December on the Cheap 2018

Boxing Day at Toronto Zoo

The holiday season has finally arrived! It's time for festive shows, visits with Santa Claus, and spectacular light displays. All the hustle and bustle is great fun, but it can also be a strain on the wallet – especially at this time of the year. With that in mind, we've rounded up all the free and cheap events taking place in Toronto and the GTA this season. 

Read on for ways to have some budget-friendly holiday cheer...

Cineplex Family Favourites - December
Join Cineplex on Saturday mornings at 11:00 am for Family Favourites. Watch a family favourite film each week for only $2.99. It's a fun and affordable way to enjoy the weekend with your family.

Free Admission on Wednesday Nights at the AGO
Weekly on Wednesdays
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is an art museum in Toronto's Downtown Grange Park district, on Dundas Street West between McCaul Street and Beverley Street. Its collection includes more than 80,000 works spanning the 1st century to the present-day. The gallery has 45,000 square metres (480,000 sq ft) of physical space, making it one of the largest galleries in North America.

Rouge Park Guided Walks
Various dates in December
Join us to discover the park's natural, cultural and agricultural stories with our friendly and fun Parks Canada volunteer leaders and staff. We have something for everyone, if you are looking for wildlife sightings, quiet nature walks, discovering the past, fitness challenges or just to meet new people! Free admission.

Santa Claus Parades 2018
Various Dates December
The most wonderful time of the year has finally arrived and with it comes a long list of Santa Claus parades. Whether you’re looking for some fabulous floats, getting a glimpse of your favourite holiday characters (including the famous jolly guy), or just looking for something fun to do with the kiddos, one of these parades is sure to fit your needs. Free.

The Natrel® Rink at Harbourfront
Until March 2019
Set against the beautiful shoreline of Lake Ontario, the city's most scenic rink awaits! The Natrel Rink has been an unparalleled skating destination in Toronto for 30 years. It has a heated indoor change room with lockers and washrooms. Best of all – skating is FREE! Hot food and drinks are available at our rink-side restaurant, Boxcar Social. The Rink usually opens mid to end of November, weather permitting.

The Junction Holiday Market 2018
Until December 2, 2018
The Holiday Market is a fun-filled weekend of festive activities! Starting Friday evening, a neighbourhood wide shopping event kicks off with holiday parties and pop-up markets in locations throughout The Junction. Enjoy complimentary gift wrapping, discounts, holiday treats and more. A great chance to get started on your holiday gift shopping while also enjoying activities that keep the whole family entertained all weekend long! And part of the long standing Santa in The Junction tradition, be sure to visit the info booth at The Train Platform early to grab a free ticket for free DIY photos with jolly old St. Nick! Free.

NORDEN: The Festival of Cool at Harbourfront
Until December 2, 2018
Harbourfront Centre invites you to (re)discover the richness of the Nordic region. Featuring some of the most creative driving forces in contemporary art, music and thought leadership, Norden: The Festival of Cool promises to make you think differently about the dark nights of winter. Discover the meaning of “happiness” through lively conversations, and groove on Toronto’s most scenic skating rink. Plus, with a visit to the festival’s artisan market, you’ll be ahead of the gift giving season! 90% Free + tickets events.

Power Kids: Free Kids Activities
December 2, 2018
These FREE arts workshops for children ages 7-12 begin with a tour of the gallery and conclude with an art activity, inspired by the ideas behind the current exhibition. Tours and workshops are led by Amanda Foulds, Power Kids Family Programs Coordinator and assisted by Erica Cristobal, Power Kids Teaching Assistant.

LEGO Mystery Mural Build
Until December 3, 2018
The LEGO Group is setting out to build the largest mural in the western hemisphere! During three weeks, brick-by-brick, the community will build together to continuously reveal the mural image until the final brick is in place and the ultimate scene is revealed. To ensure that even more children can enjoy play this holiday season, LEGO Canada will donate a LEGO set, for each participant, to the Toy Mountain campaign. The completed mural will be displayed at Nathan’s Philips Square from the 3rd of December to the 23rd. Free.

Library Story Time at Toronto Botanical Garden
Until December 10, 2018
Drop in to the Weston Family Library for nature stories and songs. Mondays from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. FREE! No registration required.

Lost & Forgotten Toys Arts Workshop at Davenport Public Library
Until December 11, 2018
Lost and Forgotten Toys Workshop is a free Arts program held in the Davenport library on Tuesdays from 4 pm- 6 pm. It is a supervised program for children (aged 8-12) to create stories, performance art and art installations.

Toronto Christmas Market
Until December 23, 2018
Ranked one of the best Christmas Markets in the world, the festival features hundreds of unique and locally handcrafted products, stunning light canopies, family friendly entertainment, heated mulled wine, beer and hospitality gardens, and Santa and the elves, all in an atmosphere so romantic you can't help but fall in love with the holiday season all over again. Rediscover the magic of Christmas. Free admission on weekdays.

The Holly Jolly Lodge at Upper Canada Mall
Until December 24, 2018
Upper Canada will have a brand NEW Santa Photo Experience this holiday season, called The Holly Jolly Lodge. Events include Celebrate the Holidays with Santa, visit the Holiday Tree Lot, Story Time with Santa, a Holiday Market, Pet Photos with Santa, and more! Free events + Purchases.

Museum Thursday Nights at Gibson House
Thursdays, until December 27, 2018
Drop in on Thursday nights to learn more about the daily lives of the Gibson family and discover a different 19th-century activity each week, including dyeing, spinning, hearth cooking and more. Join the Community Quilt Group from 6 to 8 p.m. to explore historic and contemporary quilting techniques in a comfortable, social setting. Admission is Pay-What-You-Can.

Alice Opens the Door
Until January 27, 2019
New TD Gallery Exhibit is All About Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice Opens the Door is a family-oriented exhibit focused on the enduring literary classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The exhibit celebrates Lewis Carroll’s fantastical story that opened the door to reading for generations of children.

Fort York Frost Fair
December 1, 2018
Experience holiday fun for the whole family at Fort York. Shop for unique gifts made by local artisans, including jewellery, heritage inspired reproductions, and holiday greenery. Experience children's drill workshops, dress-up, games, crafts and military and music demonstrations. Print your own Frost Fair souvenir on the Mackenzie House proof press. Visit with the Volunteer Historic Cooks to sample tasty authentic recipes, or stop by the Heritage Café for lunch. Free admission.

Light Up The Holidays
December 1, 2018
Every year in Fairbank Village, we light up the holidays in true family style! We offer free snacks, drinks, and family fun! Of course, we can’t forget the beautiful display and lighting of the Fairbank Village tree at 5:45pm. We have some great free family entertainment this year. GTA Swing Band will be playing from 2-6pm and carolers and surprise characters will be strolling the area. Don’t forgot to get your face-painted and have your picture taken with Santa at our central location! We’re spreading the cheer. We’ll also have smaller event stations at both ends of our area with bouncy castles for the kids and a free treat! Free.

Going Nuts over the Nutcracker!
December 1, 2018 to December 8, 2018
In The Nutcracker ballet, Clara, an army of mice, a brigade of toy soldiers, a Nutcracker prince and a Sugar Plum fairy all dance out their story to the sounds of Tchaikovsky's famous score. Immerse yourself in the ballet's story, dance, music, costumes and props and top things off by taking home a craft of your very own making. Free.

Holiday Fair in the Square
December 1, 2018 to December 23, 2018
One of Toronto’s newest favourite Holiday traditions, Holiday Fair in Square, is back and bigger than ever this December 1st to 23rd, in Nathan Phillips Square. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, combining the charm and elegance of a Christmas market with the excitement and allure of a thriving winter carnival, Holiday Fair in the Square has festive fun for everyone. Free admission.

December Weekends at Scarborough Museum
December 1, 2018 to December 30, 2018
he holiday season is in full swing at Scarborough Museum! Come in and see the beautiful festive decorations, enjoy delicious winter treats, get warm and cozy with spice muffins and candy cane hot chocolate, and make a Victorian ornament or a traditional pop-up Christmas card to celebrate the holidays. Admission is Pay-What-You-Can.

Evergreen's Winter Village
December 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018
Play, eat and shop this holiday season at Evergreen’s Winter Village! Evergreen Brick Works has it all, every weekend in December and the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s. Taste delicious treats from food trucks and local vendors, shop unique gifts at our Holiday Market, skate on our picturesque outdoor skating rink and pick up a sustainably grown Christmas tree from the Evergreen Garden Market. Free admission.

Public Skating at Evergreen Brick Works
December 1, 2018 to March 2019
Skating is back! Visit Evergreen's picturesque outdoor skating rink. Bring your own skates or rent a pair of ours! Skating is free, and skate rentals are available for $5 a pair. Join us weekends December through to March, and come out to our new Wednesday night public skate starting in January!

Holiday Farmers' Market & Gift Sale at Montgomery’s Inn
December 5, 2018
Artists and artisans join our regular farmers' market vendors for a special holiday event. Shop for foodie gifts and seasonal treats in a lovely historic setting, open an hour longer than our regular market. You'll find fresh bread from the Inn's bake oven, preserves, local winter vegetables, sweets, prepared foods, ethically raised meats, cheese, eggs, dried fruit, nuts, honey and wine while enjoying festive seasonal music, and more. Free admission.

Vaughan Christmas Village
December 5, 2018 to December 6, 2018
During the Christmas season, Vellore Hall will turn into a wonderland filled with sparkling lights, festive local vendors, and Christmas performances. Free photos with Santa and more! Free admission.

Historic Canadian Christmas at Bradley Museum
December 8, 2018
Experience a pioneer Christmas celebration with a craft market, carollers, family activities and crafts. A Giving Tree will be set up to collect donations of food and winter clothing. Activities will focus on learning about Christmas traditions and celebrations from around the world. Free admission with a donation of food or winter clothing.

Free Kids Building Workshop at Home Depot
December 8, 2018
FREE Hands-on Workshops designed for children ages 5 - 12. Held on the 2nd Saturday of each month at all The Home Depot stores. Each child can bring home a newly constructed project, an achievement pin and certificate. Check locations near you for details. On December 8, build a Sled with Reindeer.

Celebrate! Holidays of the Global Village Concert with Chris McKhool
December 9, 2018
3x JUNO Award Nominee and 3x Parents' Choice Award winner, Chris McKhool, celebrates the multicultural mosaic with his award-winning show, “Celebrate! Holidays of the Global Village”, at the Kingston Road Village Concert Series on Sun Dec 9, 2018 at 2pm with special guests Aviva Chernick, Shannon Thunderbird, Maryem and Ernie Tollar, Kevin Laliberte, Drew Birston, and more. Free for kids and teens.

Withrow's Winter Market
December 14, 2018 to December 15, 2018
Locally handcrafted goods, artisanal foods & local farmers: the perfect opportunity to find unique gifts and delicious holiday treats! Free admission.

Solar Observing at Ontario Science Centre
December 22, 2018
Safely observe the sun with specially filtered telescopes. Learn about our nearest star and try your eye at spotting exotic surface features, including sunspots, spicules and prominences. This program is offered by members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Free.

Boxing Day At The Toronto Zoo
December 26, 2018
Guests receive 50% off zoo admission all day. Proceeds go towards supporting the Toronto Zoo’s Endangered Species Fund. Don’t forget to bring your old phones for the Phone Apes Program.

More Free Events for December
We continuously update our Events Calendar so there may be more free and cheap events taking place in December! Check back on this page as it will be updated or CLICK HERE to get a list from our Calendar of Events. It's already been sorted by Free Events for the month! 

Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo
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