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Air Canada Centre

Hot Date: Russell Peters, Please!

JUNE 16 Somebody’s bound to get a hurt bad—from too much chuckling, of course—when Russell Peters returns home as part of his Notorious World Tour. Air Canada Centre,
8 p.m., $67.25 to $139.50; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit Ticketmaster to buy.

Where in Toronto: Ghosts of Seasons Past

Jose Bautista leads the Jays into a hopeful new season (photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays)

Ever since Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista graced the cover of Where Toronto’s April issue, it seems as though I’ve been seeing the team everywhere. No—I wish I’d been running into the likes of Adam Lind and Ricky Romero around town; I mean that I’ve started noticing Jays hats, sweatshirts, merchandise in the windows of every sporting-goods store, and, of course, even an entire section dedicated to the Jays in Sears at the Eaton Centre. It might be that I’m just beginning to take notice of our hometown team, or maybe it’s just Toronto getting into the spring swing of things. (more…)

Hot Date: Will the Raptors Finish Strong?

TO APRIL 26 Fans of the Toronto Raptors didn’t expect their team to make this year’s NBA playoffs—it’s been a rebuilding season, after all. But the hard-working squad can still make things tough on the competition as the regular season winds down. Among the best dates to cheer on Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and company: April 11 against the athletic Philadelphia 76ers, April 13 versus the hated Boston Celtics, and April 16, when the Atlanta Hawks fly into town. Air Canada Centre; call 1-885-985-5000 or visit here for more information and tickets.

Hot Date: Hail to the King (of Pop)

A storyboard of Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour

OCTOBER 21 TO 23 Experience the incredible music-and-choreography combination of Michael Jackson and Cirque du Soleil, as the renowned company presents Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour. In this vivid tribute, a cast of 60 acrobats, tumblers, jugglers and more bring the King of Pop’s musical world back to life, recalling his charismatic stage presence, exciting dance moves, unforgettable songs that could include “Thriller” and “Beat It,” as well as his message of peace, love and unity. Air Canada Centre, Friday and Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 4 p.m., $50 to $250; call 416-870-8000 or visit here to purchase tickets.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This October

3. Medieval Times

1. The wonder of liquid nitrogen ice cream from Colborne Lane prepared tableside.

2. Catching a live performance by the iconic Liza—with a z—Minnelli on October 28.

3. Jousting knights on horseback at Medieval Times.

4. Seeing the city on two wheels with the rental of Bixi Bikes; return them to many conveniently located docking stations in the downtown core.

5. Serpentine sculptures handmade by Native Canadian artists from Eskimo Art Gallery. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, July 15 to 17

Friday: Hear all manner of music as the Beaches International Jazz Festival begins

Friday, July 15
Kick off your weekend at the 23rd annual Beaches International Jazz Festival, which begins tonight at Woodbine Park. With acts ranging from jazz, blues, calypso and more—legendary Toronto rocker Carole Pope is even part of this evening’s bill—the festival offers ear candy for a wide variety of listeners.

The Colombian Colours Il Diaspora Festival also starts this evening an continues all weekend long. Part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer line-up of cultural celebrations, it features performances by Colombian musicians, dancers and other artists proudly representing their distinct heritage.

Do you have tickets to see Grammy-winning sensation Taylor Swift belt out her hits at the Air Canada Centre? The contemporary country singer’s Speak Now Tour brings one of 2011’s hottest concerts to Toronto for one night only.

Saturday: Sarah Harmer and other artists celebrate Parks Canada's 100th anniversary

Saturday, July 16
Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada—the world’s first national park service—with a free festival on Centre Island. Starting at noon, the special Parks Day event showcases the country’s diverse natural heritage, and boasts live performances by musicians including Serena Ryder and Sarah Harmer.

Yonge-Dundas Square also offers an event for the environmentally aware—the Live Green Toronto Festival features hundreds of vendors with eco-friendly products, live music and more.

Sit back and relax with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at the Molson Canadian Ampitheatre. The “Margaritaville” singer instills a beachy state of mind as part of his Welcome to Fin Land tour.

Sunday: Slurp up some seafood at the Souther Ontario Oyster Festival

Sunday, July 17
Foodies are invited to take part in a truly succulent tasting at the much-anticipated Southern Ontario Oyster Festival hosted by Toronto’s mollusk mecca Rodney’s Oyster House. Attendees can enjoy live music, cheer on the oyster shucking contest, and, of course, indulge in fresh oysters. Tickets are $30 and help benefit the Environmental Defense organization.

Spend your Sunday night with British indie-rock band Gomez as they fill the Phoenix Concert Theatre with their distinctively rootsy sound.

Experience the rich culture of the Asian subcontinent at the 39th annual Festival of India, taking place on the Toronto Islands. This free event, celebrating Toronto’s large Indian community, includes an arts and culture showcase, a South-Asian bazaar, and much more.

Hot Date: Calling All Gleeks!

JUNE 11 & 12 Freed from the small screen, the talented cast of Glee performs infectious renditions of music from the TV show’s first two seasons—from “Don’t Stop Believin’” to “Empire State of Mind.” Air Canada Centre, 3 and 8 p.m., $49.50 to $89.50; call 1-855-958-5000 or visit Ticketmaster to buy.

Weekend Roundup, May 13th to May 15th

Friday: See Diego Matamoros in The Aleph (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Friday, May 13
Get a glimpse into the mysteries of the underworld in The Aleph, Soulpepper Theatre Company’s version of Jorge Luis Borges’s 1945 short story. This thought-provoking adaptation is crafted by Canadian theatre artists Diego Matamoros, Daniel Brooks and Michael Levine.

The cycle of life—from Bar Mitzvah to death—is presented through Jewish musical-theatre songs in the world premiere of To Life, presented by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Filled with love and humour, this unique musical references Broadway hits such as Fiddler on the Roof and the work of Eddie Cantor.

The Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival continues this weekend with the opening of another of its many exhibitions—Kaid Ashton’s Exploration, on display at artsy West Queen West café, The Mascot.

Saturday: Usher offers a powerhouse performance (photo by Marco from Houston)

Saturday, May 14
Are you ready to burn? Multi-platinum artist Usher turns up the temperature at the Air Canada Centre tonight with his signature R&B hits such as “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and “Burn.” The night starts off on the right note with a special guest set by Akon.

The competition heats up at BMO Field when Toronto FC takes on the Chicago Fire. Be sure to offer some extra applause for TFC forward Joao Plata, just voted MLS Player of the Week.

Ornithology enthusiasts are encouraged to flock to the Toronto Zoo for International Migratory Bird Day. Bring your binoculars and participate in guided bird-watching tours of the Rouge Valley, then check out the displays set up by bird-related organizations in the Conservation Connection Centre.

Sunday: See "Vicky" the steam train, one of the stars of The Railway Children

Sunday, May 15
Catch the train as the newly built Roundhouse Theatre opens its doors this morning. Visitors to this 300,000-square-foot venue that houses The Railway Children can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the unique stage design, see the production’s vintage steam train up close, ride a miniature locomotive, and discover the heritage trains within Roundhouse Park.

In the thrilling conclusion to the National Lacrosse League’s season, the Toronto Rock challenge the Washington Stealth for the 2011 Champion’s Cup at the Air Canada Centre. Last season, Washington defeated Toronto to win their first cup in franchise history. This time around, the Rock and their fans are certain to be hungry for revenge!

Enjoy a spirited show by the Esprit Orchestra—featuring violinist Marie Bérard—this evening at Keorner Hall. The program includes a world premiere performance of composer Chris Harman’s latest work.

Hot Dining: E11even an Addition to Applaud

Maple Leaf Square is fast becoming a top downtown entertainment destination. Directly west of the Air Canada Centre—and steps from the Rogers Centre, too—the space buzzes before, during and after Leafs and Raptors games thanks to a huge outdoor TV showing ongoing games and a swanky sports bar with even more screens. Now, upscale restaurant E11even makes room for a more discerning clientele. Named for the eleven points of a maple leaf, the dark-woods-and-leather dining room specializes in North American favourites like baby back ribs ($29) and dry-aged New York strip steak ($55). The 600-label iPad wine list—with 33 by-the-glass options—is designed to be a crowd pleaser, too.

Weekend Roundup, April 1st to 3rd

Friday: Peruse funky bowls by Carolyne Brouillard and many other items at the One of a Kind Spring Show

Friday, April 1
Artists, designers and shoppers unite! The always anticipated One of a Kind Spring Show has begun, and runs through to this Sunday at Exhibition Place’s Direct Energy Centre. Here, 450 artisans offer unique, handmade art, clothing, accessories and designs for purchase. This year, the show features a Muskoka Artists Marketplace as well as workshops and seminars on home design.

In the same vein, the International Home & Garden Show also takes place this weekend at the International Centre, just west of Toronto. Hundreds of home experts, interior designers and landscaping professionals will be on hand for consultation, offering thousands of products and ideas to help freshen up your home this spring.

A new Major League Baseball season begins tonight as the Toronto Blue Jays go to bat against Minnesota Twins. The game at the Rogers Centre is officially sold out (yes, all 50,000 seats), but you can catch the game with the locals at Real Sports Bar & Grill or Wayne Gretzky’s.

Saturday: Rod Steward joins Stevie Nicks for an evening of song (photo by Mark Seliger)

Saturday, April 2
Catch Toronto FC in the second game of its fledgling Major League Soccer season, as the boys in red square off against Chivas USA from Carson, California. The match starts at 1 p.m. at BMO Field, just steps from the popular Liberty Village neighbourhood. Before the game, fill up on some comforting brunch dishes at School Bakery & Café or Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.

The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts offers two chances (at 2 and 8 p.m.) to hear A Little Nightmare Music, with classical musicians and YouTube sensations Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo. The duo has taken the world by storm with their unique and hilarious theatrical show that combines classical music with popular culture.

On Saturday evening, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks bring their Heart & Soul Tour to the Air Canada Centre. A “can’t-miss” concert event, the distinctive singers are slated to perform hits from their catalogs, as well as some duets.

Sunday: Partake in historical fare at Fort York (photo by Webguy63)

Sunday, April 3
History is made fun at Fork York National Historic Site, in the heart of downtown Toronto. The heritage site hosts a Historical Food Tasting and Tea experience from 1 to 3 p.m., including samples of old-fashioned food recipes from the fort’s restored 1826 kitchen, plus tea and the freedom to explore the rest of the site.

Starting today, a new exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario features the evolution of 20th-century Inuit art. Inuit Modern: the Samuel & Esther Sarick Collection showcases more than 175 works, including pieces by David Ruben Piqtoukun, Kenojuak Ashevak, Karoo Ashevak, and Lucy Tasseor.

In support of Raising the Roof’s Youthworks initiative, the All-Star Comedy Cabaret is just one aspect of this weekend’s April Fool’s Weekend of Comedy festival. Taking place at 7:30 p.m. at The Second City, the fundraiser is hosted by Steve Patterson of CBC’s The Debaters and features comedians like CBC’s Pete Zedlacher (Just For Laughs, The Hour), Almost Heroes’ Ryan Bellevill, CityTV’s Jonny Harris, David Merry, Evan Carter and Shaun Majumder.

The 40th Annual Juno Awards Rock Toronto

Drake hosts the 40th Juno Awards on March 27 (photo by Anthony Mandler)

Canada’s prestigious music awards, the Junos, mark their 40th anniversary with a return home. To celebrate, Toronto-born rapper Drake leads a pack of award-winning artists from coast to coast for a harmonious tribute.

THE RISE OF DRAKE
Superstars aren’t born everyday—nor is such a label freely given. But hip hop artist Drake is undeniably one, having been recognized not only by peers including mentor Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and Kanye West, but also by fans who made his first studio album, Thank Me Later, a platinum-selling hit. Even non-fans are likely familiar with the artist for his role as Jimmy Brooks on the TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation, as well as for his life-meets-rap lyrics, which get plenty of airtime on mainstream radio. Among the Forest Hill-raised performer’s chart-topping songs is the swooning ballad “Find Your Love” and the rhythmic “Fancy.”

On March 27, Drake secures double time on the stage at the Air Canada Centre as both the host of the 40th edition of the Juno Awards and as a nominee—and potential winner. The rapper is nominated for several awards, including Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. (Drake was also nominated for four Grammy Awards including Best New Album.) Soon, Drake will release his sophomore album, Take Care. It will undoubtedly earn him Juno nominations next year.

The awards ceremony itself is only part of this month’s Juno celebrations. Read on after the jump for more music-related fun.

(more…)

Hot Date: Go Gaga Again

MARCH 3 Part singer, part provocateur, Lady Gaga brings her Monster Ball tour back to Toronto. The pop songstress is as well-known for her outrageous costumes as she is for such songs as “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.” Air Canada Centre, 8 p.m., $49.50 to $175; call 416-870-8000 or visit Ticketmaster to buy.