The weather outside is getting frightful!
I swear every year, winter seems to start earlier, last longer and feel much, much colder than the last.
With several days in November already reaching the coldest levels recorded in Toronto, I think it’s safe to say, that winter has arrived.
Winter in Toronto means snow, ice and (a few) things that are not-so nice; including navigating sheet-like sidewalks (pavements), the wind-chill that makes it feel a LOT colder than it actually is and layering up to the point that you can hardly see your face, where you have to wear gloves underneath your mittens and you start to resemble the Michelin man in heavy snow pants and a winter coat that is essentially just a human-shaped duvet.
But it’s is not all bad!
Winter also means ice-skating, snowball fights, streams of twinkly lights and plenty of festive eats and treats to help keep the chills at bay.
The city transforms into a glittering winter wonderland as the holiday season kicks off and everyone gets into the spirit of Christmas.
Now that the nights are getting darker and the temperatures have started to fall – all I really want to do is curl up on the sofa with Netflix and a cup of tea or hot chocolate – but in keeping with tradition, this year, I chose to brave the cold and explore some (of the many) holiday themed festivals and markets that help bring the city back to life in the winter season.
Set among cobblestone alley-ways, the small winding streets of the distillery district have a distinctly European feel, and transport to you to a world of delicious food, unique crafts and artisan fares from the moment you step through the gates.
As you would expect, the market showcases a variety of festivities, including Santa, reams of mistletoe, a mini Ferris wheel, shopping opportunities galore and many live musical performances that will warm your body and soul as you bask in the magical glow of the lights and colours.
Of course, no visit is complete without that all important Instagram moment – a photo in front of the magical 50ft tree that has become the heart and soul of the market.
Here are my top tips for getting the most of out of your visit to the Christmas Market.
Visit during the week
Weekdays are without a doubt the best time to visit.
Admission is free Monday – Friday and the crowds will be a lot more manageable, unless you like feeling like a sardine in a can!
Reservations are recommended
With so many food options you are unlikely to leave hungry, but line-ups at the food-stalls can be lengthy (and are outside).
If you’re planning to eat dinner at one of the Distillery’s restaurants, do your research and plan ahead.
A reservation will reduce your wait time and likely offer you the chance to eat your meal without the need to keep your mittens on.
Warm up with a tasty hot toddy
Warm your cockles whilst you wait for the ferris wheel or line-up to tell Santa what’s on this years wish-list.
Head over to Holiday Spirits Square for a selection of signature festive warm-ups that will have you singing Rum-PUM-PUM in no time.
Choose from Hot Cider, Glühwein (Mulled Wine), Toasted Coconut & Rum Hot Chocolate, Cinnamon Spiced Rum Eggnog or a collection of premium whisky and vodka based drinks.
Shop ’til you (almost) drop
The Christmas Market is a great place to kick-off your christmas shopping. With a multitude of vendors it’s the perfect time and place to pick up unique arts, crafts, decorations and stocking stuffers.
Wrap it up
No matter how warm it may feel, the wind whips through those quaint little streets and comes without warning – trust me when I tell you, it bites!
I recommend lots of layers and a pair of smartphone gloves so you can’t take those Christmas selfies without getting frostbite!
For more information, check this awesome video (from See Toronto Now & Arienne Parzai.)