The Toronto Christmas Market can be found in the Distillery District from the last week of November to the third week of December. As with Christmas Markets elsewhere, it's a mix of gift and food stalls with lots of stalls selling hot drinks, particularly alcoholic ones like mulled wine.
For the occasion, the Distillery District is brightly lit and decorated. It's Victorian streets and buildings provide a wonderfully appropriate setting for carollers, roast chestnut sellers and all the other things we associate with a Dickensian Christmas. Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim would be perfectly at home here.
This Victorian Christmas Market experience probably goes a long way to explaining why Fodor's, the travel people, voted it one of the world's top ten Christmas Markets.
The Christmas Market is a tradition brought over from Europe, mainly Germany, where it has long been a part of their culture, though it's only in the past 20 years they have become major tourist attractions. Here in Ontario, we have a large German heritage population and, of course, the British Dickensian heritage too. A Christmas Market is a natural for us.
The Distillery District market is Ontario's biggest and most visited, which means if you don't like crowds visit during the week, Monday or Tuesday are probably best. Even then, the nearby restaurants won't take reservations because of the number of people looking for an evening meal and a place to rest their weary legs.
But what is a market without crowds? It's the jostling, the merry chatter, and the feeling of being part of something special that makes these events.
The darkness, lit by gas heater flames and glowing embers of hot food stalls, the scent of spices and roasting food, all add to the excitement, particularly for children.
Kids are well-entertained with carousel rides and live shows throughout the day and early evening. Adults too can enjoy the shows as well as the strolling carolers.
Many venues in the market also feature music in the evenings so it isn't just caroling, if that's not your favorite thing.
Stalls selling European (schnitzel and lebkuchen) and British foods (mainly snacks and candies) are favored (Christmas is a time for traditional treats, after all) but there's also modern finger foods such as barbecued turkey drumstick.
Christmas Markets are great places to wander through, sipping mulled wine or mulled cider, and trying a host of tasty treats. They're also good places for buying those odd, special ornaments or gifts you won't find in a regular store.
And the best Christmas Market in Ontario is Toronto's so visit soon.
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