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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ho, ho, ho Santa comes to town; Cavalcade of Lights, holiday fun in Toronto

   One-Tank Trip for Nov. 12-16
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Santa Claus is coming to town, twinkling lights will shine brightly and Toronto’s Distillery District will uncork the upcoming “festive” season.
Santa Parade route map

   The jolly gent in the red suit makes a grand entrance at the 112th annual Toronto Santa Claus Parade on Nov. 20.
   The procession of some 25 themed animated floats leaves Christie Pits park at 750 Bloor St. W. at 12:30 p.m. led by 200 “Celebrity Clowns” and about 2,000 costumed participants joining in.
    It heads along Bloor Street and makes a right onto Avenue Road, turns left onto Wellington/Front streets and ends up at the St. Lawrence Market.
   There’s quite a history as Eaton’s in 1913 arranged for Santa to be pulled by live reindeer brought in from Labrador, with singing and dancing children joining the march.
   Children dropped letters to Santa into baskets and each received a personal response. www.thesantaclausparade.com; (416) 249-7833

   Lighten up
   Cavalcade of Lights is Toronto’s official kick-off for the holiday season.
   This 50th annual celebration happens Nov. 26 from 7 p.m. in Nathan Phillips Square outside city hall.
Toronto’s “official” Christmas tree in Nathan Phillips Square will light up on Nov. 26. (Barbara Fox photo)
   The holiday tradition features the illumination of the city’s Christmas tree, fireworks (at 8:40 p.m.), ice-skating party and performances by Canada’s “top musical talent,” including Whitehorse. www1.toronto.ca; (416) 338-0889
   View the elaborate holiday window displays at Hudson’s Bay Co. at Queen and Yonge and Holt Renfrew at Bay and Bloor.
The holiday window displays at the Hudson’s Bay Co. in downtown Toronto attract crowds. (Jim Fox photo)
   Marking the “celebration of the romance and magic of traditional Christmas” is the historic Distillery District.
   Its Christmas Market captures the charm of an early European one, with a huge decorated tree and an appearance by Santa.
   From Nov. 18 to Dec. 22, the market on Mill Street is packed with handcrafted products along with 350 musical and stage performances, carollers and children’s choirs.
The Distillery District hosts the Toronto Christmas Market recreating the old European tradition. (Barbara Fox photo)
   There are numerous cafes and bars as well as specialty beer and mulled wine gardens heated by roaring wood fires in outside pits.
   The market has become so popular, there’s a $6 admission fee on weekends from 5 p.m. Friday, while it is free on weekdays.
   Fast Passes are available for $20 allowing ticketholders to skip the lineups.
   While the market is closed Mondays, the district’s shops and restaurants are open.

   Winter wonderlands
   Illuminite kicks off Nov. 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Yonge-Dundas Square.
   There’s a holiday lighting ceremony, transforming the neighbourhood into a “winter playground.”
   Events include KidzFest on Nov. 26 when children’s characters come to life and great photo ops with the huge “sculptural light tree,” 3-D polar bears, sleigh and reindeer, and displays above Yonge Street.
   The square’s first Toronto Christmas Festival from Dec. 9 to 18 has live music, shopping, sleigh ride with Santa and laser light shows.
Skaters enjoy the ice rink in Nathan Phillips Square outside Toronto’s city hall. (Jim Fox photo)
   Bloor-Yorkville transforms into a “magical holiday wonderland” Nov. 19 and through December at Holiday Magic, including Shawn Desman performing.
bloor-yorkville.com/holiday_magic; (416) 928-3533, ext. 24
   Shop ‘til you drop at the One of a Kind Show & Sale for all things homemade by Canadian artisans and designers, Nov. 24 to Dec. 4 at the Enercare Centre. oneofakindshow.com/toronto;
(416) 263-3202

   If you stay
   There’s a “great festive season rate offer” at the Sheraton Centre Toronto that includes a “giving back component,” says Cynthia Bond of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Canada.
Sheraton Centre Toronto
   The hotel, across from Nathan Phillips Square, recently completed a $120-million renovation and is helping out the Daily Bread Food Bank.
   From Dec. 2 to 30, a donation of $20 will be given to the bank for every guestroom booked, with rates from $149.
   The package can booked online at sheraton.com/tospecials; 1-866-716-8101.
   The Westin Harbour Castle has an exclusive package as the Christmas Market partner hotel from Nov. 18 to Dec. 22.
   Rates from $249 a night include deluxe accommodation and a choice of free valet parking or breakfast for two in the Mizzen restaurant.
Westin Harbour Castle
   Along with two market hot chocolate vouchers, guests staying on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday will get two VIP Fast Passes. westinharbourcastletoronto.com/toronto-christmas-market;1-866-716-8101 Tourism Toronto: seetorontonow.com


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

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