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Lights on for Christmas time around Nathan Phillips!

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? Important dates and tips not to miss out on the snowfall inside the Eaton Centre and to enjoy the colourful Nathan Phillips.

The most important thing to know is the the Nathan Phillips rink (with skate rental) is open EVERY DAY until March 19, 2023, INCLUDING December 25 and January 1!

But read on to learn about the last day to enjoy a few events at Nathan Phillips Square and around.

Nathan Holiday Fair until December 23

Until December 23, expect a small midway at Nathan Phillips Square with many yummy food tents: Tuesday-Thursday Dec 20-22, 4pm to 9 pm & Friday Dec 23, 12 noon to 9 pm.

But don't worry, all is not lost after December 23 thanks to the Cavalcade of Lights.

Snowfall inside the Eaton Centre until December 31

There may be no snow over Toronto but it is literally snowing inside the Eaton Centre until December 31. Well, not all the time. You have to be there on weekdays at 5:30 pm and 7 pm, and on the weekends at 3 pm, 5:30 pm and 7 pm. They also offer the Merry Merry Music performance until December 24, Thursday and Friday at 5 pm, and Saturday Dec 24 at 2 pm.

Don’t expect snow accumulation on the floor. The fake snow is apparently made of evaporation foam. I follow one flake and saw how it disappeared as it got one metre over the floor.

The tall tree normally there at the mall could not be installed due to the undergoing ceiling renovations (and the geese were taken down temporarily).

I like to walk in the pedestrian bridge crossing over Queen Street to The Bay. Quite sculptural! And The Bay Christmas Windows are up. They looked the same to me as last year (gone are the gorgeous Victorian windows), but apparently, they are more interactive in 2022 with the QR codes allowing us to "get inside" the scenes.

Cavalcades of Lights until January 7, 2023

Even once the Holiday fair is gone, the central light structures will remain, as well as the Christmas tree, until Saturday January 7. The lights stay on until 10 pm. And we can always count on the decadent fries from the chip trucks on Queen Street by the square.

The wonderfully intricate art of Whyishnave Suthagar currently on the stage will also remain until January 7. It is a masterpiece of weaving!

Did you know that we can go up the ramp on the east side of City Hall? It offers a great view over the square.

City Hall Tower Illumination until February 23, 2023

City Hall looks differently (and impressive) under the ever changing lights of the Illumination installation. It was created to celebrate the collective response by Toronto residents to support each other through and following the pandemic.

The whole thing throws a lovely glow over the square.

Nathan Phillips Rink open daily until March 19, 2023

When they say "daily", they mean including Christmas Day and New Year's Day! And it's free, and it's open from 10 am to 1pm (it opens at 9 am during the school holidays). And note that there's a Tim Hortons across the street from the rink, on Queen! Hot chocolate anyone?

I was there once on December 25 to see if there were any people showing up. There were! Most of the businesses being shot down for Christmas Day, there was something gentle about the downtown ambiance. We rarely see the city like that. (I mean... we saw plenty of this during the pandemic but it's different.)

Admission is free but skate rental for 2 hrs is $15/adult and $10/kids 12 and under, Sharpening is $10 (reduced hours). They also rent helmets, hats & mittens. Note that Students ID not accepted but Health Card and other official documents are accepted, and you need a credit card for the deposit.

While you're there

While I'm in the area during the day, I like to walk two blocks down Queen on Yonge Street to get to the hidden gem that is Temperance Street with the Parisian-like Dineen Coffee Co. on one side, and Sud Forno on the other side, with a gorgeous wood ceiling that makes me happy and scrumptious treats to choose from.

Nathalie Prézeau is the local author of walking guide Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. See Nathalie's new FREE calendar of WEEKLY WALKS to help her readers better use the guide year-round!

Toronto Best Urban Strolls is available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on and or We also deliver or contact the author directly at to arrange for a pick up at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville, with discount price.


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