What’s New and Happening in Toronto – Holiday 2018/Winter 2019

Tourism Toronto shares the top 25 reasons to visit Canada’s Downtown this winter. From inaugural winter festivals to the city’s hottest new restaurants, here are the latest announcements across Canada’s largest city. Click through for a full list of updates on hotels, restaurants, exhibits and attractions, performing arts, annual events and holiday programming.


Grand Bizarre, the weekly Saturday supper club makes its grand appearance in Toronto December 1st. The club will pair international cuisines with lively music, performance art and entertainment. Menus are brought to life weekly by Food Dudes and 10tation. With 3 seating times – 6:30pm, 9pm and 12pm, Grand Bizarre is the ideal meeting spot for large groups, birthdays and those who crave a social dining experience.

Opening November 2018, Virtuous Pie is all about creating food that tastes great, is good for the body and supports a healthy planet. This popular West Coast spot is opening their first Toronto location across from Trinity Bellwoods Park and will feature the pizzas and ice creams that have made them so well-known across the country.

The Upper Deck is the Arcade and Game room located above The Pint gastropub. As of mid-October 2018, guests can visit to play their favourite nostalgic video or arcade game, or host private events. Featuring one of the largest pin ball collections in the country, Upper Deck is one of the city’s latest hot spots for cocktails, games and more.


Founded by Jared Paul, Happy Place is a massive pop-up experience filled with larger than life size installations, multi-sensory immersive rooms, and dozens of moments curated to “capture your happy”.  After sold out events in LA and Chicago, Happy Place lands in Toronto November 1, 2018 to January 1, 2019 at the Harbourfront Centre.

The Museum of Illusions opened its first Canadian location in Toronto November 7. The museum is filled with holograms, optical illusions, installations and unusual rooms located at 132 King Street East in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market district. Museum of Illusions has 60-70 exhibits

Since Escape Manor’s opening on October 5th, this fully-immersive entertainment facility on King West began to thrill Torontonians with axe throwing, escape rooms, and a fully licensed games lounge. Be sure to visit the award-winning Escape Manor at its flagship location in Toronto at 383 King Street West.

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) collaborated with the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans to present Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires. Together they present a bold collection of Thomas’ exciting and politically charged paintings, silkscreens, photographs, time-based media and site-specific installations exploring how black women are represented in art and popular culture. This vibrant exhibition runs November 29, 2018 to March 24, 2019.

Guests who visit the CN Tower between January and March 2019 will have the added experience of seeing Regalia Native Pride, a stunning exhibit of 30 portraits of people from 14 different nations dressed in colourful regalia, magnificent outfits that tell personal stories as well as those of their people and their worldview. It is aimed at moving away from our perceptions of the powwow tradition to probe contemporary dimensions of identity.

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) will unveil the Museum’s newest dinosaur: the exceptionally preserved and newly named ankylosaur, Zuul Crurivastator. The 76 million-year-old dinosaur specimen – one of the most complete ankylosaurs ever discovered – will take centre stage in the ROM-original exhibition ZUUL: Life of an Armoured Dinosaur (presenting sponsor: Sinking Ship Entertainment). The exhibition opens to the public December 15, 2018, just in time for ROM for the Holidays.


The National Ballet of Canada welcomes back The Nutcracker starting December 8th. One of the country’s favourites – a traditional version of the beloved Holiday classic, with all the trimmings. With choreography by renowned Canadian choreographer James Kudelka, the production is filled to the brim with whimsy, fantasy, charm and humour.

Soulpepper Theatre Company once again presents their wonderful staging of Dickens’ timeless tale, A Christmas Carol, starting December 7th. Their version of Ebenezer Scrooge’s story is richly drawn and sparsely staged, bringing the original’s emotional stakes and lovable assortment of characters to life.

Check out Ross Petty Productions’ Wizard of Oz, a Toto-ly twistered family musical at the Elgin Theatre. November 30, 2018 to January 5, 2019.

The Play That Goes Wrong runs January 7th – February 10th at Ed Mirvish Theatre, and the award-winning comedy is sure to entertain. See why the Huffington Post calls it “the funniest play Broadway has ever seen”.

The CAA Theatre plays host to The Simon & Garfunkel Story from January 17th – 27th, 2019. The immersive concert-style theatre show chronicles the amazing journey shared by the folk-rock duo, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom & Jerry to their incredible success as one of the best-selling music groups of the ‘60’s.

THE LIGHTNING THIEF: The Percy Jackson Musical is on stage March 19th – 24th, 2019. With more than 100 million copies of the book series sold worldwide, this global phenomenon has found a new home on the live stage in Toronto. Audiences will have the chance to see this “winning adaptation” (The Hollywood Reporter), at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in the heart of the Entertainment District.


Winter in this city is warmer than most people think, and Toronto Bicycle Tours is here to prove it. Ride along on a Winter Bike Tour starting in December to get a real feel for the layout of downtown Toronto and discover city highlights.


The Aurora Winter Festival is about to turn Ontario Place into the ultimate winter wonderland from November 29 to December 30, 2018. The 24-day festival is the first of its kind in the Toronto market. The festival will feature enchanting elements inspired by the North Pole including magical characters, light displays, endless fun, games and activities.

Evergreen’s Winter Village kicks off the first weekend of December this year and runs until the end of the month. Guests are invited to celebrate the season at the Brick Works, nestled in the Don Valley. Eat tasty food from local vendors, skate on the newly reopened outdoor skating rink, shop the holiday market and more.

Join Koerner Hall for the 21C Music Festival as they celebrate their 10th anniversary concert season beginning January 17th, 2019. The Royal Conservatory presents the greatest jazz, classical, roots, and world music performers from all over the globe. Enjoy this 8-part series ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Hall itself in the fall of 2019.

For the fifth year in a row, Drink Inc. returns for its annual Hoppy Holidays craft beer event. Guests will gather at Berkeley Church to enjoy an evening of seasonal brews, one-off creations, and yuletide beer cocktails. Tickets for the December 4th event are on sale now.

Experience The Toronto Light Fest January to March 2019 inside the legendary and artfully illuminated Distillery District. The festival features works by Canadian and international light artists across 45 days and 44 different locations.

Ice Breakers and The Waterfront BIA are converging for the second year on Toronto’s urban Waterfront with ICE BREAKERS, a temporary art exhibition. Running January 19 – February 25, 2019, Ice Breakers will feature five wintertime art installations located on Queens Quay from the Harbourfront Centre to the Toronto Music Garden.

Winter Stations returns along Kew/Balmy Beaches this winter from February 19 – April 1, 2019. Winter Stations is an annual international design exhibition showcasing the winners of the Winter Stations Design Competition to the backdrop of Toronto’s snow-swept beaches. Seven inspired designs from the US, Germany, UK, the Netherlands and Canada contribute to the theme of Migration.


The Toronto Christmas Market is a five week-long event celebrating the sounds, sights and scents of Christmas. Gather with friends and family, sip on mulled wine and peruse the selection of hand-made ornaments, wood carvings and crafts. Free admission Tuesday to Friday and $6.00 admission Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday (not open on Mondays). Open November 15 – December 23.

Guests can also take advantage of Go Tours Canada, the team behind the ever popular Toronto Christmas Market Walking Tour. The 12 person tour features tastings, fun historical facts, photo opportunities, and visits to secret Distillery locations. Tours take place Tuesday through Friday and weekends for the length of the market.

On November 17th, guests will gather at Yonge Dundas Square for Illuminite. Enjoy a magical evening of music, dance and spectacle in the heart of Downtown Toronto.

The Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood gets in on the fun for their November 17th event in the Village of Yorkville Park (Cumberland Street and Bellair Street). Featuring a performance by one of Canada’s top recording artists, Shawn Hook, the festival also shines the spotlight on animated storefront windows, enchanting displays and charming decorations filled with holiday magic.

The Royal Botanical Gardens is staging Winter Lights at the Rock from the end of November and throughout December. This 1-kilometre walk through RBG’s historic Rock Garden explores the multicultural traditions that make up the essence of being Canadian.

The 52nd annual Cavalcade of Lights officially kicks off the holiday season with the illumination of Toronto’s famous Christmas Tree in Nathan Phillips Square. Featuring performances by some of Canada’s top musical talent, a brilliant fireworks show and an outdoor skating party under the glow of more than half a million lights, the event takes place November 24th.

Light Up Riverside returns on November 24th for the public celebration in the streets of the Riverside Neighbourhood. Free to the public, the celebration features a countdown and tree lighting, live music, photos with Santa, warm refreshments, crafts, and more for all to enjoy.

Part Christmas market and part carnival, shop for unique gifts, ride a carousel, go for a skate or enjoy a festive cocktail at the ice bar from December 1 – 23 at the Holiday Fair Nathan Phillips Square.

Guests are invited to celebrate and take part in the holiday magic at Casa Loma during A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle. Decked out in lights and seasonal décor, North America’s only castle, is a sight to behold during the festive season. The month long event features a wide range of activities and thrilling performances that are sure to be fun for the whole family. Enjoy new shows by famed illusionist entertainer Professor Wick and ice skating performers Glisse on Ice. Events run daily, beginning December 1st and continue until January 6th, 2019. Evening programming runs from December 17th – 23rd.

Back by popular demand, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is presenting Home Alone in Concert with the orchestra and Resonance Youth Choir playing and singing along with the film. Enjoy this new Christmas classic in a fresh way, at Roy Thomson Hall December 6 – 8, 2018.

Join Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra for an uplifting and profoundly moving performance of Handel’s Messiah. Experience this baroque masterpiece in the intimate and acoustically perfect Koerner Hall. This is a limited seasonal run, on stage December 18 – 22, 2018.

Open December 26, 2018 to January 6, 2019, ROM for the Holidays invites guests of all ages to discover the wonders of nature with hands-on activities and live entertainment. Enjoy extended hours and take part in interactive experiences inspired by the feature exhibitions Spiders: Fear & Fascination, Zuul: Life of an Armoured Dinosaur and Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

COMING 2019 – Canada’s Wonderland WinterFest will be magically transformed into a winter Wonderland full of enchantment and holiday cheer for the first time in the amusement park’s history.

Photo by Marina Khrapova on Unsplash

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