Christmas Market In Toronto’s Distillery District

We were beginning to worry if we would ever make it to the Christmas Market. I have known for years of the Distillery District, seen it on the news, and wanted to stroll down the wide brick paths in a place where quality, conscionable products are the norm. When I remembered the annual Christmas Market would open just before Daniela and I would head back home for the holidays, we found a day to squeeze it in.

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Never ones to spend a dime without a good reason, we walked to the train station (2.2 kilometres) from our room, taking the train straight to Union Station. We walked through the Great Hall and the holiday pop-up market that runs from December 1st to the 7th. The wonderful BRIKA was even there; always a staple for gift ideas.

Still too cheap to take the bus, we walked the 2 kilometres to the Distillery District. It wasn’t very nippy at all, and the stroll paid for itself with the beautiful buildings at every turn. This district of Toronto is the most beautiful in my eye, and is the first place after Washington, DC that I have found myself wondering if I could see myself living there. The proximity to St. Lawrence Market, another destination on my list, would be an absolute delight.

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Turning from Front Street onto Trinity Street was amusing: they had just dug up the sidewalk! They obviously knew we were coming and wanted nothing to do with us riff-raff.

The Christmas Market would be best experienced at night, but the semi-dreary day made it just as wonderful. Perhaps it sounds a bit morbid, but there is nothing more seasonal than a faded grey sky, holiday tunes being carolled, and Christmas trees at every turn.

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Bergo Designs was one of the first shops we walked through. Unlike the temporary vendors only there for the holidays, Bergo Designs is open all year long. They stock countless items by designers and architects–people who care about design–like Phillippe Starck, Frank Gehry, and Michael Graves. They had a massive assortment of Umbra products, which I could easily spend hours admiring for their inexpensive utility.

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One of the things we found both mesmerizing and disheartening at the same time were the sheer multitude of dining options. From pâtisserie to café, bake shop to coffee shop, juice bar and schnitzel shack the choices were endless! A student budget, however, means food spending is the first category to be cut so we only admired from beyond the glass cabinets. Our favourite was The Sweet Escape Pâtisserie whose mint-flavoured squares and thirty+ flavours of shortbread looked incredible.

The most truly disappointing experience of the day was at Jacob & Sebastian. My last trip to Toronto didn’t afford time to visit their Queen Street location, so I was paralyzed with excitement and surprise when I saw their Distillery District location which I did not know existed. Daniela and I walked around for fifteen minutes, admiring the many bottles of skincare products I now certainly must try. We were the only customers in the store, and the only people except for the one employee who never addressed us. She walked around the store fiddling with the products on the shelf, standing right behind us at some points, and never once did she even smile let alone say hello. Somebody isn’t getting much for Christmas this year…

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Blackbird Vintage, however, would have been a wonderful place to find a gift for someone deserving. Photography was forbade, which is ridiculous, but this is truly a shop to experience. Walking into the dark shop is like stepping into a very different world. I could imagine owls hooting in the rafters, and tiny woodland creatures poking their eyes out from behind the stacks of vintage finds. Christmas cards, ornaments, and soaps, organic tea, blankets and small trinkets all displayed in a cozy, styled way.

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Cozy is the name of the game for the winter months, so there is rarely a day you’ll find me not sporting sweatpants. Yes that sounds trashy, but as Daniela says: I make them look like genuine trousers. H&M sweatpants in charcoal grey, brown desert boots with a yellow sole from Call It Spring, and my navy coat from Topman.

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For some reason I thought wool-on-wool-on-wool would be a smart idea. Yes I was warm in the elements, but wow do is that a weird sensation when you overheat under all of that warmth. A brown wool sweater from H&M that has survived years was the culprit (and my signature wool socks…love those things).

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After leaving the old-time beauty of the Christmas Market, we walked to the Eaton Centre for a bit of Christmas shopping. I have yet to discover a fragrance that smells like the beach for my mother, but Daniela did pick up a light-heated novel for her grandmother and a gift for her mother. They will both be delighted.

Today we are being whisked away for the holidays, returning to school in January. It will be an odd experience, to leave the freedom of a city so alive behind, but there is nothing more important than love at Christmas. This year has afforded me so many opportunities, and I am so thankful for having all of these beautiful people in my life to share them with. I doubt this will be my last post of the season, but nevertheless, festivity can never hurt: Happy holidays everyone!

Photographs of me by Daniela, others by me, images (sparingly) edited with VSCO Film

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