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Distillery District

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.

Toronto’s Best Christmas Market

Eat, drink and be merry at the Distillery District’s holiday bazaar

Bundle up and walk the cobblestone streets of the historic Distillery District during the most magical time of year. From Nov. 16 to Dec. 23, the Toronto Christmas Market offers shoppers a chance to browse local handicrafts and sample hearty fare like poutine and schnitzel. You can also sip mulled wine under one of the city’s largest real Christmas trees, as carollers, brass bands and choirs fill the air with holiday cheer. If the weather gets chilly, you can always warm up in one of the cosy nearby boutiques, restaurants or bars.

10 Toronto Shops for Unique Holiday Gifts

THE YEAR’S BIGGEST SHOPPING SEASON IS UPON US. IF YOU’RE FEELING THE PRESSURE TO FIND SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR THAT ONE-OF-A-KIND FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER, HEAD TO THESE WELL-CURATED TORONTO STORES FOR UNIQUE HOLIDAY GIFTS, MANY OF WHICH ARE HANDMADE TO ENSURE QUALITY AND AUTHENTICITY.

Brika Yorkdale

Brika’s pop-up shop at Yorkdale Shopping Centre is open until January

BRIKA
The motto at Brika is “a well-crafted life,” which sums up the store’s concept: it sells well-made items designed by artisans instead of mass-produced goods. Originally an online business, there’s now a standalone store on Queen West, as well as a pop-up shop at Yorkdale Shopping Centre open through January 2016. Here, shoppers can pick up a beverage and baked goods from the café, and then peruse jewellery, home accessories and more from such designers as Cabin + Cub, Farewell Paperie and Most Modest. The Yorkdale outpost also feature a handy wrapping station for parceling up your purchases, as well as a colouring wall to encourage a bit of some self-expression.

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You Are Here: 16 Distillery District Shops, Restaurants and Galleries to Visit

TORONTO’S PROMINENT HERITAGE ‘HOOD IS STOCKED WITH UNIQUE BOUTIQUES, CONTEMPORARY GALLERIES, WELCOMING CAFÉS AND SHOWCASE RESTAURANTS.

Distillery District Segway Ontario Tour

See the Distillery District on a Segway Ontario tour

1 Sure, you can stroll the District on your own, or you could make your exploration more memorable by riding a gyroscopic scooter on a Segway Ontario tour. 30 Gristmill Ln., 416-642-0008; segwayofontario.com

2 Discover a local take on a Japanese tradition with a brew or two from the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company. 51 Gristmill Ln., 416-365-7253; ontariosake.com

3 A 19th-century pump house matches the old-world vibe of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters. An original Distillery tenant, it’s still enormously popular. 1 Trinity St., 416-207-1709; balzacs.com

4 It’s natural that a historic area would house at least one antique shop. Here, Blackbird Vintage Finds fulfills that role with one-of-a-kinds and other timeless home items. 11 Trinity St., 416-681-0558; blackbirdvintage.com

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New Works by Yoakim Bélanger at Thompson Landry Gallery

QUEBEC ARTIST YOAKIM BÉLANGER’S NEW PAINTINGS ON METAL, TO BE HUNG AT THOMPSON LANDRY GALLERY, COMBINE ABSTRACTION AND FIGURATION

Yoakim-Belanger-Thompson-Landry-Gallery-Toronto-Red

Yoakim Bélanger’s Red (photo: Thompson Landry Gallery)

JUNE 18 TO JULY 7 The word “convergence” springs to mind when contemplating the works of Yoakim Bélanger. The merging of colour and texture, of medium and subject, of figuration and abstraction are evident in his latest large-scale efforts to be shown at the Distillery District’s Thompson Landry Gallery. The Montreal-based artist uses found pieces of aluminum and oxidized steel for his canvases. His brushwork, sensitive to the scratches, chips and markings that have accumulated on the metal, brings forth images that highlight the expressive, evolving qualities of the human form. The works’ reflective surfaces mean that the viewer becomes part of the art, too, implicated in its creation—and interpretation—through the act of observing. —Craig Moy

• Thompson Landry Gallery, Distillery District, 416-364-4955; thompsonlandry.com
Map and reviews

Weekend Roundup, December 4th to December 6th

December is finally here! ‘Tis the season to eat, drink, shop, skate and be merry at festive holiday performances.

Friday: Spend an evening at the Distillery Historic District

Friday: Spend some time at the Distillery Historic District

Friday December 4th
Pick out gifts for little loved-ones at the Distillery Historic District’s Children’s Trunk Show shopping event, then spend the evening walking the area’s cobblestone laneways and admiring its seasonal light display.

Get into the festive spirit at the Friday After Five event hosted by the Gardiner Museum. This special holiday happy hour features Christmas cocktails and a tourtiere poutine created by celebrity chef Jamie Kennedy.

Partake in a 72-year-old seasonal tradition at the Church of the Holy Trinity—its Christmas Story performance brings the nativity to soul-stirring life.

Saturday: Tea at the Royal York

Saturday: Tea at the Royal York

Saturday, December 5th
Take time for afternoon tea at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and nibble on finger sandwiches, mincemeat tarts and other holiday treats. Visitors can also take home decadent goodies from the on-site Festive Bakery.

Meet new friends while learning how to pry open shellfish at the singles oyster shucking, tasting & wine pairing night at Leslieville gastro-pub Prohibition.

Sing along with Weezer and other alternative-rock superstars—the Air Canada Centre hosts radio station 102.1 The Edge’s Jingle Bell Rock concert.

Sunday: Eva Avila portrays Maid Marian in Robin Hood

Sunday: Eva Avila portrays Maid Marian in Robin Hood

Sunday, December 6th
Enjoy a festive afternoon at Roy Thompson Hall as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents Dickens’s holiday classic, A Christmas Carol.

Strap on your blades for Harbourfront Centre’s HarbourKIDS: SK8 festival at Canada’s largest artificially cooled outdoor ice rink.

Follow Robin Hood as his merry men as they engage in eco-conscious hijinks in the Ross Petty production of Robin Hood: The Environ-Mental Family Musical.

Weekend Roundup, October 30th to November 1st

Too old for trick or treating? Try out some of these spooky Halloween-themed activities. . . if you dare!

Friday: enter a pumpkin carving contest (photo by Plutor).

Friday: Enter a pumpkin carving competition (photo by Plutor).

Friday, October 30th
Go on a frighteningly cool auditory treasure hunt at Sounds Scary, a Halloween-themed multimedia installation at the Artscape Wychwood Barns.

Show off your pumpkin carving skills or cheer on your favourite team in the third annual Church Street Jack-O-Lantern competition, part of Halloweek celebrations in the Church-Wellesley Village.

Forget candlelight, try dining in the dark at O’Noir—for daring dinner patrons, the pitch-black surroundings can help to enhance the senses of taste, smell and touch.

Saturday: Kids can be animals at Boo at the Zoo.

Saturday: Kids get to be animals at the annual Boo at the Zoo.

Saturday, October 31
Throw on your favourite pair of animal ears and head to Boo at the Zoo, where critters and costumed humans will be on parade along with lots more spooktacular kid-friendly entertainment.

Listen to the large scale sound of twenty classical pianists simultaneously performing on ten grand pianos at the annual Halloween Monster Concert at Massey Hall.

Dress to impress in Casino Royale–style costume garb at the Distillery District’s Halloween Howl, a devilishly chic Monte Carlo-themed fundraiser to support Canadian Opera Students.

Sunday: Cheer for a mutant superhero in The Toxic Avenger.

Sunday: Cheer for a mutant superhero in The Toxic Avenger (photo by Carol Rosegg).

Sunday, November 1
Snack while you shop at the Drake Hotel’s first urban market, a combination of yard sale and bake sale featuring handmade crafts, vintage clothing and an assortment of Halloween-related goodies.

Get grossed out at new musical The Toxic Avenger. Louise Pitre (of Mamma Mia fame) stars in this hilarious tale of an unlikely mutant superhero from New Jersey.

Take a photographic journey back in time at the Stephen Bulger gallery’s new exhibit, Lieux Mêmes, featuring hauntingly beautiful images by Bertrand Carrier.

Weekend Roundup, October 16th to 18th

Craft, cringe, carve and cheer with our lineup of autumn events taking place this weekend.

Friday: Get acquainted with The Boys in the Photograph.

Friday: Get acquainted with The Boys in the Photograph.

Friday, October 16th
Get crafty at the Creativ Festival, a three-day show dedicated to do-it-yourself creations. Whether you’re a novice knitter or a seasoned scrapbooker you’ll find plenty of crafting supplies and workshops to help you with your next creative project.

Scare yourself silly and fight off ghoulish creatures at Screamers, the annual Halloween-themed park at Exhibition Place.

Applaud a performance of The Boys in the Photograph, a coming-of-age story of love and conflict in Northern Ireland during the civil war, written by Ben Elton and brought to musical life by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s powerful score.

Saturday: Cheer on the Leafs during Hockey Night in Canada.

Saturday: Cheer on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Saturday, October 17th
Support our beloved hometown hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, as they take to the Air Canada Centre ice in a battle against the New York Rangers.

Join Drake Hotel art concierge Betty Ann Jordan on an exploration of galleries and project spaces along the Queen West strip. After the tour, art aficionados congregate at the Drake’s Corner Cafe for coffee, treats and conversation.

Celebrate the evolution of Indigenous cinema at the 10th annual imagineNATIVE film festival, showcasing more than 125 works by Native filmmakers and media artists.

Sunday: Nosh on brunch at the Boiler House.

Sunday: Brunch at the Boiler House.

Sunday, October 18th
Get into the Halloween spirit early and enjoy a devilish day of family fun at Black Creek Pioneer Village. This year’s Howling Hootenanny features a haunted maze, creepy creatures, pumpkin carving and much more.

Don’t be shy to dig in at the Boiler House’s  lavish brunch buffet—savour award-winning eggs Benedict to the tune of live jazz at this chic, refurbished industrial building in the heart of the Distillery Historic District.

Suit up at Theory’s Get Suited event happening at Holt Renfrew. With in-store sartorial specialists and designer discounts aplenty, you’ll have no problem revamping your work wardrobe this season.

Weekend Roundup, June 19 to 21

This weekend marks the summer solstice and features the longest day of the year. Toronto offers enough music, street festivals and family fun to keep you occupied for the duration.

Friday: Wintersleep provide the tunes at Yonge-Dundas Square (photo by Reie Nakagawara).

Friday: Wintersleep provide the tunes at Yonge-Dundas Square (photo by Reie Nakagawara).

Friday, June 19
Ring in this year’s Pride Week with DiverCiudad, an exhibition of Latin American queer artists on display at Naco Gallery Café (1665 Dundas Street West., 647-347-6499)—savour spicy Mexican fare and coffee while you admire the artwork.

Take advantage of free concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square presented by the North By Northeast music festival. This evening offers the ethereal ballads of Wintersleep.

Stroll the cobbled streets of the Distillery Historic District for cocktails and conversation during the Toronto Wine and Spirit Festival.

Saturday: Take in the dragon boat races (photo by Linda Luong).

Saturday: Take in the dragon boat races (photo by Linda Luong).

Saturday, June 20
Head to Downsview Park and party with Edgefest’s stellar lineup including Canadian indie-rock faves Metric.

Fall in love with Franco-Fete, the Harbourfront Centre festival celebrating French heritage through cooking classes, music performances and family activities.

Spend the day dancing in the streets as the Big on Bloor festival spreads a wave of joy with artwork, music and patios a-plenty in downtown’s west end.

Climb aboard the ferry to the Toronto Islands to cheer on the many teams paddling for victory through Lake Ontario during the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival.

Sunday: See intricate Aboriginal footwear at the Bata Shoe Museum (photo by Matthew Plexman).

Sunday: See intricate Aboriginal footwear at the Bata Shoe Museum (photo by Matthew Plexman).

Sunday, June 21
Combine fashion with history and head to the Bata Shoe Museum for National Aboriginal Day. The museum has a renowned collection of moccasins and other indigenous footwear.

Experience Mozart’s classic battle of the sexes as two young men test the honour of their fiancées’ love in Cosi fan tutte, presented by the Canadian Opera Company.