You can’t get more festive than strolling through a snow-dusted collection of street stalls all decked out with twinkle lights and filled with pretty packaged goodies, artisan chocolates, handcrafted wooden toys and brightly painted Christmas ornaments. Add the aroma of roasting nuts, grilling Bratwurst and the steaming mulled wine in your hand, and you won’t want the season to end. Here are some of Canada’s most charming and delightful holiday markets.
If lavish is what you’re seeking, it has to be Toronto’s Christmas Market in the brick and cobblestone Distillery Historic District. Set among vintage Victorians, chic cafés, edgy galleries and boho boutiques, this European celebration includes caroling, beer gardens, outdoor firepits, a traditional market, Ferris Wheel, St. Nick on a white horse and a 50-ft tree.
Saskatchewan does Christmas with old-fashioned flair. Expect folksy and unpretentious gatherings: the huge expo-style Sundog Arts & Entertainment Faire, with anything from textiles to cutlery to clothes, and Winter Wonders Handmade Market for high-quality originals, both in Saskatoon; and Dickens Village Festival in Carlyle for theater, caroling and carriage rides.
Experience the charm of a quaint European village at the indoor-outdoor Jacques-Cartier Region Christmas Market all tinseled and illuminated for the holidays. On hand are international Christmastime customs and handcrafts displayed by artisans and farmers in a festive Quebecois setting.
In Nunavut, where 85 percent of residents are Inuit, the holidays are about community and culture. Peruse local craft markets for hand-hewn antler earrings and soap stone carvings. Watch Inuit dancing and singing at community gatherings, where elders recount legends and youth play traditional Inuit games, and feast on “country food”— traditional fare from the land.
The Saturday morning Fredericton Boyce Farmers’ Market has been going strong for 60 years, consistently ranked a top Canadian locavore hot spot. Pick up some gourmet cheese, bread and confections from 250 vendors, meet the growers, and then shop the December Christmas craft show for ceramics, jewelry and handmade gifts.
The Halifax waterfront is the place to be in Nova Scotia. Shop the lively Halifax Lights Holiday Market and enjoy concerts, pop-up eateries and boutiques, and a performance of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” at the Eastern Front Theatre. An institution since 1750, the farmers’ market houses 250 vendors in a two-storey warehouse.