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A Christmas Carol

25 Things To Do in Calgary in December

By MICHAELA RITCHIE

A Tribe Called Red will bring their revolutionary sound to The Palace Theatre Dec. 1. (Photo by Matt Barnes.)

For some of you, Christmas has been top of mind for the past several months—but now that we’re just weeks away, the rest of us can no longer deny: ’tis the season! To help get you and yours’ in a festive mood, here are 25 of our favourite local celebrations and holiday traditions that you can take part in to count down the days until Christmas!

(If Christmas just isn’t your cup of holiday cheer, never fear! We threw in a couple of chilly activities, sans festivities, down below for getting out around town and making the most of our city at this jolly time of year—so keep scrolling, and get ready to bundle up!) (more…)

15 Things To Do in Toronto This December

This festive month is filled with a mixture of holiday merriment and family-friendly activities.

New Year’s Eve at Nathan Phillips Square. Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto.

12 Trees: Let There Be Light at The Gardiner Museum
To Jan. 7
A tradition since 1990, this year’s edition is co-curated by author and visual artist Douglas Coupland and focuses on light as a symbol of hope. Evan Biddell, Vivian Wong, Julia White, Alex McLeod, Connor Crawford, Christine Dewancker and Katherine Strang are among the contributing artists who have designed themed trees. This year’s creations include an animated winter dreamscape and a disco-ball tree.
Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park

Home Alone in Concert
Dec. 1-2
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, joined by the Etobicoke School of the Arts Junior Chorus, performs John Williams score from the 1990 smash hit during a live screening of the movie. The hit comedic film sees Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister take on two bumbling burglars by himself (played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) when his family accidentally leaves for a trip without him.
Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St.

St. Michael’s Choir School Annual Christmas Concert
Dec. 2-3
The angelic voices of the St. Michael’s Choir School, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, perform both secular and sacred carols to herald the Christmas season, including “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Hallelujah,” and Handel’s “Messiah Part I.”
Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St.

150 Years of Canadian Christmas at Casa Loma
Dec. 2-Jan. 7
The city’s palatial castle celebrates the season with a 40-foot tree designed by Canadian icon Jeanne Beker, along with eight other trees throughout the estate. Live entertainment features illusionist Professor Wick and ice skating performers Glisse on Ice. Kids can seek out Santa Claus at his castle workshop, decorate edible treats, and partake in arts and crafts.
1 Austin Terr.

A Christmas Carol. Photo by Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

A Christmas Carol
Dec. 7-24
Bah-humbug! Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge discovers his heart and the holiday spirit after visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future in this adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic presented by Soulpepper Theatre Company.
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane

Peter Pan
Dec. 8-31
Escape to Neverland with J.M. Barrie’s iconic character, Peter Pan. The boy who never grows up encounters an assortment of colourful characters including pirates, fairies, crocodiles, and even ordinary children like the Darling siblings. This musical rendition by Soulpepper Theatre Company is sure to capture the imagination of the entire family.
Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane

The Nutcracker
Dec. 9-30
A true holiday classic featuring the Sugar Plum Fairy, dancing bears, and cannon dolls, is masterfully choreographed by James Kudelka and set to music by Tchaikovsky. The National Ballet of Canada transforms E.T.A. Hoffman’s traditional tale with enchanting dance numbers, elaborate costumes, and lavish sets.
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W.

The Lorax. Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax
Dec. 9-Jan. 21
The North American premiere of this Dr. Seuss fable about protecting the environment gets the stage treatment. Direct from London and adapted by David Greig, Dr. Seuss’s colourful world is reflected with bold sets and costumes, puppets, and an original score by Charlie Fink.
Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W.

The Illusionists
Dec. 12-Jan. 7
Marvel as seven world-class magicians perform dazzling displays of wizardy and more right before your eyes. Back by popular demand—last year’s shows sold out—new performers are part of this year’s line up, including Darcy Oake, a.k.a. The Grand Illusionist, who performs death-defying acts, while Raymond Crowe, a.k.a. The Unusualist, is a mime and ventriloquist, and An Ha Lim, a.k.a. The Manipulator, mesmerizes audiences with card tricks.
Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W.

Dance Me/Music of Leonard Cohen
Dec. 15
This Toronto premiere by Ballets Jazz Montréal (BJM) pays tribute to beloved Canadian singer, songwriter, and poet Leonard Cohen. This contemporary dance company, known for its expressive style and accessibility, selects music from the span of Cohen’s lengthy career.
Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E.

DJ Skate Nights on the Natrel Rink
Dec. 16-Feb. 17
Head down to the waterfront for a scenic twirl on the rink at Harbourfront Centre. DJs spin tunes every Saturday night, with hot beverage and bites available from the rinkside restaurant, Boxcar Social.
Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W.

Sing-Along Messiah
Dec. 17
Become part of the choir at this interactive show led by conductor “Herr Handel” as thousands of voices sing Handel’s beloved Hallelujah chorus. The Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, along with featured soloists Joanne Lunn, James Laing, Rufus Müller, and Brett Polegato, take part in this family-friendly concert.
Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St.

Disney on Ice

Disney on Ice Presents Reach for the Stars
Dec. 22-Jan. 1
Beloved friends from the Disney Kingdom, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, join a royal cast that includes Anna and Elsa (and their snowy sidekick, Olaf), Ariel, Rapunzel, and Belle for a musical skating spectacle. Sing along to such songs as “Be Our Guest,” “Let It Go,” and “Tale as Old as Time.”
Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way

Toronto Christmas Market
To Dec. 23
Inspired by traditional European Christmas markets—and named one of the world’s best by Fodor’s Travel—the magic of the season is on dazzling display at the pedestrian-friendly Distillery District. Good boys and girls can have a photo op with Santa, visit a life-sized gingerbread house, and take a spin on a carousel or a ferris wheel. Grown ups can head to one of several heated lounges and beer gardens throughout the venue and partake in craft beers, mulled wines, European cocktails, and hot toddies.
Distillery District, 55 Mill St.

New Year’s Eve at Nathan Phillips Square
Dec. 31
Bid farewell to 2017 and ring in the new year at the city’s central gathering spot, Nathan Phillips Square. Festivities begin at 8 p.m. (get there earlier to secure a good spot), featuring live performances, a DJ skating party, and an impressive fireworks display to cap off TO Canada with Love, a year-long celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial.
Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.

Q+A: Welcome to Calgary, Stafford Arima

By MICHAELA RITCHIE

Acclaimed Broadway director Stafford Arima became Theatre Calgary’s new artistic director on April 3, 2017. (Photo by Abigail Alcala.)

In April 2017, Theatre Calgary welcomed a new artistic director into their ranks—acclaimed Broadway director Stafford Arima. Originally from Toronto, Arima flourished as a director both in New York and abroad for the past two decades, with credits like Allegiance, Ragtime, Altar Boyz and Carrie under his belt. Arima has returned home to Canada just in time to oversee Theatre Calgary’s 50th season.

Although he’s still pretty new to Calgary, Arima is no stranger to city living. Six months into his new role, we caught up with Arima to see how he’s settling in here, why he left New York for Calgary and where to go for the best Alberta beef in town. (more…)

17 Things To Do in Toronto This November

Grease: The Musical

Grease: The Musical
Nov. 1–Dec. 10
Fans of the John Travolta–Olivia Newton-John film know the subtitle of this production is redundant. What’s Grease without its signature songs like “You’re the One That I Want” and “Greased Lightning”? This new performance takes its characters back to the Chicago setting of the original 1971 musical, but otherwise it’s the same story you grew up with. Grease is still the word.
Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St.

Joachim Bandau
Nov. 2–25
German artist Bandau has exhibited work in more than 45 museum collections throughout his half-century career. His works in wood, metal and watercolour have had an uninterrupted run during that time, always on display in at least one major showing. The Nicholas Metivier Gallery brings a selection of his paintings and sculptures to Toronto this fall.
Nicholas Metivier Gallery, 451 King St. W.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
Nov. 3-12
The largest indoor agricultural fair in the world visits Toronto every November, bringing with it giant vegetables, pet-able farm animals, performing dogs and one of the most renowned international equestrian competitions anywhere. While you’re there, don’t forget to take in the butter sculptures, relax with a session of goat yoga or enjoy an evening of wine tasting.
Exhibition Place

Taste of Iceland
Nov. 9 to 12
Experience Icelandic food and culture at the seventh annual Taste of Iceland Festival. Try traditional Icelandic favourites like langoustine, arctic char, fried lamb fillet and skyr with a special tasting menu at Leña, and attend a concert, literary event and concert, all in celebration of the island’s vibrant cultural scene.
Various venues

Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Weekend
Nov. 10–13
Dave Andreychuk, Clare Drake, Jeremy Jacobs, Danielle Goyette, Paul Kariya, Mark Recchi and Teemu Selanne will all be welcomed into the Hockey Hall of Fame at this year’s annual weekend of festivities. Along with special guest appearances, Q&A fan forums and autograph signings, Sunday afternoon’s Legends Classic will feature a star-studded lineup. Cheer on your favourite hockey hero at the Air Canada Centre, as teams lead by Mark Messier and Jari Kurri face off against each other.
Various venues

Chris Rock
Nov. 11
It’s hard to believe the Total Blackout Tour is Chris Rock’s first time on the road in nine years. The comedian has received rave reviews to date, with an act focusing on Rock’s strengths: making jokes about race relations, politics, and relationships—in particular the dissolution of his marriage in 2014.
Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St.

Gourmet Food and Wine Expo
Nov. 16–19
Each year, more than 45,000
visitors attend the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo for epicurean
eats and a selection of more than 1,500 wines, beers, and spirits. Among the purveyors at the 23rd edition are exhibitors such as Cannoli Queens, Stonetown Artisan Cheese and Barilla Pasta. Thirsty guests can visit the Spiritology Pavilion for a tipple, or join a Tutored Tasting seminar to learn about fine wines and spirits from the experts. Live programming continues at the Chef Stage, which hosts demonstrations from an all-star line-up, including celebrity chef Emily Richards.
Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.

Santa Claus Parade
Nov. 19
The Santa Claus Parade has been an annual Toronto tradition since 1905. Kids of all ages line the streets along Santa’s route to catch a glimpse of upside-down clowns, marching bands, and, of course, the man in red himself. The parade starts at 12:30 p.m. at Christie Pits Park and works its way along Bloor Street, down Avenue Road, and across Wellington Street to the St. Lawrence Market. Some years are colder than others, so dress warmly, and bring a Thermos of something hot to drink.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
To Nov. 19
Christopher Boone—the lead character in Simon Stephens’s stage adaptation of Mark Hadden’s popular novel—is a highly intelligent 15-year-old boy who’s gifted at math but who has trouble making sense of everyday life. When he becomes a suspect in the death of a neighbour’s dog, he begins an investigation to find the real culprit.
Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W.

One of a Kind Show & Sale
Nov. 23–Dec. 3
Find gifts and inspiration at the One of a Kind Show & Sale, a juried event that celebrates all things crafted and handmade. Held twice annually, the winter edition features more than 500 designers and artisans, with a variety of merchandise ranging from jewellery to preserves to ceramics. Visitors can browse vendor tables, hear talks at the main stage and learn about the crafts and techniques from the makers themselves.
Enercare Centre, Exhibition Place

A Christmas Carol: The Family Musical with a Scrooge Loose

A Christmas Carol: The Family Musical with a Scrooge Loose
Nov. 24–Dec. 31
Ross Petty Productions has been staging family friendly Christmas pantomimes (musical comedies loosely based on a traditional fairy tales that employ slapstick, cross-dressing and topically based jokes) for 22 years, and yet this year’s edition is the first to actually have a Christmas theme, taking on the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. Not that it matters: if you’re paying too close attention to the plot of a pantomime, you’re missing all the fun.
Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St.

Cavalcade of Lights
Nov. 25
Celebrate the start of the holiday season with thousands of other revellers at the 49th annual Cavalcade of Lights. Watch as the city’s official Christmas tree is illuminated with more than 525,000 lights, and enjoy the energetic live performances, skating parties and impressive fireworks. Even if you miss the big event, you can still view the lit-up tree each night throughout the holiday season.
Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.

Christian Dior at the Royal Ontario Museum

Christian Dior
Opens Nov. 25
Christian Dior was one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century, known for his use of luxury textiles and gorgeous embroideries.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior, the Royal Ontario Museum displays items from its rarely seen collection of haute couture pieces designed by Dior from 1947 to 1957.
Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park

The Faraway Nearby: Photographs of Canada from the New York Times Photo Archive
To Dec. 10
To mark the country’s sesquicentennial, the Ryerson Image Centre was gifted a vast trove of 25,000 Canada-centric photographs from the New York Times photo archive. This exhibit displays but a small number of them, highlighting images of major political events, beautiful landscapes, and portraits of notable Canadians.
Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St.

Bat Out of Hell
To Dec. 24
Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman’s operatic 1977 album, Bat Out of Hell, meets its stage musical roots head on in this energetic post-apocalyptic extravaganza. Set in dystopian Manhattan, the show follows a young man named Strat who falls in love with Raven, the daughter of a powerful tyrant. Rock out to Meat Loaf’s greatest hits, like “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”
Ed Mirvish Theatre,244 Victoria St.

The Canadian Odyssey of Lord Milton
To Jan. 7
In 1862, English nobleman Viscount Milton and physician Walter Cheadle travelled across Canada, looking for a direct route to the Cariboo goldfield in British Columbia. The story of their trip was detailed in a book, illustrated by Cheadle, called The North-West Passage By Land. This fall, visitors to the Gardiner Museum can view 13 pieces, from both public and private collections, of a commemorative tea set featuring hand-painted art inspired by the book’s drawings.
Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park

Arts of the East: Highlights of Islamic Art from the Bruschettini Collection
To Jan. 21
Lavish textiles, patterned carpets, paintings and inlaid metalwork from the 13th to 17th centuries are on display at the Aga Khan in this debut exhibition of one of the most important private collections of Islamic art in the world.
Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr.

Calgary Christmas Entertainment for the Whole Family

AChristmasCarol

Theatre Calgary’s staging of A Christmas Carol. Photo: Trudie Lee, courtesy Theatre Calgary.

Once Upon a Christmas
Weekends, Nov 23 – Dec 22
Christmas past is alive and well and perfectly enchanting at Heritage Park Historical Village. Go for a wagon ride, take in live historical theatre, sing holiday carols and pay a visit to jolly old Saint Nick. Three of the park’s historic homes open their doors to share the Yuletide traditions of Alberta’s pioneers. Admission, $8 adult, $6 child (does not include access to Gasoline Alley. Combined admission price for Once Upon a Christmas and Gasoline alley, $11 adult, $9 child, $5.75 senior).

•Heritage Park Historical Village, 1900 Heritage Dr SW, 403-268-8500.
Heritagepark.ca
•Maps and Reviews

[RELATED: Winter Activities For The Whole Family at Heritage Park]

A Christmas Carol
Until Dec 24

Charles Dickens’s beloved story of greed, redemption and the spirit of generosity is told in Theatre Calgary’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. The second year for director Dennis Garnhum’s revamped production marks the 20th year Stephen Hair, Calgary’s favourite Ebenezer Scrooge, has played the role of the miserly Christmas curmudgeon. Tickets $35 – $155.50. (more…)

A Halifax Holiday

Jeremy Webb's A Christmas Carol

Jeremy Webb returns as Scrooge in a Christmas Carol.

With its rich history and diverse population, Halifax has many beloved traditions and events to mark the Christmas season. The unofficial kickoff to Halifax’s holidays comes on November 17 with the Holiday Parade of Lights. This popular annual parade will draw some 100,000 spectators, so stake out a good vantage point early. The parade begins on Barrington Street, wending its way through the downtown, west on Spring Garden Road. There will be music, entertainment, floats galore and a visit from Santa Claus.

The action returns downtown on November 24, as Grand Parade square in front of City Hall hosts the city’s Christmas Tree Lighting. Once again, there will be family-friendly entertainment and a visit from St. Nick. If you miss that, you get a do-over on December 1. Drop by Sullivan’s Pond for the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting . The agenda includes a concert by Razzmatazz, fireworks and free rides on the Santa Claus Express Train.

As you’d expect, there are holiday concerts aplenty as well. On November 28, Cape Breton songstress Rita MacNeil performs her annual Christmas show at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. Joined by pianist Frank Mills, she presents traditional holiday tunes.

And it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the return of two wildly popular annual productions by Symphony Nova Scotia. Running from December 7 to 13 is an elaborate production of The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s heartwarming story of a
little girl whisked into a fairytale land features performers from Halifax Dance and elaborate puppetry by Mermaid Theatre. Up next at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue is the Symphony’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. Guest soloists and the 80-voice Symphony Chorus give full impact to the Baroque masterpiece.

If you’re not in the holiday spirit by December 23, return to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for the annual Barra MacNeils Christmas concert. Another annual holiday favourite, this one pays homage to the province’s Celtic roots, as the Cape Breton group shares old-time music.

November and December are jammed with holiday plays and stage shows, too. The holiday show at Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street this year is Elf: The Musical. Based on the popular Will Ferrell comedy, it’s the fairytale story of Buddy. Raised as one of Santa’s elves, he discovers he’s human and heads to New York to track down his father.

On December 10, celebrations take a hilarious twist with Tis the Season. Cape Breton comedians Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison team up for a sidesplitting look at the holidays. If it never quite feels like Christmas until you see Scrooge, so drop by the Cunard Centre on December 13 for Jeremy Webb’s one-man performance of A Christmas Carol. After performing the show for several Christmases, Webb is an expert at bringing Scrooge’s uplifting tale to life.

Finally, say good-bye to 2012 and welcome 2013 on December 31 with the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations in Grand Parade square on Barrington Street. Beginning at 9:30 p.m., local TV personalities host a rollicking all-ages celebration, with live music and a spectacular fireworks display at midnight.