activities winter Toronto

50 things to do this winter in Toronto

50 things to do this winter in Toronto

Things to do in Toronto this winter are here to help you combat the winter blues with light therapy, art, music, beer and a trip to the spa. There's no shortage of activities and events happening all over the city to get you excited and lift your spirits during those cold, grey days.

Here's some things worth bundling up and heading out for in Toronto this winter.

New This Year

Light Therapy

The winter blues are real and Swedish artist Apolonija Šušteršič is here to save us with her Light Therapy exhibit at the new MOCA on from now until February 10. The bright lights are meant to simulate natural light, boost moods and combat seasonal depression.

See Sting on the big stage

Post-Police, post-solo Sting is venturing into theatre with The Last Ship and bringing the production here from February 9 to March 24 where he'll appear in the opening show. The play tells the story of a small shipping town undergoing major change with original music by Sting. 

activities winter toronto

Artist Ai Weiwei is bringing his ceramic works to the Gardiner this year, including Sunflower Seeds made up of thousands of hand painted seeds. Image courtesy of The Tate.

Impressionism in the Age of Industry

Monet, Degas and Pissarro are just some of the masters whose works are arriving to the Art Gallery of Ontario from February 16 to May 5. The specially curated series explores how the artists responded to the changing industrial landscape in Europe.

Ai Weiwei at the Gardiner Museum

One of the world's most renowned and controversial artists is bringing his Unbroken exhibition to Toronto from February 28 to June 9. The exhibition centres on Weiwei's ceramic works that speak to human rights and includes a massive patchwork of handmade sunflower seeds.

Winter Favourites

Ice Breakers

Back again is this international design competition that places installations all along the downtown waterfront. Expect things like a giant ball of cables, wooden bouys and other interesting works beginning on January 19.

Winter Light Festival

In the gloom and doom of winter, there comes a light by way of the annual Toronto Light Festival in the Distillery District from January 28 to March 3. Tour through a maze of large-scale installations by local and international artists meant to warm the senses and raise the spirits.

Icefest

A true celebration of the season, Icefest returns to Bloor-Yorkville Village for a weekend of ice-related festivities on from February 9 to 10 and over 70,000 pounds of ice up for the carving. There's also food and warm drinks, all in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Winter Stations

Back again is this series of larger-than-life art installations peppered across the Beaches from February 18 to April 1. This year's theme is 'migration' and will include a cluster of butterflies, staircase to nowhere and other structures that speak to human movement.

activities winter toronto

The Toronto Winter Light Festival is back and spread throughout the Distillery District. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Marquee Events

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

On display from now until March 31, the ROM will be home to images of some of the most exotic creatures from nearly every continent. Lions, tigers and bears all are captured at their most majestic by photographers of all skill levels from all over the world. 

What's in the Box

Five days of music is on at The Drake. While The Drake always has music, this mini-music festival includes local bands coming together to practice, Yes Yes Ya'll, The Warhol Kids and more for only $5 a pop or $20 for the whole week from December 26 to 30.

New Year's Eve at Nathan Phillips Square

Ring in the new year at this massive outdoor celebration outside on December 31. Thousands are gathering for performances and a big fireworks showcase—free of charge. There's tons of other places to countdown to midnight, as well.

Polar Bear Dip

Get ready to feel the cold like you never have before as the annual Polar Bear Dip returns to Sunnyside Beach on January 1 for a wintertime dip in the lake to welcome the new year. It's all for a good cause with proceeds going to the Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre.

Long Winter

Now in its 7th year, this annual music, art and performance series brings together the best of the city's underground and local scene for a monthly instalment at different spots around the city. The next one is January 4!

Class of 2019

Music always serves as good motivation to get out and about during winter and one way to do that is at this year's Class of 2019 concert series happening from January 4 to 26. New and up and coming musicians are playing at spots all over and in cities across the country.

Next Stage Festival

The future of theatre is unfolding from January 9 to 20 as Fringe hosts a collection of twelve new and independent productions at The Factory Theatre. Look forward to award-winning playwrights and performances centred on important stories this winter in Toronto.

activities winter toronto

Hundreds are gathering to take a dip in the freezing lake this winter. Photo by Christian Bobak.

No Pants Subway Ride

Take 'em off and hop on the TTC on January 13 as participants gather to ride the subway pantless. Part of Improv Everywhere's annual tradition, the Toronto event takes place alongside no pants subway rides all over the world.

Come Up to My Room

As if the rooms in The Gladstone weren't interesting enough, the boutique hotel is hosting a four-day art exhibition that invites artists to create interactive installations throughout the space from January 17 to 20. There's also a big party to celebrate all things art and design.

Interior Design Show

The latest in interior design takes centre stage from January 17 to 20. Industry heavyweights are dropping by to chat, including Questlove, whose coming to talk about his new venture CREATIVE HOUSE while works by local and international designers will be on display.

DesignTO

Design and art come together for this big, city-wide design festival on from January 18 to 27. Unique installations, exhibitions and special programming are part of engaging patrons in the world of design and turning the city into a cultural hub for design innovation.

Women's March

It's been quite a year for women and the changing way we talk about equality and treatment, but there's a long way to go. The Women's March is happening on January 19 to remind us that, while we've come pretty far, there's still a lot of work to do. 

Burdock Piano Fest

The ivory is about to get tickled as the Burdock Piano Fest returns from January 21 to 28. Musicians from all over with different styles and backgrounds are set to fill Burdock's music hall with piano-centred performances over eight nights. 

activities winter toronto

The Artist Project returns with hundreds of works by local and international artists. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Progress Festival

Ge your fill of theatre this winter as the Progress Festival returns from January 30 to February 17. The festival centres on works that challenge, engage, generate discussion and push the envelope of audience members through innovative stories and nuanced staging. 

Black History Month

February marks a month of celebrations, education and refection on the contributions and history of Black Canadians across the country. The Toronto Black Film Festival, art showcase, kick-off brunch, programs, classes, special events and more are on throughout the month.

Rhubarb Festival

It's a special year for this annual theatre festival as it celebrates 40 years of showcasing up-and-coming queer talent and stories. The festival is on from February 13 to 23 with ten days of performances, song, dance, parties, talks and plenty of surprises.

Next Wave Film Festival

The young filmmakers of tomorrow have been hard at work to bring their visions to life for this film festival on from February 15 to 17. Viewers can get a glimpse of issues that matter to the next generation being screened amidst parties, performances and more.

Canadian International Auto Show

Sleek, shiny, fast and furious cars from all over the world are arriving in Toronto from February  15 to 24. Included are exhibitions, talks and guests, all while car enthusiasts talk shop about the latest innovations in vehicles and the classics that never go out of style.

Artist Project

Over 300 artists are packing into the The Better Living Centre from February 21 to 24 as this huge annual art fair returns. Art battles, chats, competitions, exhibitions and lots more all are part of the festivities that show off the work of emerging and established artists.

Winterfolk

Spots all over the city are set to fill up with the warm sounds of summer this winter as Winterfolk returns with folk, urban roots and blues performances by local and regional musicians during a weekend of music from February 22 to 24. 

Celebrate Toronto

One again Nathan Phillips Square is turning into one big party zone from March 9 to 10 where there will be skating, food trucks, music, performances and a market place to celebrate the city's 185th birthday.

Comicon

Grab your gear and head over to this huge, three-day fan convention from March 15 to 17 that includes exhibitions, workshops, presentations and lots and lots of cosplay. Details have yet to to be announced but one can expect the usual throng of celebrity appearances.

Food and Drink

Winterlicious

Once again, hundreds of restaurants across the city will be taking part in this culinary experience on from January 25 to February 7. Spots all over will be offering new items, fixe prix specials, tasting menus, drinks and beautifully plated wonders to bring you out of the winter blues.

Winter Craft Beer Festival

Roundhouse Park is set to turn into the downtown equivalent of an Alpine Ski lodge on January 26 for a full day of brewskis, games, tunes, food and lots of outdoor fun. Dress code of multi-coloured ski gear in full effect!

Toronto Tea Festival

Winter is tea season and this big festival dedicated to all things tea is on from February 1 to 3. Vendors, exhibitions, workshops, demos, shopping, tasting and lots more are all on, centring around local blends and tea from all over the world.

Lady Beer Fest Winter Warm Up

Local and regional craft brewers are gathering as the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies hosts its annual Winter Warm Up on February 9. Two inflatable igloos will be host to two different parties while women food vendors serve up the goods alongside a women's artisan market.

activities winter toronto

Roundhouse Park will once again host a huge craft beer festival this winter. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Winter Brewfest

Brews and lots of them are on at this annual beer festival from March 1 to 2. Brewers from across the province and as far as Quebec are gathering for a weekend of suds with local food trucks on hand to serve up the bites.

Sugar Shack

Sweet tooths, rejoice! The Sugar Shack is back for the fourth year of sugary goodies and maple syrup infused treats on March 10 and 11. Ice sculptures, entertainment, food, drinks, music and a marketplace will be on-site as well for a weekend of fun.

Sample the beer at Toronto's newest tap rooms

Anytime is beer time, but especially during winter. Warm up with a brew at any of the city's newest brewpubs, including High Park Brewery (home of the High Park Zoo Beer), Von Bugle and Black Lab (home to friends of cute dogs). 

Indoor Activities 

Catch a flick at the Cinesphere

Ontario Place is ready for winter with a season of festivities on. Nearby, the Cinesphere is welcoming the warmth with a series of screenings that includes Interstellar, The Sound of MusicWizard of Oz, Black PantherThe Greatest ShowmanPurple Rain and lots more.

Check out Toronto's huge new indoor obstacle course

After an unexpected closure, Pursuit OCR has reopened its new, 30,000-square-foot facility, making it the largest indoor obstacle course in Canada. There's ball pits, jungle gyms and lots more to get you all warmed up anytime during the cold winter months.

Get lost in the new Museum of Illusions

There's no better way to spend a winter's day than getting tripped out the city's new, permanent museum dedicated to all things weird shapes, wild designs and mind-bending optics. It's just steps from St. Lawrence Market, so why not make a day out of it?

activities winter toronto

The country's largest indoor obstacle course is now open at its new location just in time for winter. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Visit Toronto's first panoramic movie theatre

Movie watching will never be the same after a visit to the city's first panoramic movie theatre. The ScreenX pilot immerses viewers in the film by surrounding them with three, huge screens. Check it out at the Cineplex on The Queensway while it's tested out throughout 2019.

Outdoor Activities

Skate outdoors

A true north tradition, there's no shortage of skating rinks to help you make the most of winter. Nathan Phillips Square is always a favouriteThe Bentway is back, Natrel Rink is once again hosting DJ Skate Nights and Ontario Place's rink is always full of action.

Go tobogganing 

Nothing says winter in Canada like a good day spent on the hills around the city. Getting thrown off your sled, tube, plastic carpet or piece of cardboard and going home wet, cold and waking up sore the next day is all part of the fun.

Hike the great outdoors

Cabin fever in winter is real and the best way to combat is by taking it on. One way to do that is to go on a hike through any of the city's winter trails. High Park, the Leslie Street Spit and The Beltline are all accessible in winter and great for getting out and about.

Out of town

Scale a wall of ice

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to climb a frozen waterfall, that could be something to do this winter. It's not for the faint of heart, so if you're up for a real winter adventure, there's a giant gorge just outside of Toronto that doubles as a huge, climbable ice sheet.

Strap on some skies

You don't have to visit the Swiss Alps to get into skiing this winter. The area in and around Toronto is home to many ski hills and clubs that welcome all types of skiing styles and levels, including cross country, back country and downhill.

Skate through a forest

Fun awaits just outside of the city at Arrowhead Provincial Park where its epic skating trail is sometimes lit up with torches at night. The one-kilometre long skating trail takes you through a forest of greenery. There's also heated cabins scattered around to warm you up.

Get cozy at a winter campsite or yurt

The cold shouldn't stop you from getting out there and any one of many campsites outside of the city are ready to welcome weary adventures into their cozy embrace. The heated cabins and yurts situated around many of the provincial parks make for a toasty getaway. 

activities winter Toronto

Skiing is always a favourite winter activity, in and outside of the city. Image courtesy of Ontario Parks.

Snow tube down a hill

There's nothing like speeding down a snowy hilltop on an inflatable tube to get the blood flowing during the winter months. All around the city are hills perfect for just that that accommodate all levels of thrill-seekers throughout the winter months.

Warm up at a spa

Winter is undoubtedly the best time to book a spa getaway. Warm steam, running waterfalls, massages, facials and salt water baths are just some of the amenities offered at the many spas outside of the city. The trip alone might help to get you out of any winter funk.


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