by Aparajita Bhandari

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It probably feels like the last month, with all of its seemingly unending line of evaluations, has lasted for centuries. However, I’m glad to say that the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. We’re in the last week of finals, meaning the holidays have finally arrived for us students. With all of the store displays, lighting shows, plays and concerts, Christmas markets and skating rinks, Toronto during Christmastime is truly an amazing thing to behold. Although many of you are heading back to your hometowns for the holidays, everyone should try to do at least a few of these festive activities while still in the city.

Here’s my official list of Toronto Holiday Must Do Activities 2015.

 

Visit the Toronto Christmas Market

Toronto Christmas Market

In my opinion the Toronto Christmas Market is the number one must do holiday activity in Toronto. The Christmas market is held annually in the historic Distillery District. The Distillery District, with its cobblestone streets, Victorian buildings and artistic store windows, already resembles a scene straight out of a holiday storybook so adding the European-style Christmas market to this already festive location leads to the ultimate Christmas location in Toronto. Throughout the Market there are stages with various performers, carolers, a large Ferris Wheel, beer gardens, a giant Christmas tree and, of course, Santa’s workshop. The Christmas Market is free Tuesday to Friday, but tickets are required during the weekend this year.

Check out the website for ticket details: www.torontochristmasmarket.com.

 

Skating at Nathan Phillips Square

Christmas tree in Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto

Skating is the quintessential winter activity and this holiday season you should go and skate in front of the city’s official tree at City Hall. The tree, a fifteen-meter tall white spruce lit with nearly four kilometers of lights and decorated with almost 700 ornaments, is a classic part of a Toronto Christmas. You can either bring you own skates or rent them at the rink from 10am to 10pm throughout the holidays, including Christmas Day.

 

Light up the Night at the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival

Toronto Christmas Market

Maybe Christmas isn’t a holiday you celebrate, maybe it feels too commercialized these days, or maybe you just don’t really enjoy many of the traditional Christmas activities. If this is the case, then the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival may be more your style. On the longest night of the year the neighbourhood of Kensington Market comes to life in a beautiful festival of light. There is a huge procession with lanterns, candles, music, impromptu performers and fire dancers. The night rounds off with a large bonfire party in Alexandra Park featuring more music and performances. This event is a truly unique celebration of light in the middle of the dark winter. The event, organized by local community art group Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, prides itself on being commercial-free and fully handmade.

 

View the 12 Trees of Christmas Exhibition at the Gardiner Museum

Toronto Christmas Market

An annual holiday tradition hosted at the Gardiner Museum, this art exhibit features 12 very different Christmas “trees” reimagined in various media by top Toronto designers and artists. The trees range from crazy and outrageous to elegant and breathtaking.  The theme for the installations this year is “The Joy of Creativity” and will be at the Gardiner until January 3rd so there is plenty of time to check it out. Remember that the Gardiner is free for students on Tuesdays year-round!

 

Let me know in the comments if you do any of these activities and what you thought of them. The holidays are, above all else, about spending time with the people you love so enjoy making memories with friends and family. I hope you all have a safe, happy and relaxing winter break, readers, whether you celebrate a holiday this season or not. See you all again in the New Year!