Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto | Explore the Extraordinary

by Denise Marie

Established in the early 20th century, the Royal Ontario Museum is Canada’s largest museum that’s dedicated to natural history. Situated near Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto, the ROM hosts dozens of exhibits on ancient cultures and prehistoric animals. From dinosaur fossils and Greek sculptures to Egyptian relics and Chinese textiles, you’ll see an array of interesting items on display on four different levels.

Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto

Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto

Collection Highlights and Other Attractions

The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal entrance welcomes guests into the Royal Ontario Museum’s main lobby on Level 1. Some notable exhibits on this level focus on Chinese, Japanese and Korean culture. You can also explore the Canada Art & Culture and First Peoples galleries on this floor. The Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery links the Oriental-themed exhibits with the Canadian exhibits. A life-size skeletal display of a dinosaur dominates the scene at the adjacent Gloria Chen Hall. If you’re interested in learning more about Jurassic creatures and other extinct animals, head to Level 2. This level also features the Hands-On Biodiversity, Earth’s Treasures and Biodiversity: Life in Crisis. Additionally, The Bat Cave offers a virtual tour through a realistic cave that’s typically inhabited by bats.

Are you fascinated by ancient civilizations? Take the elevators or stairs to Level 3. You can explore the Greece, Cyprus and Bronze Age Aegean galleries on this floor. Mummies and other relics from Pharaohs are on display at the Egypt exhibit. Additionally, Level 3 focuses on the great Roman and Byzantine Empires. You can also learn about Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultures on the third floor of the Royal Ontario Museum. The Centre Block links the Byzantium Gallery with Eaton Court and other halls that host special European exhibitions. Level 4 includes the Textiles and Costume and Roloff Gallery.

Hungry for lunch? You may enter the basement’s cafeteria or Druxy’s ROM Café through the President’s Choice School Entrance. The Eaton Theatre is also located in the basement. Before you leave the museum, don’t forget to pick up some unique gifts from the ROM Boutique.

Location and Getting There

The Yonge-University Line 1 subway trains serve Museum Station, which is only steps away from the ROM. This underground station is accessible from Queens Park, a major road that carries northbound and southbound traffic. Multiple TTC buses also stop near the museum’s northeastern corner, including the 300, 5 and 142 routes. Parking garages for passenger cars are accessible from Bloor St West and Queen’s Park.

Click to visit the Royal Ontario Museum official website or to book your ROM admission ticket.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the attraction in question.

The Toronto Christmas Market | Nov 14 to Dec 22, 2019

by Denise Marie

Part of the historic Distillery District, the Toronto Christmas Market sells unique gifts and food items for Christmas. The market also hosts concerts and other entertainment for the entire family. Christmas trees, lighting decorations and other traditional installations capture the magic of Christmas in this urban part of Toronto.

The 2019 market runs from Thursday, November 14th to Sunday, December 22nd from 12 noon to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and from 12 noon to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.  While the Distillery District and its stores are open 7 days a week, the market itself is closed on Mondays.

Admission to the market during the week is FREE! Starting at 6 p.m. on Fridays and during the weekend there is an admission fee. Click for more information on ticket types and prices.

The Toronto Christmas Market

Click for more information on the Toronto Christmas Market

Retail, Entertainment and Other Highlights

The Toronto Christmas Market hosts several vendors who sell unique gifts that shoppers won’t find in chain stores. Nesting dolls and mouth-blown glass figures are sold by the Wooden Wonders. This boutique has a wide range of items that are typically associated with the holiday in Russian and Eastern European cultures.

Winterbourne Alpaca and El Tambache offer an extensive selection of warm winter attire with South American inspirations. Stocking Stuffers has lots of holiday-themed stockings for decorative purposes in homes and offices. More than 20 brands of winter socks are also on display at Floorplay Socks. Other merchants who are based at the signature market include Beekeepers Naturals and Christmas on the Beach.

If you crave traditional treats for the holiday, try the German-style potato pancakes by Das Kartoffelhaus. In the mood for something sweet? Buy cookies and other treats from the Gingerbread House. Crunchy waffles are at available at the Waffel Bar, and Eva’s Original Chimneys sells ice cream. You can also buy pastries at the Tartistry and Good Grieves.

The stages at the Toronto Christmas Market host music concerts and other performances for several months. Of course, jingles and carols are usually performed in the months leading to Christmas. Visitors are encouraged to sing along to their favorite holiday songs in this spectacular urban setting. Local church and school choirs usually perform on the center stages at this outdoor market. Emerging musicians and bands from the Greater Toronto Area and other Canadian also show off their talents.

The Toronto Christmas Market

The Toronto Christmas Market runs from Nov 14 to Dec 22, 2019

Location and How to Get There

The Toronto Transit Commission 504 streetcar stops near the Christmas Market. Known as the King Line, this service runs daily during the day and night. The outdoor stop is conveniently situated at the corner of Cherry Street and Front Street East. The 121A bus route of the TTC also stops within walking distance of this outdoor marketplace.

Drivers may park their vehicles in an adjacent lot that has the Green P designation. Additional parking is available at the intersection of Parliament Street and Lake Shore Boulevard.

Click to visit the Toronto Christmas Market official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the event in question.

2019 Santa Claus Parade is coming to Toronto on November 17th!

by Denise Marie

The Santa Claus Parade takes over the streets of downtown Toronto each year in late November. Launched in 1905 with a single float, this parade has become one of the largest events in the Greater Toronto Area. Visitors coming from outside of Toronto’s downtown core are encouraged to use GO Transit to get to this exciting event and once in the city, take the TTC subway trains to multiple stations near the parade route.

♫ Santa Claus is coming to town! ♫

♫♫ Santa Claus is coming to town! ♫♫


Overview and Highlights

Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade began in the early 1900’s. One of the most successful national retail companies at the time, Eaton’s founded this annual event that precedes the holiday season. Throughout the decades, the celebration was heavily impacted by world wars, economic depressions, political turmoil and globalization. The peak attendance for this annual event has exceeded 500,000 in recent years.

Scheduled for November 17th, 2019, the Santa Claus Parade of Toronto will have a new route this year and will start from Parliament St and Bloor St E at 12:30 p.m. The parade route will proceed on University Avenue for several kilometres through downtown Toronto. This major event will be televised by the CTV Network at 4:30 p.m. This year the parade will take a new route, moving westward on Bloor Street and ending as always at the historic St. Lawrence Market.

The 115th edition of the parade will kicks off the holiday season with major domestic and international sponsors including Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, TD Bank, Scotiabank and McDonald’s.

The Holly Jolly Fun Run is the 5K race which precedes the Santa Claus Parade and which will follow the same route. Participants are encouraged to dress in holiday-themed apparel as they run through the heart of Toronto. The race is scheduled to kick off approximately 45 minutes before the actual Santa Claus Parade. This fun race will end at the Maple Leaf Square, where families and friends may greet the runners.

You can also join the Celebrity Clowns program if you’d like to participate directly in this major parade. Sign up at Adults and kids will get the chance to dress up in wacky clown costumes while following the floats and other participants. More than 30 floats and up to 20 bands are expected to appear in the 2019 parade. All Celebrity Clowns will enjoy complimentary food, drinks, face paint and other exclusive amenities.

Click to visit The Santa Claus Parade official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the event in question.

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair | November 1 to 10, 2019!

by Denise Marie

Held every year in autumn, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is one of Toronto’s largest annual events. This fair occupies the historic Exhibition Place for up to 10 days. The next even begins Friday, November 1 and ends on Sunday, November 10. Commuter trains and streetcars serve the fairgrounds, and thousands of on-site parking spaces are readily available. The fair hosts agricultural competitions, a rodeo and other shows with fascinating equestrian themes.

President’s Choice® SuperDogs® at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

President’s Choice® SuperDogs® at The Royal Agricultural
Winter Fair (Photo Credit: John Steadman)

Attractions and Events

Hosted by President’s Choice®, the Animal Theatre is one of the most popular shows at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and is headlined by the fan-favourite SuperDogs®. Some stars of the event include sheep-herding border collies and the city’s horse-mounted police patrol. Charismatic knights from Medieval Times also show off their equestrian skills inside the Animal Theatre.

Some other attractions that feature animals include the Ontario Toyota Dealers Rodeo, Royal K9-Equine Challenge, Sylvia Zerbini and Amber Marshall from CBC’s Heartland. Square dancing and butter sculpting are among the dozens of interactive activities at this family-friendly fair. If you’d like to taste locally sourced food, visit the Spotlight on Local exhibition that’s presented by Metro. Additionally, the Burnbrae Farms Culinary Academy provides detailed lessons on gourmet cuisine. Some of the best local chefs participate in this presentation that appeals to visitors with a craving for unique treats.

Live music is played on the OLG Entertainment Stage as well as demonstrations and seminars. If you’re on the hunt for pottery, artwork and decorative items that are made by local craftsmen, explore the Made by Me Artisan Pavilion. The agriculture competition is also one of the main events at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. From dairy cattle and goats to swine and sheep, this competition features nearly 6,000 live animals on display. More than 1,200 agricultural products are promoted at the fair, which culminates with the crowning of Royal Grand Champions.

Ontario Toyota Dealers Rodeo at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Ontario Toyota Dealers Rodeo at The Royal Agricultural
Winter Fair (Photo Credit: M Clark)

How to Get There

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair takes over the grounds of Exhibition Place, which is conveniently situated just west of downtown Toronto. You can take the GO Transit Lakeshore West train to the Exhibition Station. This commuter rail links the downtown core with other major cities in Ontario, such as Burlington and Hamilton. The TTC 509 streetcar also stops at the fairgrounds. New for this year, children 12 and under ride the TTC and GO for free.

Additionally, more than 4,000 on-site parking spaces are available for visitors at designated outdoor and indoor lots. Considered the city’s secondary hub for commercial aviation services, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is just a short ferry ride away from the event.

Click to visit The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

Graffiti Alley | A Canvas for Toronto Street Artists

by Denise Marie

Spanning several blocks in Toronto, Graffiti Alley is a narrow street that’s essentially become an outdoor art gallery with an unmistakable character. You’ll see dozens of buildings that are covered in graffiti displays and murals for just more than half a mile. This colorful stretch in the Fashion District is only steps away from multiple streetcar stops. Day or night, the Toronto Transit Commission offers express service to this trendy street.

Graffiti Alley

Graffiti Alley serves as the canvases for street artists in Toronto

Highlights and Experience

Graffiti Alley is a dynamic attraction that’s frequently transformed by Toronto‘s finest street artists. Throughout the years, the modest buildings on this narrow alley have been repainted many times. The colorful murals and other urban masterpieces aren’t expected to last for multiple years.

Visitors should admire the dazzling works that decorate the exterior walls, staircases and other visible fixtures on the commercial and mixed-used properties. Poser, Skam and Uber500 are some notable artists who have added their signature touches to Graffiti Alley. However, plenty of other unidentified or lesser-known artists have left their temporary marks on the alley. Unofficial etiquette encourages the passionate artists to obtain permission from the local building owners or tenants. The City of Toronto promotes artistic graffiti expressions instead of vandalism that creates eye sores.

In the age of mobile phones with high-resolution camera lenses, Graffiti Alley is without a doubt one of the best places to take selfies in the heart of Toronto. The vibrant background that you’ll capture in the photos is unlikely to be found in most metropolitan areas in North America. Musicians, movie producers and other entertainers are also drawn to the unique urban collage on this hip alley.

Toronto's Graffiti Alley

Located in Downtown Toronto on Rush Lane

Location and How to Get There

Graffiti Alley is situated between Queen Street West and Richmond Street West in the Fashion District. Spadina Avenue marks the eastern end of this urban attraction. The 310 and 510 TTC streetcars stop at the corner of this commercialized avenue and the alley. You can also take the 301 and 501 streetcars to various outdoor stops on Queen Street.

Once there, the outdoor urban art is located at western end of the alley is known as Rush Lane, which ends at Portland Street. The lane is wide enough to accommodate one-way traffic, but the best way to explore the street art is by foot or bicycle.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.