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72 hours in toronto: christmas edition

Toronto is a blast year round, but it's extra special during the holidays. I'm a total cheeseball and love all things festive, and the 6ix does Christmas bigger and better than just about anywhere.

Wanna head to Toronto for the holidays? Knowing where to go will help you make the most of your time, so I made a list and checked it twice! Here's my guide to your Christmas getaway in the 6ix.

Photo by Amy in 613 's patient Instahubby

take the train

VIA Rail is *the* way to get from Ottawa to Toronto -- especially in winter. Skip the 401 and airport delays and get cozy on the train instead. Leg room and free wifi FTW! Most Ottawa-Toronto trains take about 4 hours, so the travel time is similar to driving -- or flying if you factor in airport shenanigans. VIA Rail frequently has sales, too: this time hubs and I paid less than $100 round-trip. Sign up for their emails to get deal alerts!

Photo by @y.sight

When you get to Union Station you're right downtown with the magnificent Fairmont Royal York across the street. Man I love arriving to that view!

Photo by Amy in 613

stay in an urban castle

When I'm in Toronto, the historic Fairmont Royal York is my favourite place to stay. It harkens back to when hotels made you feel like family: we're always welcomed with a smile, and the staff ask what we've got planned and what's happening back home in Ottawa. They even text after check-in to make sure we love our room and have everything we need. And they'll do that for you too.

The other reason Fairmont Royal York is my top choice: location, location, location! It's so central that it'll help you squeeze the most out of your time in Toronto: anything and everything is within a 2 to 20-minute walk. The Toronto Christmas Market, Momofuku, Milk Bar, Toronto Eaton Centre, Queen West, you name it. If you can tear yourself away from your beautiful room, that is...

Photo by Amy in 613 's patient Instahubby

5 reasons to stay at christmas

1. Experience Miracle on Front Street. Every night this the holiday season, the Fairmont Royal York becomes a larger-than-life light show! Think of the light show on Parliament Hill, but a special holiday edition in Toronto.

This free show illuminates nightly now through January 3, can catch it every 30 minutes from 5-9pm.

Photo by Fairmont Royal York

2. Experience the magical Toronto Christmas Market. The Fairmont Royal York's Toronto Christmas Market Package is the perfect way to experience the holidays 6ix-style. It includes everything you need!

- One night accommodation for two in a Fairmont Luxury Room

- Two VIP passes to the Toronto Christmas Market

- Two passes for the ferris wheel or carousel at the Market

- Two hot chocolate vouchers to be redeemed at the Market

- Buffet breakfast for two in Piper's Pub inside Fairmont Royal York

- Free wifi so you can stay connected and share your adventures!

This all-inclusive package is available til December 23, and starts from $309 CAD for two people in a Fairmont Luxury Room. Book your stay right here!

Photo by Fairmont Royal York

The Toronto Christmas Market is located in the beautiful Distillery District, and has everything from ornaments to cozy sweaters to goofy socks to sweet treats. You'll also find food stalls (try the turkey legs), grown-up drinks (mulled wine and boozy hot chocolate), and activities for the whole family (even Santa photos with your pet).

Photo by Amy in 613 's patient Instahubby

Toronto Christmas Market musts

Spirit of York Micro Distillery: yup, the Distillery District still has distilleries. Spirit of York (above) focuses on grain-to-glass, and does everything on-site to ensure the tastiest spirits this side of the North Pole. I've been a fan of their gin since I spotted it in the Hintonburg LCBO this fall, and I loved trying their vodka, aquavit, and rye too. Great for gifts!

Indigo Pop-Up: I love Indigo because each year they have unique gifts for both Christmas and Hanukkah, and it's where I buy my Hanukkah candles every year. The Indigo Pop-Up is positively adorable with a collection of this year's best gifts, and since it's indoors it's the perfect place to warm up if you visit the market on a chilly day. Cute little spot for pics, too! Below: my best impression of a Christmas elf, taken by a Christmas elf. I'm a dork and I love Christmas.

Photo by the helpful elf at the Indigo Pop-Up

3. Indulge in a festive afternoon tea at Library Bar. The holiday version of Library Bar's afternoon tea will knock your socks off! The menu includes a tiered-tower of sandwiches, classic scones, and mini pastries (how I love tiny things!), plus delectable desserts and of course: tea! Try the Cream of Earl Grey, it's stellar. Afternoon Tea is served every Saturday and Sunday in December (almost full) plus New Year's Day (still some room).

Afternoon tea is booking up fast so reserve ASAP.

Photo by Fairmont Royal York

4. Visit Santa's Chalet: In the immortal words of Elf, "SAAAANTA!! OMG I KNOW HIM! Santa's Chalet is tucked into a cozy spot on Fairmont Royal York's mezzanine level, and fun fact: it was once the location of Toronto's oldest and smallest speakeasy. I personally asked Santa if he'd pretty please re-open it.

Photo by Amy in 613 's patient Instahubby

Til then, it's a beautiful spot to grab some pics with their pretty tree and giant teddy bear, and the big man himself will be there soon!

Santa's visiting hours:

Friday, December 14, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, December 22, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location: Santa's Chalet, formerly known as York Station

Photo by Amy in 613

5. Toast the season with festive cocktails at Library Bar. I love a great cocktail, and the talented bartenders at Library Bar have created some (delicious!) festive cocktails that are only available December 1 - January 1.

My two picks:

- Cranberry Mule: a festive take on this classic vodka cocktail, with house-made ginger purée, cranberries, and garnished with lime, served over ice.

- Holiday Cheers: a modern hot toddy with Japanese whisky, yuzu, honey, and star anise. Perfect way to warm up after the Toronto Christmas Market!

Library Bar has seriously amazing atmosphere, so much so that hubby and I went every night when we were in Toronto. On Saturday night there was even a live musician performing acoustic covers of Oasis, Bob Marley, and more!

win a FESTIVE toronto TRIP

This festive prize includes:

- a luxurious one-night stay at the iconic Fairmont Royal York

- in-room breakfast buffet for two at Fairmont Royal York

- festive cocktails for two at Library Bar

- two VIP passes to Toronto Christmas Market

- two free hot chocolates at the market

- two free rides on the ferris wheel or carousel at the market

Click here to enter and best of luck!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. In Toronto.

Photo by Amy in 613

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