You’ll Have to Pay to Attend the Distillery District During the Holidays This Year

The Toronto Christmas Market, which gave you a reason to skip travelling to Europe during the holidays when it first opened and has kind of regressed ever since on account of massive crowds and not exactly festivus-friendly prices, continues to become a destination of declining appeal.

Yesterday, it was announced that visiting the Distillery District on weekends during the holiday season will come at a cost. That’s right, you’ll have to pay $5 just to enter its premises – whether you attend the Christmas Market or not.

“It just got too busy on Saturdays and Sundays last year,” said the Market’s executive producer, Matthew Rosenblatt. “It went from magical and romantic to insanely crowded. This year, we thought that if we didn’t do something, we would ruin the experience by how busy it would be.”

That something needed to be done was clear – around 40,000 people visited the Market daily last year – but scaring people away with an entry fee is a little bitter. Not very ‘spirit of the season’, if you will. You certainly don’t pay to enter a mall. Or an art fair. Or a flea market. Or a store of any kind.

Or, you know, most public spaces.

Despite Rosenblatt’s implication that the charge is necessary to reduce crowds, the Market’s justification on their Facebook page reads a little differently: “Our goal for charging was two-fold: The first reason for charging was to keep the event financially viable, the second was to re-distribute some of the weekend attendance towards the weekdays where we had more capacity.” (Admission will be free on weekdays).

The second fold is reasonable enough, the first a little peculiar. If the market expects more people to attend than ever, there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t be as financially viable, if not more so, than all previous years. No major sponsors have dropped off from previous editions and the list of corporate backers is quite extensive.

As for surplus funds generated by the Christmas Market, they’ll be re-invested back into new high-quality activations, infrastructure, and programming, along with supporting the Daily Bread Food Bank, Plan Canada, and the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund.

The market will run from November 20 to December 20.