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Must-visit Christmas markets in Ontario to instantly get you into the holiday spirit

Channel that Hallmark holiday movie energy and visit one of these incredible festive Christmas markets

What’s the best way to instantly get into the holiday spirit? A festive market, of course.

It’s hard not to be moved by the spirit of the season when you’re surrounded by gorgeous decorations, holiday music and charming market stalls festooned with twinkling Christmas lights.

They’re decidedly practical too, as you can get some of your holiday shopping done while you peruse the aisles. Pick up one-of-a-kind ornaments and seasonal décor, original art, handknit items, homemade treasures and edible gifts. While you’re at it, be sure to treat yourself to a hot drink and a tasty treat or two.

There’s an array of fantastic events to choose from, scattered throughout the province.

Niagara Falls Christmas Market

Weekends are prime time for holiday shopping, but you can escape the mall altogether and cross items off your list just as easily at the Niagara Falls Christmas Market. You’ll be treated to some live music and super cool light displays too, including interactive installations, illuminated seesaws and swings! Kids will get a kick out of seeing their favourite Disney and holiday characters in person. Make sure to grab a bite to eat here too, whether from one of the local food trucks or the many restaurants nearby. Runs until December 18th.

The Christmas Trail

The Christmas Trail combines holiday shopping with neighbourhood exploration; it’s like a treasure hunt for adults. You’ll get to know some of the town’s best shops and boutiques after you purchase six vouchers at Destination Stratford or Bradshaw’s. Then you take a self-guided tour of over 20 participating stores along the trail, where you can exchange those vouchers for unique gifts! (You get to choose which six stops to redeem your vouchers at.) Vouchers are purchased the same day you complete the trail but don’t expire until December 20th, which also happens to be the last date of the tour.

The Distillery Winter Village

Toronto’s Distillery Historic District is warm and inviting no matter what time of year, but during the holidays it really shines. The combination of cobblestone laneways, red-brick buildings, artsy and eclectic shops, cafes and restaurants makes it a winning destination; once the showstopping centrepiece Christmas tree goes up, it’s full steam-ahead until December 31st. Strolling carollers, charmingly decorated vendor cabins, sparkling canopy lights and an array of tempting scents (think woodfires, mulled wine, hot cocoa and baked treats) only add to the atmosphere—there’s even an outdoor beer garden you can relax in. You’ll definitely want to take photos here as the scenery is second to none.

Holiday Fair in the Square

You’ve never seen City Hall like this. It’s absolutely transformed for the holidays and will make a believer out of anyone lacking holiday spirit. Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto turns into a glorious winter holiday market, complete with public skating, midway games and entertainment. That’s in addition to all of the wonderful artisan vendors who line the square, offering hot drinks and warm bites to those who are out shopping and strolling. Visiting on a chilly night? Warm up at one of the fire pits. On until December 23rd.

The Kingston Holiday Market

During the first three weeks of December, you can visit the Kingston Holiday Market and get your Christmas shopping done. It will be held this year at the Tett Centre for Creativity and in the event you can’t make it, you can shop online until December 12th. Support local artisans and vendors, who look forward all year to meeting with shoppers at this fabulous event and sharing their talents.

Ottawa Christmas Market/Marché de Noël

This market, sometimes known as the Lansdowne Christmas Market, is a great place to browse for those personal gifts, all while enjoying a thoroughly festive shopping experience. That’s thanks to the many extras that are wrapped into this traditional yuletide celebration: a visit from Santa, live entertainment, hot cocoa stands and delicious food. Wander amongst the stunning heritage buildings and wooden chalets adorned with sparkling lights and twinkling decorations. Kids can even sign up to do crafts in Santa’s workshop! The market runs until December 23rd.

Collingwood Christmas Market

Friday nights in December in downtown Collingwood is where it’s at. Three blocks of the town are brought to life with live music, stunning light installations, entertaining buskers and local vendors offering their best holiday wares. Santa himself will be present all three nights and on the last two of those nights (December 10th and 17th) you can even meet his reindeer!

If you’re a fan of those ubiquitous holiday movies, why not channel your own main character energy and enjoy a stroll through a quaint market in real life? These are just a few of the wonderful holiday events being held this season.