Eight irresistibly festive holiday markets to hit up this season

Eight irresistibly festive holiday markets to hit up this season

(Image: Michael Maniezzo)

This city is suddenly overrun with twee Christmas markets selling handcrafted trinkets and artisanal everything. Not that we’re complaining. After all, searching for the perfect artist-designed card, hand-loomed throw blanket or locally made necklace can be supremely satisfying. Here, eight holiday markets that make it easy to scoop up lots of special gifts in one go.

Craft Ontario Holiday Pop-Up
This artsy non-profit has turned its year-round gallery into a holiday shopper’s paradise, crammed with unique crafts from over 48 talented designers and artists. The place is packed with functional household basics (aprons, mugs, glassware) with creative twists, like bold graphic designs and unusual silhouettes. The shop stays open until Christmas Eve—a bonus for last-minute scramblers.
Best buys: Ceramic blue jay mugsstatement earrings.
Snack stop: Head to the nearby outpost of Sam James Coffee for a caffeine boost, or to Nadège Patisserie for a post-shopping smoked salmon croissant.
Until Thursday, December 24. 990 Queen St. W., craftontario.com

Toronto Christmas Market
The Distillery District’s insanely festive, European-style extravaganza comes complete with a giant sparkling Christmas tree, singing elves, multiple beer gardens and dozens of quaint booths doling out hot cocoa, decadent snacks and traditional German toys. There’s a $5 entry fee on weekends this year, but it’s probably worth it just for the cheerful photo ops.
Best buys: Wax candles made in upcycled tea cups from local brand Vela Bela; traditional German nutcrackers.
On-site sustenance: Mulled wine, hot apple cider, French Canadian poutine, Oktoberfest sausages, Weinerschnitzel sandwiches and lots, lots more.
Saturday, November 28–Monday, December 21. The Distillery district, torontochristmasmarket.com

Popup 1090
Cardinal Handmade is a craft shop and café in Sharbot Lake, a community in Eastern Ontario. Its new pop-up in Dufferin Grove, launched in collaboration with the vintage furniture shop Thank You Have A Nice Day, is a destination for cozy, cottage-appropriate finds, including woollen blankets, woven hammocks and wildflower honey.
Best buys: Quaint vintage tableware; heirloom seeds from Cubit’s Organics.
Snack stop: The Common, just a few doors down, is a comfortable place for an espresso or a pint. Or grab some healthy fuel (like vegan sandwiches and grain bowls) at the nearby Urban Herbivore.
Until Wednesday, Dec 23. 1090 College St. W., facebook.com

Union Station Holiday Market
Set up smack in the middle of the station, this market is a convenient way for commuters and Bay Streeters to check off their holiday wish lists. The stalls are packed with cute gifts and stocking stuffers, like hand-painted greeting cards, pretty jewellery, natural soaps, and artwork from OCAD students. Obviously, the station gets super-busy during rush hour, so unless it’s on the way, we’d save the trip for the weekend.
Best buys: Local brand Knixwear’s high-tech undies; festive socks from Queen West’s Yo Sox.
On-site sustenance: Chewy chocolate chip cookies from Miche Bakery.
Monday, November 30–Sunday, December 20. 65 Front St. W., unionstationholidaymarket.com

Crown Flora Holiday Market
Ten west-end retailers will crowd into the Parkdale plant store for a one-day shopping fest. Scattered among the shop’s popular terrariums and exotic flora, visitors will find hand-painted pouches, delicate jewellery and locally made kids’ clothes.
Best buys: Bookhou’s practical printed totes; handmade citrus eucalyptus bath salts from Gold Apothecary.
On-site sustenance: Glory Hole Doughnuts’ sweet, gooey deliciousness.
Saturday, December 19. 1233 Queen St. W., crownflorastudio.com

The Holiday Post Market
The festive edition of this seasonal pop-up brings over 60 vendors to the Great Hall at Queen and Dovercourt. They’ll be hawking all the holiday essentials, including handcrafted Christmas ornaments, beautiful wrapping paper and gourmet pantry goods.
Best buys: Province Apothecary’s detoxifying face maskspainted antlers from The Hunt Collective.
On-site sustenance: Kimchi-and-bacon dumplings from Steambox Dumplings.
Sunday, December 6. 1087 Queen St. W., facebook.com

Brika’s Yorkdale Pop-Up
Anyone brave enough to head to Yorkdale at this time of year should check out the Queen West store’s new holiday pop-up. It’s not just a shopping hub: visitors can de-stress by doodling on a giant colouring wall, or sign up for workshops in ornament-making, perfumery and paper lampshade design.
Best buys: New Years-appropriate confetti push-pops; ceramic iPhone docks that are also planters.
On-site sustenance: Cappuccinos from the in-store cafe and indulgent treats from Moo Milk Bar.
Until the end of January. 3401 Dufferin St., brika.com

The One of a Kind Show
For ten days starting this Thursday, the Ex will house over 800 Canadian designers, artisans and shopkeepers under one massive roof, with special sections dedicated to new talent, original artwork, fashion and eco-friendly goods. Tickets are $13, and can be purchased online.
Best buys: We picked our 20 favourite items from the show that you won’t want to miss.
On-site sustenance: Complementary Canada Dry drinks, plus a market café.
Thursday, November 26–Sunday, December 6. 100 Princes’ Blvd., oneofakindshow.com


November 25, 2015

An earlier version of this post indicated that there would be free workshops at the Holiday Post Market. Those workshops have since been cancelled.

November 26, 2015

An earlier version of this article stated that the Toronto Christmas Market has a $5 fee this year, when, in fact, the fee only applies on Saturdays and Sundays (entry is free during the week).