Close your eyes and picture yourself wandering cobblestone streets with a glass of gluhwein in hand (mulled wine for the uninitiated), watching little cloud puffs appear as you breathe in the crisp air and scent of fresh pine. You could be in northern Germany or in the valleys of Austria, or you could be in downtown Toronto. Christmas lovers rejoice! The Toronto Christmas Market has arrived.
Now in its 9th season, the Christmas Market has become a festive favourite, drawing visitors from within the city and around the globe. For 39 days this holiday season (the longest opening to date), guests will be able to eat, drink, and be merry among the laneways of the Distillery District, sampling seasonal treats and searching for the perfect gifts for family and friends among the mini log cabins selling handcrafted products and artisanal fare.
A CHRISTMAS TRADITION
While the market is still in its infancy (it made its first appearance in 2010), the tradition extends back hundreds of years. “We want people to rediscover the magic of Christmas,” said Matthew Rosenblatt, Toronto Christmas Market founder – the romance of the traditional European Christmas markets that date back to the late 13th century.
The very first Christmas market on record opened in Vienna in December of 1294. Over the next few years, similar markets popped up across Germany, eventually reaching France’s Alsace region and Italy’s Southern Tyrol. Today there are hundreds of Christmas markets around the world, events where people of all ages can gather together and enjoy the spirit of the season.
MERRY & BRIGHT
This year’s market features the beloved Ferris wheel and carousel, the magical 100-foot long light tunnel, appearances by Santa Claus and his bevy of elves, and of course, the towering 50-foot sparkling Christmas tree (donated by Forests Ontario and locally grown, natch).
Join in for caroling every night at 6 pm. Feast on raclette (a “cheesy” but delightful Swiss tradition), Belgian-style waffles, or authentic gingerbread (for the more Canadian-minded, poutine, s’mores, and butter tarts are also in the mix). Shop for stocking stuffers. Snap a photo under the tree. Mark your calendars and prepare your one-horse sleigh, a visit to the Toronto Christmas Market is an enchanting experience touched by old world European charm, no passport required.
The Toronto Christmas Market runs from November 15 through December 23 (closed Mondays). Admission is free throughout the week until Fridays at 5 pm, and $6 on weekends. To learn more visit www.torontochristmasmarket.com.
Lead Photo Courtesy of Toronto Christmas Market