Toronto, Ontario

Shine Bright in the Big City by the Lake

Overview

Shine Bright in the Big City by the Lake

“Toronto is a kind of New York operated by the Swiss”. Got to love these words from wise and well-travelled Peter Ustinov. Sir Peter perfectly sums up the atmosphere of Canada’s biggest city, cool tech hub, cradle for start ups, and 230 nationality strong multicultural mosaic. It’s a coming together of unique neighbourhoods that reflect the city’s diversity with their distinctive traits and community feel. An instantly recognisable skyline dominated by the iconic CN Tower, rises from the edge of beautiful Lake Ontario, forming a facade for a city that is larger than you think. Connected by a user-friendly network of subways, streetcars and underground walkways, Toronto stretches for miles offering year-round world class theatre, beloved sports events, and an awarding winning culinary scene.

Toronto’s climate is very much influenced by its lakeside location. Proximity to the vast body of water ensures Toronto is one of Canada’s cooler cities in summer and warmer in winter. Summers buzz with festivals like Toronto PRIDE drawing crowds fit to bursting. Don’t dismiss low season though, from November to March, when Torontonians reclaim their city and peak prices drop. Although temperatures at this time may fall below zero, you can expect many days to be gorgeously clear and crisp. Renowned cultural attractions thrive, availability at top restaurants opens up, and day trips to nearby Niagara Falls remain on offer. Plus, there are some wonderfully unique low season events like the historic Royal Agricultural Winter Fair; the Winterlicious set menu fine dining extravaganza; and of course all the festive lights and decorations.

One thing we love about low season Toronto is how locals still embrace the al fresco feel with outdoor bars setting up for winter with marquees and patio heaters. So you can still wander Downtown, around Harbourfront, bohemian Kensington, or LGBTQ friendly Church & Wellesley for an afternoon craft brewery beer or creamy hot chocolate before catching a Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey match.

Get in The Holiday Spirit

Low season travellers can join in an infectious excitement at the run up to Christmas. From the end of November to the first week of January incredible light installations adorn Nathan Phillips Square in the city’s Downtown. The stunning Cavalcade of Lights has been an annual event since 1967. Now it’s a month-long exhibit starting with the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Tree. Right next door, the Holiday Fair in the Square packs in a festive artisan market, and skating at the fun-filled rink to the sounds of Christmas music. Don’t miss the chance to snap your photo in front of the famed Toronto sign under a flurry of snow. The whole city is abuzz with Christmas cheer and jingle bells. Venture to the Distillery Winter Village for an immersive festive experience, witness the original Toronto Santa Claus Parade, a tradition since 1905, special festive culinary dishes, and spectacular new year’s fireworks.

Escape into Magical Museums

Warm up in some of Toronto’s brilliant indoor cultural venues, ranked amongst the world’s best and reflecting the city’s great pride in its history, diversity and progression. The Royal Ontario Museum houses 13 million pieces of art but is perhaps best known for its Gallery of Dinosaurs, majestic domed ceiling and controversial juxtaposing glass extension. Fill your boots at the fascinating Bata Shoe Museum, visit Toronto’s Gothic style castle Casa Loma, or see the architecturally renowned Art Gallery of Ontario partially designed by Frank Gehry. Hockey fans absolutely need to see the Stanley Cup at the interactive Hockey Hall of Fame. Use a Toronto CityPASS to skip the line and get a great price for five top attractions, including the CN Tower, the new Ripley’s Aquarium and the Ontario Science Centre.

Wrap Up and Be Winter Active

Toronto boasts hundreds of parks and stunning outdoor spaces that remain open year-round. Low season is the perfect opportunity to try skating, snowshoeing and winter hiking with the locals. A favourite spot is Rouge Park, Canada’s first urban national park. Or tackle the 19 mile Martin Goodman Trail or the 5 mile Humber Bay Shore Trail which remain cleared and maintained by authorities throughout winter. The Evergreen Brick Works is a site of heritage industrial buildings transformed into an award-winning public space combining nature, history and art. Here you can try fat-biking, with large tyres ideal for low season, and guided cycles Tuesdays and Sundays.

Inspired? Give our friendly partners at First Class Holidays a call to find out more about the wonderful low season months in Toronto as well as hearing about some absolutely amazing deals! Call now for friendly advice on: 0161 888 5630 or email: enquiries@fcholidays.com

Low Season Months

Jan
-3°C
40mm
3hrs
Feb
-3°C
40mm
3hrs
Mar
1°C
40mm
6hrs
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov
5°C
50mm
5hrs
Dec
-1°C
20mm
3hrs

Featured Hotels

Top Experiences

Distillery Winter Village

From mid November the historic district transforms into a holiday wonderland as the city counts down to Christmas. Wander the cobblestoned streets of old Victorian industrial buildings, filled with twinkling lights and the sound of carollers. And it’s free to enter Monday to Thursday.

Niagara Falls in Winter

Niagara is only 90 minutes from Toronto with transfers for frost fans year-round. Although rare for the falls to completely freeze, it’s amazing to venture behind sheets of ice for a totally different perspective. Plus the falls are illuminated with a light festival and fireworks until late February.

Ice Skate with Torontonians

Apart from the festive Nathan Phillips rink, there are some amazing outdoor skate spaces like Harbourfront and Ramsden Park. The new Bentway Skate Trail running under the Gardiner Expressway offers free lessons while Colonel Samuel Smith rink is set in a stunning 195 acre park.

Insider Tips

  • The Ice Wine Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake takes place each January in the heritage district. The extravaganza showcases the unusual but delicious beverage, made from grapes frozen on the vine. With music, culinary pairings, spectacular ice sculptures and tours of snow covered vines.
  • We love the Kensington Market district for its Bohemian chic, independent shops and vintage finds. It’s our top spot in Toronto for just wandering, cool bars, fab food like that found at the Pow Wow Cafe, and street art. Check out the flamboyant Winter Solstice lantern and fire parade on December 21st.
  • Craft breweries offer a rainbow of beers from pale gold to deep browns. The Amsterdam Brewery opened the first example in 1986, and now there are more than 70 city wide. Try Steam Whistle Brewery housed in an old locomotive facility, Leftfield with its baseball theme, or live music at Burdock.

Good To Know

  • Locals use the PATH to stay dry on rainy or snowy days. It’s Toronto’s revolutionary underground pedestrian walkway network that spans 20 miles including 4 major subway stations, shops, restaurants and entertainment. Combine with a TTC Presto Day pass for public transport travel.
  • Toronto can be pricy with 13% sales tax plus tips expected. Save cash by eating at the neighbourhood delis, or taking yourself on a walking tour. Download self guided directions for graffiti or architectural tours or the distillery district, and look out for a random Banksy or Henry Moore en route.
  • The Toronto Islands are so popular in summer, but it’s little known that can go in winter as well. Only the ferry to Ward’s Island operates, servicing the island’s 600 residents. A fascinating place, but worth the 10 minute trip for that magnificent view over the lagoon to the Toronto skyline alone.

Food & Drink

360 Restaurant

Located inside the CN Tower, 360 Restaurant allows you to enjoy exquisite fine dining 351 metres (1151 feet) above the ground. The restaurant completes one rotation every 72 minutes giving an ever changing city view while you dine and also homes the world’s highest wine cellar.

St. Lawrence Market

The renowned indoor emporium date from 1803 and has been named one of the best food markets in the world by National Geographic. 120 speciality vendors known for the variety and freshness of their cheese, pastries, chocolates, seafood, and made to order peameal bacon sarnies.

Neighbourhood Diners

Experience authentic international cuisine at really great prices in Greektown, Little India, Little Italy, Chinatown, Koreatown, or Little Tibet. Toronto is constantly expanding with over 150 vibrant neighbourhoods, each proudly bringing their own flavours and cultures to the table.

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