Celebrate the longest night of the year with some seriously bright events.
If Christmas isn’t your thing and you’re not quite chosen enough for Chanukah, don’t despair: you can celebrate the winter solstice.
Falling on December 21 in 2015, the solstice marks the shortest day of the year. In Toronto, we’ll get a scant eight hours and 55 minutes of sunlight to mark the occasion (compare this to summer solstice in June, when we get more than 15 hours of glorious sunlight). It’s a time to settle in with a cup of hot chocolate (or mulled wine) and watch the fireplace roar.
But if settling in isn’t your thing, we have a selection of solstice-themed events and outings to check out. And just remember: the days get longer from here on out.
The Shortest Day Film Program for kids
Get the youngest members of the family into a wintery mood with the Bloor Cinema’s Shortest Day Program, a collection of four themed shorts pulled from the National Film Board’s collection. Spend the afternoon introducing the under-eight set to the wonders of the darkness with Nicola Lemay’s Private Eyes, and get into the holiday spirit with Ludovic- the Snow Gift. It’s part of the nationwide Shortest Day Film Festival, which offers screenings all over Toronto from December 18 to 21.
December 19, Free; two-ticket maximum
Solstice Sweat Lodge: December 19
Want to get out of the city? Check out Heron Walk’s solstice sweat lodge, a semi-annual cleansing event held in St. Thomas, about a two-hour drive southwest of the GTA. This sweat lodge isn’t strictly culturally accurate—their website says the event is “comprised of the essence of many similar ceremonies from all over the world”—but if you want a new-age flavoured schvitz complete with a musical circle and a potluck feast afterwards, this might just be your bag.
December 19, $30 recommended; RSVP recommended
Winter Solstice Walk
A co-project of First Story Toronto and Toronto Green Community, this community walk looks at Huron-Wendat, Cree, and Anishinaabe stories and sites in midtown Toronto. This particular outing will focus on a winter perspective. The 90-minute walk kicks off at 2:00 p.m. at the corner of Avenue Road and St. Clements Avenue; afterwards, the conversation moves inside to the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre for an hour of storytelling and crafts.
December 20, Free
The Return of the Light
If you like your solstice celebration to skew heavily woo-woo (as do we), check out Pamela Jane Gerrand’s concert and celebration—featuring poetry, song, and “sacred song alchemy”—at Prana Yoga in the east end. Gerrand’s event showcases chanting, crystal bowls, animal-skin drums, and her swooping, award-winning voice. The opening ceremony, led by Tara Greene, is sure to create some heat for yogis and non-yogis alike.
December 21, $20-25
Kensington Market Solstice Parade
The mack daddy of Toronto Solstice events, Red Pepper Spectacle Arts has been chasing off the longest, darkest night for 26 years. Participants meet at the corner of Oxford and Augusta at 7:00 p.m., and are led on a lantern-lit parade through Kensington Market before ending up in nearby Alexandra Park at 8:00 p.m. for a bonfire.
December 21, Free