It happens every year: you’ve spent all month buying your holiday presents (if you haven’t, check out our list of indie toy and gift shops), decorating the house and baking goodies… and now you have to entertain the kids for two whole weeks?! It’s a daunting task, but never fear, we have compiled a list of cheap and free activities and events in Toronto to occupy you and your family this Winter Break without hurting your wallet further.

Note: Due to the ever-changing situation regarding COVID-19 safety precautions and venue capacity, it’s a good idea to check ahead with the location before you head out. As always, please be safe!

Physical Activity

Outdoor Skating

All of the city-run skating rinks and paths are now open. Check out our recently updated list of some of the best spots to glide into. Also, independently organized skating areas such as The Bentway and Evergreen Brick Works are running now as well.

Tobogganing

An afternoon of sledding on the hills is family winter fun at its finest and it’s completely free to enjoy! Plus, climbing back up the hill will be sure to tucker the kids out.

Cross-Country Skiing

If you like it flatter and slower than those crazy sledding kids, you can do it here in Toronto and the GTA. There’s even snow loops for snowshoeing on city-run golf courses.

Hiking Paths

They might be busier in warmer months, but Toronto’s hiking paths are still beautiful in winter! If you want to go out a little further out of the city boundaries, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has even more nature paths to explore.

Indoor Pools

If you’re not so much into the wintery outdoors, you can hang out at an indoor pool. Pretend you’re at an all-inclusive resort – sorry, no cocktails allowed in the pool! It’s free for City of Toronto residents.

Holiday Events

Neighbourhood Business Improvement Association (BIA) Festivals

There are so many exciting and walkable neighbourhoods in Toronto. and many are celebrating the holidays with festivals. Most are free and continue into New Years and January, including Bloor-Yorkville Holiday Magic and The Junction’s Window Wonderland.

Stackt Market Holiday Hills

stackt market is an innovative downtown outdoor market comprised of shipping containers. This year, they are hosting the Holiday Hills Festival until December 31. Other than playing crokicurl and the registered programs and shows, it’s totally free to walk around and enjoy the festive urban atmosphere.

The Distillery Winter Village

This popular holiday market has free entry from 10:00am – 4:00pm. It runs every day, except December 24-26, until New Year’s Eve.

Niagara Falls Festival of Lights

Get your fill of sparkle and good cheer at the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, Ontario’s largest free outdoor light festival.

Exploring Toronto

Public Gardens

Stroll through both indoor and outdoor gardens that are free and open year-round: Allan Gardens Conservatory downtown, Toronto Botanical Gardens in North York and Centennial Park Conservatory in Etobicoke.

Free Zoos

Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown stays open throughout the year (though some animals stay in the barns) and High Park Zoo has their holiday trees out until January 8.

Toronto Public Library Branches

Online and in person, there is always an adventure to be had at the library. Enroll in online courses (live courses are currently on hold) or just hang out to peruse the racks and read a book. For a special trip, head downtown and check out the futuristic Toronto Reference Library – Scarborough-born musician The Weeknd even filmed a video there!

Tourism

Free Museum Wednesday Evening Admission

The Art Gallery of Ontario is always free for patrons under 25, with free admission for all to regular galleries on Wednesdays from 6:00-9:00pm. Also, the Aga Khan Museum is free Wednesday nights from 4:00-8:00pm.

Toronto Public Library – Museum + Arts Passes

Did you know that all TPL branches offer free passes to museums? One pass is permitted per person, per week, which is usually good for two adult and two child admissions. Passes for some venues are only available at a limited number of branches.

Attractions Ontario Coupons

For cheap tickets to museums at regular times, be sure to check out Attractions Ontario coupons that are valid until Spring/Summer. They’re currently available for popular venues such as Casa Loma, Glow Zone in Brampton, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Toronto Railway Museum

Even if you don’t go into the museum, the Roundhouse Park trains are free to check out year-round and they look so pretty covered with snow.

At Home

War of the Worlds Reimagined

This is an online radio play presented by Frog In Hand. Close your eyes, escape your screen and immerse yourself in a world of sound, inspired by the classic tale by H.G. Wells.

The Ultimate Guide For Kids Activities At Home

This extensive list was written in response to the pandemic-related school disruptions in the last couple of years. Fingers crossed for a smoother 2022!

Looking for more Winter Outdoor Activities in Toronto? Click here for more!