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Is Santa here yet? Christmas season comes alive this weekend in Toronto

Last Updated Nov 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm EDT

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?,” Charlie Brown says in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Linus Van Pelt replies: “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”

Grab hold of the Christmas spirit and never let go. The festivities are already underway, with the tree at the Eaton Centre already lit up and the Toronto Christmas Market opened for the holiday season. The big news (if you didn’t already know) is that Santa is on his way this weekend, one of many appearances he is making in the city. Now, all we need is some snow (don’t be a snow hater, remember what it felt like when you were a kid).


Santa Claus Parade
The jolly St. Nick is mostly known for handing out presents, but it is his message of being kind to others and sharing happiness that people embrace around the world. And that’s what Santa will bring when he comes to Toronto on Sunday.

The 113th edition of the Santa Claus parade starts at 12:30 p.m. at Bloor and Christie streets. It then heads down Bloor to Queen’s Park Crescent East, University Avenue, Wellington Street, Yonge Street and ends at Front and Jarvis streets around 3-4 p.m. Click here for the parade route.

If you are coming to the parade from outside of the city, GO Transit will be running special train service on the Milton, Kitchener, Stouffville and Barrie lines. Round trip fares are $5 for children and seniors, $10 for adults, and $20 for a group.

Toronto Christmas Market
Shortbread, fudge, waffles, poutine, and gingerbread … is your mouth watering yet? Those are just some of the yummy treats you can indulge in at the Toronto Christmas Market, which opened at the Distillery District on Thursday. And what would a European-style Christmas market be without beer gardens and Glühwein (mulled wine)? Aside from the food and drinks, you can get merry with Christmas music performances and traditional dances. Several vendors will also be on hand, selling Christmas treats and ornaments. You can also meet up with Santa and bring along your pet on Tuesdays to pose for a photo with him. Admission to the market is free during weekdays with a $6 fee starting at 5 p.m. on Fridays and into the weekend. Revenue generated from the admission fees will go towards the event and three charities.

Holly Jolly Fun Run
Ahead of the Santa Claus parade, people will be getting into the Christmas spirit in the Holly Jolly Fun Run. Those taking part in the 5k event will run along the same route as the parade. The run starts at 11:45 a.m. on Bloor Street between Manning and Euclid avenues and ends on Bremner Boulevard at Maple Leaf Square. As an added bonus, after the run there will be snacks.

Christmas lights glow
Several neighbourhoods in the city get lit up for the holidays on Saturday, including at the main event in downtown Toronto. Join the Illuminite party at Yonge-Dundas Square as the tree is lit up during an evening of music and dancing. The events runs form 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Village of Yorkville Park at Cumberland and Bellair streets will also be illuminated, as lights will be turned on during the Holiday Magic event, which runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Refreshments are available for a $2 donation – money raised will go to the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research.

The spirit of the holiday season will also be lighting up Rosedale on Saturday, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Cavalcade of Lights tree lighting festival will be shining bright along Yonge Street between Woodlawn Avenue and Crescent Road. You can take a ride in a festive horse-drawn carriage, enjoy live music, and take photos with Santa. There will also be a drink lounge for the adults, looking to indulge in some festive cocktails.

The Christmas tree at Yonge-Dundas Square in 2013. Photo credit: wintermagic.ca
The Christmas tree at Yonge-Dundas Square in 2013. Photo credit: wintermagic.ca

Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights
It may not officially be winter just yet, but Niagara Falls will getting a jump on the season with the launch of the 35th annual Winter Festival of Lights this weekend. The holiday tradition attracts over one million visitors from around the globe, looking to take in the more than two million lights displayed throughout the city. The festival features laser light shows at the top of Clifton Hill, a sound and light show on the side of the Oakes Hotel, and of course the colourful light display that illuminates Horseshoe Falls.

Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
Get your holiday body in shape early this weekend at the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre will be hosting the 23rd annual event. Visitors will be able to sample gourmet foods and exotic delicacies, and wash it down with more than 1,500 fine wines, spirits, and craft beers from around the world.

Road closures

Bloor Street West from Christie Street to Ossington Avenue will be closed from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday for the Santa Claus Parade. There will also be road closures from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. along the parade route, as well as for the staging area. Click here for a full list.

Road closures will also in effect for the Holly Jolly Fun Run and other events. Click here for a full list.

Outside of the city, Highway 401 will be closed in both directions at Highway 25 in Milton from 7 p.m. on Saturday to 1 p.m. on Sunday. The closure is for the demolishing of the overpass at Highway 25.

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