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Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade goes virtual for second year in a row

Santa Claus will be arriving in Toronto through your television screens for his annual parade this year — the second time he’s made a virtual appearance since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

With more details set to be released Nov. 2, Torontonians can rest assured Santa Claus is still coming to town for his 117th parade, CEO Clay Charters has confirmed to the Star, noting viewers can tune in on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. on CTV or CTV2.

Several factors hindered the decision to host the parade virtually including a significant portion of the audience (children under 12) remaining unvaccinated, and the inability to mandate the vaccine passport system during a public event that typically attracts more than a million people.

Although watching the parade will have to be done through a screen, many other iconic winter events are gearing up to bring back festive cheer to the city in person for the first time since the pandemic began.

From watching the Nutcracker at the ballet, to visiting Santa at the mall for a photo, the Star has curated a list of Toronto’s major holiday events and how they will run this year:

One Of A Kind Show

Where: Enercare Centre

When: Nov. 25 — Dec. 5

The One of A Kind Show will be back this year for guests to experience some of Canada’s most crafty makers in person. The 11-day event is a great way to get in touch with the holiday spirit and support more than 400 small creators during the winter season.

Proof of vaccination and mandatory masking will be required for entry into the show. There will also be contactless ticketing, timed entry and enhanced sanitization to ensure the safety of guests, vendors and staff.

The Distillery Winter Village

Where: The Distillery District

When: Nov. 18 — Dec. 31

A new name isn’t the only thing The Distillery Winter Village will be bringing to the city this year. The market promises unique and special programming while still allowing residents to get the “picture-perfect holiday experience” and explore the rich history of the Distillery District.

The event will kick off with the tree lighting ceremony and draw to a close with a family New Year’s event and countdown. Guests will also be able to browse through local shops, restaurants and a special selection of local craftspeople.

For those who plan on attending the market on a weekend or a Friday evening, tickets will need to be purchased online — otherwise, it’s free to get in.

The Nutcracker

Where: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

When: Dec. 10 — Dec. 31

One of the largest and most elaborate productions in the National Ballet’s repertoire is returning to the stage this winter for live performances.

The production is set to feature James Kudelka’s holiday staple version of the show but some changes have been implemented to ensure safety. All children’s roles will be performed by students of Canada’s National Ballet School and there will be no external performers. The role of the Cannon Dolls will also not be performed by celebrity guests this year.

Audience members over the age of 12 must be vaccinated to see the production and all other children must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test or negative PCR test to attend. The price of tickets for those under 12 will be discounted to cover the price of a test.

Swedish Christmas Fair

Where: Virtual

When: Order online before Nov. 15

Toronto’s Swedish Christmas Fair, presented by SWEA, has gone online this year for patrons to shop virtually through hundreds of Swedish food and design products like caviar, herring, chocolate, Swedish Christmas ham, straw goats, decorations, designer accessories and more.

Not only can guests visit the fair’s website to place an order before mid-November, they can also find Swedish recipes, information on Swedish culture and videos featuring the Toronto Swedish Folkdancers and Singers.

Orders can be picked up curbside in Toronto Nov. 20-21. The annual fair, which first started in 1982, hopes to be back next year in person but also plans to keep some features online to provide a hybrid, a spokesperson said.

Mall Santa

Where: Various malls

Yorkdale, Scarborough Town Centre and Square One shopping centres have confirmed they will be offering a Santa experience at the mall this holiday season. Santas and his elves will be fully vaccinated and practicing social distancing.

Guests must wear a mask for their photo and must complete a COVID-19 screening upon check-in.

Cadillac Fairview, the mall operator running Toronto’s Eaton Centre, Fairview Mall, Don Mills and Sherway Gardens, says they will offer shoppers both in-person and virtual options for visiting with Santa. Full details have yet to be released but are expected soon on their website.

Seasons Christmas Show

Where: International Centre in Mississauga

When: Nov. 12 — Nov. 14

Back for its first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic, the Seasons Christmas Show will feature its signature Makeful Market where guests can shop for fine art, ceramics, jewelry and more. Live presentations and holiday craft workshops will also take place during the three-day event.

This year, buying a ticket doesn’t just admit patrons to all the festivities the show has to offer, it will also give them access to the Fall Cottage Life Show. Proof-of-vaccination and mandatory masking will be required and there will also be timed entry for guests, to space out crowds.

Ross Petty’s Holiday Musical

Where: Virtual

When: Dec. 18 — Dec. 19

For a second year in a row, Ross Petty is bringing musical lovers a virtual production this holiday season where viewers can choose their own adventure in the brand new performance of Alice in Winterland.

Although the “Panto” will not be performed at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre like it has 24 times previously, the festive favourite will allow families to decide if Alice will follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole, get invited to the Mad Hatter’s tea party or learn the latest TikTok dance.

Tickets are $35 per household and will allow for the production to be streamed over the weekend before Christmas.

Wreath Making Workshop

Where: Old Mill Toronto Restaurant

When: Nov. 27 and Nov. 28

Enjoy a hot cup of apple cider (spiked or unspiked) and create your own traditional wreath to take home and hang up this holiday season.

Hosted by Danielle Pagura, tickets are available online and cost $100 plus tax in order to provide the greens, tools and accessories needed to create a festive wreath. Snacks like pastries and cookies will also be included and all wreath makers must be fully vaccinated to get in.

Drive Thru Fun Co. presents Snow Magic

Where: Ontario Place

When: Nov. 12 to Jan. 16

This is an event that will allow families to stay safe and warm in their vehicles while they drive through 1.7 kilometres of mystical fun.

During the experience, guests will see pyrotechnics, navigate through a “blizzard,” and view 18 themed art installations including an enchanted forest, mythical creatures and the snow moon. Radios can be tuned to 89.9 FM during the drive-thru to listen along to music.

Tickets are $65 per vehicle during peak demand times and $45 dollars when off-peak.

The Tenors

Where: Massey Hall

When: Dec. 22 and Dec. 23

The Tenors, a Juno Award-winning and multi-platinum vocal group, will be returning to the stage with their Santa’s Wish tour for two nights in the city this December.

The group, consisting of Victor Micallef, Fraser Walters and Clifton Murray, will perform holiday hits in the newly renovated Massey Hall alongside opening act Canada’s Tyler Shaw. Shaw and The Tenors have also released a holiday single together, “O Holy Night.”

Proof-of-vaccination will be required at the shows and tickets can be purchased online.

Annual Toronto Polar Bear Dip

Where: Sunnyside Beach

When: Jan. 1 at noon

Spend your New Year’s Day taking an icy dip into Lake Ontario with the Toronto Polar Bear Club in support of Toronto charity, Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre.

Although the logistics are still being determined, the dip is likely to take place in stages to help maintain social distancing.

Co-founder Keith Jolie said being able to hold the event, which has run since 2006, is a “light at the end of the tunnel” this holiday season.




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