BY CRAIG MOY
Perhaps you’ve heard: Toronto is one the most dynamic cities in the world. An endlessly fascinating place to live; an equally amazing destination to visit. Whether you’re an international jetsetter or on a cross-Canada excursion, travelling within Ontario or just looking to be a tourist in your own hometown, there are literally thousands of compelling reasons to visit Toronto. And for 2015, here are 15 more.
REASON TO VISIT TORONTO #1:
The Aga Khan Museum is a Stunning Addition
Inaugurated this past September, the new Aga Khan Museum is undoubtedly Toronto’s most culturally significant new attraction, a place for all to learn about and appreciate Islamic art and life through the ages. Part of a larger North Toronto campus that also includes an Ismaili Muslim community centre, the museum displays hundreds of antiquities and artworks (as well as special exhibitions) that illuminate not only Islamic civilization and its developments across time, but also how those developments have impacted the wider world. From December 13 to April 26, the museum hosts “The Lost Dhow: A Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route,” an exhibition that illuminates globalized trade more than 1,000 years ago, by telling the story of a 9th-century Arab ship, loaded with goods from China, that sank off the coast of Indonesia.
REASON TO VISIT TORONTO #2:
The AGO Collects the Best of Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat conquered New York’s early-‘80s art scene by creating expressive works that triggered discussion and soul-searching over racism and social tensions in America. His conceptual paintings and drawings are (sadly) just as relevant today, as the exhibition “Now’s the Time” makes plain. On display from February 7 to May 10 at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the show is the first major retrospective of Basquiat’s work in Canada, and boasts more than 80 large-scale pieces which, drawing as they do on jazz, comics, graffiti and remix culture, comprise the artist’s distinct and provocative visual language.
REASON TO VISIT TORONTO #3:
There’s Even More Art
Many of the city’s excellent commercial art galleries also have reasons to draw your gaze—especially early in the year, when Union Station hosts Villa Toronto. From January 16 to 23, the highly regarded gathering of galleries will highlight cutting-edge works from top local and international art spaces, including Art Metropole, Diaz Contemporary and Clint Roenisch Gallery. Parallel events, performances and discussions are also promised. Another exciting development? The 20th anniversary of Stephen Bulger Gallery, one of Canada’s premier purveyors of photographic art. The gallery’s celebratory exhibition—featuring one piece from every solo show Bulger has hosted—is scheduled to run from March 23 to April 25.
REASON TO VISIT TORONTO #4:
The Toronto Raptors are Devouring the NBA
This time last year, Drake’s favourite basketball squad seemed destined to once again find itself mingling with the NBA’s bottom feeders (or, at least, the mediocre middle). But a fortuitous, chemistry-enhancing trade, an exhilarating playoff series, and a stronger-than-hoped-for 2014/15 start later, and the team is looking like a real contender when crunch time arrives in the spring. Before then, the Toronto Raptors have a bevy of home-court tests against top-tier competition—everyone from the San Antonio Spurs (February 8) to Lebron James’s Cleveland Cavaliers (March 4) to the ever-rugged Chicago Bulls (March 25). Snag some tickets to discover for yourself the extent to which the Raptors have reinvigorated this city’s sporting scene.
REASON TO VISIT TORONTO #5:
There are More Stores Than Ever Before
You’ll have to wait until 2016 for the really big retail event—that is, when U.S. luxury department stores Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom cross into Canada—but this coming year still offers an abundance of new shopping opportunities at recently opened boutiques such as Want Apothecary and Oak & Fort, plus new stores from major brands like Bulgari, Jimmy Choo, J. Lindeberg, and Versace. In 2015, it seems that Toronto shoppers will also be able to browse (planned) flagship locations for luxury labels like Bruno Cucinelli, Christian Dior, Fendi Casa, and Salvatore Ferragamo.