The Toronto Christmas Market opened Thursday, bringing its unique brand of Christmas cheer to the city.
"We're not trying to monetize Christmas," Mathew Rosenblatt , executive director of the Toronto Christmas Market Market, told CBC Toronto. "We're just trying to be Christmas."
This year, the market has brought along with it many of the seasonal favourites for which it is known, but also some new treats for newcomers and Christmas Market veterans.
New for 2017 is a 100-foot (30.5 metre) light tunnel that will be filled with treats for visitors.
Also new is the Spirit of York Distillery, which Rosenblatt says hasn't distilled since 1990.
"Don't come here because it's the best alcohol maybe you've ever tasted, and don't come here because you might want to have a little relaxed feeling. Come here because you're supporting Canada," he said.
Rosenblatt added that everything in the vodka, whisky and gin is all Canadian, including the Canadian spring water.
"It really is good, and it does add another layer to the market and the whole experience," he said.
No big-box merchandise
What you won't find at the Christmas Market are the big-box chains with which you have likely become all too familiar.
"For the distillery, when it was taken over in 2001, the plan was not to build the residence first and then in-fill it with a whole bunch of franchises and things people have experienced a million times before," he said. "It was to create a really special place, not just for the city, but really in the world."
The market, he says, offers "the best of big city sophistication but also the connectedness and warmth of the small town."
The market, now in its eighth year, started at 4 p.m. on Thursday, but its official opening ceremony was at 6 p.m. that evening. It runs until Dec. 23rd.
Admission will be charged again on weekends, Rosenblatt said. Admission is $6 and is charged starting Friday at 5 p.m. until Sunday, when it closes at 9 p.m.
He said the market introduced admission because it was overcrowded on weekends.