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Toronto lights up first weekend of December

Last Updated Nov 29, 2019 at 8:33 am EDT

People skating at Nathan Phillips Square during the Cavalcade of Lights. CITY OF TORONTO

It is the first weekend of December and the city is marking it with the annual Cavalcade of Lights, including the highly-anticipated lighting of the tree at Nathan Phillips Square. The holiday season barrels ahead with a multitude of events across Toronto.

Also, Toronto’s outdoor skating rinks open this weekend, click here for a list.


Toronto’s official tree lighting
The city will be decked with boughs of holly on Saturday for the Cavalcade of Lights. The 50-foot tree will be lit at Nathan Phillips Square just after 8 p.m. but the event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-show skating music and live music. The tree will be decorated with 525,000 energy-efficient lights and 500 ornaments. After the tree lighting, stick around for some more live music and circus acts, another skating party and a fireworks show.

Hanukkah market of fun
The holiday of Hanukkah arrives in less than a month, so it is time for a celebration at NoshFest — a Hanukkah market taking place at Artscape Wychwood Barns on Sunday. The market includes Jewish food vendors and traditional treats, as well as artists and artisans, live music and cooking demos.

A holiday village in the city
Experience the homey feel of the holidays in a big city at the historic Brick Works. As part of Evergreen’s Winter Village, which starts on Saturday and runs until Dec. 22, check out the holiday market, enjoy some warm drinks and comforting treats, and take a skate on the outdoor rink.

Swim like a polar bear
It is not for everyone but some will be taking the plunge in the cold waters of Woodbine Beach on Saturday for a charitable polar bear dip. Brainfreeze raises awareness and money for youth mental health. Money raised from the event will go to Jack.org’s youth mental health programs. After the polar dip, everyone will celebrate their accomplishments at a local pub.

Christmas at the castle
Holiday magic will be all around you at Casa Loma’s A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle. If you love Christmas trees, you will have nine decorated ones to marvel at including a 40-foot tree in the Great Hall. The festivities start on Sunday and continue until Jan. 5. The castle will be adorned with plenty of other decorations, as well as Santa’s workshop, and starting on Dec. 15, an outdoor holiday market and a lights display in the gardens.

Road closures

Cavalcade of Lights
Queen Street West from Yonge Street to University Avenue, and Bay Street from Dundas Street West to Richmond Street, will be closed from 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday. Click here for a full list of the closures. The 501 Queen streetcar and the 6 Bay bus routes will be diverting in the area.


Partial Line 1 weekend closure
Subways won’t be running on Line 1 between Lawrence and St Clair stations stations this weekend due to signal upgrades. Shuttle buses and Wheel-Trans service will be running. Riders travelling south who require an elevator should exit the train at York Mills Station.

Partial Line 2 Sunday closure
A single-day closure will be in effect Sunday on Line 2 between Warden and Kennedy stations due to maintenance. Shuttle buses and Wheel-Trans service will be running. Riders travelling east who require an elevator should exit the train at Victoria Park Station.