toronto in December – Toronto Winter Activities Guide

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Toronto is a magical heaven of snow, lights, and festivity in December. We lived in Toronto and that is where we celebrated our first holiday season and winter in Canada. Here is a guide to Toronto in December with weather and packing information, the best activities to do in winter, light fests, and more.

Toronto in December – Toronto Winter Activities Guide

Toronto in December guide
Toronto in December guide

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Why visit Toronto in December? Things to do in Toronto in winter

Toronto in December is an amazing time to visit. The weather although cold, but if you dress well and are mindful of the daily forecasts you can travel and explore the city with ease.

There are so many free things to do in Toronto in December which are worth taking advantage of. Many of these events are seasonal and you won’t see them at other times of the year.

Our transit systems and buildings are all heated, so you can drive the bad cold out and enjoy a warm cocoa and stay toasty, while it snows outside.

Toronto in December welcomes you with tons of festive events, lights and celebrations. Get all the insider tips and winter activities guide in this post.

Hotels in Toronto in December are reasonably priced. The holiday season is busy with festivities, but it is not a peak season in Toronto. So you can expect to get hotel bookings at a decent price.

Malls and restaurants (except the fast food chains) will be closed for Christmas and they close early on Christmas Eve, so keep that in mind as you plan your holidays around those days.

But come December 26th, the shopping malls and online stores become busy with bargain shoppers!

Toronto also has many fine dining places for celebrating the holiday season with friends, family, or your sweetheart. 

The temperature in Toronto in December

Toronto experiences snow in December. Days get shorter and colder. Average temperatures range from a low of – 3 degrees Celsius to a high of 3 degrees Celsius (temperatures do not include the wind chill in the city).

There are chances of rain for 9 days of the month in December.

TORONTO IN DECEMBER TEMPERATURES
High3 degree Celsius (37.4 F)
Low3 degrees Celsius (37.4 F)
Rain
– 3 degrees Celsius (26.6 F)
Snow.20 inches throughout the month of December, probably slightly higher after the 20th

Toronto Winter Months: Winter months in Toronto are from late November to March

Toronto in December experiences the majority of the snowfall for the year. Especially from mid-December onwards, expect a lot of snow on the ground, with colder temperatures. The wind from Lake Ontario makes Toronto even colder with the wind chill.

So always wear a warm cap or a scarf to cover your head from the wind chill. Keep your hands warm with gloves.

Nathan Philips Square Toronto in winter

And always dress for the weather appropriately. We have included a packing list below for visiting Toronto in December. 

What to pack for Toronto in December?

We have written a detailed guide on packing for Canada in winter and it holds true for Toronto as well. Keep in mind – expect chilly days in Toronto with snowfall, slippery surfaces, and traffic congestion. 

So here are some of the essential items to pack for Toronto in December

Click on the items below to shop 

Toronto hotel for December for all budgets 

For celebrating the festive season in Toronto stay in the downtown area, so that commuting and sightseeing attractions are easily accessible. Within the downtown area of Toronto, you can choose a hotel in the harbourfront area.

Other options include the Toronto Eaton centre mall or the entertainment district.

Pretty much, anywhere in downtown Toronto will be easy for a Light Rail Transit commute. Hotels in downtown start at $95 CAD per night+ 

Here are some recommended hotels for your visit

Luxury Options in Downtown Toronto

  • Hotel Fairmont Royal York: If you are looking for a luxury stay in Toronto, then look no further. This 4 star hotel in downtown Toronto is calling you for a luxurious stay overlooking the tall buildings.
    • Hotel Fairmont Royal York is conveniently located close to CN Tower and other sightseeing attractions.
    • The hotel rooms are stunning and it has an indoor pool on site. Free breakfast.
    • BOOK YOUR STAY HERE
  • Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel: Another upscale 4 star hotel in downtown Toronto.
    • Good location. Close to sightseeing spots
    • Free breakfast and wifi. Indoor and Outdoor pool
    • BOOK YOUR STAY HERE

Mid Range Hotel

  • Radisson Admiral Hotel Toronto-Harbourfront – This is a 4 star hotel with great views. But in December you can see nightly rates start as low as $101 CAD.
  • Hotel Victoria: A 3 star hotel that seals the deal with an awesome location and vintage room decor. The building dates from 1909.
    • It is located a 2-minute (walk) away from the King Station subway stop, a 7-minute walk from St. Lawrence Market, and 2 km (1.2 miles) from the landmark CN Tower.
    • Good value for money. Free parking in the downtown hotel. Free breakfast
    • (Temporarily closed)
  • View hotel deals in Toronto for December

Toronto in December – MAP of Toronto Attractions for December

 

Amazing things to do in Toronto in December

I got to share this picture of mine from 2009 when I was 22 years old and was seeing snow for the first time. Yep, that was me in Toronto from an apartment building.

Snow makes everything magical here in winter. And that is me saying after having experienced heavy snow fall, blizzards, and surviving – 45 degrees Celsius in Saskatchewan, and now in Alberta! See I survived and enjoy winters here.

So let’s look at some of the amazing things to do in Toronto in December.

BONUS READ: For Toronto Itinerary Inspiration read our Toronto travel guide for 7 days 

1. Visit Toronto Christmas Markets in December 

Visiting Toronto in December means indulging in tons of festive activities. One of my favorite things to do in December is to head to a Christmas Market.

The Christmas markets in Toronto are inspired by the European Christkindlmarkt aka Christmas markets of German origin, and you know how beautiful the markets are in Europe.

Walking into these Christmas Markets, the candle scents, ornaments, food, and warm drinks will welcome you and dip you into the festive cheer!

  • Distillery District Christmas Markets – November 16 to December 31, 2023
  • Nathan Philips Square Christmas Markets – December 1 to 23 2023
  • Kensington Market Winter + Christmas – late November to December (markets are open all year, except Christmas Day and New Year)

Toronto Christmas markets are set up in late November and are open until the end of December.

Distillery District Christmas Markets – November 16 to December 31, 2023

The most popular Christmas market is located in the historic Distillery District of Toronto. The old world charming Christmas markets await you here, with carols, music and entertainment, vendors selling holiday goodies, food, and more.

Nathan Philips Square Christmas Markets – December 1 to 23 2023

There are a few more Christmas markets in the city. The Nathan Philips Square is decked up like a European market in December, as part of the Festive and Holiday Fair. The dates of the event are usually the first week of December until Christmas Eve.

As it is part of the Holiday Fair, you will find tons of other activities to keep you and the kids busy. You can shop and get ready with Christmas gifts, stop for lunch, ice skate, and end the day with dining (and drinks at the Ice bar) at Nathan Philips Square.

Christmas lights in Toronto
Christmas lights in Toronto

Lawrence Market, Kensington Market, and Chinatown also have Christmas markets set up for this time of the year.

Pro-tip: Other than festive culinary delights, do keep some room for the famous peameal bacon sandwich in Toronto!

2. Ring in the holiday season in a castle in Toronto – Casa Loma’s A Nutcracker Christmas

Casa Loma is a 20th-century castle located in the heart of the city. During the month of December, Casa Loma is decked up with festive lights and charm, and imagine how stunning the Gothic castle looks.

Definitely stop by for photos and experience a memorable Christmas as you tour the castle hallways and underground cellar. Visitors are invited to meet Santa in his castle workshop and participate in festive arts and crafts, enjoying shows by famed entertainers and ice skating performers.  

A giant Christmas tree is set up at the Casa Loma to ring in the festive season. 

Dates for this event: December month (TBA for 2023)

Entry fee: Included in the general admission is $30 per adult 

3. Celebrate winter in Toronto with the Aurora Winter Festival 

Winters are a wonderful time in Toronto and Canada in general. We love exploring our cities in winter and there are many reasons why we recommend experiencing the snowy weather here.

Imagine the world is painted in soft white colors, and sometimes when the sun shines it glitters and makes things so beautiful and pure! Well, that’s Canadian winters for you.

Toronto in December Christmas
Toronto in December Christmas

Appreciate the crisp and cold weather in Toronto in December by visiting the Aurora Winter Festival. This festival will transport you from Toronto to the North Pole. The festival is delightful with many colorful light displays, amusement rides, and many winter activities.

The festival site is located at Ontario Place, which also holds Winter Light Exhibition.

Dates and entry fee for the event: Check out tickets here

4. Explore Winter Villages in Toronto in December

Winter villages’ concept in Toronto is similar to the Christmas Markets, but you can expect tons of comfort aka winter food here.

Distillery Winter Village

The Distillery Winter Village is a beautiful spot to spend festive winters in Toronto. There is food, Christmas lights, entertainment, and more!

On most days, entry is free. But on Fridays and weekends, there is a fee and tickets have to be purchased online. 

Dates for this event: November 16 to December 31, 2023. Buy tickets here

Entry fee: Free + paid on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays

Evergreen Brick Works’ Winter Village

The Evergreen Brick Works’ Winter Village is foodie heaven with street food vendors selling treats, mulled wine, craft beer, and eggnog. They actually have a Sipping container where you can sip some winter and festive drinks and relax by the fire.

Dates for this event: Usually every weekend in December, the week between Christmas to New Years – 10:00 am to 05:00 pm (no dates announced for 2023 yet. Check here)

Entry fee: Free

There is also a Venus Winter Market set up during the month of December. This market showcases and sells arts and crafts items from local vendors.

5. Watch the festive lights at Toronto Zoo – Terra Lumina Enchanted Lights Walk

Toronto Zoo is expected to get a 1.5-km (.9 miles) light show, called the Terra Lumina Night Walk in December. It will be held on various dates starting on February 4, 2023, and ending on April 9, 2023. 

Toronto Zoo also organizes a Winter Marketplace, and the dates are November 19 – 20 2022. All details here

(Edmonton hosts a similar event at the Devonian Botanical Gardens called the ‘Luminaria’, and it is a wonderful experience, and tickets get sold out fast).

Toronto In December weather
Toronto In December weather

6. Enjoy a holiday meal at the CN Tower – 360 the restaurant and the LookOut

Toronto’s iconic landmark CN Tower lights up and welcomes guests for holiday dining and drinks at the LookOut. (Note: Closed on Christmas Day)

7. Take photos with Santa Claus at the biggest mall in Toronto 

Head to the Yorkdale Mall in Toronto for holiday shopping and stop by to say hello and snap a photo with good ol’ Santa Claus.

There are Santa Photo booths and stations in all of the malls in Toronto. My favorites are Eaton Center, Fairview Mall, and the Scarborough Town Center.

Visiting Toronto in Winter - December Christmas Markets
Visiting Toronto in Winter – Image by instagram.com/dianasmith

8. Celebrate Winter Solstice at the Kensington Market 

December 21st is the longest (and most times the coldest) day of the year. Celebrate Winter Solstice in style in the heart of Kensington market. The entire market is transformed into a winter wonderland of sorts with glitter and Hanukkah candles.

Dress warmly for the Winter Solstice Parade on December 21st. Explore Kensington Market in a walking tour here

9. Go Ice skating at the Harbourfront Centre Natrel Rink

Fancy ice skating in Toronto? Head to the Harbourfront Centre Natrel Rink, the most popular outdoor skating rink in Toronto. 

They are open from 09:00 am to 10:00 pm, with equipment rental available on-site. (Note: They will be closed temporarily for the 2022 season. Check for updates). 

There are many outdoor ice rinks in the city. A majority of them will open on or after November 30th. Do check this year’s hours as many were closed for the 2021/22 Toronto winter season.

Ice Rinks in Toronto in December

10. Get some retail therapy on Boxing Day in Toronto 

December 26th is a crazy fun day for shoppers. Shopping malls open early and they are filled with discount offers and holiday gifts that go on sale (right after Christmas). Get up early and line up to stock on your favorite items.

For Boxing Day shopping, use Toronto Transit services rather than driving down to the mall as parking is a hassle. Public transportation is efficient and easy to use in Toronto. 

The following shopping malls have transit centers located in their vicinity/underground complex – Yorkdale, Eaton Center, Fairview, and Scarborough Town Center.

11. Learn about Toronto’s history at the Fort York National Historic Site

Fort York Historic Site contains many hidden secrets about Toronto’s past. This site was the primary defensive position of early York (Toronto) once upon a time. 

Today it is filled with historical remnants including the seven buildings built between 1813 and 1815 which are examples of British military architecture in Canada. 

During the month of December, the Fort York National Historic Site organizes many seasonal events. 

12. Take a day trip to Niagara Falls and watch the evening lights show 

Niagara Falls is located 1.50 hours away from Toronto. Embark on a day trip to Niagara Falls or take a tour to explore the frozen falls and experience the evening light show on the Niagara. 

Niagara Falls fireworks

With this day tour to Niagara Falls via bus from Toronto, you can sit back, warm and toasty, and watch evening lights aglow on the falls. Check out this day tour here, departing at 01:00 pm from Toronto.

13. Outdoor Winter Activities in and Near Toronto in Toronto

Winter in Toronto is a magical season that transforms the city’s landscape into a snowy wonderland, offering a host of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy. 

One of the most popular pastimes is outdoor ice skating, with the city boasting a number of picturesque skating rinks (such as the Nathan Phillips Square and the Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Rink). Many of the rinks are free to access and they offer enchanting views of the cityscape.

Or hit the Bentway Skate Trail for winter ice skating!

If you’re willing to venture a bit outside of Toronto, the Blue Mountain Resort is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. Located less than three hours northwest of the city, the resort offers a variety of activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

For a more leisurely winter activity, consider a visit to the Toronto Zoo. During the winter, the zoo offers a different perspective on its animals, with many being more active in the cooler weather. Bundle up and wander the paths, enjoy the beauty of the snow, and watch the animals in their winter routines.

Don’t overlook the Toronto Islands, either. While they’re a popular summer destination, in winter, they offer peaceful, snowy landscapes perfect for cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Just make sure to check ferry schedules before setting off.

If you’re looking for something more low-key, consider a winter hike through one of Toronto’s scenic parks or conservation areas. The snowy landscapes offer a unique and serene setting for a peaceful walk. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try snowshoeing through the trails.

14. Enjoy the big city night lights at Yonge and Dundas Toronto

This is like our favorite place in Toronto – the Yonge and Dundas Square. This is a perfect place to wine and dine and go on a relaxed stroll after a satisfied belly meal! 

Dundas Square at Night
Dundas Square at Night

The square is surrounded by live street performers, cafes and restaurants, and larger than life screens to keep the big city lights on!  

15. New Year’s Eve on Nathan Phillips Square 

Bid adieu to 2023 in style at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on December 31st. This is a free event featuring tons of shows including DJ, dance, and entertainment and SCINTILLATING FIREWORKS over the city of Toronto. 

16. Toronto Light Festival 

At the Distillery District, enjoy the Toronto Light Festival – an event filled with lights and an amazing show in the dark – this fest will definitely get you to enjoy the winters!

This event takes place in mid-January and is free to attend. More information here!

DATESEVENTS
Nov 24 – Dec 23, 2023North Pole Experience
Dec 09, 2023Toronto Singles Downtown Christmas
Lights Walking Tour
Terra Lumina Night WalkWebsite
Nov 26, 2023Toronto Santa Claus Parade
Nov 16 – Dec 31, 2023Distillery Winter VillageTickets
Toronto Zoo Marketplace
Nov – DecKensington Market Winter + Christmas
Dec 2 – 23, 2022Nathan Philips Square Christmas Markets
TBAAurora winter festival
DecemberEvergreen Brick Works’ Winter Village
Dec 21, 2023Kensington Market winter solstice fest
January (TBA)Toronto Light Festival
Toronto December and other winter events

17. Indoor things to do in Toronto in Winter (December to February)

Here are some of the popular things to do in Toronto all year round, and are perfect for escaping the cold in winter!

Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum is Canada’s largest museum of natural history and world cultures. With six million items in its collections, there’s plenty to see and learn about at the ROM. 

The Museum is internationally recognized for its collection of dinosaurs and other fossils, as well as for its collections of Asian art and textiles. The museum also has an extensive Canadian art collection. In addition to its 40 galleries, the ROM also has a research centre, library, and Archives

They are open all year round, including the holidays in December (except December 25 and 26). Tickets start at $23 per adult. 

The Royal Ontario Museum is one of Toronto’s most popular tourist attractions. 

Art Gallery of Ontario

The Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, and it’s right here in Toronto! With a collection spanning from 100 AD to the present day, there’s something for everyone at the AGO. 

Tickets start at $25 per adult. 

Ontario Science Museum

The Ontario Science Museum has everything you need for a fully immersive and educational vacation experience. With interactive exhibits on everything from space exploration to animal behavior, there’s something for everyone at the Science Museum (not just kids). 

The Ontario Science Centre is one of the first interactive science museums in the world.

Tickets start at $22 (adult), $17 (youth), and $13 (kids). 

Bata Shoe Museum

The Bata Shoe Museum is a unique museum in Toronto. And a cool stop for anyone who loves shoes! 

The museum opened in 1995, and it houses over 15,000 shoe exhibits and thousands of years of footwear history from ancient Egyptian sandals to 20th-century sneakers. 

There are Temporary Exhibits on display as well, which change over time. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s sure to be an exhibit that will pique your interest!

Tickets are $14 per person. 

Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Hockey Hall of Fame is a must-visit destination for any hockey fan. Founded in 1943, the Hall of Fame celebrates and preserves the history of hockey through its extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits.

You can explore interactive displays, view iconic memorabilia such as game-worn jerseys and Stanley Cup rings, and even test their skills in the game simulations. From legendary players to historic moments, the Hockey Hall of Fame offers a comprehensive and immersive experience for all ages.

One of the highlights of a visit to the Hall of Fame is the opportunity to see the Stanley Cup, hockey’s ultimate prize. The Hall of Fame also pays tribute to the women who have made significant contributions to the sport with its “Women’s Hockey Showcase” exhibit. 

After exploring the exhibits, be sure to stop by the gift shop for some unique hockey-themed souvenirs and memorabilia. 

Tickets for adults are $25 CAD (they are closed on December 25th).

CN Tower

No Toronto in winter list is complete without a stop at the CN Tower. Standing at a whopping 553.3 meters (1,815.4 feet) tall, it’s hard to miss! 

But did you know that the CN Tower is more than just a pretty face? It is one of the unique engineering marvels and feats that make this tower one of the most Badass structures in the world.

It is currently the 9th tallest free-standing structure in the world and the tallest in North America. The tower gets its name from Canadian National—the railway company that commissioned its construction.

There are observation decks, restaurants, and retail space inside! Ride the elevator to an indoor/outdoor SkyPod observation deck, and soak in the views of the harbourfront and nearby areas. 

It is believed that the tower is struck 70-85 times every year…and counting! 

We hope you enjoyed this list of activities to do in Toronto in December. Remember to wear warm clothes, and you will be all ready to embrace the winter with love!

For more updated event listings, check the Tourism Toronto website

Read other posts on travel in Canada and Toronto

Pin: Guide to Toronto Toronto in December Travel Guide and Travel tips for visiting 

Toronto in December
Toronto in December

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