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Disney On Ice

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.

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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Disney on Ice in Toronto Features Your Favourite Princesses

Disney on Ice Toronto Rockin' Ever After

Beauty and the Beast‘s Belle is but one of the heroines in the latest Disney on Ice show in Toronto

MARCH 13 TO 17  Childhood fantasies are entertainingly brought to life this March Break as Disney on Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After, an all-new musical production featuring everyone’s favourite characters from across the Magic Kingdom. Among the stars of this elaborate skating spectacle? Little mermaid Ariel, long-locked Rapunzel, Belle and her beloved Beast, and strong-willed Merida, the heroine of Brave, in her first on-ice appearance. With splendid songs and graceful choreography, it’s a show that’s sure to enchant audiences of all ages. Rogers Centre, $25 to $90; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit Ticketmaster for showtimes and to purchase.  —Macrina Smart

Hot Date: Disney’s On-Ice Escapades

DECEMBER 21 TO 30  Experience the magic as your family’s favourite animated movies come alive as Disney on Ice Presents Worlds of Fantasy. This holiday-season spectacular features dazzling skating, of course, plus characters from Toy Story, Cars, The Little Mermaid and more. Whether you’re following Buzz Lightyear and the gang as they try to escape from Sunnyside Daycare, watching Lightning McQueen race across the ice, or meeting Tinkerbell and her fellow fairies, it’s sure to be an animated good time. Rogers Centre, $25 to $90; call 1-855-985-500 or visit here for a full schedule.  —Ana Taveira

Weekend Roundup: March 16 to 18

Friday: Danny Bhoy regales Massey Hall with funny tales of travel

Friday, March 16
Just for Laughs presents sought-after Scottish-Indian comedian Danny Bhoy, in town as part of his popular Wanderlust tour. Head to Massey Hall tonight for some belly laughs brought on by Bhoy’s humorous travel anecdotes and quick-fire wit.

Toronto Fashion Week comes to a close on a charitable note with the third installment of the Dare to Wear Love gala in support of the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa. Support a good cause and see one-of-a-kind creations by top Canadian designers including Greta Constantine and Adrian Wu.

The Toronto Wine and Cheese Show brings to the International Centre a tasty selection of gourmet food, wines, beers and spirits. Swirl and savour vintages from top Canadian and international winemakers, or learn how to perfectly pair them with cheese. Guests can also head to the KitchenAid Sip & Savour Stage for cooking tips courtesy of celebrity chef Lynn Crawford. (more…)

Hot Date: A Royal Disney Revue

MARCH 14 TO 18 Introduce your tykes to three beloved princesses as Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream this March Break. The most chuckle-and-gasp-inducing moments from Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, and Cinderella are brought to life. Explore the new adventures of Rapunzel, delve into the bayou with Princess Tiana, and relive the classic romance of Cinderella and her Prince Charming as costumed world-class skaters glide gracefully across the ice. Rogers Centre, $15 to $90; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit Ticketmaster for showtimes and tickets.

Staff Picks: 10 Best Bets for March Break

The Royal Ontario Museum is always a popular venue during March Break (photo by Michele Nastasi)

The kids’ annual spring holiday week is just around the corner. If you’re still wondering how to keep them occupied, well, wonder no more. There’s lots of family fun to be had right here in Toronto. Check out our 10 picks for cool—and often educational—activities after the jump! (more…)

Hot Date: Disney’s Coolest Cartoons

DECEMBER 23 TO JANUARY 1 Celebrate some of your favourite animated films with Disney on Ice’s 100 Years of Magic. The skating show features Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Nemo and more than 60 other characters in re-creations of memorable Disney movie moments. Rogers Centre, $15 to $90; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: Disney’s Mice on Ice

OPENS DECEMBER 25 Pack a suitcase, lace up your skates and embark on an expedition with everyone’s favourite cartoon rodents in Mickey and Minnie’s Magical Journey, presented by Disney on Ice. In this lively show for the whole family, Mickey and Minnie plunge into Ariel’s underwater kingdom, go on a safari through the pride lands of The Lion King, fly with Peter Pan to Never-Never Land, and soak up the Hawaiian sun, sand and surf with Lilo and Stitch. Packed with amazing costumes and special effects, this ice-bound adventure is sure to capture your imagination. Rogers Centre, $15 to $90; call 416-870-8000 or click here for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

Hot Shows for the Holidays

The holiday hoopla is beginning to reach fever pitch in Toronto. In the lead-up to December 25, the city offers numerous seasonal shows that are sure to enthrall the whole family.

The National Ballet's Nutcracker

SPIRIT OF THE SEASON
DECEMBER 6 TO DECEMBER 30 A classic tale is told in Soulpepper Theatre’s lauded staging of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The troupe’s adaptation is noted for its reverence to Dickens’ original prose, as well as strong performances by a stellar cast, including Joseph Ziegler as the tormented Ebenezer Scrooge. Performed in the round, this is a holiday treat for the traditional theatre lover.

GET CRACKIN’
DECEMBER 11 TO JANUARY 2 The Four Seasons Centre is transformed into a magical kingdom in the National Ballet of Canada’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Choreographer James Kudelka’s reworking of this classic story is an elegant take on Misha and Marie’s journey through a fairy tale land of sugar plum fairies and toy soldiers. Watching the ballerinas float across the stage in perfect coordination with Tchaikovsky’s memorable score is a delight that is sure to transport you into the blissful land of sweets and snow.

MULTIPLE MESSIAHS
DECEMBER 16 TO 21 (TSO)
DECEMBER 15 TO 19 (TAFELMUSIK)
Classical music doesn’t get much more joyous than this! The renowned Toronto Symphony Orchestra offers a stirring rendition of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at Roy Thomson Hall. Featuring more than 60 instruments and accompanied by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, this is a performance on the grandest possible scale. If you can’t help but join in the music-making, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir invites you to Massey Hall for its Sing-Along Messiah, a holiday tradition spanning a quarter-century. It’s a truly moving experience to be part of the hundreds of voices singing this immortal oratorio. (Tafelmusik also offers four traditional Messiah concerts at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

GREEN CHRISTMAS
DECEMBER 17 TO JANUARY 2 Dr. Seuss’s world of whimsy comes to life at the Sony Centre in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. This acclaimed Broadway production is true to the author’s original story and illustrations, remaking the stage as an animated Whoville. Though the Grinch may start the show with a heart “three sizes too small,” he soon comes to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

MONSTROUS FUN
NOVEMBER 25 TO JANUARY 2 Popular producer Ross Petty brings his brand of zany enchantment to the Elgin Theatre in the form of Beauty and the Beast: The Savagely Silly Family Musical. Featuring stars of stage and screen, this is a unique, contemporary theatre experience for kids and families, with many laughs to be had as the characters guide you through a classic tale with a comedic twist.

AN ICE-BOUND TRIP
DECEMBER 25 TO JANUARY 2 Disney on Ice dazzles Rogers Centre spectators with Mickey and Minnie’s Magical Journey. See the beloved cartoon mice as they dive under the sea with The Little Mermaid, venture into Africa with The Lion King, fly through the skies with Peter Pan and hula dance with Lilo & Stitch. This round-the-world journey makes a great gift for both kids and parents.

March Break Manual

School’s Out, springs a tease and the babes need boredom-busting adventures. Where Toronto offers a dozen ideas to keep the kids—and your entire family—happy during March Break.
By Naya Valdellon

The gang from High School Musical head back to class in a stage production (photo by Joseph Hammond)

TIPS FOR TWO HOURS

Ice Breakers
MARCH 3 TO 7 See your favourite Disney characters come to life with Disney on Ice Presents Let’s Celebrate!. The magical, action-packed skating party features a Halloween haunt with the Disney villains, a royal ball with princesses like Cinderella and Belle, and a winter wonderland with Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Monstrous Fun
OPENS MARCH 8 Youngsters—and the young at heart—can both enjoy The Monster Under the Bed, presented by Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People. Penned by Kevin Dyer and directed by Nina Lee Aquino, the comedy dramatizes the fears and fantasies of a young boy named Ben who swaps lives with the scary creature hiding beneath his mattress.

Teenage Drama
MARCH 17 TO 21 Real high school, with its intrigues and cliques, is no song-and-dance number. But the Disney phenomenon High School Musical 2 makes us remember how fun it could be. A new 70-minute stage version has Troy, Gabriella, Chad and the rest of the gang landing summer jobs and singing original songs from the movie, including “You Are the Music in Me.”

Middle Ages for All Ages
ON NOW Get whisked away to the 11th century as the royal guests of King Philippe and Princess Leonore at Medieval Times. Walk through a majestic castle, feast on a four-course banquet with your bare hands and cheer for your knight in shining armor at an authentic jousting tournament.

(more…)

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.