In every corner of the GTA, there are magical and festive events to explore. From enchanted forest walks to train rides with Santa, there is something for everyone. Take the family to visit a new town in the GTA, enjoy a hot lunch and stroll the main street shops. We have compiled a short list of some interesting sites to see if you’re planning a holiday staycation here in the GTA through December and over the winter break.

Magical Christmas Forest at the Kortright Centre

Take the entire family to a Magical Christmas Forest at the Kortright Centre in Vaughan until December 23. The Magical Christmas Forest at the Kortright Centre is a self-guided experience in a winter wonderland filled with lights, Santa in his cabin, festive music, bonfires, children’s activities and hot chocolate for the whole family! There are select dates and times and advance tickets are required. The cost is $29 for adults, $24 for children over 1 year old. It is an outdoor event so dress for the weather. Food is also available for purchase, proof of vaccination required for dine-in option, take out also available.

More information is here: https://trca.ca/events-calendar/#event=magical-christmas-forest-2021;instance=20211209164500

Polar Winter Festival

Experience the joy of the holiday season at Toronto’s biggest walkthrough winter festival. The Polar Winter Festival isn’t your average holiday market. From selfies with the real live Santa Claus to larger-than-life holiday decor, this is a Christmas festival designed to transport guests to an enchanting winter wonderland. On until December 26, rain, snow or shine, you can buy tickets for specific start times, and head to Bandshell Park at Exhibition Place in Toronto for the full experience. Guests can experience the entire park at their own pace with no set exit time.

More information is here: https://www.polarwinterfestival.com/experience 

Outdoor Christmas Market on the Farm

Until December 22 at the Niemi Family Farm in Mount Albert, you will find lovely handmade crafts, traditional Finnish baking, premium Ontario-grown Christmas Trees and more! Meet the Santa himself at the middle of the Christmasland. You can purchase stocking stuffers, crafts, decor, candles, bakery goods and so much more. Take home a freshly-cut local Christmas trees, a handmade wreath, outdoor arrangements, garland and branch bundles. Enjoy hot chocolate, coffees, and a magical and safe outdoor space. Tickets are $14.99 for everyone two years old and up.

More information is here: https://www.facebook.com/niemifamilyfarm

Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride in Port Perry

Enjoy a cozy horse-drawn carriage ride around historic Downtown Port Perry this holiday season. While in Port Perry take in lunch at one of our many cafes or farm-to-table restaurants, or visit the shops and check off everyone on your list. Every weekend in December until December 24 at 226 Queen Street in Port Perry.

Ride the Festive Rails

Enjoy a visit from Santa as you and your loved ones take a ride on the Christmas Trains that take you along the snow-laden countrysides of Ontario. In Port Stanley, enjoy a ride through Elgin County in early winter from the warmth of a heated car. Santa has treats for the kids! Watch your children’s anticipation grow as we near our destination to meet Santa. From the Port Stanley Terminal Rail, Bridge Street and on until December 19, you can book tickets online with a cost of $9-14.

More information is here: https://www.todocanada.ca/city/london/event/santa-treats-train-rides/

The Nutcracker – The National Ballet of Canada

James Kudelka’s ravishing and gloriously re-imagined version of the evergreen Christmas spectacular was created for The National Ballet of Canada in 1995 and it remains an unparalleled holiday entertainment for both children and adults. Replete with Kudelka’s signature dynamic and exuberant choreography and gliding with wonderful ease from whimsical and often boisterous comedy to breathtaking spectacle and touching emotion, the ballet is a feast for both the senses and the imagination. With its non-stop dancing and magnificent sets and costumes designed by Santo Loquasto, with lighting by Jennifer Tipton, The Nutcracker is an unforgettable tribute to the imagination.

The Nutcracker will be presented with some adaptations to ensure the safety of all involved. All the children’s roles will be performed by students of Canada’s National Ballet School, with no external performers. There will be no children under the age of 12 in the production and all performers and crew will be fully vaccinated. Runs from December 10-31 at The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts at 145 Queen Street West in Toronto. Cost is $30-190.

More information is here:  https://national.ballet.ca/Productions/The-Nutcracker

Light Up The Dark at Aga Khan Museum

The Aga Khan Museum’s breathtaking exterior transforms into a magical map-scape of colour and light on four evenings in late December. The Museum’s Light Up the Dark celebration returns with spectacular new light projections created by OCAD University students. Enjoy coffee or chai as you feast your eyes and ears on the entertainment. Or sample irresistible flavours from South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa at Diwan, the Museum’s renowned restaurant.

The Museum’s galleries will be open until 9 pm for the festivities. Seize this opportunity to explore Hidden Stories: Books Along the Silk Road, the new Sound and Music rotation in the Museum Collection Gallery, gaze in awe at Ghazaleh Avarvazamani’s stained-glass installation, and spell out your idea of Canadian identity with Rust Garden.

Light Up the Dark runs December 27 to 30 from 6 pm to 9 pm. The outdoor projections and admission to the Museum’s Collection Gallery are free. Tickets to the galleries are $10 per person for regular admission all day long throughout Light Up the Dark. Walk-in tickets to the galleries are free after 4 pm on Wednesday, December 29 (subject to availability).

More information is here: https://www.agakhanmuseum.org/programs/light-up-the-dark-2021

Visit the Animals

There are quite a few options for those who want to visit zoos or a petting farm during the winter break. Toronto Zoo, Reptilia with locations in Vaughan and Whitby, Jungle Cat World Wildlife Park in Orono are all great visits any time of the year.

Toronto’s High Park Zoo and Riverdale Farm are free to visit and open daily including Christmas Day. The 150-year-old barn at Bronte Creek Provincial Park has a petting zoo and is open during holidays. During the holidays, you can explore decorated holiday trees at High Park Zoo.

Toronto Zoo’s Terra Lumina is open during the holidays where you can enjoy an immersive experience along a 1.5 km walking path that travels into the future and back.

Spending Time with Family and Friends

There are so many things to see and do around the GTA, and all will be enjoyed with the company of family and friends. Spending time together – wandering well-lit forests or skating along trails or while taking in a special performance – is the best way to spend the holidays.