City of Toronto’s services, programs and attractions during the holiday period

The City of Toronto’s services, operations and municipal offices will be open most weekdays in late December but closed for the holidays December 25 and 26 and on January 1 (New Year’s Day). That also applies to the City’s community centres, arenas, child-care centres and museums as well as the City Archives. The archives will also be closed Saturday, December 28. Services that regularly operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week such as 311 Toronto and frontline emergency services will be available every day.

Toronto residents and visitors will be able to take advantage of many City programs and attractions offered during the holiday season, from outdoor winter recreational activities to indoor seasonal traditions. First up is tomorrow’s annual Christmas concert at City Hall.

City Hall’s Christmas concert

The City’s annual Christmas Concert will be held tomorrow (December 20) from noon to 1 p.m. in the rotunda of Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W. The public can join Mayor John Tory and councillors for one of the City’s longest-running festive traditions. The concert, which has taken place every year since City Hall opened in 1965, will feature seasonal performances, a reading by Toronto Poet Laureate A.F. Moritz and an appearance by Santa Claus. Seating is limited. A secondary viewing area will be available in the Council Chamber via live video feed. More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/christmasconcert.

Winter recreation – skiing, tobogganing, skating

The City welcomes winter, a time when Torontonians and visitors can lace up skates, toboggan at 28 local hills, ski (alpine and cross-country) or simply visit a warming station along King Street. Nathan Phillips Square is hosting free, drop-in skate programming with DJ skate nights and free instruction.

Details about skating on outdoor rinks and indoor arenas, tobogganing and skiing/snowboarding (with the season starting January 1 for the City’s two ski/snowboard centres) are available at https://www.toronto.ca/welcome-to-winter/.

Indoor recreation

The City offers a variety of fitness classes and other drop-in recreation programming over the holidays. Community recreation centres will be open until 4 p.m. on December 24 and 31 (closed on December 25 and 26 and January 1). Some facilities may be closed during the holiday period for annual maintenance. More information and schedules are available at http://www.toronto.ca/rec or by calling 311.

Drop-in swim programs are available at pools across Toronto this holiday season. City indoor pools will offer family-friendly leisure swims and fitness swims. Schedules vary by location and are available at http://www.toronto.ca/swim.

Attractions

The City’s Riverdale Farm and High Park Zoo are great family attractions for free holiday visits. Riverdale Farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The High Park Zoo is open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk. More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/parks/zoo.

The City’s two conservatories feature thousands of colourful blooms, vines and lush plants from around the world. The shows at Centennial Park Conservatory and Allan Gardens Conservatory run until January 9. More information: http://www.toronto.ca/conservatories/

Rink at Union Station

A new skating rink on Front Street outside Union Station is open for free skating daily until January 4. Hours are Sunday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (weather permitting). Free skate and helmet rentals are an option, compliments of Union Station and TD, and free skating lessons are offered at noon and 4 p.m. daily. More details: https://torontounion.ca/tdunionholiday/

Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. throughout the holiday season except December 25. The zoo’s animals will participate in their own seasonal enrichment celebration from December 26 to January 5. The zoo is offering guests 50 per cent off regular zoo admission on Boxing Day. The Terra Lumina winter night walk series is underway too. The zoo’s Facebook and Twitter handle is @TheTorontoZoo and the web address is http://www.torontozoo.com.

New Year’s Eve at Nathan Phillips Square

Ringing in the new year at Nathan Phillips Square will start at 9 p.m. on December 31. This annual downtown celebration takes place against the backdrop of Toronto’s official Christmas tree and lights. This year’s musical performances will feature Zaki Ibrahim and Cris Derksen, and the evening will include a skating party sponsored by Tim Hortons®,  with DJ Nana Zen. Fireworks at midnight will help attendees usher in 2020. More details: http://www.toronto.ca/newyearseve

Toronto history museums

The City’s History Museums are offering holiday-themed events and tours for families and adults. Most of the museums are open daily except Mondays. All the museums will be closed on December 25 and 26 as well as January 1. Times and participant age details for activities vary by date and location. More information is available at https://www.toronto.ca/holiday. (Click on “Tours & Experiences” for museum programming listed chronologically.)

Below is a list of the museums and their locations:

  • Colborne Lodge (11 Colborne Lodge Dr. at the south end of High Park)
  • Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York Blvd.)
  • Gibson House Museum (5172 Yonge St., North York)
  • Mackenzie House (82 Bond St., downtown)
  • Market Gallery (St. Lawrence Market, second floor at 95 Front St. E.)
  • Montgomery’s Inn (4709 Dundas St. W., Etobicoke)
  • Scarborough Museum (1007 Brimley Rd., Scarborough)
  • Spadina Museum (285 Spadina Rd.)
  • Todmorden Mills Heritage Site (67 Pottery Rd., east side of Don Valley Parkway)

St. Lawrence Market

The St. Lawrence Market complex has modified hours over the winter holiday season, including extended Sunday and Monday hours for the South Market (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) on December 22, 23, 24, 30 and 31. The South Market will be closed December 25 and 26 as well as January 1 and 2. Regular hours of operation will be in effect all other days this month and in January.

The South Market, with its 64 merchants, is open five days a week year-round. During the holiday season, the St. Lawrence Market also offers various paid classes and free drop-in cooking demonstrations and seminars on holiday meal ideas. The St. Lawrence Market’s Saturday farmers market and Sunday antique market operate year-round in the temporary market at 125 the Esplanade. Both markets will be open during the winter holiday season. The Saturday farmers market will be open from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 21 and 28. The Sunday antique market will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 22 and 29.

More information about the St. Lawrence Market complex’s holiday hours and holiday-themed activities is available at http://www.stlawrencemarket.com.

Public transit

TTC service will be running on a modified service schedule on several days during the holiday season. Customers are encouraged to visit http://www.ttc.ca for more information. The TTC will also be providing free, extended New Year’s Eve service from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. on January 1, courtesy of Corby Spirit and Wine. New Year’s Eve subway times are available at http://www.ttc.ca.

GO Transit trains and buses and UP Express (Union Station/Pearson Airport train) will offer free service on New Year’s Eve after 7 p.m. Customers can board without tapping their Presto card or buying a ticket. As well, GO will ring in the New Year with additional late-night train service on the Lakeshore West, Lakeshore East, Barrie, Milton, Kitchener and Stouffville lines. Schedules: https://www.gotransit.com/en/travelling-with-us/promotions-and-events/new-years-eve

Garbage and bins collection

There will be no garbage, blue bin or green bin collection on December 25 or January 1. Those who receive Wednesday daytime or night collection will receive collection on Thursday. Thursday daytime and night collection will be shifted to Friday. Friday daytime and night collection will be shifted to Saturday. Night collection will begin earlier than usual on December 24 and 31, so material should be placed out no later than 5 p.m. on those days.

All transfer stations and depots for residential drop-off of garbage, yard waste, recyclables, household hazardous waste and electronics will be closed on December 25 and January 1. The City will not book any Toxic Taxi appointments from December 25 to 27, 31 or January 1. Regular service will resume on January 2. More information: https://www.toronto.ca/holiday-impacts/

Winter road operations

The City’s snow/ice-clearing services will continue as usual during the holidays as needed. Salt trucks will be sent out as soon as snow begins to accumulate. Road plows go to expressways, major roads and transit routes first (between 2.5 to 5 cm of accumulation) and plowing on neighbourhood roads begins when the snow stops falling and if there is at least eight centimetres of accumulation on the road.

Residents and business owners are reminded to clear the snow and ice from the sidewalk near their property, and to wait until crews have had a chance to clear the snow (up to 16 hours after the snow stops falling) before calling 311 with related questions. During a snow storm, residents can find out more about Toronto’s snow plan and can track salt trucks/plows in real time at http://www.toronto.ca/snow.