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Black Creek Pioneer Village

Toronto for History Buffs

EXPLORE TORONTO’S RICH HISTORY WITH THESE ACTIVITIES AND RESTAURANTS

Black Creek Village shoots

Step back in time to the 19th century at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Fort York National Historic Site played an essential role in the city’s turbulent past, and today boasts the largest collection of original War of 1812 buildings. Throughout the summer, the Fort York Guard, comprised of musketmen and musicians, perform various demonstrations including artillery firing, drills, battle tactics performances and more.

Black Creek Pioneer Village recreates Ontario life as it was in the 19th century, complete with more than 40 heritage buildings including a town hall, a one-room schoolhouse, a general store, harness shop and saddler, and a broom maker’s shop.

Take a grander look at the city’s past at Casa Loma, a Gothic Revival home that was once the private estate of financier Sir Henry Pellatt and his family. Built from 1911 to 1914 at a cost of $3.5 million, the majestic palace boasts more than a dozen rooms, towers and an underground tunnel that connects to the stables. Open in 1913, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres is the last surviving Edwardian double-decker theatre in the world, and has hosted the likes of such performers as Charlie McCarthy and George Burns and Gracie Allen. Twice a week, guests can tour the former theatre, which was home to vaudeville acts and silent films, to see the historic dressing rooms and hand-painted flats and drops.

Situated across from the current City Hall (100 Queen St. W.), Old City Hall (60 Queen St. W.), was the largest municipal building in North America at its time of completion in 1899. Until it closed in 1966, it was home to local government offices and courthouses. A looming clock tower is one of the building’s identifying features, along with bronze casts of gargoyles that were reinstalled in 2002, in tribute to the original four statues that flanked each corner.

high tea

A spread of dainties at Afternoon Tea at the King Edward Hotel.

EAT Partake in the centuries-old English tradition of afternoon tea at the Omni King Edward Hotel (37 King St. E.), which serves savory finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones with Devonshire cream in an elegant setting.

Once a private home that was transformed into a diner in 1929, The Senator is the city’s oldest restaurant. With fixtures from 1948, the menu is chock-full of comfort foods like bacon and eggs with baked beans, homemade meat loaf, and liver and onions. Barberian’s Steak House dates back to 1959 and boasts an extensive collection of Canadiana art and artifacts that includes paintings by members of the Group of Seven and firearms and rifles used during the War of 1812. A menu of classic dishes includes New York strip loin, shrimp cocktail, rack of lamb and French onion soup, as well as an after-theatre menu with cheese or beef fondue and a Grand Marnier soufflé for two.  —Linda Luong Luck

16 Things to Do for March Break 2016

A WEEK OFF FROM SCHOOL IS EVERY CHILD’S DREAM, BUT PERHAPS LESS THRILLING FOR PARENTS WHO NEED TO KEEP LITTLE ONES ENTERTAINED AND FROM CRYING OUT “THERE’S NOTHING TO DO” FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME. HERE ARE 16 KID-APPROVED IDEAS FOR HAVING FUN THIS MARCH BREAK IN TORONTO.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox hosts digiPlaySpace for the fifth year, which engages children through interactive play involving animation, robotics and more. (photo: courtesy of TIFF)

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Weekend Roundup: November 30 to December 2

Gather for the opening of the Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market

Friday, November 30
The Distillery Historic District kicks off its annual celebration of the season with a performance by Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman at the opening night of the Lowe’s Toronto Christmas Market. Bring the whole family and enjoy the sights and sounds, including festive treats and gifts, holiday decorations and a sit down with Santa Claus himself.

Pull out your ugliest Christmas sweater and head over to the Gladstones Hotel‘s 12 Beers of Christmas tasting party. Favoured local brews will be on tap, free prizes will put you in the giving spirit, and classic holiday tunes from the likes of Mariah Carey, Boyz 2 Men and the Jingle Cats (yes these Jingle Cats) will take your mind off the cold winter weather.

Slightly more sophisticated tunes are on offer with the Art of Time Ensemble’s Big Band Show at Harbourfront Centre‘s Enwave Theatre. The group is scheduled to treat audiences to a rendition of Tchaikovsky’s classic Nutcracker Suite—reimagined by jazz great Duke Ellington—plus its own unique takes on Igor Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite No. 1.

Justin Bieber sings, audiences swoon (photo: Shelby Casanova)

Saturday, December 1
Coming off a performance at 100th Grey Cup last weekend, pop music’s current king, Justin Bieber, tonight returns to the Rogers Centre to woo his legion of fans. Sweetening the pot is an appearance by emerging star Carly Rae Jepsen, whose Call Me Maybe is arguably as mega-popular as the Biebs’ recent hits.

While the kids are revelling in their Bieber Fever, more mature music fans can treat themselves to an intimate evening with eight-time Juno winner Sarah McLachlan. The celebrated songstress performs tonight at hallowed Massey Hall.

Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire at Black Creek Pioneer Village’s Christmas celebrations. Activities include puppet shows, horse-drawn wagon rides, visits with Santa and more. Visitors can also ogle a miniature gingerbread replica of the Village and try their hands at a traditional taffy pull, a sticky Christmas tradition we’re happy to get on board with.

Sir Jerry makes magic even more fun than it already is!

Sunday, December 2
Watch your children’s eyes light up while the watch the mystical, magical performance of Sir Jerry today at the Drake Hotel. Touted as “the most innovative kids performer since Pee Wee Herman,” Sir Jerry offers a show full of song, dance and Monty Python-esque humour for the whole family to enjoy.

Raffi’s kid-friendly tunes have been entertaining and educating kids for more than 30 years. The beloved singer and songwriter today takes the stage at Roy Thomson Hall to strike a nostalgic chord with classics including “Baby Beluga” and more.

Much Music’s Big Jingle Holiday Concert this evening brings holiday cheer to teens and tweens at the Air Canada Centre. Performances by Simple Plan, Cody Simpson and The Wanted are sure to be a blast, while Carly Rae Jepsen’s third Toronto appearance in the past seven days makes this event an early Christmas present the kids won’t forget.

Weekend Roundup: October 5 to 7

Friday: The Evergreen Brick Works gets an East Coast makeover for Alexander Keith’s birthday bash

Friday, October 5
East Coast King of Brews Alexander Keith’s celebrates 217 years in the beer business with a party at the Evergreen Brick Works. Your $10 tickets gets you free shuttle service, an exclusive performance by Matt Mays and a drink to pair with Toronto food vendors’ fare, specially created to go perfectly with a cool pint of Keith’s.

Spekt! Bier! Lederhosen! Celebrate German tradition (and happy hour) with Toronto Oktoberfest at St. Lawrence Market. Live entertainment, including oom-pah bands and a Bavarian strongman, helps get you into the Deutsch spirit in a traditional beer hall environment.

The Wiggles are touring together for the last time as Greg, Jeff and Murray prepare to leave the famous foursome after 21 years performing favourites like “Hot Potato” and “Rock a Bye Your Bear.” Take the kids to say farewell tonight at the Ricoh Coliseum—and watch out for three new wiggles to join remaining member Anthony in the near future. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, September 16 to 18

Friday: Paul Gross and Kim Cattrall debut in Noël Coward's Private Lives

Friday, September 16
Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross trade the silver screen for the big stage in the Toronto engagement of Private Lives. This straight-from-London production of Noël Coward’s comedy classic opens tonight at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Discover Ukrainian culture at the Toronto Ukrainian Festival. The event kicks off tonight and runs all weekend in Bloor West Village. Watch dancers and musicians, taste authentic Ukrainian food and drinks, and shop the sidewalk sale.

Cheer on slugger Jose Bautista, rising star Brett Lawrie, and the rest of the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, as they open a three-game  series against the New York Yankees (and look to spoil the Bronx Bombers’ hopes of another division title).

Saturday: Celebrate the season at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Saturday, September 17
Press some cider, bid on handmade quilts, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride at the 55th Pioneer Festival at Black Creek Pioneer Village. This year’s event celebrates local food and the history of the harvest with fresh-baked pies and a team of volunteers producing 1,000 pounds of sausage throughout the day.

Don your red threads and head over to BMO Field for some Major League Soccer action. See if Torsten Frings and Julian de Guzman can lead Toronto FC to victory against the visiting Colorado Rapids.

Listen to the folk-rock melodies of Wilco at Massey Hall. The Chicago-based band is following up on its 2009 Grammy-nominated, self-titled record with the release of its eighth studio album, The Whole Love, due out later this month.

Sunday: Cheer on the thousands of runners keeping Terry Fox's dream alive (photo by Logantech)

Sunday, September 18
Carry on the legacy and spirit of national hero and support cancer research. Running, walking, and cycling paths of various lengths will be set up at Terry Fox Run sites around the city.

Celebrate “Hangawi,” also known as the Korean Thanksgiving at the Korean Harvest Festival. Concerts, a Korean culture show, and a singing competition are all part of the festivities taking place at Mel Lastman Square in North Toronto.

Polka your way over to Roncesvalles Village for the Roncesvalles Polish Festival. Experience the heritage, art, music, and food of Poland, along with a soccer tournament, and film screenings at the Revue cinema.

Weekend Roundup, June 17 to 19

Friday: Devo is among the bands at this year's NXNE (photo by Snarkygurl)

Friday, June 17
From June 16 to 19, the North by Northeast (NXNE) festival takes over Toronto with concerts by 650 bands, plus screenings of 40 music-related films and 50 panel discussions. Don’t miss free shows taking place at Yonge-Dundas Square this weekend, including acts like Descendents, DEVO and Men Without Hats.

Join in the annual Taste of Little Italy free street party where locals and visitors alike descend onto Toronto’s historic Italian neighbourhood on College Street between Bathurst and Shaw streets. Enjoy live bands, entertainers and street food from Friday through Sunday.

To fete its imminent opening at Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall in September 2011, British fashion store TopShop opens a pop-up location this weekend at Queen Street West and Soho Street. The Pop-Up Top Shop previews a collection for sale and also offers contest, a beach zone, free frozen yogurt and a live DJ.

Saturday: Get some haute street food at 1,000 Tastes of Toronto

Saturday, June 18
One of Toronto’s most anticipated foodie events takes place today and tomorrow along John Street (between Adelaide and Wellington). As part of  Luminato, 1,000 Tastes of Toronto showcases street food-sized portions of diverse cuisine from top restaurants like Woodlot, Queen Margherita Pizza and Lee.

Visit St. Lawrence Market for its annual Strawberry Festival, inaugurating the start of this delicious fruit’s harvest. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., you’ll be treated to samples, lessons on making strawberry jam, and cooking demonstrations by Toronto chefs Massimo Capra (of Mistura) and Michael Bonacini (of the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant group).

Iconic Beach Boys singer and songwriter Brian Wilson plays an intimate show at Massey Hall this evening, in promotion of his latest album, Brian Wilson Re-imagines Gershwin .

Sunday: See a revolutionary war reenactment at historic Black Creek Pioneer Village

Sunday, June 19
Celebrate this Father’s Day at Black Creek Pioneer Village, where you can watch as 200 costumed soldiers re-enact the Revolutionary War in the “Battle of Black Creek.” Walk around the village to see how soldiers lived in camps or visit the historic brewery for samples. Last but not least, end the day with a Father’s Day barbecue rib dinner.

The second annual Ontario Craft Beer Week kicks off in Toronto today. The festival showcases 27 craft brewers from across the province—at events and venues throughout Toronto—until June 25.

Crowds of screaming fans are sure to fill Queen Street West for the MuchMusic Video Awards tonight. Co-hosted by Selena Gomez, performers and guests include Lady Gaga, Avril Lavigne, Bruno Mars, City and Colour, the Black Keys and many more.

Weekend Roundup, May 20th to 22nd

Friday: Gluck's Orfeo is enthralling (photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Friday, May 20
Follow the critics’ raves to the Four Seasons Centre, where the Canadian Opera Company stages the heart-wrenching Orfeo ed Euridice. Compsed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, this opera tells of Orfeo who, after losing his beloved Euridice, literally goes to hell and back to find her.

Take a scenic drive west of Toronto to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, where two new plays begin previews. Shakespeare’s classic Richard III tells the dark story of a man trying to seize the English throne by dispatching all those who stand in his way. For something a little lighter, the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar brings the story of Judas Iscariot to life through rock opera.

Running to May 29, Inside Out, the 21st annual Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival, screens throughout the city. Tonight at 9:30 p.m. (at the TIFF Bell Lightbox), catch Bloomington, a story about a television actress who begins to question her sexuality while trying to lead a normal life as a freshman at Bloomington University.

Saturday: See Aussie troupe Circa among many other acts at Harbourfront Centre (photo by Leif Norman)

Saturday, May 21
Celebrate the weekend at Harbourfront Centre, which hosts the Toronto International Circus Festival, a three-day event beginning today and featuring extraordinary circus artists from the around the world. Catch eye-popping acrobats, gravity-defying rope walkers, fire-eaters, clowns and much more.

What’s black and white and coming back to the Toronto Zoo? Endangered African Penguins! The zoo’s new 6,000-square-foot penguin exhibit opens today with a state-of-the-art underwater viewing area so you can come face to face with the penguins.

Also starting today, the Alice in Wonderland experience takes over Black Creek Pioneer Village with events like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a “Through the Looking Glass” Maze and the Queen of Hearts’ Field of Games. Families can also enjoy all that the historic village has to offer, including farm animals, Victorian dancing lessons, and the interactive history centre.

Sunday: See cosmopolitan indie artist Lykke Li at the Phoenix (photo by SpoiltCat)

Sunday, May 22
The unique sounds of alternative rock-pop artist Lykke Li pervade the Phoenix Concert Theatre on tonight. Influenced by her nomadic past—having lived in Portugal, Sweden, India and New York City—Li’s quirky use of harpsichords, flutes and Theremins makes her music all the more mesmerizing.

The Kids’ World Energy Festival wraps up today at the Evergreen Brick Works, with family-friendly activities focusing on renewable energy, climate change and the science of energy. Together, parents and kids can learn what they can do to contribute to a sustainable future.

Celebrate the long Victoria Day weekend by catching some fireworks. Weather permitting, Canada’s Wonderland offers a show starting at 10 p.m., or make your way to Ashbridge’s Bay on Monday at 9:45 p.m. for a dazzling display of lights over Lake Ontario.

What’s Happening in Toronto for March Break

MARCH 14 TO 18 is March Break in Toronto! Still trying to plan your week of family fun? Check out our run down of special events and activities at Toronto’s top attractions. (Regular admission prices and hours apply, unless otherwise noted.)

The kids will be in awe of all there is to do during March Break in Toronto (photo by limaoscarjuliet)

Throughout the week at the Art Gallery of Ontario, families can enjoy performances inspired by the Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts exhibit as well as a dozens of free March Break activities that are included with the price of regular admission. March 14 to 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission for kids under 5.

Dive into March Break at the Royal Ontario Museum as the museum explores our blue planet with its latest showcase, Water: The Exhibition. Experience the interactive 10-foot-tall multimedia display, create water-themed crafts, learn about ancient marine life from museum curators, and even see live animals. Visit after 4:30 p.m. for $10 off admission. March 12 to 20, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Stay warm at the Toronto Zoo by venturing into its tropical pavilions—including the newly refurbished African Rainforest Pavilion, complete with new chameleons and ring-tailed lemurs. Families can register for the zoo’s twice-a-day Playtime Forest education program, with 1.5 hours of activities and crafts for $4 per family member. March 12 to 20, 10:30 a.m. to noon or 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The Hockey Hall of Fame gets March Break started off right: on Monday, from 10 a.m. to noon, kids can meet and pose for photos with Toronto team mascots like Carlton the Bear of the Maple Leafs. Throughout the week, children can challenge themselves with hands-on interactive activities like goaltending, shooting, play-by-play broadcasting, and more. March 12 to 20.

For a medieval-style March Break, head to Casa Loma—the estate turns into an enchanted castle for a Princesses and Pirates extravaganza. A musical performance by Cinderella and the Little Mermaid, followed by a meet-and-greet, take place four times daily. Get dressed up in costumes for a photos, meet Prince Charming in the great hall, or enjoy a pancake breakfast or cupcake party. March 14 to 19.

If you’re looking to save, check out the events for families, children and teens at the Toronto Public Library. Guests like musicians and scientists liven up the day, as do such activities as movies, crafts, and storytelling for kids, plus skateboarding, hip hop, DJ-ing and games nights for teens. March 12 to 19.

Enjoy a truly Canadian experience at the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival, where families can partake in an hour-long maple syrup walk, and enjoy face painting, wood carving demonstrations, entertainers, sap sampling, horse-drawn wagon rides, pony rides, and a petting zoo, all day long at Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area. March 14 to 18.

At Black Creek Pioneer Village, families get a hands-on look at olden-days revelry. Start with a pancake lunch, then take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon, sing along with the village’s Mumblypeg band, learn how to make maple syrup, take a Victorian dance lesson, and warm-up in the Pioneer Play Area. March 12 to 20.

Have a magical time at the Wizard World Indoor Family Fun Park, starting  for March Break at the Better living Center at Exhibition Place. The fun park includes 150,000 square feet of indoor fun: food and drinks, professional stage shows, 20 carnival rides, free loot bags for kids under 12, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, and much more. March 13 to 20.

Don’t forget Spring Fling, Canada’s largest indoor carnival, at the Rogers Centre. Enjoy the midway with rides, family entertainment, and exotic animals throughout the week. All-day ride tickets are $20. March 11 to 18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Weekend Roundup, June 18 to 20

This Father’s Day weekend is bursting with food, fun and festivals. Dad’s not the only one who’s going to have a great time!

Friday: Chortle knowingly as Jon Stewart points out what's wrong with the world.

Friday, June 18
Celebrate the proud heritage of Armenia, as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra—accompanying the beautiful voice of Isabel Bayrakdarian—fills Roy Thomson Hall with the strains of Ravel’s Shéhérazade and other related classical works.

Amidst the sprawling cityscape, The Power Plant offers an opportunity to philosophically reconnect with nature thanks to its mixed-media exhibition, Adaptation: Between Species. Enjoy a lakeside barbecue and music at tonight’s opening event.

Revel in the spry wit and piercing political barbs of Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who takes to the stage at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. After the show, check out the nearby nightlife and get a breathtaking look at the falls.

Saturday: See art on 401 Richmond's green roof and more (photo by veggiefrog)

Saturday, June 19
Familiarize yourself with the artists whose studios and galleries pack the 401 Richmond building, Toronto’s most creative address. This afternoon, partake in a free tour of the space and chat with the gallery owners and exhibiting artists during Brickolage Tour Series.

Sip 70-plus exquisite local vintages poured by the winemakers themselves at the annual Ontario Wine Fair at Café Taste. More than 20 wineries are participating in this event, which also offers the opportunity to nosh on 30 Ontario artisan cheeses.

“Whataya want from me?” asks glam American Idol singer-songwriter Adam Lambert in his similarly titled hit single. Make sure he hears your response at his Molson Canadian Amphitheatre show tonight. Expect to be treated to a number of cuts from Lambert’s upcoming debut album, For Your Entertainment.

Sunday: Get A.R. Rahman in your sights

Sunday, June 20
Treat dad to one of many options for a Father’s Day lunch. Amuse boasts an alfresco three-course meal served family-style at their Shared Table event; or call Casa Loma to reserve a table at its Father’s Day Royal Brunch Buffet. If you’re set on Italian, savour a Taste of Little Italy—the College Street party features numerous participating restaurants. And for a diverse range of nibbles—affordably priced at only $5 each—head to Queen’s Park to try 1,000 Tastes of Toronto.

Make it a Father’s Day dad will always remember with a war re-enactment, hearty ribs and fun for the whole family. Black Creek Pioneer Village presents the Battle of Black Creek—a lively re-creation of an 18th century skirmish for control of Upper Canada. Top of the invigorating spectacle with barbecued ribs or a tour of the Black Creek Historic Brewery.

Experience the musical talents of Oscar- and Grammy-winner A.R. Rahman. Known for his Slumdog Millionaire score, the Indian composer teams up with creative director Amy Tinkham (creator of concerts for Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys) in Jai Ho: The Journey Home Concert at the Air Canada Centre, employing international musicians and dancers.

Weekend roundup, May 28 to 30

It’s getting hot, hot, hot! Cool down this weekend with Bajan cuisine along the waterfront before checking out what Toronto has in store for you.

Friday: Pick up yarn, fabric and more at the Textile Museum (photo by Mr. T in DC)

Friday, May 28
Warm weather knocks at your door in true island fashion with Barbados on the Water. Head over to the Harbourfront Centre today and tomorrow for Bajan cuisine, fashion, theatre and live music by Barbadian artists.

Slide on up to Hemingways to celebrate the Yorkville institution’s 30th anniversary. Steak frites are on the menu tonight, or arrive at 2:30 p.m. in order to fill up on corn on the cob, barbecue fare, bar snacks and beer. The festivities culminate with an evening of live entertainment and prizes.

Get your bargaining skills ready because the Textile Museum of Canada’s More Than Just a Yardage Sale is an opportunity too good to pass up. Today and tomorrow, dig up goodies like patterns, yarns, quilt fabrics and other useful craft materials while doing your part to support the museum.

Grab a cold pint at C’est What?. Tonight’s special: sample from a selection of more than 14 cask beers and 30 draughts as part of the brew pub’s annual Spring Festival of Craft Breweries.

Saturday: Browse Old City Hall and many other buildings as part of Doors Open.

Saturday, May 29
Admire architecture and satisfy your curiosity as Doors Open Toronto enables visitors to explore 150 historic and cultural buildings, including Canada’s National Ballet School, Toronto’s Old City Hall, Black Creek Pioneer Village, and the Casa Loma stables and plotting shed.

Striving to eat well? Those with a taste for fresh, local home cookin’ are invited to stop by a farmer’s market and bring their fixin’s to Beach United Church, where Amuse chef Pat Riley offers a lesson on the fine side of cooking. Leftovers will go toward a Sunday lunch for lower-income Torontonians.

Unravel a mystery at Indigo’s Yorkdale location with Peter Lerangis and Gordon Korman, bestselling authors of the popular 39 Clues books. They let you in on some secrets and follow up the afternoon with a book signing.

Experience the unique combination of steel pan and voice in And Still We Sing…Steel Singin’, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale’s final performance in its 2010 Glenn Gould Studio series.

Sunday: See miniature diorama-like models at AWOL Gallery.

Sunday, May 30
Engage in cosplay events and game shows—or while away some hours perusing the manga library—on the final day of weekend-long festival Anime North.

Beware of side stitches at the World Cup of Comedy, a humorous tribute to the “beautiful game” and its upcoming World Cup tournament. Comedians Ahmed Ahmed, Angelo Tsarouchas, Frank Spadone and special guest Trevor Boris (“Video on Trial”) gather at the Panasonic Theatre for humorous banter, including topics such as—you guessed it—soccer.

In line with this weekend’s architectural goings on, visitors can explore the relationship between people and buildings at AWOL Gallery, where Rose Bianchini and Jason van Horne’s exhibition, titled Neighbourhood Watch, employs creative miniatures to demonstrate how space plays a powerful role in the formation of identity.

Settle into a seat at historic Massey Hall and let comedic actor Eddie Izzard entertain you with his sharp wit and inimitable sense of the absurd.

Weekend Roundup, May 21 to 24

Toronto certainly knows how to commemorate a festive occasion. Your Victoria Day weekend will be a memorable one filled with festivals, music and, naturally, fireworks.

Friday: See Elmo and his Sesame Street friends (photo courtesy of VEE Corporation; TM/© 2010 Sesame Workshop)

Friday, May 21
Don’t miss country singer and songwriter Taylor Swift at the Air Canada Centre, as she belts out her hits. American Idol performer Kellie Pickler provides additional vocal firepower as a special guest.

Families are sure to be drawn to the Rogers Centre this weekend. Watch the Sesame Street gang in Elmo’s Green Thumb, a theatrical story in which everyone’s favourite red furball attempts to speed the growth of a sunflower with a spell that, consequently, shrinks him and his friends. Learn a thing or two about patience and our ecosystem and be entertained as the muppets dance, sing and set your sides in stitches.

Seek out art of philosophical meaning and technical precision at the Alison Smith Gallery, a chic gallery in the emerging Dundas West art district.

Saturday, May 22
Peer through the looking glass and behold the world of Alice in Wonderland at Black Creek Pioneer Village, where the beloved story comes to life for an entire weekend of Cheshire Cat crafts, a Mad Hatter’s tea party and much more.

His name was all over the newspapers and now they’ll be writing about his visit to Massey Hallcomedian and erstwhile talk show host Conan O’Brien will have you roaring with laughter alongside Andy Richter and the former Tonight Show band.

Don’t miss your last chance to experience the moral thriller Death and the Maiden at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Watch as this intriguing tale—about a woman who encounters a doctor who may have tortured her in the past—unfolds before your bewildered eyes.

Sunday: Enjoy the Cinesphere and other attractions at Ontario Place

Sunday, May 23
Explore architectural wonders and historic districts on a relaxing yet educational walking tour hosted by the Royal Ontario Museum. This afternoon’s ROM Walk sets off at 2 p.m. for an adventure detailing Sacred Stones and Steeples.

What would Victoria Day weekend be without fireworks? Mark the festive occasion at Ontario Place or Canada’s Wonderland with a day of rides and an evening showcase of bursting, streaming, shimmering lights.

Enjoy a decadent meal aboard the Jubilee Queen cruise ship. Float serenely among the Toronto Islands as sparkling stars—and, of course, those festive fireworks—illuminate the night sky.

Monday, May 24
Celebrate the queen’s birthday at Gibson House, the historic home of one of Willowdale’s founding families. Snack on a treat in the  kitchen, view old-fashioned toys in the parlour or engage in hands-on activities in the Discovery Gallery.

Behold gravity-defying stunts and incredible acrobatics at the Toronto International Circus Festival. World-class acrobats, fire-eaters, stilt walkers and balloon sculptors gather at Harbourfront Centre to amaze and entertain you.

Meander through the Distillery Historic District and feast your eyes on displays of Canadian crafts—including handmade jewellery, sweet-smelling soaps, wood furniture and photographic art—at the Distillery Spring Arts Show.

Holiday Happenings: Heritage Traditions

Festive family fun abounds this month at the city’s heritage sites and historic museums. Step back in time and experience old-fashioned Toronto traditions that will delight both young and old. Events occur during daily museum hours except where noted.

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Casa Loma
Experience holiday magic as classic storybook tales are brought to life at this enchanting hilltop castle. The attraction also offers a variety of registration-only special events: on December 13 and 20 families can feast on scrumptious pancakes at a breakfast with Santa Claus; or help your little elf decorate a miniature gingerbread house on December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20. And on December 22 and 30, get physical with a holiday-themed family archery lesson and learn the history and techniques behind this ancient sport.

1 Austin Terrace. Admission and special event prices vary; call 416-923-1171 for more information and to register.


Mackenzie House

Eschew the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping for the charm of a traditional Christmas in the 1859 row-house of Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie. Sample mulled cider and warm biscuits in an authentic 19th-century kitchen while little ones write letters to Santa Claus the old-fashioned way—using a pen and ink pot, plus stationery made with a circa-1845 printing press. And on December 13 and 20, gather in Mackenzie House’s cozy family room for an afternoon storytelling session featuring Christmas tales from the Victorian era.

82 Bond St. Adults $5.71, children $3.33; call 416-392-6915 for details.


Todmorden Mills Museum

Discover the simple pleasures of a Regency-era Christmas at Todmorden Mills—the site’s early 19th-century homes are adorned for the season with a lovely array of evergreen garlands and festive decorations. You can even create your own tree ornaments using a traditional felting technique. Register for the Cast Iron Chef cooking series on December 5 and prepare tasty holiday treats on an open hearth. On December 12, creative visitors can use wires, pliers and natural materials to make custom holiday decor at the wreath-making workshop.

67 Pottery Rd. Adults $5.24, children $2, workshop prices vary; call 416-396-2819 for details and to reserve.

Black Creek Pioneer Village

Black Creek Pioneer Village

Black Creek Pioneer Village
Step back in time to a Victorian country Christmas and enjoy festive performances, hands-on activities and festive treats at this living history museum. On December 5, 12, and 19 the historic village is bathed in the flickering glow of candlelight and oil lamps for Christmas by Lamplight, an annual celebration with costumed carollers, games and storytellers. Then return December 6, 13, and 20 for a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings served in the Village’s historic brewery restaurant.

1000 Murray Ross Pkwy. Admission prices vary; to purchase tickets for Christmas by Lamplight, call 416-736-1733, ext. 5331. For Sunday Christmas Dinner reservations, call 416-667-6295.


Colborne Lodge

Celebrate the holidays in winter-wonderland surroundings in a restored 1837 regency villa. Tour the picturesque home of High Park’s founders, John and Jemima Howard, while nibbling on delectable holiday snacks and toast the season with mulled cider warmed by an authentic wood stove. Sign up to make a festive seasonal wreath to take home on December 5, 6 and 10; on December 12, 13, 16, 17 and 19, craft custom adornments for your dinner table at the two-hour Christmas centrepiece workshop.

Colborne Lodge Drive. Adults $5.71, children $3.33, workshop prices vary; call 416-392-6916 for details.


Gibson House

Holiday traditions of yore come to life at this north Toronto family farmhouse built in 1851. The Georgian-style exterior is resplendent with seasonal finery; costumed staff lead capture the spirit with tours of this historic rural landmark. On December 19 and 20 the museum hosts Mincemeat, Pomanders and Paperchains—a weekend event with festive crafting for kids in the Discovery Gallery and traditional holiday fare from the open-hearth kitchen.

5172 Yonge St. Adults $5.48, children $2.62; call 416-395-7432 for more information.


Montgomery’s Inn

Enjoy plentiful seasonal entertainment throughout the month at this early-1800s Etobicoke landmark. Ring in the holidays on December 4 by singing 19th-century carols while sipping period-relevant drinks in the tavern at this historic inn. On December 4 and 5 the Humber River Shakespeare Company performs an original production of Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol. Also on December 5, master baker Monika Paradis presents a delightfully decadent Gingerbread House workshop. And on December 12, cozy up by the fire and enjoy readings of The Ghost of Christmas Present and many more seasonal stories.

4709 Dundas St. W. Admission prices vary; call 416-394-8113 for registration information.