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Holiday Happenings: New Year’s Eve Celebrations

New Year's at Nathan Phillips SquareWhether you’re looking to take in a stage show, indulge in a culinary celebration, or dance into the wee hours—we’ve got plenty of party ideas to help you ring in 2010.

Scottish Traditions
Step back in time on December 28 for an evening of Scottish food and music during Hogmanay (the Scots word for “new year”) celebrations at Mackenzie House . The decorated 19th-century row house will be illuminated with gaslight while traditional musical group Gin Lane performs popular tunes, including a musical rendition of Auld Lang Syne, the famed verse by Scottish poet Robbie Burns. 82 Bond St., 7 to 9 p.m. $20 per person; call 416-392-6915 to reserve.

On December 29, bring the family to Gibson House for a candlelit evening celebrating the Scottish New Year at the Hogmanay Party for Families. Visitors are greeted at the door by the legendary “First Footer” and are soon immersed in Hogmanay customs through hands-on crafts, stories and sing-alongs. On December 30, enjoy a scrumptious meal at a traditional Hogmanay dinner party.  Wine and dine by the fireside while watching a dramatic re-creation of a New Year from a bygone time. 5172 Yonge St. Hogmanay family party 7 to 9 p.m. Adults $20, children $12.50. Hogmanay Dinner 7:30 to 10 p.m. $50; call 416-395-7432 to pre-register for either event.

Stage Performances
Stand up and cheer for some of the most passionate operatic music ever written as Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits returns to Toronto for a spectacular New Year’s Eve concert at Roy Thomson Hall. Delight in dazzling performances of beloved arias, duets and more from Carmen, Madama Butterfly, La bohème and other classics from opera’s golden age. 60 Simcoe St. 7 p.m., $75 to $155; call 416-872-4255 or click here to buy.

Laugh, cry, and kiss the New Year goodbye as Yuk Yuk’s founder Mark Breslin presents the annual New Year’s Eve Comedy Extravaganza at Massey Hall. Hilarious host Gerry Dee is joined on stage by the city’s funniest stand up and improv artists. Special guest performers include Nikki Payne and “That Canadian Guy” Glen Foster. 178 Victoria St.
7:30 p.m. $39.50 to $59.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to purchase tickets.

The Toronto Operetta Theatre‘s New Year’s Eve Gala features dinner, dancing and a rousing performance of Countess Maritza, an operetta known the world over for its combination of Viennese elegance and Hungarian passion. This fundraising event, which has sold out for 12 years in a row, includes a pre-performance sit-down dinner and a late-night reception and dance party to benefit the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. 27 Front St. E.
5:30 p.m., $145 and up; call 416-366-7723 or click here to buy.


December Editor’s Picks: Entertainment

Yamato Drummers of Japan

Yamato Drummers of Japan

DECEMBER 2 Music, dance and propulsive percussion fill the city this month in a dramatic display of rhythmic prowess by the Yamato Drummers of Japan. A modern generation of energetic men and women revives an ancient Japanese art form in this unforgettable ensemble presentation featuring traditional taiko drums and thunderous odaiko barrels that are six feet in diameter. Both ingeniously innovative and intensely physical, the Yamato Drummers’ performances are influenced by the idea that the drumbeat, like the heartbeat, is the very pulse of life. Massey Hall,
8 p.m., $49.50 to $69.50; for tickets call 416-872-4255.

DECEMBER 6 A classic fable of kindness and redemption is told through music when the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Children’s Opera team up to present Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Roy Thomson Hall, 3 p.m. $15 to $59; call 416-593-4828 for tickets.

The Princess and the Handmaiden (photo by iden ford)

The Princess and the Handmaiden (photo by iden ford)

DECEMBER 18 TO 27 In Disney on Ice Presents Princess Classics, pint-size viewers marvel as Cinderella, Snow White and other beloved screen characters skate through an undersea kingdom, an enchanted castle and beyond. Rogers Centre, $15 to $90; call 416-870-8000 to buy.

TO DECEMBER 30 Canadian composer and librettist Leslie Arden explores friendship and loyalty in her world-premiere musical, The Princess and the Handmaiden, a modern retelling of a fairytale about a pampered royal and her hard-working companion. Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, $10 to $20; call 416-862-2222 for times and tickets.

A 2008 performance of Bravissimo

A 2008 performance of Bravissimo

DECEMBER 31 Stand up and cheer for some of the most passionate operatic music ever written, as Bravissimo! Opera’s Greatest Hits returns to Toronto for a spectacular New Year’s Eve concert. Led by Austrian-Italian conductor Roberto Paternostro, an all-star cast of internationally renowned singers and musicians, perform an array of beloved arias, duets, overtures and more. Newcomers and seasoned aficionados alike are sure to be moved by the legendary melodies from Carmen, Madama Butterfly, La bohème and other classics from opera’s golden age. Roy Thomson Hall, 7 p.m., $75 to $155; call 416-872-4255 to purchase tickets.