Santa really exists!
(This post currently being updated, come back Nov. 26, 2015 after 8 p.m.!)
From late November up to December 24th, one can visit Santa in several shopping centres and other attractions. (December 25 falls on a Friday in 2015.) Here is a selection of twelve whimsical places where you can see him, and maybe do a bit of shopping along the way. Don't forget that Santa needs to take a break from time to time. He might be absent for a short period when you show up.
1) Santa at Springridge Farm
On weekends until December 13, 2015: It's fun to see Santa in a barn for a change at Springridge Farm during their Christmas Open House. Santa is there on weekends from Nov. 28 to Dec. 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They offer $5 craft activities. The farm's great gift shop is open daily until Dec. 24 at 12 noon. They sell Christmas trees.
2) Santa's log cabin by the Eaton Centre
Daily until December 23, 2015: Click here to reserve a 30-minute interactive session with Santa (including storytelling, you can take all the photos you want) from Nov. 26 to Dec. 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the cozy cottage built near the church on the west side of the Eaton Centre. You can usually take photos in a sleigh outside of the cabin and enjoy a little maze made out of small Christmas trees. Big bonus: the shopping mall's giant deer and The Bay Christmas windows at Queen and Yonge. Mall Holiday hours: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Dec. 24, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Dec. 25)
3) Santa at Pingle's Farm
First two weekends in December 2015: Santa is at Pingle's Farm on weekends in December from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (you can bring your own camera and expect Christmas crafts). The farm market and bakery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until December 24 when they will close at 1 p.m. (They sell fresh-cut Christmas trees.)
4) Santa's cottage at Black Creek Pioneer
Weekends until December 21, 2014: On weekends at Black Creek Pioneer Village, you can hop on a horse-drawn wagon to get to Santa's cottage. Christmas spirit reamins from November 22 to December 23. Black Creek is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
5) Santa's lodge at the Toronto Christmas Market
Until Sunday December 21, 2014: You can visit Santa's cottage at the Distillery during the Toronto Christmas Market, Tuesday to Friday, 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. This is probably the best time of the year to visit the Distillery, all lit up with firepits and patio heaters everywhere. (See my photo gallery of the Toronto Christmas Market 2014.)
6) Fishing with Santa at Vaughan Mills
Until Tuesday December 23, 2014: I think this is my favourite Santa for the beauty of his Wilderness Cabin and the original photo you can take of the kids fishing with Santa. Santa’s elves can also capture each fishing adventure with a photo and a video that you'll be able to view on-line and share it with friends and family as an email, Tweet, Instagram or Facebook post. Santa's hours: Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mall Holiday hours: Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
7) Santa's Victorian Christmas at Bronte Creek
Weekends and a few days until December 23, 2014: In Spruce Farm at Bronte Creek, on December weekends before Christmas plus Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can dress up in Victorian costumes and take photos with Santa with your own camera (or you can also book a private family photo for a fee). Bronte Creek Provincial Park is lovely in the winter. There's wagon rides on the weekend. Skating in the large outdoor rink starts in December 13, weather allowing and you can do tobogganing. The very cool children's playbarn is open year-round except on December 25!
8) Santa's Wonderland in Bass Pro (also at Vaughan Mills)
Until Tuesday December 24, 2014: Santa's Wonderland is in the back of the huge and quite spectacular store, to the left. There's lots of action and a fun decor. The activities usually some shooting activities (Bass Pro is a hunting and fishing store). Older kids will love this place. The only problem with smaller kids is to make sure they don't see the other Santa (further to the left when you exit the store. Santa's hours: Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Dec. 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Note that they started on Nov. 15 with shorter hours. Mall Holiday hours: mmm
9) Santa at Woodbine Centre
Until December 24, 2014: I have two reasons to really like visiting Santa Claus at Woodbine Centre. The mall hosts the indoor midway Fantasy Fair (including a little train that Santa will ride with the kids on December 14 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.). And it is home to Rainbow Cinemas, which offers FREE family movies at 11 a.m. on December 13, 20 and 27 (doors open at 10 a.m.). Santa welcomes all young visitors (and each of them will get a colouring book) but you won't be allowed to take your own photos. They sell photo packages, the cheapest being $22 for two 4 X 6. Santa's hours: Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.. He will be "at the office" on December 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.9). Mall Holiday hours: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 24, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
10) Santa's court at Sherway Gardens
Registered visits until December 24, 2014: I hate to tease people with registered activities that get quickly sold out and this is one of them. I'm adding it to the list so you can maybe think about it in time next year. You can only register in person at the booth by Santa's place at Sherway Gardens. It is the loveliest 30-minute interactive activity with Santa in a great setting. The $5 sessions are offered from November 15 to Decemper 24, 2014. Mall Holiday hours: Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 24 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
11) Santa at Scarborough Town Centre (and Square One)
Until December 24, 2014: Santa (and Mrs. Claus) welcome all young visitors but you won't be allowed to take your own photos. They sell photo packages, the cheapest being $17 for two 4 X 6. Santa's hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mall Holiday hours: Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Dec. 24, open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (In Square One, Santa, who awaits in a forest of evergreens, also accept visits from all but don't allow photos with personal devices. Their cheapest photo package is $15 for a 5 X 7. See Square One for hours.)
12) Santa at Yorkdale Centre
Photo sessions with a fee until December 24, 2014: What really attracts me about this shopping centre is the rain of crystal balls (near the Indigo). Holt Renfrew features a cool multimedia display on each side of its large entrance. It appears that one can only visit Santa in his Crystal Wonderland at Yorkdale Centre if buying their photo package (minimum fee $22 for two 4 X 6). TIP: Don't forget that once at home, you can scan your photos from the phto package and send it to as many person as you want.
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