The holidays can be tough for many, especially when it comes to finances, it can get pretty expensive. But that shouldn’t hold you back from enjoying the festivities in your town. Some of these holiday festivals and markets are actually free to attend. We’ve compiled a list of free holiday markets and festivals across Ontario that have started or will begin very soon.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and the weather has definitely helped. Make the most of your holidays and enjoy it to its fullest.

Holiday markets, light festivals, light trails, and more! So much to do and so many places to be.

Here’s our list of free holiday markets & festive experiences to check out in Ontario:

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Holiday Lights Heritage Nights

Running from November 24 to January 7, you can expect “beautiful outdoor light display will transform the area into a magical outdoor walk-through holiday wonderland, including numerous ornamental and holiday lighting displays and a forty-foot-tall walk-through tree,” states the town.

If you plan to check it out, the lights will be on daily from 5 PM until 10 PM.

When: November 24th to January 7, 2024
Where: LaSalle Civic Centre, 5950 Malden Road, LaSalle

The Distillery Winter Village

This year, The Distillery Winter Village is open seven days a week, except for Christmas Day, and runs until the New Year.

There will be so much to experience at the Village this year, including an all-new Candy Cane Forest on Gristmill Lane, adorable 7 ft snow people, and even holiday photo ops for dogs!

It is free entry on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. You’ll want to check out this free holiday event.

When: Until December 31st, 2023
Where: 55 Mill Street, Toronto

Brockville – River of Lights

There’s a dazzling holiday trail featuring thousands of twinkling lights in Ontario. And it’s on an island! The River of Lights holiday experience kicks off this month and is sure to transport you to a magical winter wonderland.

Until January 2nd, The River of Lights holiday light display will take over Blockhouse Island in Brockville. You can enjoy this trail from the comfort of your own car.

Feast your eyes on the stunning array of lights that adorn the entire island.

When: November 25th, 2023 to January 2nd, 2024
Where: Blockhouse Island Parkway – Brockville, ON

Bright Lights Windsor

The annual Bright Lights Windsor festival is back this December! It’ll feature a stunning backdrop of lights and displays, including vendor markets and activities.

Don’t you love free holiday events?

When: December 1st to January 7th
Where: Windsor

Holiday Market Sip ‘N’ Shop at the Kimpton Saint George 

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
Cost: FREE

Cavalcade of Lights

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
Cost: FREE

Window Wonderland

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
Cost: FREE

Holiday Fair in the Square

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
Cost: FREE

Holiday Magic at Blue Mountain

Experience the fun and wonders of the most joyous season of all at Blue Mountain’s Holiday Magic. The entire Village transforms into a winter wonderland this month and you’ll certainly feel like you’re at the North Pole.

From November 18th to January 7th, check out Holiday Magic at Blue and experience the festive Village draped in garlands and bows, illuminated from head to toe in the most stunning holiday lights.

When: November 18th to January 7th
Where: 156 Jozo Weider Blvd, The Blue Mountains

Toronto Botanical Garden Holiday Market

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
Cost: FREE

Enchanted in the Downtown District

Head to downtown Belleville for a week of holiday workshops, performances, festive activities, and local eats.

There will be a gift wrapping station; participating restaurants and cafes with signature festive beverages, cocktails or mocktails; special appearances of Sizzling Santas and Lady Elves roaming the downtown from 6PM to 9 PM; on December 2nd and 9th, enchanting Carriage Rides and free Family Fun Workshops. So much to do, so little time.

When: December 1st to December 9th
Where: Downtown Belleville

Toronto Art Crawl Holiday Market

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
Cost: FREE

Holiday Street Market

The Street Eats Market is back with a joyous new holiday market and it’s coming to the CN Tower.

You can expect a number of festive food offerings and local artisans in wooden cabins, showcasing their latest creations.

When: December 1st, 2023 to January 7th, 2024
Where: CN Tower – 290 Bremner Blvd

Lights On Stratford

The annual winter festival Lights on Stratford returns and will transform the town’s downtown core and parks with bright displays, bringing some light to the coldest season.

Starting December 15th to January 13th, the free event will welcome all to enjoy exciting art installations scattered across Stratford.

When: December 15th, 2023 to January 13th, 2024
Where: Scattered across downtown Stratford
Cost: Free

Winter Festival of Lights

This dazzling free holiday event is Canada’s largest free outdoor light festival and it transforms the entire area into a magical wonderland.

There are new interactive displays and themed illumination areas to experience this year, and you can explore them all on foot or from the comfort of your car.

Millions of lights illuminate the night, creating larger-than-life displays that will blow you away.

See over 75 installations at the Royal Promenade, Frosted Falls, Enchanted Forest, Great Canadian North, Dufferin Islands, and Niagara Parkway.

When: Until January 7th, 2024
WhereSee festival map here
Cost: FREE