With thousands of glittering white lights, glowing wooden craft huts, and an enormous, decorated Christmas tree, the Distillery District is magical this time of year. Channelling the essence of traditional European Christmas markets, Toronto’s Christmas Market is in its second year, and well on its way to being a new city tradition.
Instagram shot of the main area of the Toronto Christmas Market
Having fallen in love with the German Christmas markets in Köln, I’m a tough judge when it comes to my new favourite Christmastime event. The markets in Köln were full of locals coming together with their family and friends to enjoy a mug of glühwein, some piping hot sausages, carols, and artisan crafts and treats. The atmosphere was so festive, and to me, demonstrated the true meaning of Christmas.
Instagram shot of reindeer!
The Toronto Christmas Market is still in its infancy, but while small, it has all the makings of a long-standing tradition. Many of the traditional elements of European Christmas markets are present, including the small inwardly-lit wooden huts selling everything from chocolate-dipped bacon and maple syrup toffee to hand-made wooden ornaments and balaclavas made from recycled sweaters. The vendors are cheery, clearly infected with the omnipresent Christmas spirit, and the variety of huts makes for an interesting wander. What I love, though, is that the Toronto Christmas Market blends traditional European elements with traditional Canadian elements – specifically in the food department. It’s a really successful way to feel the heritage and tradition of both the market concept and Canadian life.
Instagram shot of the maple toffee cones
There’s a Ferris wheel and carousel for children (which is great, because it keeps them occupied and out of my way), carolers on a stage next to the massive, and real, Christmas tree, and a biergarten for adults looking for things to get even more festive.
What’s missing are the “beverage stands” I became rather fond of in Germany. Similar to beer gardens, large wooden huts with tall social tables sell glühwein (mulled wine), cider, and sometimes hot chocolate. Each market has individualised mugs, which you can keep (for 2€) should you wish. These places appeared to be a cornerstone of the markets – it seemed everyone was congregating around tables, warming up with a mug of deliciousness and an intoxicating festive feeling. I would love to see more of this in Toronto. Eventually, I suppose!
Instagram shot of chocolate covered bacon from the Pig Candy hut
Despite this, the Toronto Christmas Market is still an excellent way to spend a December evening. Bundle up, bring some cash, and get excited for the festivity, because it’s unavoidable. If you haven’t already decked the halls of your home, a visit to the market will certainly give you the kick you need to get in the Christmas spirit.
The Toronto Christmas Market runs until December 18th. Entry is free, but non-perishable food donations are being accepted for the food bank.