Toronto’s best off-the-beaten-path Christmas markets

Long lines, entry fees, the same bric-a-brac you see at every other dang city market –yup, sounds like Christmas Market season in Toronto! This year, try straying off the beaten path and check out some festive pop-ups and alternative markets across the city, each promising truly unique, one-of-a-kind, and handmade holiday gifts. Yup, Santa would definitely approve.

Toronto Tool Library and Makerspace

1
1803 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C 1J2

This Danforth DIY destination hosts its second annual Alternative Gift Shop. There’s only one rule: keep your cash and credit cards at home. The event is run more like a community swap, where anyone can come and trade giftable items with their community. Admission is free, just bring any lightly used or new items, or even an item like a cooking or ukulele lesson and swap up to 10 of these items with others. The opening gala kicks off on December 17, and rumor has it the east end’s own Left Field Brewery will be serving up tasty beverages.

Art Interiors

2
446 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5P 3M2

Whoever said that the best things come in small packages obviously wasn’t there Christmas morning 1993 when Santa brought a certain older brother an air hockey table in a box the size of a Volkswagen, but that’s okay, I’m not bitter. Luckily, the good folks at Art Interiors continue to take the mantra to heart, hosting their incredible 22nd annual Festival of the Smalls art show, featuring one-of-a-kind, adorably small (average 6”x6”) canvases and photoprints.

Tranzac Club

3
292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto, ON M5S 2M7

The Tranzac Club will host the Artisan Gift Fair this December, toting a fine collection of affordable, one-of-a-kind, and made-in-TO goodies. Think: handmade hats and bowties from local design duo A Mischievous Marriage, alongside delicious – and boozy – ice pops from Pop Stand in such tempting flavours as cherry whiskey sour. These and many more amazing vendors gather at the Tranzac Club, located in the Annex at Bloor and Brunswick, every weekend leading up to the big day.

Good Music

4
1611 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1T9

The good folks at Good Music have temporarily set up shop at this charming Dundas West location after moving from their usual digs in the basement of the Black Market thrift shop on Queen. Follow them on Instagram @goodmusicpopup to get a teaser of the day’s tastiest LPs up for grabs, and find yourself the perfect gift for that obstinate vinyl-head in your life (we all have one). If you don't get a chance to visit during the holiday rush, no worries, the pop-up will be on until January 31st.

Trinity Bellwoods Centre

5
151 Crawford St, Toronto, ON M6P 3V4

No, those dozen or so empty tall cans you “donated” this summer drinking in Trinity Bellwoods doesn’t count as giving back to the community. Do your duty and support what will undoubtedly be the hippest holiday market on our list this year: The Trinity Bellwoods Flea. Hosted at Toronto's beloved urban park on December 19th and 20th, the flea will feature local goods and goodies – like preserves from Parkdale’s own Penny Candy Jam or the actually addictive Brazilian brigadeiros from Chocolatta Gourmet.

Open Studio

6
104-401 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3A8

The perfect way to kickstart or build a growing art collection, is to head down to Open Studio for their 31st annual Artist Proof Sale. Get the rare chance to buy a unique piece of art without breaking holiday budget. Hundreds of original works of art, including screenprints, etchings, lithographs and relief prints are available by established and emerging artists from around the country – starting at an insanely affordable $50.

The Propeller Centre For The Visual Arts

7
38 Abell St, Toronto, ON M6J 0A2

A chance to pick-up an original piece of art on the cheap – but this time with a bit of a twist. Donated works are hung in Propeller Gallery for a two-week period leading up to the big gala event on December 13 (which will include some wonderful food and drink). Purchase a ticket for $125 and during the event, ticket numbers are randomly drawn, with the ticket-holder given sixty seconds – just one minute – to select an artwork off the wall.

Crown Flora Studio

8
1233 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L5

Pastorally perfect in every way, this Queen West plant and flower studio hosts its 2nd annual holiday market. On December 19th, the shop will be toting stunning and Christmas-season-specific handmade terrariums and flower arrangements that will had a touch of class to any holiday gathering. Other niceties like candles and leather goods will be on offer as well.

Yorkdale Shopping Centre

9
3401 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6A 3A1

Toronto’s favourite arts and crafts purveyors are back at Yorkdale Shopping Centre this season for their 2nd annual holiday pop-up. You know those beautifully crafted and expertly curated everyday objects, (and handmade by local artisans, no less) you’ve come to love at Brika’s Queen West location? Discover the same treasures and more at this Yorkdale pop-up.

For the average fella, few things remain more fulfilling than a proper barbershop hot shave. Whether priming your mug for a Movember masterpiece or merely taking some manly me-time, Toronto is stacked with steady hands skilled at the old school straight-razor.
You know those super-active outdoorsy types? Every group’s got one: lycra-clad, cheeks aglow, uttering inanities like “dontcha just love winter?” Shudder. If that perpetual positivity starts harshing your nightly Netflix-pizza binge this year, try walking a mile in their showshoes. Because if you can’t beat them, (and believe us, we’d really like to) join them, and start making tracks to these TO outdoor gear retailers.
Ah, fall in Toronto: that magical season for pumpkin-spiced sweater-weather and cottage-country leaf-turning treks. And, for the first time since the crack of Joe Carter’s bat thrilled the nation in ‘93, the Blue Jays are in playoff baseball again. Bandwagon? Bah! Parade your post-season pride with unique apparel from these local TO retailers. [photo courtesy of The Drake Hotel]
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