winter events toronto

The top 10 outdoor events in Toronto this winter

The top outdoor events in Toronto this winter will have you embracing the cold weather. While it's tempting to hibernate until the months of music festivals and giant slip 'n' slides return, there are a few things worth leaving the comfort of your Snuggie for this season. Instead of staying cooped up indoors, layer up and make the pilgrimage to a beer festival or makeshift art exhibition.

Here are my picks for the top outdoor events in Toronto this winter.

WinterFest (December 18 - 20)
For those who fully embrace the holiday season, WinterFest is tried and true. While the pastry eating contest, dog stunt show, and a cappella concert will be entertaining, the Ugly Christmas Sweater Cocktail Cruise is the star of the show. Don your most horrendous holiday ensemble and head aboard the Northern Spirit for an evening of drinking, dancing, and good, old-fashioned holiday fun.

Kensington Market Winter Solstice (Dec. 21)
Tired of holiday parties with faux Santas and ugly sweaters? Head to Kensington Market to celebrate the start of the winter solstice with its annual parade/party. Past parades have featured everything from pyrotechnic displays to puppeteers, so if you're a fan of pomp and spectacle, this'll be up your alley.

NYE at Nathan Phillips Square (Dec. 31)
New Year's Eve offers no shortage of parties, with everything from glamourous galas to more low-key ragers on tap. If you're cool with trading in your LBD/suit for more climate-friendly attire, head to Nathan Phillips Square for a skating bash. DJs MelBoogie, P-Plus and Starting From Scratch will be providing the soundtrack and food trucks will be on the scene serving up street eats.

Polar Bear Dip (Jan. 1)
While it's pretty much a tradition to spend New Year's Day gorging on piles of home fries and bacon, that's not going to do your body any good. If you want to stick to the "new year, new you" resolution, opt to wipe off last night's make up and take a dip in the lake at 11 a.m. Proceeds from the event go to Habitat for Humanity GTA, so you'll also be doing some good.

WINTERSPHERE: Toronto Design Offsite Festival (Jan. 21)
On the evening of January 21st the Toronto School of Art will convert the Junction Train Platform into an exhibition space. Look forward to scoping out interactive sculptures and digital installations and snacking on seasonal treats. If you want to check out more outdoor art this winter, Winter Stations is returning to the Beaches on February 13th.

Winter Blast (Jan. 22)
Head to the Hart House quad on January 22nd to celebrate winter Quebec-style. Bonhomme Carnaval, the unofficial mascot of Quebec, is hosting the party and the signature drink of the Winter Carnival (a mixture of red wine, alcohol and maple syrup) will be served. You'll probably want to layer up if you plan on attending, but heat lamps will be set up to keep you warm (dancing also helps).

MEC Toronto Race ONE (Jan. 24)
If you - like most people on the planet - are resolving to get fit in the new year, register for the MEC Toronto Race ONE. There are both 5k and 10k options - so no matter what your skill level, you'll probably be able to tackle it. A huge plus: if you register early it only costs $15.

The Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Fest (Jan. 30)
Steam Whistle's annual outdoor beer festival will takeover Roundhouse Park on Saturday, January 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for this frosty beer event are $20 in advance or $25 at the gates. The first block of tickets are already sold out, but new ones go on sale January 6 at noon.

Bloor-Yorkville Icefest (Feb. 20-21)
The Bloor-Yorkville Icefest will be returning for its 11th year on February 20th. Though details about the 2016 event have yet to be released, you can expect the regular roster of ice carving demos and local eats. The best part? It won't cost you a dime to get in.

Hunt and Gather 2015: We Belong Together (Feb. 22)
If you're on the prowl for something more experimental, try Hunt and Gather at Ward's Island Beach. The multiplatform storytelling event challenges participants to take on the roles of "The Anthropologists" - a group of otherworldly citizens who landed on earth five years ago - and spend the day interacting in character. La Palette will be providing food and drinks.

cravetvThanks to Cravetv for sponsoring this post.

What did I miss? Add your favourite outdoor event this winter to the comments.

With contributions by Liora Ipsum. Photo of The Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival by Jesse Milns.

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