Winter Skating under-the-Gardiner Opens this Month

Winter Skating under-the-Gardiner Opens this Month

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The Bentway, Toronto’s favourite cold-season hotspot, opens for skating in December


The Bentway welcomes back local neighbours and fun-seekers for its fifth year of winter programming, launching Saturday, December 17, 2022. Skaters are invited to chill out and cozy up along a 220-metre figure-eight skate trail, located under the Gardiner Expressway.

Alongside skating, perennial festive favourites return, including free skate rental nights, free hot chocolate nights, beginner skate lessons, and The Bentway’s Polar Bear Skate.

Adding some extra warmth this year, The Bentway celebrates the experiences of newcomers encountering Toronto’s cold season for the first time. Featured “First Winter” programming includes the glowing new art installation, Beacons, by Shellie Zhang; performance; music; storytelling; and community care initiatives.

“Many Torontonians have fond memories of winter in the city – lacing up our skates; holding mittens under a magical snowfall; a friendly neighbour helping dig out our car…” notes Alex Rand, Manager of Programming at The Bentway. “For newcomers to Canada, winters will include a series of ‘firsts’, with new memories to be made and treasured. This season we’re exploring how experiences of winter can connect all of us, our stories, and our traditions.”

Winter Skating will be open over the holidays from December 17 to January 8, every day from 12pm-9pm, including skate rentals, skate sharpening, and a hot chocolate bar.

After the holidays from January 9 to February 20, skating will be open on weekends from 12pm-9pm, and weekdays from 5pm-9pm; as well as holidays and TDSB Elementary P.A. days from 12pm-9pm.

Also from December 31 to February 20, visitors can enjoy special treats and offerings:

The Bentway’s Polar Bear Skate December 31 at 12pm: Both a clothing drive and a wild way to close out the year, brave Torontonians are invited to strip down to their skivvies and skate the trail for a good cause. Donations of warm winter clothing will be collected onsite by New Circles Community Services and distributed to newcomer and refugee families experiencing winter in Toronto for the first time. Registration is now open at

Free Beginner Skate Lessons – Expert instructors will help build essential skills for novice skaters every Tuesday: 5:00pm-6:00pm for children aged 6 to 12, and 6:00pm-7:00pm for those aged over 12 [starting January 10]. Registration for Beginner Skate Lessons opens December 20 at

Free Hot Chocolate Mondays – From January 9: Mondays are date night at The Bentway! Come enjoy your free hot chocolate onsite and explore the neighbourhood, every Monday from 5pm-9pm, courtesy of CityPlace Fort York BIA.

Billy Bishop Free Rental Fridays – Starting January 13: Free skate rentals are available every Friday from 5pm-9pm, courtesy of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Special “First Winter” Programming

Special programming during The Bentway’s 2022/23 winter season celebrates Toronto’s multiculturalism and explores what it is to experience winter in the city for the first time.

Anchoring the season is Beacons by artist Shellie Zhang (b. 1991; Beijing, China), which consists of five vibrant sculptures that light up the Gardiner’s concrete columns. Beacons is inspired by Zhang’s conversations with newcomers as well as her own experience arriving in Canada, and how efforts of collectives and friendly strangers helped brighten what otherwise felt like an endless, gloomy period of cold. Commissioned by The Bentway with support from TD Bank Group (TD), Beacons glows with the dusk and dawn-time colours of Toronto’s skyline in winter, a reminder of the passage of time, and the warmth we draw from our community during these dark, frozen months.

The “First Winter” series includes a suite of public programs, supported by Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport:

First Winter Memories: The Bentway invites newcomer residents, partners, and artists to express memories of their early winter experiences in Toronto – which will be shared at The Bentway Skate Trail and throughout the season.

Lunar New Year festivities: On January 22, celebrate Lunar New Year with an array of dancers, vendors, and performers from the East Asian Diaspora, including Lion Dancers from the Hong Luck Kung Fu Club.

Midwinter Concert: On February 9, The Bentway Studio at Canoe Landing comes alive to showcase the talents and stories of the artistic newcomer community in concert, co-presented with Small World Music.


Family Day celebrations: The winter season closes out on February 20 with a free, all-ages, musical and multicultural skate party for Family Day. 

Visit to learn more about winter programs and schedules.

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