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The Short Version: The Distillery Winter Village is bringing holiday magic to Toronto with dozens of shops, vendors, events, and activities for couples looking for a cozy date in a winter wonderland. The Winter Village transforms the Distillery Historic District with canopy lights and a nearly 60-foot Christmas tree, using the backdrop of the Victorian Industrial buildings to create a charming pedestrian space. The Winter Village is open throughout the season and makes a great spot for holiday-themed romantic dates.
It’s firmly cuffing season, and it’s time for all the fun, festive, and romantic activities that come with it. If you’re single, that probably means going on dates with new people and having fun enjoying the holiday-themed events in your area.
If you’re already in a relationship, cuffing season is marked by more quality time with your partner and plenty of holiday-themed dates amid the business of the winter season. There’s no cozier time of the year to make sweet memories with your special someone.
The Distillery Winter Village in Toronto is a great spot for any couple, whether they’re recently cuffed or entering another holiday season together. The village features tons of holiday shopping, dozens of unique vendors, and delicious food and drinks. Modeled after the charming, string-lighted streets of a European town center, The Distillery Winter Village creates holiday magic at each corner.
Sarah Albanese is the Event Coordinator for the Winter Village. She told us all about the Winter Village and everything Toronto-based couples can enjoy there. “I feel so fortunate that I get to work here every day and see people come and enjoy the village. It’s such a romantic place, and we see couples here all the time,” Sarah said.
The Distillery Winter Village is located in Toronto’s East End, in the Distillery Historic District. The Distillery Historic District is a collection of formerly abandoned Victorian Industrial buildings. The district was first established in 1832 when Gooderham & Worts built a windmill on the land. Eventually, Gooderham & Worts grew to become the largest distillery in the world and the largest corporate taxpayer in Canada.
The Distillery District is recognized as a national historic site due to its unique collection of large, high-quality Victorian Industrial buildings. Today, the district has over 40 heritage buildings that can be explored through a self-guided tour. Most of the buildings on the site were designed by architects and civil engineers David Roberts, Sr. and his son, David Roberts, Jr.
In the early 2000s, a team of Toronto-based developers saw great potential in the underdeveloped neighborhood. They wanted to transform the space into a one-of-a-kind inspiring cultural hub for the city, using the backdrop of the beautiful 19th-century buildings to bring visitors back in time. The historic buildings still stood but were not being used to their full potential.
The vision for the revamped Distillery Historic District was inspired by European pedestrian and patio districts, along with the hip vibe that can be found in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The developers wanted to combine the energy and feel of these two places to make a place where artists, cuisine explorers, and the community can meet, eat, and engage.
The restoration process harnessed the talents of hundreds of tradesmen and craftsmen who were skilled in working with 19th-century building materials. They repurposed original materials and expertly blended them with modern materials and green tech. The end result is a beautiful mix of the old and new and a space for community and culture to thrive in Toronto.
Come November, the Distillery District is transformed into a wintery wonderland. “We have canopy lights, a 56-foot tall Christmas tree, Santa, elves, and just some of the most romantic vibes you can go for,” Sarah said. “It’s open for seven weeks, so people in the area will stop by frequently to get a coffee or just enjoy the atmosphere.”
Foodie couples can enjoy all the year-round restaurants in the Distillery District and the special vendors that come in for the holiday season. Winter Village features different types of cuisine, so no matter what a couple is in the mood for, they can find a tasty bite.
Sarah told us her favorite food option is El Catrin Destileria, a Mexican restaurant in the District. “The restaurant has the most beautifully painted mural on the inside, plus an outdoor patio with heaters. It’s a perfect spot for cozying up by the fireplace with someone special,” Sarah said.
Sarah also recommended Madrina Bar y Tapas, which is Michelin recommended and great for a fancier date night. Whether a couple is going to the Winter Village for a casual stroll or a formal date, there is a restaurant perfect for their outing.
Pancho’s Bakery is a seasonal vendor offering authentic Mexican churros of all varieties. Pancho’s Bakery is home of the churro cone, which molds the delicious dessert into a cone shape that can be filled with ice cream, sauce, and sweet toppings of choice.
Sugared and Iced is another seasonal vendor, and they make designer cookies and desserts. Couples can find gourmet holiday-themed cookies, including Santa cookies, Christmas tree cookies, and colorful ornament cookies.
Keeping true to its history as a distillery, the Distillery Winter Village has many options for couples who want to enjoy alcoholic beverages. SpiritHouse Toronto offers spectacular cocktails, fine spirits, and a cozy and romantic atmosphere. Spirit of York Distillery sells house-made gin, vodka, whisky, and more, which make for exquisite cocktails or a great gift for lovers of high-quality spirits.
The Distillery Winter Village is also a great spot to take care of holiday shopping. Peace Collective is a retail shop located in the Distillery District. The shop offers high-quality sports apparel, including official merch for NBA, MLB, and NHL teams. Every purchase helps support mental health research, making holiday purchases all the more meaningful.
Black Bird Vintage offers shoppers books, journals, incense, playing cards, and more. The vintage shop is chock-full of unique antiques, found objects, jewelry, and collectible items. It’s a great place to find quirky gifts and stocking stuffers.
Sarah was excited to talk about all the holiday-themed events at the Distillery Winter Village. Santa makes a visit to the Winter Village every day of the week to find out what everyone wants for Christmas. The Village is also chock-full of photo-ops, including two photo ops designed especially for people and their furry companions.
The Candy Cane Carolers perform multiple times daily around the Village, and audience participation is heavily encouraged. Holiday song lyrics are projected onto the “Singing Wall” of the Spirit of York building so everyone can sing along.
This year, the village has the tallest Christmas tree it has ever featured. The 56-foot-tall tree is located in Trinity Square and illuminates the cobblestone walkways of the Village with warm light and holiday cheer. The Distillery Winter Village offers so many distinct experiences couples will have no problem finding something special for date night.
“The Winter Village is probably one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been,” Sarah said. “There are vendors, shops, photo ops, art galleries, theater performances– it’s everything you could ask for a date night, all in one place.”