Mulled wine, carolers, twinkle lights, and trees dusted in snow… community holiday markets are the definition of seasonal cheer. If you’re vacationing in Canada this winter, don’t miss the amazing variety of markets found from coast to coast. Even if you don’t pick up a souvenir, you’ll be sure to leave with a feeling of joy and goodwill — a perfect way to wrap up the year.
Festive to the max in Toronto
Toronto, Ontario’s historic Distillery District is celebrated as an ultra-trendy cultural hub. And the lavish, Euro-style Toronto Christmas Market? One of the top-ranked in the world, says Fodor’s. A 15-metre Norway spruce all decked out sets the scene. Little chalet-style huts line the brick-warehouse streets, offering anything from Glühwein, designer hot chocolate, and Schnitzel, to wax candles, German nutcrackers, and waffles. There are bustling beer gardens with outdoor fire pits, a Ferris Wheel, carousel, giant gingerbread house, carolers, concerts, even a forest of pink trees. And of course, St. Nicholas rides in on a white horse!
Shopping on the waterfront in Halifax
It’s the place to shop ‘n stroll in Nova Scotia: the Halifax Lights Holiday Market at Historic Properties on the waterfront in downtown Halifax. Expect live entertainment, twinkly lights, steaming hot drinks, and eclectic holiday pop-up markets. Don’t miss the Eastern Front Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
Arts ‘n crafts in Winnipeg
If homemade is your thing, you’ve got several options in artsy Winnipeg, Manitoba. There’s the Etsy Market for housewares, vintages, soaps, and leather items, and the Festive Artisans Market for jewelry, scarves, moccasins, knitwear, and ceramics. Crafters, artisans, and bakers unite at the Last Stop Holiday Shop, and downtown’s Farmers’ Market is great for community spirit and edible stocking stuffers. Enjoy the historic former stables setting at The Forks Market Holiday Bazaar — also a favourite.
Magical in Montreal
Old World charm is what you’ll find at picture-perfect Jacques-Cartier Region Christmas Market, in historic Old Montreal. The indoor-outdoor market celebrates holiday customs around the world, spotlighting farm-to-table producers, handcrafts, and local artisans. Everything — including the shimmering light displays and luscious delicacies on offer — is gorgeous. Take a crafting workshop and, if you time it right, catch the city’s spectacular Fire on Ice show.
Yukon-made art in Whitehorse
Folks love the 12 Days of Christmas Market for the high-quality, Yukon-made fine arts and crafts at this community fair featuring 50 vendors. You’ll also find farmstead wares and homespun body care products, plus tasty goodies like home-baked pies and preserves to eat or gift. Located at the modern Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in rugged, mountain-ringed Whitehorse, the market also includes daily live music.
Hit the ranch in Calgary
Symons Valley Ranch hosts a pop-up gift market in northwest Calgary, Alberta, just downstairs from the year-round farmers’ market area. Peruse lots of art, jewelry, clothing, and Christmas-themed gifts, sit by the bonfire and toast a S’more, or ice skate while enjoying live music. On some days, real reindeer roam the courtyard. Stay for a hearty dinner in the Western-style, log cabin dining room.
Be merry German-style in Vancouver
Inspired by Germany’s traditional outdoor markets, the Vancouver Christmas Market is authentic and iconic. Warm up with a hot drink (vegan eggnog, anyone?), sit on the carousel, or indulge in a Chimney Cake or churro at the Sugar Shack. There’s live music, beer and pretzels, and not-your-usual wares: alpaca sweaters, paper star-lights, craft teas, BC spirits, and artist-made wooden watches. Because it’s on the downtown waterfront and open late, it’s easy to add a stop-in to your urban evening out on the town.
If you’re in Canada for the holidays, pack your coat and mittens and join the fun.