Ontario Place’s wintry comeback, Christmas at Casa Loma and six other festive things to do this holiday season

Ontario Place’s wintry comeback, Christmas at Casa Loma and six other festive things to do this holiday season

Photograph by Brittany Carmichael

Ontario Place’s wintry rebirth
1Ontario Place dusts off the cobwebs and puts up its Christmas lights for a winter festival that spans the entire season. Among the attractions: Cinesphere movie screenings, a skating rink, a new park and a winter light exhibition (check out all of its installations, including the one above, here). To Sunday, March 18. Free. Ontario Place.

Christmas at Casa Loma
2Casa Loma’s holiday festival, 150 Years of Canadian Christmas, has something for all ages: magic from illusionist Professor Wick, figure-skating performances from Glisse on Ice, arts and crafts, Santa’s workshop, a 40-foot tree designed by Jeanne Beker, and a whole castle full of eye-popping holiday lights and decor. To Sunday, January 7. $20–$30. Casa Loma.

Photograph by Cylla von Tiedemann

Soulpepper’s December tradition
3Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and Tiny Tim relive Charles Dickens’ timeless story about an old miser and the ghosts that change his life. Michael Shamata’s Victorian adaptation of A Christmas Carol for Soulpepper is that rare thing: an annual tradition that preserves its emotional power no matter how well its audiences know the story. To Sunday, December 24. $35–$95. Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

A very boozy holiday
4In the dead of winter, sometimes a cold brew can give you that warm feeling. Gladstone Hotel’s 12 Beers of the Holidays brings together a dozen local breweries for a night of holly and jolly beer-drinking—strategically timed to allow you to shake your hangover before Christmas Day. Friday, December 22. $25–$30. Gladstone Hotel.

Photograph courtesy of the Toronto Christmas Market/Facebook

A smorgasbord of holiday markets
5Gift-givers who dread mall crowds can check out Toronto’s umpteen holiday markets for gifts with artisanal flair. Find hand-crafted goods at the Distillery District’s Toronto Christmas Market (to December 23), the Annex’s Tranzac Holiday Gift Fair (to December 17), Nathan Phillips Square’s Holiday Fair in the Square (to December 23), and Evergreen Brick Works’ Holiday Etsy Market (to December 31). For a full breakdown of the city’s best markets, see our ranked guide.

An icy Disney spectacle
6Of all the media mega-corporations in the world, only one can pack this much joy and this many characters (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Elsa, the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) into one show. Disney on Ice puts Walt’s beloved stable to work—huffing and puffing across the rink for your holiday cheer. Friday, December 22 to Monday, January 1. $20–$129. Rogers Centre.

A million Christmas movies
7Cinema’s Christmas canon gets a full workout in Toronto’s repertory cinemas. Hot Docs is showing holiday staples like Christmas Vacation (Dec. 16), A Christmas Story (Dec. 17), Love Actually (Dec. 17) and quote-alongs for Home Alone (Dec. 15) and Die Hard (Dec. 23). The TIFF Bell Lightbox has Scrooged (Dec. 23) and Black Christmas (Dec. 24). The Fox has It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec. 16). The Royal’s mix of classics and cult favourites includes Chopping Mall (Dec. 10), Silent Night Deadly Night (Dec. 16) and a double-bill of White Christmas and Black Christmas (Dec. 23). And, counter-programming The Last Jedi, the Carlton offers 1982’s indescribable Turkish Star Wars (Dec. 16).

An evening of brassy Christmas tunes
8The acclaimed trumpeters, tubist, trombonist and French horn pros of Canadian Brass team up with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Etobicoke School of the Arts Chorus for an evening of festive favourites. The program features a new Christmas-inspired composition by John McPherson to commemorate Canada 150, plus a carol sing-along. Tuesday, December. 12 and Wednesday, December 13. $39.50–$111.80. Roy Thomson Hall.