6 Reasons Why I Actually Hate Visiting Toronto's Christmas Market In The Distillery District
Not to be a Grinch, but...
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Ever since moving to Canada, people in Toronto always talk about how excited they are about visiting the Christmas market at the Distillery District.
So, every year, my friends and I would make time to visit the beautifully decorated and magical event in the heart of Toronto.
At first, visiting the market was fun. I would make a reservation at a restaurant in the Distillery District weeks in advance to ensure we have somewhere warm to end up after walking around and taking photos. But as the years progressed and things got more popular and crowded, this wasn't always simple.
Even though we didn't have a reservation, we'd still go to the market to admire the lit-up Christmas tree, enjoy the music and have a cup of hot chocolate.
As the years went by, I started to realize how much I actually hate visiting the market, and no matter when or how many layers I wore, I'd leave excited to get home as soon as possible.
Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful and filled with Christmas spirit, so if you haven't been, you should definitely go. And this year, the tree and gingerbread huts were designed by Parfums Christian Dior. 500 hours went into making the tree unique and sparkly, and it certainly was as pretty as the pictures.
However, these are the things I'm left thinking about every time I leave the market that makes me remember why I hate visiting it in the first place.
The traffic sucks
Traffic by the Distillery District.
From my house to Toronto's Distillery District, during the middle of the day is 14 minutes. When I visited the Christmas market on Thursday, December 8, it took me over 45 minutes to get to the area and finding a parking spot was a completely different disaster.
Police completely blocked off the roads, and there weren't many options for alternative routes.
We found a parking spot around a 10-minute walk from the back entrance of the market, which isn't too bad considering how busy the streets were.
Everything is expensive AF
Hot chocolate at the Distillery District.
If you had one chance to make a profit during the year, then having a stall at the Distillery Districts Winter Village would definitely be your opportunity.
Of course, when people are surrounded by love and Christmas cheer, I bet they are more inclined to shop. But where is the limit? I'm not sure.
This one stall I happened to walk past had the cutest ornaments, but the smallest one I spotted cost around $20, and that's only the start.
Other than retail, food and drinks are also quite pricey. For example, I got a shot of hot chocolate for $3.50, and it was actually three sips, maybe four if I tried. So, in other words, it was a dollar a sip...
The lobster roll stand, the only hut with no line, was selling their sandwich for around $25, which is probably why no one was eager to buy a roll.
Even though the event is free during specific days of the week, the cost of enjoying the basic things at the market was too darn expensive.
Waiting for an indoor table could take a while
Line up at El Catrin.
If you don't have a reservation at one of the restaurants in the Distillery District during the winter festivities, then good luck finding one once you get there.
When I went to the market, I thought trying to find a table for two wouldn't be such a long wait, but I was greatly mistaken.
So please don't say I didn't warn you.
At El Catrin Destileria, there was a line just to sign up to be on the waitlist, and once you got there, we were told a table indoors' wait time was close to two hours, but if you were hoping to sit outside, then around an hour wait was the average.
The wait time at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie was shorter, but the food is generally more expensive, depending on what you order. But a table for two was still an hour's wait, which still sucks—especially if you're freezing!
It's too darn cold
Mira trying to stand by the heaters.
I struggle with this year after year, and before you tell me, "well, you're in Canada," you're right! But, come on, would it be so difficult to create an enclosed space in the market where people can warm up just for a second?
This year, I dressed warmly in a winter jacket, boots, fleece leggings, hat, gloves and scarf, and I was still freezing my butt off.
It took two hours before I could feel my toes again.
I bet this is a common Distillery District Christmas market experience, where you try to look for warmth by searching for one of those standing heaters, but there are so many people huddling by them that you're lucky if any heat gets to you.
Also, there's such a limited number of heaters— it just doesn't make any sense. So instead of fighting for the perfect warm spot, I always end up in the stores that are again very darn expensive, making me look at nice things I can't afford. And it's a never-ending cycle where I forget that I need to walk around to enjoy the Christmas market.
Food lines are too long
People waiting in line to get food.
There were a lot of food vendors at the Christmas market this year, I want to say more than usual, but I never kept tabs.
Regardless, no matter where I turned, being all excited to grab a bite, whether it was the raclette, grilled cheese sandwiches, perogies or crepes, the line was too long, and I ended up leaving and ordering UberEats to my apartment.
But, if you have the patience to wait in line and eat while standing, then, by all means, the food smelt and looked delicious!
Good luck trying to get an Insta-worthy picture by the tree
Mira trying to take a picture by the tree at the Christmas market.
If you were hoping to get all dressed up to pose by the beautifully lit Christmas tree for the perfect Instagram picture, forget about it.
The tree is the main attraction, and there are a lot of people trying to get the best shot too. The number of times I had to say "sorry" while people were trying to pass during my photo op became annoyingly hilarious.
But the tree is worth the photo, so just expect to be standing there for a few minutes before calling it a missed opportunity.