Living in downtown Toronto, there are always plenty of fun activities to do around the holidays. One particular event that caught my eye this year was the first ever Toronto Christmas Market in the Historical Distillery District. Inspired by traditional Old World Christmas Markets, this free annual event captures all of the heritage and charm of the popular European markets, full of hundred of local handcrafted gifts and goodies. There is also also performances by musicians, children’s choirs, carolers and of course Santa too. Last Sunday, the boyfriend and I headed over to look at some of the shopping and partake in some of the specialty beer and mulled wine gardens.
All along the historic streets of the Distillery District, were adorable booths and displays, with all the traditional sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season.
In the center of the market was a 40 foot tall Christmas tree, all decked out with over 18,000 lights and ornaments. It was like a beacon everywhere you went.
My dear friends Dave and Alison came with the boyfriend and I, to join in all the seasonal fesitivities. Despite the absolutely freezing windy temperatures, it was a great time hanging out with them. With work and school, we don’t all get to see each other very much, so its a special treat when you can see each other around the holidays.
While we roamed around the streets, we looked at some of the beer gardens, serving many different varieties of beer, mulled wine, hot rum drinks, schnapps and European Christmas cocktails.
We popped into the Weihenstephan beer garden to try and warm up by the outdoor fire places and heat lamps. Weihenstephan is the state brewery of Bavaria, and claims to be the oldest brewery in the world. Their beers are generally considered by beer enthusiasts to be among the best in Germany. However, we weren’t really digging the idea of having cold beer when we were freezing so much, so we tried the hot mulled wine. Unfortunately, it was disgustingly sweet and strong, so we sipped it to keep warm before we started looking for buildings to pop into and warm up there instead.
Turns out that they were there to watch the arrival of St. Nicholas (also known as Sinterkklaas in the Netherlands).
The Dutch celebrate December 5th as his birthday and this is the night when many children get their presents. It was really interesting to see how another culture celebrates that holidays!
While walking around the booths, I saw many people eating roasted chestnuts. This vendor was eager to show me how to crack one open and kindly offered a sample.
I didn’t have the heart of tell him I have a nut allergy, so I just politely declined. But I do have to say that those hot little suckers did look awfully tempting when it was so cold out.
The shops themselves were adorably decorated with lit-up trim and Christmas decorations. While shopping, we ran into an angel. I guess she had a few more things on her Christmas list too.
The booth were full of wonderful treats from Canada and all over Europe.
There were plenty of delicious treats for stocking stuffers and cute little gingerbread houses wrapped up as hostess gifts.
We popped inside one of the buildings to warm up for a bit and saw this kid-sized Gingerbread House made by The Sweet Escape Bakery in the Distillery District. The house is 6 ft x 6 ft and stands 6 1/2 feet tall. Its made entirely with real gingerbread and real icing too. It took 8 large batches of dough to make all the 650 bricks and 1000 shingles of the house.
As I walked around the house, I could see where some people had got a little too excited and stole some of the gingerbread shingles and Christmas lights.
My personal favorite feature was the row of cupcakes as trim along the top of the roof…if I could only reach them!
Despite the cold, it was a beautiful night spent outdoors with friends. If you’re in the Toronto area and looking for something fun to do this weekend, be sure to check out the Distillery District Christmas Market!