[colored_box color=”yellow”]Kensington Market is located west of downtown Toronto -— bordered by Spadina Avenue, Dundas Street, Bathurst Street, and College Street. This multicultural neighborhood, just steps away from Chinatown, is one of the city’s oldest and most visited by locals and tourists.[/colored_box]
Kensington Market isn’t just one large open-aired market as most new visitors may imagine it to be. Instead, the market is lined with narrow one-way streets and century homes, which have been converted into a depot of eclectic shops that are best explored by foot. There are numerous vintage clothing, discount and surplus stores. At any given time, the air is filled with smells of spices from around the world and fresh food being prepared. A variety of ethnic restaurants can be found in Kensington Market, anything from French to Asian to Central American cuisine can be consumed. The Market is also a great source for fresh produce, variety of meats and fish, and I can’t forget to mention the diverse selection of cheese. In recent years the neighborhood has seen a sudden increase of upscale cafes, restaurants and clubs, which unfortunately have replaced many of the older ethnic businesses.
Kensington Market is the center of Toronto’s cultural life for artists and tourist alike. During the summer months, pubs, café’s and patios are full of people having a good time enjoying the atmosphere only Kensington Market can provide. Once a month residents and business have organized a series of Pedestrian Sundays, typically taking place on the last Sunday of every month. The streets are closed to motorized vehicles and transform into a pedestrian mall full of live music, dancing and street theatre. Kensington Market is not just a place to visit during the summer, one of the Market’s biggest events happens every winter during the Winter Solstice in December. Organized by Red Pepper Spectacle of Arts, the Kensington Market Festival of Lights happens on the shortest, darkest day of the year. The month prior to the celebration, Red Pepper Spectacle of Arts runs a lantern-making workshop for parade goers to build their own unique paper lantern to use as they walk with the Festival of Lights procession. On the day of the celebration, there is a carnival like parade filled with stilt walkers, fire breathers, giant puppets, and costumes of many eclectic images. At the end of the procession, an enormous sculpture is set a blaze to say good-bye to the old year as the celebration continues into the wee hours of the night.
Kensington Market is a one of a kind neighborhood that everyone must experience for him or herself; words cannot describe its true authenticity. This certainly isn’t a place that should be passed up on.