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The top 10 free things to do in Toronto this winter

Free events in Toronto this winter know that you need an excuse to leave the house beyond the vague promise of "exercise" and potentially dog-smushing snow fort wars. Whether your pace is film screenings, live music, or skating in one of Toronto's newest rinks, you don't have to spend the winter indoors sewing your rags to other rags until hypothermia claims what digits you have left. Instead, you can wear those rags in style to the symphony. No, really.

You already know about the AGO and CINSSU, so here are my picks for the top free things to do in Toronto this winter.

Sweat to the arts at Long Winter
This all-ages carnival is PWYC, so dig some money out from under the cat and head through the cold to the Great Hall's sweat box for music, art, talks and more. December features Sean Nicholas Savage, Army Girls, Animalia, Man Made Hill and more. Future lineups are TBA. (Dec 12, Jan 9, Feb 13, Mar 13, The Great Hall)

Make a break for a mini getaway at Toronto Islands
Winter on the Toronto Islands is a lot quieter than the summer, and while ferries dwindle, the trip to Ward's Island is still consistent throughout the day. Once you arrive, you'll find skating and cross country skiing, art exhibits, a cozy B&B, a farm, and a quiet winter oasis for all your hiking and shoe-shoeing desires.

Lug your boombox to Unsilent Night
Want to blast a boombox in the streets of Toronto? Not quite a flash mob, this is about as different as it gets than your usual Christmas caroling. Philip Kein's composition calls for a mass of marchers to BYO music for a dissonant, free-for-all holiday march. Admission is PWYC, with a fundraiser proper to follow at the Music Gallery. (December 19, Music Gallery)

Watch your festival favourites at the Bloor
The Bloor has caught the holiday spirit, and you can reserve free passes now for holiday and holiday-ish classics including Bad Santa, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Love Actually, and more. (December 19-23, Bloor Hot Docs CInema)

Get close to the flame at the 25th Annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice
Do you want to play with fire, little girl? The Kensington Market Winter Solstice will fill Augusta with night-defying antics, complete with puppets on stilts and a healthy dose of pyrotechnics and fire jugglers. If you want to help out, donate to their Kickstarter here. (December 21, Augusta Ave)

Get dressed up for a gentle night at the opera
September through to early June, Canadian Opera Company let you get fancy (or not, you lumberjacks) to catch free classical shows at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts "most Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, and some Wednesdays at noon or 5:30pm" at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.

Skate out of the elements on a covered rink
Outdoor skating in Toronto is a tradition with a huge number of options, but Greenwood Park rink joined the ranks in 2013 offering a covered skating and hockey experience in the east end which is worth a lace up. If you're feeling a shade of goth, there's also a wide variety of night-time accessible skating rinks to be had.

Duck out of the cold with a free movie at TIFF
You'll have to wait for now for the programming line up, but TIFF's Cincinematheque free screen series offers a warm place to hide out with challenging cinema during the winter months. Here's a peak at Fall's offerings.

Get lit up with Toronto's best writers
There's nothing that will push you in a literary direction like cold weater, and Toronto has a thriving series for readings and live monologs, including regular free and PWYC picks like True Stories Told Live, Pivot, Blue Coffee, Tell Me Something Good, and Chiaroscuro.

Take in a visual feast with Douglas Coupland
Canlit fans will be excited about this upcoming exhibition at MOCCA: Douglas Coupland's everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything installation will continue the writer's obsession with tech and pop culture via whatever means necessary - including Lego. The MOCCA exhibit is free, but the one at the ROM will cost you. (January 31 - April 19, MOCCA)

What did I miss? Leave your picks for free things to do this winter in the comments.

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Photo of True Stories Told Live by Tania Haas

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