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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Toronto getaway is ideal at this time of year

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 6/14

    (c) By Jim Fox

   As the weather cools, the action heats up in the big city, making Toronto an ideal getaway.
   “Escape to Toronto,” suggests Vanessa Somarriba of Tourism Toronto.
   “From a booming food scene to top-notch shopping and premium entertainment – all with the back drop of a winter wonderland – Toronto is filled with outdoor skating rinks, festive window displays and sparkling lights,” she said.
The Distillery District hosts the Toronto Christmas Market in old European tradition. (Barbara Fox photo)
   Bright lights
   Seasonal activities include the just-launched “official start” of the holidays with the 48th annual Cavalcade of Lights.
   The centrepiece is the Christmas tree with 525,000 twinkling lights as skaters glide by on the rink at Nathan Phillips Square outside city hall. toronto.ca/cavalcade
   Over at the Distillery District, the “romance and magic of a traditional Christmas” happens through Dec. 21 at the Christmas Market.
   Inspired by the Old World, this free annual event captures the tradition, heritage and charm of a European Christmas market.
   It showcases locally handcrafted products while family friendly entertainment includes musicians, carollers and children's choirs. torontochristmasmarket.com

   Ho, ho, ho
   If you missed Santa’s big Toronto parade, he makes a repeat performance in the west-end Junction neighbourhood on Sunday (Dec. 7) at 11 a.m.

   Toronto’s “official” Christmas tree outside city hall took two weeks to decorate. (Barbara Fox photo)
   “Santa and Winter Market” includes a day of Christmas-themed activities and shopping, with indoor and outdoor markets, craft sales and original buying experiences.
   Santa and his elves are at the Junction train platform, Mrs. Claus reads holiday tales and the street-wide market spans Dundas Street West from Indian Grove to Quebec Avenue. thejunctionbia.ca
   Casa Loma is marking 100 Years of Christmas and children can visit Santa in his workshop.
   There are theatrical performances of the Snow Queen, a giant scavenger hunt for holiday characters hidden throughout the castle, wintry arts and crafts, 10 designer-decorated Christmas trees and sing-alongs with carollers. casaloma.org
   Pop-up shopping for clothing, jewelry, food, cards and gift-ready goods is under a heated tent at Yonge and Dundas streets and dubbed #localTOmrkt.
   This has local designers and artisans showcasing their wares until Dec. 24. adhocpopup.com/holidaymarket
   The One of a Kind Show & Sale continues through Sunday (Dec. 7) at the Direct Energy Centre for shopping from makers, artisans and designers from across Canada. oneofakindshow.com
   Check out the new Stingray Experience at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in downtown Toronto.
   The county’s largest indoor aquarium has a huge underwater viewing tunnel and holds more than 5.7-million litres of water. ripleyaquariums.com/canada
   The Toronto Zoo has the newly opened Tundra Trek exhibit along with giant pandas, polar bears, lions, tigers and bears. torontozoo.com
The holiday window displays at the Hudson’s Bay Co. in downtown Toronto attract crowds. (Jim Fox photos)
   Another great place to skate is Harbourfront Centre that has a jam-packed winter season of arts, culture and recreational programs.
   The Natrel Rink has free skating along the Lake Ontario shoreline while there are Saturday night dance parties on ice. harbourfrontcentre.com 
   Family passes at the sky-high CN Tower provide access to the LookOut Level, Glass Floor and outdoor SkyTerrace. There’s 360 The Restaurant for lunch or dinner with seasonal menus and a gently revolving view overlooking the city. cntower.ca
   The Toronto CityPass provides admission to five top attractions. citypass.com/toronto
   For more information about events, including live theatre, or to book a getaway: escapetotoronto.com; 1-800-499-2514
Skaters enjoy the ice rink in Nathan Phillips Square outside Toronto’s city hall, across from the Sheraton Centre Toronto hotel. (Jim Fox photo)
   Hotel deals
   The Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel has the Spirit of the Season special from $139 a night.
   Available through Dec. 30, $10 from each room night will be donated to the Daily Bread Food Bank. The rate is good for up to four people staying in the same room. 1-866-716-8101; sheraton.com/tospecials
   The Sheraton and Westin Harbour Castle offer the “Take the Elevator Home” package from $139 a night for Friday and Saturday stays through Dec. 28. 1-866-716-8101; sheratontoronto.com/holiday or westintoronto.com/holiday
   The Harbour Castle also has a Hockey Hall of Fame package and the Family Getaway with breakfast and valet parking.
   For shoppers, there’s a special at the Aloft hotel by the Vaughan Mills shopping centre.
   The Holiday Shopping Spree available through Dec. 30 has rates from $130 a night and includes a $20 Vaughan Mills gift card, breakfast buffet, two cocktails and free parking. 1-866-716-8143l; aloftvaughanmills.com


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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