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December 22, 2014

Toronto Festivals & Events


Santa's in town now and there's no shortage of where to take your kid(s) to see him! Here's a couple of them that's kinda neat!

  • Eaton's Centre: Santa has a real log cabin situated in Trinity Square (just outside the centre). This year, kids can skype with Santa (sold out) but there are still dates available for the children to actually meet him in his cabin. To make sure your kids aren't disappointed it's best to reserve a time. There are 'drop-in' times but it's on a first come first serve basis [Info]
  • Mariposa Cruise: As part of the Waterfront's Winterfest, Mariposa are offering Santa Cruises on select dates (Dec 13, 14 & 20). Children under 6 are FREE and the adult fare is quite reasonable [Info]. There's also a Santa Brunch Cruise on Dece 21 too! [Details]
  • Santa Train: York-Durham Heritage Railway has a Santa Train! Santa visits each child at their seat and goodie bags are given to all children. Train departs Saturdays & Sundays (Nov 22 onwards) [Details]
  • Skate with Santa on Christmas Eve: Before he heads off on his busiest night of the year, join Santa on the outdoor rink at Shops at Don Mills (Wed, December 24: 1:00-3:00pm (weather permitting)) [Updates]

The Bay Windows

Also, if you're ever walking along Queen St (between Yonge & Bay) you should check out The Bay's windows.

It's been a long tradition for these to be decorated with Christmas scenes. Past few years they have used 'little mechanical doll-like' scenes, and I have to say, they are pretty cute - lots going on in each window. Here's what you can see if you're in the area.

Live Comedy

FREE live comedy shows - now you can't beat that can you?! The Comedy Cabaret is a monthly show of Stand-Up Comedy held at The Charlotte Room (19 Charlotte St) on the last Monday of every month (8-9:30pm). You can reserve your seat by booking online via Uniiverse (or just show up).

Fall Symphony Series

The Casa Loma Fall Symphony concert series, starring the Toronto Concert Orchestra takes place every Tuesday. There are a limited number of passes available for purchase.

To purchase the package, you can email katie.mclellan@casaloma.org and a representative from Casa Loma will be in contact within 2 business days by email with details as listed on the weblink. If all packages sell out you will receive an email notification within 2 business days.

Casa Loma Fall Symphony Series poster

When: Oct 21-Dec 9, 2014 (Tuesdays)
Where: Casa Loma

AGO's First Thursdays

On the first Thursday of every month, AGO presents an evening of entertainment throughout its galleries that include pop-up talks, "Out of the Vaults" installation and hands-on art making. There's also food and bar stations throughout the AGO.

Time: 7-11:30 pm
Admission: Online: $12 (+$2 fee); At door: $15 1 2 [Tickets]

1 Buy your tickets early as this event tends to sell out - they don't hold back tickets for door purchase.
2 If you want to see the Alex Colville Exhibition, you will have to pay more.

This is an 19+ Event so don't forget your ID. Don't forget to take CASH.

Wintertime in Toronto

It's getting to be that time of year again when the outdoor ice rinks start to open for the winter season and they're FREE - all you need to do is either take your own skates or rent them at the facilities (where available). REMEMBER to always call ahead to make sure the rink is open, in case weather dictates otherwise! The following are the more popular rinks.


The Harbourfront [TTC: Union Stn/streetcar or Spadina Stn/streetcar] turns their 'pond' into a large outdoor skating rink {Natrel™ Rink} during the winter months. IT'S NOW OPEN FOR THE SEASON, but if the temps warm up, you should phone ahead just in case.

It's a beautiful place to skate as you are right alongside the Lake.

Outdoor ice skating at Harbourfront

Times: Sun–Wed: 10am – 10pm || Thurs–Sat: 10am – 11pm. Facilities include:

  • Indoor change room with lockers (take change with you)
  • Washrooms
  • Skate sharpening
  • Skating Lessons [Nov 18 – Mar 8]
  • It's FREE to use if you have your own skates. Rentals are available
  • DJ Saturday Nights: 8 - 11pm [Dec 13 - Feb 21, 2015]** very popular **
  • Hot chocolate is available too!!

Remember to wrap up warm as it can get rather chilly down there beside the lake if you're not skating.

Nathan Phillips Square

This is also a very popular (artificial) skating rink that is in the centre of downtown Toronto. The facilities here have been upgraded when they revitalized the Square. The rink is scheduled to open November 22 (weather permitting)

Outdoor ice skating at Harbourfront

It doesn't really close as such but the lights do go out [10pm], so you will be skating in semi-dark - which I've seen many do! Facilities include:

  • Change rooms with lockers (take change with you)
  • Washrooms
  • It's FREE to use if you have your own skates. Rentals are available
  • Snack bar
  • Tim Horton's & Starbucks are across the street (Queen St/Bay St)!

Evergreen Brickworks

Small outdoor rink, but definitely worth checking out especially whenever there are other events happening. The opening date is still TBA, but as always mentioned through this article, you should phone ahead (416-596-7670) to make sure it's operational, especially with weather. Facilities include:

  • Washrooms
  • Skate sharpening
  • Learn to Skate [Jan 3 – Feb 25]
  • It's FREE to use if you have your own skates. Rentals are available
  • Helmets are provided for free to skaters under 18 years old
  • Times: Monday–Sunday: 11am–4pm

Skate Rentals are limited with sizes/pairs available. If you have an old pair, you are welcome to drop them off at their library. Yes, like everywhere else, they have set rules about skating on their rink, most of which are common sense.

Other Rinks

There are many outdoor rinks spread throughout the city that are actually run by the city. This website is a great source of information/details as to which rinks are opening, where and when (it's busy, but just read carefully...you'll find what you're looking for!!). Just in case you want something closer to you!

Save on Attractions

We all look for a deal, especially if you're visiting as a family. The following are just some ways of catching a deal when in Toronto.

City Passports offers booklet of discounts and usually sells out quickly, so keep in mind for future visits to the city.

City Pass (not to be confused with the City Passports) offers discounted admission to five of Toronto's main tourist attractions including CN Tower. Cost is US$60.89+tax

Fun Pass will get 1 free child's general admission to 19 different Ontario attractions when you purchase an adult or senior admission! Valid June 28-October 31, but the attractions may have different dates of operation.

Ticketmaster's 2 for 1 ticket deals as well as discounts on other events! Again, worth checking out regularly.

Ripleys Aquarium of Canada

The newest addition to Toronto's tourist attractions is open for business! The aquarium finally opened its doors to the public on Oct 16 and already has been experiencing an overwhelming demand for its tickets online. It's open 365 days of the year and the times vary during the week.

picture of the aquarium building

The 135,000 sq. foot (12,500 sq. metre) interactive attraction will showcase more than 16,000 marine animals and over 450 species. Features:

Jelly Fish Exhibit

Planet Jellies

Dangerous Lagoon’s underwater tunnel showcasing Sharks, Green Sea Turtles, and Sawfish

Touch pools with Horseshoe Crabs, Stingrays, and Bamboo Sharks

Rare and unique lobsters, daily live dive shows and more!

It's situated right at the bottom of the CN Tower at 288 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto. You can purchase your tickets online or at the door. They also offer passes but these aren't available online. Prices are as follows:
Adult: $29.98
Youth (ages 6- 13): $19.98
Child (ages 3-5): $9.98
Senior (+ 65): $19.98
*Kids under 2 yrs: complimentary with adult guardian.

LEGOLAND® - Adult Nights

LEGOLAND® is, of course, a fantastic place to take your kids! But, you gotta know that if you're an adult, you MUST be accompanied by a child otherwise you will NOT be allowed to enter. For this reason, they hold "Adult Nights" - always on a Wednesday. More information

Yonge/Dundas Square

picture of Yonge and Dundas SquareYonge & Dundas Square is a place where you can experience Free live music, Free movies (during the summer), many FREE events. Or you can just hang out in one of the central spots for people to gather as there is outdoor seating available.

Better still, if you're from out of town, need quick access to online info, especially to help you find your way quickly around Toronto, you will appreciate the FREE Wi-Fi offered by Yonge & Dundas Square, compliments of Wireless Toronto. You can also pick up your concert or show tickets from the "TO Tix" booth which is partly covered from the 'elements'.

PATH Information

PDF map of Toronto's underground Pathway through the downtown coreI am keeping this information on the front page as I believe it's definitely worth checking out, especially when weather's not so good. Now in the Guiness World Record book, this underground heaven is busy throughout the year.

During the summer, using the PATH is a great way to keep cool whilst checking out the numerous stores hidden under the downtown core of Toronto and during the winter, you stay warm and dry. And if you're in the downtown core (financial district at King/Bay area) and it appears to be kinda quiet on the streets during the week, just head underground and you'll find everyone there.

Remember, if you feel lost (and it's so easy to do on the PATH! - just ask, hopefully you'll ask a local!!

Updated: Dec 2