It’s been quite the year in the city when it comes to events and experiences. And though we’re nearing the end of 2023, there are still a lot of activities we have left to do in Toronto. That being said, there are tons of events and activities in Toronto this December, and many of them are also free. If you’re saving room in your budget, then this list of free and cheap things to do in Toronto this month will come in handy.
Let’s hop right into the very best free and cheap things to do in Toronto this December:
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Holiday Events & Winter Festivals
Get your holiday plans in order because the iconic Distillery Winter Village is back.
This iconic festive village welcomes all to experience the joys of the holidays through delicious food, drinks, gift shopping, carols, cozy fires, and all the jolly vibes.
And you’ll want to be there for the grand opening on November 16th as the village unveils its tallest Christmas tree of all time!
When: November 16th to December 31st, 2023
Where: 55 Mill Street, Toronto
Cost: $15 General Admission, $18 Flex Ticket, $30 Express Gate Entry
The Kimpton Saint George Hotel’s 2nd annual Holiday Market Sip ‘N’ Shop is back with complimentary wine, coffee, light bites and new this year, Santa Paws!
Tickets are free and you can reserve a spot here.
Get into the howl-iday spirit with a special photo-op with Santa Claus too!
When: December 3rd, 2023 from 11 AM to 4 PM
Where: Kimpton Saint George – 280 Bloor St W
Every year, the Cavalcade of Lights takes over Nathan Phillips Square with a dazzling array of holiday lights and offerings.
Stop by for some ice skating, lighting displays, and more until January 7th.
When: November 25th, 2023 to January 7th, 2024
Where: Nathan Phillips Square
Colder weather is setting in, so why not step out of the icy chill and into a cozy world of enchantment at Christmas Glow Toronto?
Known as Canada’s premier indoor Christmas festival, Christmas Glow is a massive indoor experience with millions of twinkling lights, an artisan market, a whimsical train ride, and delicious treats.
The indoor experience will take visitors on an illuminated journey to six different countries. No passport required!
Where: Toronto Congress Centre, 1020 Martin Grove Road
When: November 30th, 2023 – December 31st, 2023
Cost: Weekdays $30 & Weekends $32 (General Admission)
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The annual WinterFest has taken over Canada’s Wonderland with fun and festive activities, including ice skating on Snow Flake Lake, live shows, millions of spectacular lights, and hundreds of sparkling trees throughout the park.
This one-of-a-kind event transports you to a new world, full of stunning luminous displays, ambient holiday lights and festive tunes.
When: Until January 6th, 2024 (Select nights)
Where: Canada’s Wonderland
Cost: From $29.99 per person
Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood has transformed into a free outdoor art gallery with 20 augmented reality window installations and five murals.
The fourth annual Window Wonderland event runs until January 31st, 2024. This urban art walk features artwork designed by local and international artists.
Visitors can bring the artwork to life using an AR app, Artivive – a first of its kind for the city.
When: UntilJanuary 31, 2024
Where: Along Dundas St W – map
Attendees can expect a wholesome shopping experience, browsing the collection of local products like jewelry, candles, records, handmade cards, and art. It’s a great way to support local.
After your little shopping spree, stop by the food court and check out the food trucks.
When: December 10th and 17th from 11 AM to 5 PM
Where: 550 Bayview Ave
Cost: FREE (pay what you can)
According to the skating trail, its winter programming begins on December 16, and this year, skaters are invited back to cruise the 220m figure-eight skate trail under the Gardiner Expressway. New will be the soaring art installation above the trail, which they say is and “inspired by the glowing hues of the northern lights.”
When: December 16th until January 7, every day from 12 PM to 9 PM
Where: 250 Fort York, under the Gardiner
Toronto’s getting a magical winter wonderland festival with a fireside lounge, outdoor bar, and more this year. And we can’t help but get excited! Holiday Fair in the Square returns and here’s what to know.
The annual event kicks off this December but this time, it has moved to Mel Lastman Square. It’s a beloved tradition and if it’s anything like last year, you can expect a fun-filled carnival and festive market all in one place.
Here you’ll have to opportunity to browse through the artisan marketplace for that special Christmas gift and support local businesses. After some shopping, treat yourself to delicious eats including seasonal snacks and cuisine from the best food trucks and gourmet merchants in Toronto.
When: December 1st to December 23rd – (Closed Mondays)
Where: Mel Lastman Square – 5100 Yonge St, North York, ON
If you’ve got some green thumbs on your holiday gift list this year, then you’ll want to pay a visit to the botanically-themed market this December.
Shop for eco-friendly and nature-inspired products including home décor, fine chocolates, fresh seasonal greens, along with amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs.
Plus, the TBG Bloom Cafe will be serving up hot beverages and light bites during the market. Friday from 2 PM to 8 PM, Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
When: December 15th to 17th, 2023
Where: Toronto Botanical Gardens, 777 Lawrence Avenue East
Food & Drinks
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Nothing says holiday season in the city like a festive cocktail bar, and this year, Toronto’s iconic Miracle pop-up bar is making a comeback. If you’ve never been, Miracle is more than a holiday-themed pop-up cocktail bar — it’s basically a Christmas fever dream in real life.
When: Until December 30th, 2023
Where: 875 Bloor Street West
Project Gigglewater’s holiday-themed bar is back with its festive cocktails and special menu. And a dollar from every cocktail will go to Toys for Tots Canada. They’re open daily from 6 PM to 2 AM. Check out their delicious holiday offerings here.
When: Until December 31st, 2023
Where: 1369 Dundas Street W
Arts, Culture & Film
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has a Free Friday Nights tradition that brings art lovers together on everyone’s favourite night of the week.
Visitors are invited to celebrate contemporary art and community and enjoy live performances, installations, pop-ups, activations, and more.
You can book your spot in advance to guarantee entry or drop in on the day. The last time slot for entry is 8:45 PM.
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, 158 Sterling Road #100
When: Fridays from 5 PM to 9 PM
The Aga Khan Museum also offers free admission to the public on Wednesday evenings from 4 PM to 8 PM.
No pre-registration is required, just show up in person to receive your free ticket and enjoy!
Where: Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Drive
When: Wednesdays from 4 PM to 8 PM
Embark on this experiential journey through planet Earth at Arcadia Earth. The new immersive experience is located in The Well, and offers guests a multi-sensory experience that “reimagines the way people address planet Earth’s most pressing environmental challenges.”
Expect rooms enhanced by interactive projection mapping, augmented reality, and VR.
When: On select dates – times vary
Where: The Well at 486 Front St W
Cost: $39.99 + tax
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Toronto’s iconic shoe museum is open to all visitors for free on Sundays.
Explore the BSM’s nearly 15,000 artifacts, learn about the fascinating history of footwear, and participate in educational activities, all for free every Sunday.
Where: Bata Shoe Museum, 327 Bloor Street West
When: Sundays from 12 PM to 5 PM
Check out the selection of letterpress, linocuts, wood engravings, handmade paper, limited edition books, cards and more at the Bound Book Arts Fair.
When: December 3rd from 11 AM to 4 PM
Where: Arts & Letters Club – 14 Elm St
Bring your friends and fam to The ROM on the third Tuesday night of each month for a free museum visit! This monthly offer includes free access to all of the galleries and exhibitions at the museum.
Advanced tickets are not required and it’s first come, first served, so be sure to arrive on time for a guaranteed spot!
Plus, the ROM has opened up its 80,000-square-foot main floor for FREE every single day until September 4th, 2023. That includes performances, educational opportunities, and exhibition access on the main floor.
Where: The Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Park
When: Every third Tuesday of the month
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has a longstanding tradition of allowing the public to visit the gallery for free every Wednesday evening.
Free general admission tickets must be booked in advance, online.
If you don’t manage to get one, be on the lookout on Mondays when a limited number of free timed-entry tickets are released for the following Wednesday.
Where: The Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West
When: Wednesdays from 6 PM to 9 PM
The One Of A Kind show is back in Toronto and there’s no better place to cross gifts off your list!
Until December 3rd, the OOAK show will take over the Enercare Centre and more than 600 artisans from all over Canada will showcase their extensive selection of goods.
You can expect to find a wide range of craft goods including houseware items, clothing, art pieces, sweet treats, and jewelry.
When: Until December 3rd, 2023
Where: 100 Princes’ Blvd – Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place
Cost: $18 per adult
The Toronto Art Crawl Holiday Market is bringing the festive spirit to Exhibition Place on December 16th. For one day only, enjoy offerings from 120 local artists and designers. Expect handmade goods like original art, fashion, jewelry, home decor, vintage, photography, body care and more.
There will also be a live DJ, interactive demos, a food and cash bar, and free swag bags for the first 25 people.
When: December 16th, 2023
Where: 15 Saskatchewan Rd
Get ready to lace up your skates!
There are tons of City-run public rinks opening for the season in November. In past years, that has included Christie Pits, College Park, High Park, Kew Gardens, and Mel Lastman Square, Nathan Phillips Square.
So, grab your favourite people and glide the day away at the rink.
When: November 2023 to March 2024 (select rinks)
Where: See all locations
To celebrate the Barbara Ann Scott Ice Trail, the Downtown Yonge BIA will be throwing a party on December 9th with activities, ice dances, a DJ, and even firepits to warm up.
There will also be free skate lending
When: December 9th, 2023 from 2 PM to 6 PM
Where: College Park