In honour of A’s return from galavanting through the bedrooms of European men the past 3 months, I have decided to provide a Winter Wishlist of all the things she (and you) should do in Toronto this Holiday break. It’s magical to be in the city this time of year, and it’s even more magical to wander the slush- filled sidewalks with a group of your most bellig friends sharing a flask of spiked chocolate mocha. Now, everything listed here can be done sans alcohol, but what are holiday activities without it being acceptable to keep warm via liquor? Do people actually go skating or tobogganing sober? LOL, come on.
There is one particular story that always comes to mind when I think about cold city nights under government funded christmas lights. A girlfriend of mine says her grandparents in Montreal would always keep a mickey of fine liquor with them whenever they drove because it was impossible to keep warm otherwise. I KNOW DRUNK DRIVING IS BAD, MADD is reporting this post as you read. But nevertheless, the image of a suave young couple, bundled up in wool scarves and striped mittens, cold breath clouding their vision, taking a swig from a glass bottle on a cold winter drive home through Old Montreal is actually quite romantic. Of course nowadays we remove the car and take a stroll, but it is something unique to the Canadian winter: an understanding that with weather this freezing, anything is allowed.
And with that, my list begins :
Work out. Dress warm. Stay Warm.
Also side note : Nathan Phillips is pretty and in a valley of concrete, but there are so many less busy skating rinks around the city such as the Ryerson rink or Sherborne gardens. Both are rarely maintained but can be skated on anytime of the night.
Have you checked out Toronto’s new covered skating rink at Greenwood and Dundas? Looks pretty fkn epic to me:
TO Christmas Market
If you haven’t been yet hurry up! The market ends DEC 15 and should not be missed.
Snakes & Lattes (600 Bloor West)
This epic board game cafe is the best place to spend a weeknight or a lazy saturday afternoon. Serving food, drinks and a bevy of teas, you can sit and play boardgames for hours without realizing where the time went. Go early enough to ensure a spot. Even with the new expansion the wait time can get up to 4 hours. Yikes
Other board game cafe options : Roll Play Cafe and Castle Board Game Cafe
Everyone knows how epic the lights and decor are in Yorkville. Take a walk around, stop in at Carole’s cheesecake shop for dessert and drinks, or mosey your way to Morocco for a little high tea action.
Santa Speedo Run in Yorkville
Whatever the f*ck this is. Basically this SATURDAY DECEMBER 14 you can dress up like a pedophile Santa (red speedos) and go for a jog with a bunch of other nuts through Yorkville. Beginning at 1:30 you will depart from Hemmingways on Cumberland st. I will be there laughing and clothed!
SteamWhistle Winter Farmers Market
If you’ve never been to this brewery here is the perfect opportunity to go. Starting Dec. 22 and running every Sunday til Feb Steamwhistle will host a Winter Farmer’s Market from 10am-2pm including cheese, maple syrup, meats and baked goods. BUY LOCAL! Perfect for picking up hostess gifts for the holiday season.
Whiskey Pairing Dinner @ Habits Gastropub
This Thursday December 12 $55 gets you five different whiskeys to taste from around the world and paired with a different tavern- style plate each. This event is hosted by Matt Franck, a whiskey- sipping addict who writes the blog scotchblog.ca. They haven’t released the secret menu yet, but last year dishes included Scotch quail eggs and apple bread pudding with whiskey caramel sauce.
Find A New Coffee Shop
This city is full of hidden coffee shops and cafe’s to hide from the world in for a day or two. My personal fav. is CSI coffeeshop at Bathurst and Bloor, but don’t be shy to explore the city and discover more.
PaintLounge @ College & Ossington
An awesome new concept that combines cafe with painting workshop. Basically you go with your friends, order a drink, buy a canvas and let your creative side go wild. It’s a fun way to get out of the house and waste some time before checking out the awesome restaurants on the Ossington strip. The Saint Tavern is my personal top choice, but there is also Rock Lobster and Dakota Tavern among a variety of others.
This Thursday December 19 they are running their monthly event called Espressions where they bring in a local musician to play while you paint. For $22 you get a solo canvas and two cafe drinks!
Kensington Winter Solstice Parade
On Saturday Dec. 21 in Kensington Market you can participate in the handmade street celebration and lantern display for Winter Solstice. Beginning at 7pm, this entirely local, commercial- free event brings community together to beckon the return of the sun. It would definitely be a cool spectacle to see, and then you can head to Via Mercanti for delicious Italian food before dancing it off at Supermarket. Easy Peasy.
Every Wednesday night the Drake hotel hosts Trivia night. For only $2/ person you and your table can compete in this trivia showdown. The winning table gets an $80 gift card.
Drake Mondays : Beau’s Christmas Beer Party
If you don’t know about The Drake’s 86D Monday yet then you are seriously missing out. Every Monday night in the lounge they host a completely FREE foodie event for anyone to attend. You could be a judge in a food competition, or a mixologist showdown etc etc.
This Monday Dec 16 is Beau’s Christmas Beer Party, a top notch xmas jam including a Canuck- inspired buffet and buckets of Canadian beer all set to the christmas tunes from the residence DJ. It’s ALL free.
Christmas Beer Tasting Party (win!)
This Friday Dec 13th the Gladstone hotel is hosting an awesome christmas party for only $5 a person. Expect an all- night beer tasting, ugly- sweater contest and some killer drunken karaoke. The hotel will feature beer from local breweries including Collective Arts, Flying Monkeys and Hogtown Brewers.
Sushi Making Class @ Wabora (Thompson Hotel)
If you’re like me you dream of making sushi, and right now Groupon is offering Sushi classes at Wabora for $40 instead of the usual $100. This could be really fun if you’re into it.
Go for a festive walk this Winter instead of driving to the restaurant for dinner. There are so many hidden gems around the city, my personal favourite being Philosopher’s walk through U of T. There is also the Toronto Sculpture Garden that has been around since 1981 located right by St. James Cathedral and the best kept secret in the city : Bluffer’s park. You can go down to the beach area, or drive up to the top for an unbelievable view of the sunset.
Local Craft and Art Pop- Up Shops!
Read my previous post “Santa Baby, You’re Just Not Local Enough” for a list of pop-ups in the city and buy local this holiday season!
Make A Soup
One of the most fulfilling things is to make a hearty warm soup on a cold winter day. Find a recipe or just go with the flow. I’ll have a new winter soup recipe up and ready to go within the next few days so keep your eyes peeled.
The Knit Cafe
Another crafty little shop that is part cafe, part knitting workshop, is perfect to go alone or with friends this holiday season. They offer knitting classes for any skill level and every Tuesday night they stay open late for the weekly Stich N’ Bitch night.
December is the perfect time to clear out your closet and give back to your community. Keep an eye out for local toy drives and food collections in your neighbourhood, there are a lot more than you would imagine. Also, if you have some extra cash why not buy a new toy to donate to the CTV’s 18th annual Toy Mountain Toy drive.
Read Lang Leav’s “Love & Misadventures”
Buy this book, Lang Leav is wonderful. A compilation of short but sweet poems and other written things that explore the raw emotion of love, loss and everything in- between.
Okay, I think i’m done. And if none of these suggestions work for you, then just go to MTL.
Happy Holidays Toronto
- Time Flies, You’re The Pilot (thetorontonian.ca)
- The Winter Solstice is nearing… (sageofwellness.wordpress.com)
- The question all single girls are asking themselves at this time of year… (twdchallenge.wordpress.com)
- Things to do in London at Christmas (balancelondon.sacoapartments.com)
- Magic Monday ~ Holiday season in Toronto (donzwebb.wordpress.com)
- Our Christmas party! (crownprimarysixblog.wordpress.com)
- To all the Rudolphs around… (eltlearningjourneys.com)