12 Top Winter Festivals in Toronto You Must Attend At Least Once

Toronto is one of the best cities in the world, and winter festivals give you a chance to see it in an entirely new way. 

The city is home to many famous festivals throughout the year, but nothing brings out the best of Toronto like winter. 

In this article, we will be exploring 12 winter festivals in Toronto that you must attend at least once. At festivals like these, the fun is never-ending and everyone present at these events gets to take time off work to relax.

If you currently live in Toronto, you should definitely attend one of the numerous festivals floating around the city. Let’s dive in.

Why Attend a Winter Festival in Toronto?

You can get everything from hot chocolate and shopping sprees to spectacular fireworks displays or even an opportunity to watch animals hibernate. 

Still not convinced? 

Here are some reasons why you should visit Toronto festivals in winter:

1) You’ll get out of the cold for a bit. The average high temperature in Toronto during January is -7° Celsius, so it’s no surprise that locals flock to indoor activities like museums and galleries when it gets too cold outside. These events offer a great way to warm up while still enjoying some culture.

2) You can try something new. Whether it’s learning how to make crepes or seeing an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, there are plenty of opportunities at these festivals to try something completely new. Plus, who doesn’t love being able to say they’ve done something once-in-a-lifetime?

3) It’s fun! Sometimes all you need is an excuse to go out with friends or family members and socialize; these winter festivals in Toronto can offer you that fun experience.

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Without further ado, the following are the best winter festivals in Toronto you should visit sometime:

Toronto Zoo Marketplace, Toronto Zoo

For those of you who love the Toronto Zoo and want to visit it in any season, there’s a winter event that you need to attend: The Toronto Zoo Marketplace. 

This event usually starts in November and lasts until December. The marketplace offers a variety of vendors selling crafts, food and drinks, animal-themed items for kids, and ornaments made from recycled materials by local organizations. 

In addition to these things for sale, there are also free activities for children like face painting and snowman building contests.

The market also offers entertainment such as live music by local musicians – something that will help keep your kids busy while you shop around. You can plan your visit based on what type of activity suits your family best.

The Winter Village – The Distillery District

The Winter Village is a popular winter festival in Toronto. It is located in the Distillery District and has a wide variety of activities and attractions, including bars, restaurants, shopping, artisans’ booths, skating rinks, and more. 

The Winter Village typically opens in mid-November and lasts till December each year. It is a fun event suitable for kids and the entire family, generally.

Winder Wonders, Royal Botanical Gardens

Winder Wonders is a family-friendly winter wonderland that features a large ice skate trail, ice slides, snow slides, a giant igloo, and more. The festival also offers live entertainment like magic shows and circus acts as well as puppet shows for kids.

The festival is all about having fun in the snow at one of Toronto’s most historical landmarks – the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Fest, Exhibition Place in Toronto

The Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Fest usually takes place in early to mid-March in Toronto. The event was designed to showcase craft beer, especially those produced by local breweries. 

There were over 200 beers available for tasting and purchase during the two-day festival; guests could sample beers from Ontario, BC, Alberta, and Quebec.

Guests at this event must be aged 19+ years old with a valid government-issued ID card – so, it may not be a great idea to go with your underaged kid.

The organizers have explicitly stated that pregnant women are not allowed entry into this event due to the high ABV content of most craft brews being served throughout the sessions.

Bloor-Yorkville Icefest, Village of Yorkville Park

The Bloor-Yorkville Icefest is a winter festival in Toronto that takes place on the streets of Bloor-Yorkville. It features ice sculptures, fire dancers, and live music. The festival is free to attend and open to all ages.

Every year, the city hosts an Icefest for one week at the end of January or the beginning of February when temperatures are cold enough for sculptors from all over Canada to come together and create masterpieces out of snow and ice. The work can be seen throughout Yorkville until it melts away.

Hamilton Winterfest – Held Online

Hamilton WinterFest is a winter festival held in Hamilton, Ontario. The event was started in 1981 and has since grown to become one of the largest winter festivals in Canada. 

Held annually in February, this family-friendly event celebrates all things winter with over 100 events taking place throughout Hamilton’s downtown core.

Hamilton WinterFest boasts a wide variety of activities for attendees to enjoy, including:

  • Live entertainment from local artists and musicians at various stages throughout the city.
  • Ice sculptures made by local designers are open for public viewing.
  • An ice bar where you can enjoy drinks while sitting on blocks of ice.

Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls

The Winter Festival of Lights is a free, family-friendly event held annually by the city of Toronto. This festival is a celebration of the winter season and includes many activities for families and children, including skating, tobogganing (racing), ice carvings, and much more.

The event takes place in Niagara Falls, which is located just offshore from downtown Toronto. The island is easily accessible by foot or via your own boat (if you have one).

Glow Toronto, Toronto Congress Center

Glow Toronto is a winter festival that takes place over three days and two nights in the Distillery District. This festival has been running for quite some time, and it’s one of the most popular events in Toronto. 

The event is different from other festivals because it’s not just about music; there are plenty of fun activities for kids, too.

The event features live music performances by artists like Kiesza and Odesza, as well as films created by local filmmakers. 

Glow Toronto also has tons of food vendors and artisans selling their products to people who come here for the festival. The event runs from December 1st through December 31st this year.

Aurora Winter Festival, Ontario Place

Aurora Winter Festival is a celebration of the Aurora Borealis, which is held in the town of Aurora, Ontario. 

It is a free event and it has an annual attendance of over 30,000 people. It features food, arts and crafts vendors as well as live music performances that are held at various locations throughout the city including The Linda Chapin Theater.

The festival typically takes place from November to December every year.

Winter Stations Design Competition and Exhibit, Woodbine Beach

The Winter Stations Design Competition and Exhibit is an annual design competition that invites artists, architects, and designers to create temporary installations that bring people together in public spaces.

The competition is open to all types of creative thinkers, whether or not you have built a project before. There are no restrictions on the materials used for the installation — but it must be designed to withstand winter weather conditions (cold or windy) and be portable enough to move from venue to venue during the six-week exhibit period.

Winners receive cash prizes plus opportunities with local media outlets including CBC Radio One’s Metro Morning show.

Toronto Light Festival, The Distillery District

There are many winter festivals in Toronto you can attend, but if you’re only going to go to one then make it the Toronto Light Festival. It takes place throughout the Distillery District from January to March each year.

This festival features more than 100 light installations and activities that celebrate light art across multiple disciplines including architecture, design, and technology among others. 

In addition to these installations, there will be nightly performances including light parades, as well as an interactive performance called “Luminosity” which typically features five performers who will dance on stage wearing LED suits.

The cost of admission varies depending on whether you want adult or children’s tickets (or both). Whatever the cost is, it is a small price considering what kind of experience awaits inside.

Toronto Tea Festival, Toronto Reference Library

The Toronto Tea Festival is an annual tea party held in February at the Toronto Reference Library. The event features workshops and tastings of various teas from around the world, as well as vendors selling tea-related products.

The event is free to attend, but you can purchase tickets for some of the workshops. Tickets are available online or at the door depending on availability.

The festival takes place indoors; so dress warmly. You may also want to bring a sweater or jacket just in case it gets chilly inside.

If you plan on staying overnight before or after attending this festival, we recommend booking a hotel close by so that it’s easy for you to get there.

Popular FAQs About Winter Festivals in Toronto

Planning to attend a winter festival in Toronto soon? Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions we could find:

How many festivals are there in Toronto?

There are over 100 annual festivals in Toronto, and the winter season is no exception. There are a plethora of events that take place throughout the city during the coldest months of the year. Additionally, several festivals are held at night, so you can enjoy them regardless.

What is the best time of year to visit Toronto?

If you’d like your trip to be as affordable as possible while still enjoying great weather (and perhaps attending some awesome winter festivals), then we recommend visiting between June and August when hotel rates drop significantly as hotels try to fill their rooms with tourists who come during TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) every September. 

If you’re interested in attending multiple winter festivals or other popular events throughout Canada’s largest city, but don’t want to spend too much on accommodation fees or travel expenses, then consider booking a package deal online through any of the flight service providers.

What winter festival is the most popular in Toronto?

The Winter Stations Design Competition and Exhibit is the most popular winter festival in Toronto. It’s a juried fine art competition, with over 60 local, national, and international artists using natural materials to create their works of art. The result is an amazing array of sculptures that range from whimsical to surreal.

The second most popular winter festival in Toronto is the Winter Craft Beer Festival. It includes brews from some of Ontario’s best microbreweries along with entertainment like live music and DJs.

Next up is the Winter Village. This free event consists of ice carving demonstrations as well as lots of activities for kids including face painting and games where they can win prizes.

Glow Toronto is equally popular. As its name suggests this annual event features glowing lights that reflect off surrounding buildings creating a magical atmosphere for visitors who come out to admire them.

Hamilton Winterfest also features on the list of the most popular winter festivals in Toronto. This celebration offers something fun for everyone whether it be playing ice hockey or just walking around enjoying all that makes up the festive season in Southern Ontario.

Should I visit Canada in winter?

Absolutely! There are many reasons to visit Canada in the winter, especially if you’re looking for a vacation that has more to do than just lying by the pool.

Canada is home to some of the most festive winter festivals around. During Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Canadians celebrate with fireworks and parties all across their country. 

You can also find a number of winter festivals throughout February that celebrates Canadian culture through food or crafts (like the Smorgasburg Toronto Festival). 

Or if you want an event where you can enjoy your favorite sports while also learning about local history and culture, try attending one of the Winter Olympic Games events.

Wrapping It Up

Winter is the perfect time to visit Toronto. There are many festivals and events in the city during this season, especially during the month of February. These events will surely make your trip memorable, with fun activities and beautiful lights that will keep you entertained throughout the day.

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