Backgrounder: November & December Holiday Events at Toronto History Museums
November and December are filled with festive events to bring out the joyful spirit of the season. Whether you enjoy historic holiday or New Year’s celebrations or want to create a new tradition for family and friends, Toronto History Museums are fabulous places to soak up the holiday atmosphere. This is only a selection of events. Details about more holiday events are available.
Visitors can shop for artisan items while exploring Scarborough’s community museum. Vendors will be set up throughout the historic buildings.
Scarborough Museum, 1007 Brimley Rd., November 23 and 24 from noon to 4 p.m.
Holiday Wreath Workshop for Families
This two-hour workshop is the perfect opportunity to start a holiday crafting tradition with friends and family. Participants can create a festive wreath and explore Colborne Lodge in all its Christmas glory.
Colborne Lodge, 11 Colborne Lodge Dr., November 23 to December 8, various times. Tickets, $40 (adult) and $20 (youth) plus taxes per person, are available.
Gingerbread Afternoon Tea
Visitors can enjoy a special festive afternoon tea served by costumed interpreters in the historic surroundings of the Gibson family’s Victorian farmhouse, with flavours inspired by the holiday season and made with winter spice.
Gibson House Museum, 5172 Yonge St., November 23 and December 14, noon and 2:30 p.m. Tickets, $30 plus taxes, are available.
A Christmas Carol
Produced by the White Mills Theatre Company, this musical adaptation of the beloved Dickens novella A Christmas Carol invites audiences to explore Spadina Museum at the hands of three unlikely ghosts. Attendees will discover Christmas past, present and yet-to-come in this charming blend of immersive theatre and heartwarming vocals.
Spadina Museum, 285 Spadina Rd., November 29, 30, December 4, December 6, 7, 13, 14 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $46.50 (previews: $33) plus taxes per person, available.
To the New Year: A Hogmanay Dinner
Participants can enjoy the Scottish New Year celebration Hogmanay with a program of entertainment and a candlelit dinner served in the Gibson House Museum historic dining room and kitchen. Dinner is inspired by Scottish communities in the early 20th century with ingredients based on food grown on the Gibson farm.
Gibson House Museum, 5172 Yonge St., December 28 and 29, 6 p.m. Tickets, $70 plus taxes, are available.
Dickens Christmas Feast
Residents can enjoy a candle-lit, four-course, Christmas feast served before the roaring fire. Recreated from historic recipes of the Victorian era, the menu includes pre-dinner drinks and a demonstration of Dickens’ own recipe for flaming rum punch. The evening will also include dramatic readings from A Christmas Carol and a brief Victorian-era dance lesson with live musical accompaniment.
Montgomery’s Inn, 4709 Dundas St. W., December 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets, priced at $100 plus taxes, are available.
The Cook’s Apprentice
Participants ages 8 to 12 can join a baking workshop for children to learn how to bake traditional recipes in a historic kitchen setting. Cakes, biscuits and confections are on the menu using recipes for iced queen cakes, gingerbread, peppermint drops and a breakfast griddle cake. In another exciting cooking workshop for participants ages 8 to 12, children can dine like an officer and make their own authentic savoury meal such as macaroni and cheese, pancakes, chicken curry and a seasonal soup. Times and locations follow.
Baking workshop: Fort York National Historic Site, 250 Fort York Blvd., December 7 at 1 p.m., with tickets $30 plus taxes, available.
Savoury cooking workshop: Fort York National Historic Site on December 14 at 1 p.m. Tickets, $30 plus taxes, are available.
Candlelight Holiday Tours
Visitors will discover the holiday traditions of the late Victorian period of the 1890s and wartime Toronto in the 1940s in this tour. Participants can sample old-fashioned Christmas treats, hear a Victorian ghost story and play parlour games.
Todmorden Mills, 67 Pottery Rd., December 13 and 14 at 6 and 8 p.m. Tickets, $15 (adult) and $10 (youth) plus taxes are available.
Festive Centrepiece Workshop for Families
Families can start a new festive crafting tradition at Colborne Lodge by creating a holiday centrepiece using nature’s bounty. Set in picturesque High Park, the lodge’s winter kitchen offers a cozy historic ambience for this seasonal craft. Children can play with traditional toys and gifts while seated around a Victorian Christmas tree and enjoy light seasonal refreshments.
Colborne Lodge, 11 Colborne Lodge Rd., December 14 to 22. Tickets, $40 (adult) and $20 (youth) plus taxes, are available.
Visitors will enjoy selections from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite, a holiday favourite, played on the beautiful Spadina grand piano. After the concert, visitors can take a tour of the seasonally-decorated house and participate in the Nutcracker ballet-themed activities including a scavenger hunt and take-home crafts, and can enjoy 1940s-era ballet costumes on loan from Dance Collection Danse.
Spadina Museum, 285 Spadina Rd., December 14 at 1 and 3 p.m. Tickets, $30 plus taxes a person, are available.
Saturday Night Lights: Gaslight Evening
Residents can indulge their senses with tasty treats, holiday music, hands-on activities, Victorian ghost stories and print a holiday card on the historic press to send to Santa or share with family and friends.
Mackenzie House, 82 Bond St., December 14 and 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets, $20 (adult) and $15 (youth) plus taxes, are available.
A Christmas Carol at Montgomery’s Inn
Participants will embark on a dramatic journey. The Dickens holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, returns to Montgomery’s Inn. Residents can gather with friends and family as five actors bring to life the timeless tale of greed, ghosts and salvation.
Montgomery’s Inn, 4709 Dundas St. W., December 17 to 22 at 7 p.m. and weekend matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets, $25 for adults and $10 for children (plus taxes), are available.
Winter Solstice Night Lights
To mark the winter solstice, Scarborough Museum welcomes back Indigenous Elder and artist Catherine Tammaro to celebrate the season and unveiling of her new artwork. Guests will learn about the eternal flame and take part in a parade of lanterns.
Scarborough Museum, 1007 Brimley Rd., December 21 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Gingerbread House Workshop
Guests can build and decorate a unique gingerbread house inspired by the Gibson’s red brick Georgian house or design their own. Visitors can explore the beautifully decorated historic house and enjoy Victorian holiday treats.
Gibson House Museum, 5172 Yonge St., December 21 and 22 at 10 a.m. Tickets per gingerbread house building table (for up to 4 people) are $50 plus taxes, available.
Participants will have an evening of Scottish music and foods, including haggis, tatties and neeps at this traditional celebration of the New Year. The decorated house will be illuminated by gas and candlelight. The Gin Lane Trio will perform traditional music of the season.
Mackenzie House, 82 Bond St., December 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets, $35 plus taxes, are available.
Led by dance teacher and historian Karen Millyard, this day is devoted to a lively exploration of the older Christmas traditions such as wassail, twelfth cake, roasted chestnuts, carolling, seasonal games, fiddle music and dancing. Participants can enjoy a festive meal of historical recipes and learn social dances and games of Dickens’s time.
Montgomery’s Inn, 4709 Dundas St. W., January 4 at 3:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tickets, $70 plus taxes, are available.
Toronto History Museums are a group of 10 museums owned and operated by the City of Toronto that bring Toronto’s history to life for residents and visitors. The museums include Colborne Lodge, Fort York National Historic Site, Gibson House Museum, Mackenzie House, Market Gallery, Montgomery’s Inn, Scarborough Museum, Spadina Museum, Todmorden Mills and Zion Schoolhouse. More information about the museums is available at https://www.toronto.ca/museums.
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