The Cheapskate’s guide to winter in Toronto

Brrrr! on a budget

Winter in Toronto is undeniably cold. As many of us huddle indoors, refusing to emerge until April’s warmer weather, great events and attractions are taking place under our very noses. Luckily for you, we’ve sourced out some of the best eats, treats, shopping and learning experiences to tackle this season, all the while respecting your wallet. Something we don’t know? Tell us about your inexpensive winter activity below.


TO’s Finest Food Crawl – Various locations
Purchasing a $10 passport gives you access to the $5 food crawl—an orgiastic feast of some of the best bites the city has to offer. A handful of topnotch eateries (including La Cubana Ossington, Glory Hole Doughnuts, and Holy Chuck) serve up their feature dishes for passport holders who, in turn, get to eat big and save lots. Be sure to leave enough room to visit all ten hotspots!
December 7 – 20

Big news coming soon people | Stay tuned for the Toronto's Finest $5 Food Crawl 🙏 #FinestFoodCrawl

A photo posted by Toronto's Finest (@to_finest) on


The Arepa Republic Food Truck – Various locations
For those looking to try out-of-this-world taste on the go, this newly minted Venezuelan joint on wheels is dishing out massive flavour for very little coin. Want to sink your teeth into a new sensation without the hassle of a reservation? Visit their website or Facebook page to see when and where this magical truck will be popping up next.


Winterlicious – Various locations
Back for another successful installment, this ingenious Toronto initiative continues to gain momentum, sharing another batch of restaurants (200+) and their scrumptious prix-fixe menus for adventurous, budget-conscious diners. Follow along here to be the first to learn of newly added items, and to make reservations for your next night out.
January 29 – February 11



Knit yourself a sweater – Toronto Public Library (various locations)
Looking for a therapeutic, cost-efficient way to combat the chill, meet new people, and establish some serious closet credibility? The Toronto Public Library—in addition to housing hundreds of thousands of books for those looking to bide some time on those inevitable nights when the heat and electricity at home go out—has put together a slew of FREE knitting classes in which yarn enthusiasts can learn the ins and outs of this nifty pastime. Knit yourself some warmth while gabbing with your new, stylish best friend. Visit here to find a location and time near you.


(Photo by mararie via Flickr)


Art Appreciation – Art Gallery of Ontario
You can never be too cheap to appreciate a finely filled canvas. Some truly remarkable artists have their works on display this winter (some for the first time in Canada) at the AGO. Anne Collier, J.M.W. Turner, and Manasie Akpaliapik have exhibits this winter, in addition to the numerous lectures, film screenings and permanent works that make this gallery great. Remember: Wednesday evenings are FREE!


(Photo by Sam Javanrouh via Flickr)



Concerts! – Various Venues
What better way to stay warm this winter than to sweat it out to your favourite band in one of Toronto’s great concert venues? This season sees shows from Born Ruffians, The Arcs, Strumbellas, Alvvays, Stars, The Most Serene Republic and so many more. All these shows are bound to rack up a bill so make sure you’re a Superfriend and enter for free tickets in every weekly email blast.


New Year’s Eve in the Square – Nathan Phillips Square
The ultimate Toronto holiday experience, this year’s huge, FREE show will feature live musical performances (to be announced), ice skating, food trucks and all the fireworks you can handle.
December 31


(Photo by Sam Javanrouh via Flickr)


Frozen In Time – Yorkville Park
After a successful 2015, the organizers of Bloor-Yorkville’s IceFest are back with a dazzling array of fine ice sculptures for your perusal. Take a break from shopping and stop by to gander at the sights, chow down on some frosty maple syrup, and participate in a gnarly ice carving contest for major prizes.
February 20 – 21

#Icefest15 is officially here! Come join us and get #FrozenInTime in the Village of Yorkville Park!

A photo posted by Bloor-Yorkville (@blooryorkville) on


Ultimutts Stunt Show (Winterfest Edition) – Purina Paws Way
This family-friendly extravaganza features a parade of pooches performing amazing feats of strength and agility for throngs of adoring fans. Catch one of three FREE shows at Harbourfront’s Purina Paws Way building while taking in the sights of the ever-popular Winterfest.
December 19 – 20 (1:00pm; 2:30pm; 4:00pm)


Free Skating at Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Rink
Billed as the most scenic rink in the city, with its panoramic views of Lake Ontario, there really is no better venue for ice dancing than Harbourfront’s Natrel Park. Heated indoor change rooms and lockers, plus great food courtesy of the Lakeside Local Bar & Grille, make this the ultimate outdoor destination for winter cheapskates. There are many unique rinks and ice trails to lace up your skates this season – check out our full list.



Toronto Christmas Market – The Distillery District
Shop ‘til you drop along this scenic outdoor avenue of charming stalls, shops, and eateries. The historic Distillery District has once again bedecked its cobblestone streets with garlands and wreaths, transforming these already attractive pathways into a sumptuous yuletide experience. Bring yourself, or the whole family, and experience all the goods (and good food) this east-end hub has to offer.
Admission is FREE Tuesdays – Fridays; $5.00 Saturday – Sunday
November 20 – December 20.


One of a Kind Show & Sale – Enercare Centre
Just in time for gift-giving season, these talented artisans have brought a hand-made collection of unique items to the table, guaranteed to garner oohs and aahs from everyone on your shopping list. With, literally, something for everyone, be sure to buy your tickets before the train leaves. Bonus: your ticket comes with free re-admission and free art classes on site. Cheapskates: Buy your tickets online and save $2
November 26 – December 6

A photo posted by heather hawke (@heatherhawke) on


Cheap ‘n delicious cheese – Kensington Market (various locations)
As we know, Christmas is all about giving, family, togetherness, Jesus, and food (in that order). For the latter, Toronto has an unbeatable collection of retailers to properly, and cheaply, outfit your next holiday party. For A-plus nibbles, you’d be wisely advised to visit Kensington Market’s finer food establishments. Cheese Magic, World of Cheese, and Mendel’s Creamery offer up the greatest selection and best value for everybody’s favourite ingredient. Cheapskates: FREE samples are abounding, and savings are a guarantee (especially if you’re buying off of the big wheels).
Cheese Magic – 182 Baldwin Street
Global Cheese – 76 Kensington Avenue
Mendel’s Creamery – 72 Kensington Avenue