Twenty of Toronto’s festive food and drink events, ranked

Twenty of Toronto’s festive food and drink events, ranked

It’s time to dust off those ugly sweaters and get into the spirit of the season, because—after a couple of Grinchy years—holiday events are back. Relish in all of the goodwill and cheer (or at least goodies and cocktails) as we count down the most fun and festive food and drink events in the city.

Photo courtesy of Eataly Toronto
An Italian cocktail pop-up at Eataly

20 The everything-Italian emporium is hosting a Bar Botanico pop-up spotlighting Carpano (a vermouth approved by King Vittorio Amadeo III) at La Piazza, one of the market’s many restaurants. Anyone interested in drinking like a royal should come try a fizzy Antica Spritz or the boozy Inverno a Manhattan. Until December 31.

Bubbles on Bloor

19 Holt Renfrew is throwing a sip-and-shop event on the third floor of its Bloor Street store with Moët and Chandon’s Art of Gifting pop-up. Guests can sample top-tier bubbly while they browse or have a bottle personalized with a special message etched in calligraphy. Until December 31.

Christmas tea under the clock

18 Chef JW Foster is holding a special afternoon tea on Saturdays and Sundays at the Fairmont Royal York’s swanky Clockwork Restaurant. Foster will load up a tiered tray with sweet scones, savoury pastries and specialty Fairmont teas (hello, Vienna Eggnog). Also, Kris Kringle and his Candy Cane Carollers will be roaming the property, filling the air with holiday tunes. Until December 25.

Photo courtesy of Holt Renfrew
An Italian-inspired afternoon tea

17 Aperitivo with Armani is Holt Renfew’s luxe holiday tea experience, and it brings indulgent Italian-inspired sweets and savouries, like a prosciutto panini, a caprese puff pastry tart, tiramisu and amarena cherry zabaglione. Sloane Fine Teas are offered to pair with the nibbles. Until January 6.

A Nutcracker-themed afternoon tea

16 One of the Shangri-La’s two holiday experiences is an afternoon tea inspired by The Nutcracker, held in the hotel’s lobby. Those who book between December 1 and 4 have the chance to win a pair of tickets to the National Ballet of Canada’s performance of the holiday classic. December 1 to 30.

Kid-approved tea time

15 The hotel’s second holiday experience is strictly for the kiddos and includes signature sweets and savouries that little ones can tuck into, like crustless PB&J sandwiches and a cocoa-mousse teddy bear. Plus, $5 from each purchase will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Until January 1.

Classic tea with a Christmasy twist

14 The Old Mill is offering a festive Miracle on 21st Street tea inside the hotel’s quaint Terrace Room. On the limited-time menu: gingerbread and salted caramel financiers, red velvet and cranberry macarons, sweet and savoury scones, and a trio of classic sandwiches (roast beef, smoked salmon and turkey). Until January 1.

Photo courtesy of St. Regis Hotel
An after(noon tea) party in the hotel lobby

13 Visit the Astor Lounge in the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel for an ultra-luxe holiday tea that counts lobster and caviar among its savoury menu items. On the sweeter side, there’s eggnog panna cotta, chestnut profiteroles and more. Thursdays through Sundays during the month of December; every day from December 22 to January 1.

High holidays

12 KIND Winter Fair, North America’s only cannabis holiday market and street food festival, is taking place at Rendezviews, the city’s most colourful parking lot turned patio. There will be over 30 cannabis brands and retailers on site, and munchies will include bites from Smithers Sausage, Baan Authentic Thai Food, Chocosol Traders and more. December 7 and 8.

A kitschy cocktail pop-up

11 Christmas comes to Christie Pits by way of Miracle Toronto, a pop-up bar decked out in ribbons and wrappings, trimmings and trappings from floor to ceiling. Kitschy cocktails crafted by the Civil Liberties team include Hot Buttered Rum, Santa’s Little Helper and Grandma Got Run Over by a T-Rex—all served in wonderfully gaudy glassware. Bonus: guests will get an extra buzz (of goodwill) knowing that $1 of each drink sale is donated to Nellie’s Shelter. Until December 31.

A postcard-perfect outdoor market

10 The Distillery District has once again been transformed into a winter village. This year, the adorable cabins house vendors hawking all kinds of comfort food: churros, empanadas, pierogis, soft pretzels, Swiss raclette, grilled cheese sandwiches and more. The Naughty or Nice Bar, Cluny’s Tunnel of Lights, the Thirsty Elf or the Angel’s Share (a whiskey tasting experience) will get guests in the spirit(s). Until December 31.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Phillips Square
A holiday fair in the square

9 Nathan Phillips Square’s outdoor winter village includes live entertainment, a midway and more than 75 merchants selling unique gifts. After shopping and skating, visitors can snack on funnel cakes, s’mores poutine and BeaverTails, then warm up by the fire at the Polar Point Bar for a mug of mulled wine or spiked cider. December 2 to 23.

Booze, brunch and belly laughs

7 Mix equal parts boozy libations and improv at the Second City’s Holiday Brunch for a bunch of IRL LOLs, hosted at the comedy troupe’s brand-new home on York Street. December 4, 11 and 18.

Photo courtesy of Fairmont Royal York
The Thirsty Elf

6 The Thirsty Elf—the Fairmont Royal York’s festive-as-fudge holiday cocktail bar—is ringing with jingle bells, plastered in reindeer wallpaper, covered in Christmas trees and turned out with tinsel. Guests can cozy up on fake-fur-lined couches and down drinks with names like Christmoose Vacation, Milk and Cookies, and The Naughty List. Thursday to Sunday until December 17.

A festive fiesta

5 Head to this Ossington taqueria for Mistletoe and Margaritas, a Mexican-inspired holiday fiesta serving up seasonal takes on the tequila-based cocktail and more. Until December 31.

Photo courtesy of Glow
Let it glow

4 No need to bundle up for this holiday light show—Glow Christmas is an indoor affair. While touring the illuminated installations, guests can sip on seasonal cocktails at the Glow Bar, indulge in comfort food (smoked brisket, fried chicken sandwiches, beef bulgogi poutine) and enjoy live entertainment. For the kids: visits with Santa Claus, cookie-making with Mrs. Claus and train rides on Glen the Glowcomotive. November 30 to December 30.

Photo courtesy of Northern Lights
An immersive outdoor experience

3 The Northern Lights exhibit at the CNE transforms the Grand Bizarre and 80,000 square feet of outdoor space into a holiday playground that includes a 30-foot-long light tunnel, a 25-foot illuminated Christmas tree, and a market with plenty of treats to eat and drink. Goodwill bonus: a portion of each ticket is donated to SickKids. December 1 to January 8.

The pancake express

2 Join Santa Claus on an epic train ride to the North Pole (okay, it’s in Uxbridge, but the kids don’t need to know that) and enjoy a meal of buttermilk pancakes made by Mrs. Claus (or at least someone dressed like her). Expect plenty of carolling and photo ops with Santa. November 25 to December 24.

Stackt Holiday Market

1 Stackt has transformed its many shipping containers into Holiday Hills, a seasonal experience of food and fun for the whole family. There’s a Jack Daniels–backed yurt bar for boozy drinks, a Lindt’s s’mores hut where visitors can master their marshmallow-toasting skills, and Baobird’s Build-a-Broth booth for noodle soup and dumplings. There’s also the St. Remy Winter Patio, offering salted-caramel coffee, orange hot chocolate and much, much more. Until December 31.