Goodbye Thanksgiving, hello Christmas.
Okay, it’s still two months away but don’t tell that to the folks who stage Toronto’s annual Christmas Market at the historic Distillery Historic District. The market, which opens Nov. 14, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Plus, CNN Traveler recently rated it one of the top 17 Christmas markets in the world. It’s also been rated as one of The Boston Globe's "Best Christmas Markets in North America," The Telegraph's "10 Magical Tours to the World's Best Christmas Markets," and Reader's Digest "8 Must Visit Christmas Markets from Around the World." Fodor's listed it as one of the "World's 10 Best Holiday Markets." Not too shabby for an event that has strived to recreate in Toronto the romance and magic of traditional European Christmas markets which date back to the early 1400s.
So what’s new this year?
The market’s creator and executive director Mathew Rosenblatt predicts it will be “the most magical yet.” He says there will be even more music and entertainment on the main stage and throughout the Market, featuring nearly 500 performers including carollers, choirs, dancers, musicians, holiday elves, and, of course, Santa Claus.
The iconic ferris wheel is back and so is the enhanced, dramatic 100-foot light tunnel. And, of course, what makes the market so special is the unique shopping experiences, holiday-inspired foods, warm beverages and seasonal spirits. This year’s Christmas tree, donated by Forests Ontario, will rise more than 50 feet above the visitors.
Plus, there’s good news for the visitors who drive to the Market. The City of Toronto and the Market organizers will launch a new, detailed traffic plan to reduce some of the recognized congestion and frustration caused by the festival's success.
“We are proud that in less than a decade, millions of Torontonians and tourists alike have embraced the Toronto Christmas Market and have made our holiday tradition their holiday tradition,” said Rosenblatt. "Aware of the special role we now play in the seasonal rituals of many, we are sensitive of the need to evolve and grow each season, while preserving the aspects of the Market that have become beloved cultural touchstones, year after year."
The Market will end on Dec. 22 and admission is free of charge on weekdays until Friday at 6 p.m. Weekend entrance fees this season will be $8 for tickets bought online in advance, and $12 dollars when purchased day-of.
The Market is a not-for-profit organization. The proceeds from weekend ticket sales support groups such as the Daily Bread Food Bank, Plan Canada, the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund, and the Yonge Street Mission. They also support community events and programming throughout the year.
The Market is offering free admission on the first two opening weekends to anyone who brings eight cans of food to donate to the Daily Bread Food Bank. You can drop off the canned goods at the large donation bin outside the Ticket Tent in exchange for a ticket.
Hours for the Market are Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. (and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday) from Nov. 14 to Dec. 22. The shops and restaurants of the Distillery Historic District are open seven days a week, starting at 11 a.m.