The Toronto Christmas Market opened up in the Distillery District last weekend, and I took my entire family with me for some holiday inspiration.
This is the 2nd annual run of this German-style Christmas Market, and I couldn’t be happier about this new tradition or the decision to situate it in the Distillery District, a stunning and beautifully preserved pedestrian village that features the largest collection of Victorian industrial architecture (all restored with a modern flair) in North America. I love heading down to the Distillery at any time, but this historic section of Toronto really outdoes itself at Christmastime. Just look at that tree! A 45-foot beauty wrapped with translucent green organza, studded with hundreds of shiny red ornaments and illuminated with over 12,000 Christmas lights like a solar tracker. Of course, the kids didn’t notice a tree at all because yes, that’s a ferris wheel in the background.
The opening ceremonies featured Frankie Ferragine (Frankie Flowers from Citytv!) as host, with speeches from Bob Rae and a musical performance from Steven Page, formerly of the Barenaked Ladies. Brian was pretty thrilled about that, and chose to stand by the stage during the performance while yours truly took a turn on the freezing but fun ferris wheel which offers riders a spectacular view of the district and the city. We saw screaming elves (they reminded me a little of groupies, actually), tasted giant pretzels and fudge, and got some hot chocolate for the kids while Brian and I enjoyed delicious mulled wine beverages (the Distillery has obtained a liquor license for the duration of the Market). Needless to say, the Toronto Christmas Market has grown since last year and I think we can expect continuous improvement in years to come. Despite the extensive crowds, we all had a great time. So great, in fact, that I’m planning on returning with Sam and April on Sunday, and even trying to devise a plan to sneak over there again–flying solo this time.
The cobblestone streets of the Distillery are lined with miniature cabins selling seasonal, exotic, traditional and novelty gifts, like the ‘leg lamp’ from the movie A Christmas Story. I unabashedly admit that I have been hit hard with shoppers’ fever. Perhaps it’s the atmosphere–milling around Mill St. in the crisp December air while carollers sing ‘Silver Bells’ beats worming your way through an overcrowded Eaton Centre–but the items for sale are truly memorable, and that’s why I need to go back on my own. I just love crossing off my Christmas list!
Saturday and Sunday are especially great times to bring kids down to the Christmas Market, because Father Christmas and a reindeer petting zoo are on the scene from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Also for children is Santa’s Workshop, a hands-on activity room (indoors) where kids can make crafts, write letters to Santa and play traditional Christmas games with other children. There’s a hedge maze made of Christmas trees that leads directly into Santa’s house, and of course there’s sitting on Santa’s knee. Sam is six now and I don’t know if he’ll, you know, believe next year, so I don’t want to miss a moment of the Christmas magic as experienced by my kids. It’s contagious, you know. The finishing touch that would make it perfect would be just a little fall of snow!
Footnote: a very exciting realization I’ve made this week is that Lenzr.com, the photo contest website you’ve seen me blog about numerous times is running a photo contest for the Christmas Market! The best photo of the market wins $250.00, with 2nd place taking a $250.00 restaurant gift certificate and 3rd place grabbing a $100.00 restaurant gift certificate. FYI- Lenzr’s also running a new contest called Bad Weather Hair, for which the winner will receive $500 of Aveda hair product courtesy of Aveda’s Vancouver hair school.