Free (or Cheap) Holiday Events 2018

Christmas in the Village, Streetsville

As we usher in the holiday season in Toronto and the GTA, it can also seem like we're entering the spend-and-splurge time of year. Thankfully, this month also brings some free activities for families. We've rounded up FREE things to do this holiday season in Toronto and the GTA for the entire family.

Santa Claus Parades 2018
Various Dates November 
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
Opens in November
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.

Sunday FUNday - Letters to Santa at Oshawa Museum
November 4, 2018
Just in time for the Santa Claus Parade! Get into the Christmas spirit by writing a letter to Santa! On Sunday November 4 from 12 - 4 pm, pretend you are a Victorian child. What kinds of things would you have asked for instead of video games, skateboards or movies? Learn to write with nib pens and ink. Seal your letter with wax! Free admission.

LEGO Mystery Mural Build
November 12, 2018 to 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.

The Holly Jolly Lodge at Upper Canada Mall
November 13, 2018 to 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.

Toronto Christmas Market
November 15, 2018 to 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.

Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic
November 17, 2018
On Saturday, November 17, the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area (BYBIA) will kick off the holiday season with Holiday Magic, the spectacular annual community concert event in support of the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research (CANFAR). Between 5:00pm – 7:00pm, families, friends and music lovers are invited to the Village of Yorkville Park (Cumberland & Bellair Streets) for the Official “Flick the Switch” Lighting Ceremony and a special performance by Shawn Hook. Free.

November 17, 2018
Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area invites you to celebrate the holidays with Illuminite 2018. Join us for a magical evening of music, dance and spectacle and experience the wonder and joy of the season in the heart of Downtown Toronto at Yonge-Dundas Square. Free admission.

Annual Holiday MRKT Show & Sale
November 18, 2018
The MRKT is a community shopping event, organized by the Toronto Creative Entrepreneurs, which features local vendors including fashion, beauty, wellness, visual artists, crafters, food merchants, and retailers. This event is FREE to the community & kid friendly!

Christmas in the Village
November 23, 2018 to November 24, 2018
Get ready to rock around the Christmas tree this November! The Streetsville BIA is excited to present the annual Christmas in the Village festival, and it promises to be even bigger and better than last year! Family-friendly live bands will be playing for guests while they feast on delicious eats from an array of local restaurants and unique food trucks. Visitors can head down Queen St. S. to check out the Children’s craft tent, browse through dozens of unique market vendors, enjoy a horse and carriage ride, and take pictures with Santa outside the Robinson Bray House. Free.

Cavalcade of Lights Toronto
November 24, 2018
Cavalcade of Lights kicks of the holiday season in Toronto with the first lighting of Toronto’s Official Christmas Tree and lighting display at Nathan Phillips Square. Live musical performances, a DJ skating party and stunning fireworks complete the festive evening. Free.

Free Kids Building Workshop at Home Depot
November 24, 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. November 24 - Build a Christmas Tree Ornament.

Kidzfest at Yonge-Dundas Square
November 24, 2018
Join Downtown Yonge BIA at Yonge-Dundas Square for a day of fun for kids of all ages, with hosts from TVOKids, see exciting stage shows, meet your favourite characters from PJ Masks and much more! Free admission.

Light Up the Square 2018 at Celebration Square
November 24, 2018
kick-off the holiday season at Light Up the Square! Take in live performances and entertainment surrounded by thousands of twinkly lights. Get in the Holiday spirit with seasonal fun the whole family can enjoy. Enjoy festive fun from photos with Santa. Features a Holiday Market and more! Free event.

Light Up Riverside & Shop the Neighbourhood 2018
November 24, 2018
On November 24th, enjoy the Warmth of the Season with Riverside’s Annual Tree Lighting Festivities, with Shopping and Holiday Cheer! Each year, on the last Saturday of November, Riverside hosts Light Up Riverside and Shop the Neighbourhood! Free to the public, the celebration features a countdown and tree lighting, live music, meet and greet (plus treats) with our co-sponsors, photos with Santa, warm refreshments, crafts, and more for all to enjoy!

Swedish Christmas Fair at Harbourfront
November 24, 2018  to November  25, 2018
Get into the spirit at this two-day holiday extravaganza! Warm up to the sounds of children singing carols at the Lucia Pageant, and participate in folk dancing, craft making and more. Sample delicious Scandinavian food and have a drink of glögg, or check off your gift list with imported handmade crafts, unique Christmas décor and textiles – and tasty Swedish delicacies. Free admission.

NORDEN: The Festival of Cool at Harbourfront
November 24, 2018 to 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.

CP Holiday Train
November 25, 2018 to December 18, 2018
The CP Holiday Train will soon set out once again to entertain hundreds of thousands of people, celebrating 20 years of collecting food and raising funds for food banks across North America. Each event is free, with CP encouraging attendees to open their cupboards and wallets to help address hunger needs in their communities. Local food banks will be accepting donations at each stop to ensure those less fortunate have enough healthy food this holiday season. The trains stops in Southern Ontario and the GTA on November 28, 29 and 30. Free.

Holiday Market at TBG
November 29, 2018
Stroll through the halls decked with holiday cheer and stocked with handcrafted and nature-inspired gifts, home décor, seasonal greens, forced bulbs, local honey, unique terrariums and home-baked treats. Free admission.

DeClute Light Up The Beach
November 30, 2018
Santa will illuminate the lights Friday November 30th at 7pm and they will sparkle nightly until late-February along the Boardwalk from the Leuty Lighthouse to The Balmy Beach Club. Free admission.

The Junction Holiday Market 2018
November 30, 2018 to 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Check back often as this page will be updated throughout the Holidays!

Photo credit: Christmas in the Village, Streetsville
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