One of the best parts about living in downtown Toronto during the holiday season is the abundance of lights. The sun goes down sooner and the buildings light up like white-light Christmas trees. Strings of lights with starry centers reach across Yonge Street. Large Christmas-light covered reindeer and trees magically appear overnight in the Eaton Centre.
But, neither of those comes close to my love of holiday-decorated city squares.
Last year, I was able to go out and watch the tree lighting ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square, complete with free concerts, the fireworks show and a brief ice-skating attempt (I can’t skate in hockey skates, but somehow the snow on the ice kept me from falling). It was phenomenal.
I really wanted to relive it again this year, but I had an unexpected work shift that kept me from my love of the lights.
That didn’t stop my boyfriend Chris and I from heading over later, after the crowds had dissipated and the major events finished. This was his first time at the square and his first Christmas with below freezing temperatures. (No, he’s not from one of those families I envy who spend the holidays in Mexico, he’s from Australia – a land without snow.)
As the crowd was petering out, we made our way in. The rink was still too busy to go skating (read: Try again another day to avoid people like me who can’t stop in skates and will run you over if you fall), but we walked along the typically roped-off upstairs sections where you can see over the entire square.
Unfortunately, for a couple who missed the entire ceremony and didn’t feel like dodging small children on the ice and couples staring into each others eyes for so long that they skate into you, it wasn’t long before we left.
Fortunately, the downtown has other means of lights- and we sought them out.
This led us to Bell Trinity Square. An entryway strung lights between the trees and I needed to walk down it- Chris in tow.
The overhead Christmas lights acted like stars in the sky- a rarety in smoggy-skied Toronto. Inside the small square were Santa’s workshop and a small maze.
Convinced that the voices we heard coming from inside the maze were from teenagers swigging from flasks or in the midst of a drug deal, we decided to be adults and go take selfies with the giant cut-out Christmas tree. (The added challenge of selfie-ing through a cutout makes it that much more fun, Chris said, basically.)
Having failed miserably at getting a photo of the two of us, we moved into Santa’s sled to laugh at how ridiculous the photos were. It wasn’t until Chris noticed a Santa-suitless man in Santa’s workshop beside us that we decided that maybe we were too old to be sitting in such a small sled. So we left Bell Trinity Square and followed the lights through the Eaton Centre and down Yonge Street until we arrived at my place for some chai tea.
It’s the proper way to warm up after following the lights around all night. Cue the gingerbread cookies.