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Beaches International Jazz Festival

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: Jazz in the East End

JULY 15 TO 24 Summer in this city wouldn’t be complete without the Beaches International Jazz Festival. With Lake Ontario as its backdrop, this annual event features tons of free music, a street party and much more. Featured performers include Carole Pope, Terry Gillespie and Andy Kim. Woodbine Park, Kew Gardens and surrounding area, free; call 416-410-8809 or click here for more information.

Weekend Roundup, July 16 to 18

A weekend filled with festivals, concerts, theatre and culture! Toronto’s multiculturalism openly displayed right in front of your eyes. Lots to choose from, so little time…

Friday: Revel in Shakespearean derring-do under the stars at High Park (photo by Chris Gallow)

Friday, July 16
Spend your evening at the launch of the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival at Woodbine Park, where you can enjoy some fresh air while listening to top acts like Digging Roots and Jay Douglas & The All-Stars. Bring a blanket or some chairs, recline on the grass and celebrate the weekend with free music. If you like what you hear, be sure to come back Saturday and Sunday for more.

Fall in love with Shakespeare under the stars at the Canadian Stage TD Dream in High Park, which offers a pay-what-you-can performance of Romeo Juliet with a modern twist—the story of the star-crossed lovers is told using iPods and other contemporary props.

Tantalize your taste buds for less thanks to Summerlicious. The popular dining sees restaurants offering three-course meals at a fixed price. Make a reservation to sample the cuisines of the world at such Toronto favourites as Alize (Italian), Bangkok Garden (Thai), Célestin (French), Jaipur Grille (Indian) and Katsura (Japanese).

Or, try a different kind of ‘licious menu at Lee. Its “Susur-licious” menu, named for star chef and owner Susur Lee, is a three-course prix fixe featuring dishes from Lee’s tenure on the Food Network’s Top Chef Masters.

Saturday: See Geddy Lee and the rest of Rush (photo by ceedub13)

Saturday, July 17
Forget the 19-hour flight to the other side of the world. Today you can experience Indian culture on Toronto’s Centre Island, which hosts the annual Festival of India. Your immersion includes Indian music, dance, food and dramatic performances, plus crafts and souvenirs available from the bazaar. An exhibition reflecting the country’s history offers further enlightenment.

Swing by the Distillery Historic District to grab a bite from one of its many restaurants or cafés, then be sure to check out one of two Soulpepper Theatre Company shows at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Turgenev’s romantic comedy A Month in the Country is sure to stir up your emotions, and David French’s original and acclaimed Jitters also draws guffaws today.

Sing along with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart as they bring their Rush classics back to the Air Canada Centre. The legendary Canadian prog rock band‘s Time Machine tour is guaranteed to have you reminiscing about the glory days.

Come face to face with some of the world’s most celebrated historical artifacts at the Royal Ontario Museum’s landmark exhibition, The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army, featuring full-sized clay warriors from the tomb of Chinese emperor Ying Zheng.

Sunday: Don't forget your earplugs! The Hondy Indy zooms through Toronto

Sunday, July 18
There’s more musical nostalgia on offer at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, as Rock of Ages continues its successful run. This engaging show sets a rock ‘n’ roll love story to a soundtrack of ’80s hits by Journey, REO Speedwagon and many others.

South America’s largest nation gets a showcase this weekend at the Expressions of Brazil festival, part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer-long “world routes” programming. Today’s cultural mix includes samba performances, a drumming workshop, cooking and capoeira demonstrations and much more.

It’ll be easy to find Exhibition Place today—just head toward the sound of revving engines at the much-anticipated Honda Indy car race. Cheer on professional drivers like Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti as they speed toward the checkered flag.

Indulge in a decadent taste from the briny deep at the annual Ontario Oyster Festival hosted by Rodney’s Oyster House. For $30, guests can feast on some exceptional oysters, hear live music, cheer on competitive oyster shuckers and much more. All proceeds go to Environmental Defence, a charitable organization.

Hot Date: Jazz on the Beach

Jane Bunnett performs July 25 at the Beaches International Jazz Festival

JULY 16 TO 25 Sway to jazz or swing your hips in rhythm with Latin music at the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival. The 10-day event draws more than 50 acts performing big band, Dixieland, Afro-Cuban, funk, soul and R&B tunes along Queen Street East, while main stages at Woodbine Park and Kew Gardens host larger shows. Jay Douglas & The All-Stars hit the Woodbine Park stage on July 16 at 9 p.m., while soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett—along with Johnny Sansone and Madagascar Slim—bring Afro-Cuban and blues  sounds to Kew Gardens on July 25 at 5 p.m. Queen Street East, between Woodbine and Beech avenues, free; call 416-698-2152 or visit here for a complete schedule.

Weekend Roundup, July 17 to 19

Toronto hosts music, theatre and funnymen this weekend!

Friday: Catch God Made Me Funky at the Beaches Jazz Festival

Friday: Catch God Made Me Funky at the Beaches International Jazz Festival

Friday, July 17
Experience the energy of soulful ensemble God Made Me Funky at the Beaches International Jazz Festival.

Savour the spice of Southern Accent with its Summerlicious prix fixe menu—your choice of mains includes Bourbon Street blackened chicken, Louisiana catfish or Creole jambalaya.

Saturday: Share a chuckle with John Cleese

Saturday: Share a chuckle with John Cleese

Saturday, July 18
Indulge in some regal relaxation at Truefitt and Hill, barbers to British royalty since 1805, where a hot-towel shave and stress-relief massage are among the traditional treatments offered to dapper gents.

Witness iconic English comedian John Cleese as he cracks wise at Massey Hall during the Just for Laughs Festival.

Sunday: Make <i>The Sound of Music</i> one of your favourite things.

Sunday: Make The Sound of Music one of your favourite things.

Sunday, July 19
Fall in love with the Von Trapp family all over again: The Sound of Music has a matinee performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

Head to the Harbourfront Centre for food, music and lucha libre wrestlers (!) on the final day of Mexico, Beyond Your Expectations, part of Harbourfront’s ongoing World Routes programming.

July Editor’s Picks: Entertainment

Eric Davis is a deranged clown at the Fringe Festival.

Eric Davis is a deranged clown at the Fringe Festival.

JULY 1 TO 12 The city’s largest annual theatrical extravaganza, the Toronto Fringe Festival, offers up an eclectic slate of small- and large-scale productions—from dramas and musicals to comedies and modern dance numbers. More than 800 artists from around the world perform at a mix of traditional and unconventional venues. The 150 showcased plays are whittled down from 500-plus submissions using a lottery system, meaning that you could have tickets for Broadway’s next big hit. Catch the likes of Red Bastard—a one-man play starring Eric Davis as an anti-clown clad in a tomato-red body suit—or The Laramie Projects, a deeply moving story of hate, fear and hope in a small American town. Various venues, tickets $5 to $10; call 416-966-1062 for a program and times.

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