How Christmas is Celebrated in Toronto, Canada

By Ayesha Khan

Christmas is Celebrated in Toronto, Ontario, Canada much like it is celebrated in the United Kingdom and United States. Preparations for Christmas start as early as after Halloween. Stores are decorated with green and red ornaments and Christmas trees, whilst shelves are stocked with holiday themed goods and Christmas melodies take over the radio. Many Canadians start their Christmas shopping in November, during Black Friday to take advantage of the stellar bargains. Outdoors, the streets of Toronto light up in awe-inspiring lights and twinkling trees while houses are decked in festive decor and Christmas inflatables. Canadians are typically blessed with blankets of glistening white snow around the season. Christmas is the biggest holiday celebration in Canada, and Toronto, like other major cities, turns into a winter wonderland in light of the holiday spirit.  


As Canada is known for its multiculturalism, Christmas traditions vary amongst different ethnic populations such as the English, Scottish, Irish and German communities. Canadians take part in the annual holiday tradition of buying Christmas trees and lighting them up in their homes, whether it be artificial or authentic. Unlike in Russia however, it is illegal in Canada to chop up a tree from a forest and take it home! Presents are left under the tree for children to open in the morning under the assumption they were gifted from Santa Claus himself!  

Apart from decorating Christmas trees, Canadians enjoy watching various Christmas specials on television, baking and exchanging cookies, decorating gingerbread houses, sending Christmas cards, going caroling, hanging mistletoe and goodie-filled stockings, and much more. Christian families may also go to church to gather for midnight mass on Christmas Eve in honour of the birth of Jesus Christ.  

On Christmas day, families come together to have a feast and exchange presents. A traditional Canadian Christmas dinner has its origins in Britain, the main menu consisting of stuffed Turkey or other poultry, mashed potatoes and gravy, eggnog, mincemeat tarts, fruit cake, cranberry sauce, pudding, and an assortment of harvest vegetables and other side dishes and pastries. Some distinctly Canadian Christmas dishes include Nanaimo bars, butter tarts, and French-Canadian Tourtiè.  

Aside from mouthwatering feasts, wholesome family get-togethers and gift exchanges, there are countless other ways Canadians can immerse themselves into the holiday festivities leading up to the time of Christmas and well beyond.  Whether it’s a walk into the Eaton Centre, one of Toronto’s largest shopping malls and admiring a 108-foot-tall Christmas tree lit up in sparkling lights or a drive across the iconic CN Tower to gaze at bright illuminating green and red light displays, Christmas is quite literally, sparkling across every corner of Toronto streets. To conclude the blogpost, listed below is a narrowed down guide of the top 10 best ways to celebrate Christmas in the city of Toronto.   

Images below showcase: Toronto Santa Claus Parade, Winterfest at Canada’s Wonderland Amusement Park, Casa Loma historic castle during Christmas, Niagara Falls winter festival of lights, Christmas Market at Distillery District, and Country Bright village Christmas walk-thru.  


Top 10 things to do in the holiday season in Toronto, Ontario  


  1. Toronto Santa Claus Parade  
  • The Toronto Santa Claus Parade, also deemed the original Santa Claus parade, is one of the oldest and largest Christmas parades held annually since 1905, and  attended by over half a million spectators. The parade hosts over 25 animated floats or various themes, marching bands, magical characters, celebrity clowns, and celebrity performances. In light of COVID-19 restrictions, the parade will be televised and held virtually this year.  
  1. Toronto Christmas Market in Distillery District 
  • The Toronto Christmas Market is one of the coziest winter events to have a stroll around the beautiful cobblestone streets, shop for gifts, dine in from food cabins, explore stalls, eat festive treats, or have a holiday inspired drink at the beer garden or countless array of bars. In light of Christmas, the market is decorated in thousands of twinkling lights, there is a tree lighting ceremony, and there are live musical performances and carollers.  
  1. Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls  
  • One of the largest outdoor light festivals takes place in the world-famous Niagara Falls annually and free of charge. Spectators get a mind-blowing view of the waterfalls decorated in over 3 million lights and 75 light displays. Firework performances also take place for several nights during the season depending on weather conditions. The light displays illuminate the falls for over 3 months to give visitors plenty of time for sight-seeing.  
  1. Casa Loma Christmas Decorations 
  • There is no better way to celebrate Christmas than in a majestic castle. The historic tourist attraction, Casa Loma is transformed with holiday displays during the season, including an enchanted forest of lights and sparkling tunnels on the castle grounds. Visitors can explore the tunnel to Santa’s workshop, view live performances and carollers, wander through the castle grounds and admire intricately designed light displays and Christmas trees.  
  1. National Ballet of Canada’s Nutcracker 
  • Toronto is famed for having one of the best versions of the Nutcracker two-act ballet. The cherished tradition performed annually on the holidays in James Kudelka’s 1995 staging, features endless dancing, orchestra, outstanding costumes and sets as well as celebrity performances.  
  1. Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square  
  • The Holiday Fair in the Square is a Christmas market and winter carnival in one, perfect for a family day out. Whether it be enjoying rides, skating on the ice-rink, shopping for gifts, taking pictures with Santa and his elves, indulging in snacks from food trucks, or sipping warm drinks at the heated Polar Bear Point, the fair has something for everyone! 
  1. Snow Magic at Ontario Place 
  • For a COVID-19 safe drive-thru Christmas art exhibit experience head over to Snow Magic at Ontario Place and immerse yourself into a magical land of mythical creatures, light tunnels, forest of lights, crystal caves, pyrotechnics and expertly crafted glowing art installations. This 30-minute drive-thru adventure is open from mid-November to mid-January to all ages.  
  1. WinterFest at Canada’s Wonderland 
  • Canada’s Wonderland, the country’s largest amusement park, transforms into a dazzling winter wonderland featuring hundreds of shimmering Christmas trees, two 50-foot Christmas trees, festive food, and eight Christmas themed worlds including Candy Cane Lane, Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town, Elf Village, Tinseltown, The North Pole and much more. Activities include ice-skating on snowflake lake, tree lighting ceremony of the two 50-foot-long Christmas trees, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, pictures with Santa Claus, family rides, and holiday-themed shows.  
  1. Country Bright at Country Heritage Park 
  • Country Bright is a walk-thru event around a small-town and farm at Country Heritage Park decorated in thousands of glowing lights, interactive displays, life sized snow globes, historic buildings, massive Christmas trees made of lights, ice sculptures, tunnels, pathways illuminated by holiday lights and candles, as well as other holiday decor. The hour-long walk around this mystical village features costumed characters, classic holiday music, snacks and winter drinks. All proceeds go to a hospital in support of front-line workers during the pandemic.  
  1. North Pole Light UP Express at Uxbridge Station 
  • If you are feeling super nostalgic this Christmas, head on board a magical hour-long decorated train ride directly to the North Pole. During the journey, guests will meet Mrs. Claus, Santa’s singing, dancing and story-telling friends, and get served fresh hot chocolate and cookies from dancing elves. Upon arrival at the North Pole, Santa Claus will deliver each guest a present and there will be a tree lighting ceremony full of dancing and singing Christmas carols.