The Distillery Winter Village marked the start of the holiday season for many with the lighting of a 55-foot Christmas tree.
The silver fir, donated by Forests Ontario, is adorned with 60,000 lights, 600 giant decorative ornaments and kilometres of garlands.
People started to enter the cobblestone streets before sunset to get ready for the celebration. This year, event planners said they have “reimagined” the experience, changing the theme from the iconic Christmas Market to “The Distillery Winter Village.”
“This is our first time coming out here, and now bringing our daughter, it is a really great experience, she is loving just looking around at everything,” Colleen Selgin said of her family.
The young family walked over from their nearby condo to enjoy the night. Many other families were also in the crowd, many bringing kids for the first time.
Dany Torttier, who was also at the event for the first time with her grandparents, was able to score a great viewing spot.
“We came out early so we would be able to get a nice spot to see the tree,” Torttier said, her family all dressed in festive hats in front of a festive window display.
Along with the name change this year, the event also featured new vendors and food options. Guests chose from hot chocolate to hot sauce to wreaths from a variety of shops and markets. Guests will have more shopping options than any previous year.
Couples and groups of friends that enjoyed the market prior to the pandemic were excited to move towards more familiar traditions.
“It has been quite some time since we have been able to be in a crowd this large, and it’s nice to finally see people again,” Andrew Hunter said as he stood by the tree for a photo.
It was a welcome experience for many since the event has been cancelled since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to follow those rules, as sad as they were through (the) Christmas seasons, Thanksgiving seasons, they have gotten vaccinated and we have posted numbers that are comparable to any city in the world,” Mayor John Tory said.
Tory said the event would not have been possible if the city did not do their part in getting vaccinated and it is great to have these events back.
The village runs until Dec. 31, when a similar New Year’s Eve event will be held at 10 p.m. Tickets are $8 for ages six and up, and comes with a free three-month subscription to Amazon Music. Tickets must be purchased online.