The Original Santa Claus Parade

With a rich heritage dating to the early 20th century, the Santa Claus Parade is one of the longest-running annual events in Toronto, Canada. The parade is open to everyone and it's a free event. Traditionally held in late November, the parade follows a 5.7-mile route in the heart of downtown. The Toronto Transit Commission subway trains drop off passengers near all major parade points. Click to book your Toronto tours.

History and Fun Facts

The Original Santa Claus Parade in Downtown
The Original Santa Claus Parade in Downtown Toronto
The Parade was first started by Canadian Department store Eaton. Santa made his first appearance in 1905 at the downtown Toronto event and the parade attracted significant attention in its inaugural year. In 1913, the giant retail company introduced reindeer from the Labrador region for the popular holiday parade. A veterinary expert was also hired to care for the animals before, during and after the event. The reindeer then lived at the estate of a high-ranking executive who lead the Eaton's brand. In 1917, seven floats which were associated with nursery rhymes, lead the way for the Santa Claus. One was a large goose-shaped float that was eventually nicknamed Mother Goose in the following years. Celebrating the breakthrough in aviation technology worldwide, the Santa Claus Parade of 1919 kicked off with an airplane arrival of the main character. After landing at the newly built Aerodome, Santa hopped on several horses and navigated the vibrant streets of downtown. In the late 1920's and early 1930's, the parade cheered up residents who were deeply impacted by the Great Depression. Due to material shortages during World War II, the parade used basic paper costumes and accessories. Just a few years after the war, the parade became one of the largest events of its kind in North America. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation televised this major annual gathering for the first time in 1952. Since then, the festival has been shown in other countries with rich Christmas traditions, including Norway and New Zealand. Click to book your Toronto tours.
A gingerbread-themed float in Toronto's Santa Claus Parade
A gingerbread-themed float in Toronto's Santa Claus Parade
In the early 1980's, Eaton's officially ended its ties of 77 years to the Santa Claus Parade. Since 1982 it has been run as a not-for-profit charity with many major international and national brands taking part in the parade. McDonald's and the Walt Disney Company have been some of the most important sponsors of the parade. The RBC and Scotiabank are local financial institutions that also proudly support this vibrant annual festival in the heart of the city. Each major sponsor has traditionally displayed its own float with whimsical themes. First introduced in the 1980's, the Celebrity Clowns have also been traditional participants in the event. This cheerful group allows ordinary people to lead the parade along with the floats. In 1995, the Santa Claus Parade became the world’s largest Christmas parade, largest entertainment event and the longest running children’s parade in the world.

New 2019 Parade Route

The 2019 Santa Claus Parade now starts at Parliament and Bloor. It's starting in the east end making its way into the centre of the city.

The new route is:
The parade travels west along Bloor to University
Then south down University to Wellington
Then east along Wellington to Yonge
Then south down Yonge to Front
Then north east along Front to Wellington
Then east along Wellington, ending at Jarvis (the St. Lawrence Market)

Celebrating its 115th year, the 2019 Santa Claus Parade takes place on November 17, 2019 and kicks-off at 12:30 pm. This year's parade has over 30 floats and more than 20 marching bands. The event is celebrating the Parade’s General Manager and Creative Director, Alf Iannarelli who is celebrating his 50th parade.

Visiting Santa Claus Parade

The cheerful Salvation Army Band
The cheerful Salvation Army Band
The Santa Claus Parade significantly disrupts traffic flow on some of the busiest streets in downtown Toronto. Parade organizers and city officials strongly recommend that visitors use the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and for those coming from outside of the city to use GO trains/buses to get to this exciting event. The Yonge-University Line stops at multiple underground stations that are conveniently located near the parade route. For example, the Osgoode and St. Patrick stations accommodate passengers heading to the southern part of the route. If you'd like to check out the northern route, get off at the St. George station, which is also accessible via the Bloor-Danforth Line 2. The intersection of College Street and University Avenue has several viewing areas with dedicated wheelchair access. Drivers visiting the parade may park their vehicles at marked Green P parking lots throughout the downtown district. People visiting from outside of Toronto could take commuter trains to Union Station, which is within walking distance of the southern tip of the parade route. VIA Rail and GO Transit rail services are readily available at the city's busiest transit complex.

Location: Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Click here to visit Santa Claus Parade official website.

By: Denise Marie
Published On: 2019-09-26
Updated On: 2019-10-03

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

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