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Long Weekend Roundup: August 31 – September 3

Happy Labour Day! In addition to taking in a performance at Symphony Under the Sky, we highly recommend that you use the extra time you’ll have this weekend to enjoy some of the events happening around Edmonton:

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Edmonton: Weekend Roundup August 24 – 26

Photo courtesy of Chubby Carrier

The last weekend in August is officially upon us, so be sure to make it a memorable one! In addition to viewing a production of Jersey Boys or exploring the activities at the Fringe Festival, visitors and locals alike will want to be sure to check out one of the exciting events happening around the city:

August 24 – 26: The Edmonton Blues Festival promises a weekend of great blues music, from new talents and award-winning musicians, at The Heritage Ampitheatre in Hawrelak Park. Enjoy continuous music performances from a rotating set of acts while seated on the grounds of this outdoor venue, or while showing off on the dance floor. A great selections of beer, wine, and food will be available for sale at various vendors on-site, and there will even be opportunities to meet the artists! Day passes are required to attend this event. Visit the official Blues Festival website to purchase passes and view the performance schedule.

August 25: The legendary Tony Bennett is making a stop in Edmonton on Saturday to delight crowds with his soulful crooning and captivating charm. His daughter, jazz singer Antonia Bennett, will open the show and join Bennett for a duet. A limited number of tickets are still available for the show; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit the Winspear Centre’s website for tickets.

August 24 – September 9: If you have not checked out Robots: The Interactive Exhibition yet, be sure to visit the TELUS World of Science Edmonton to view this fun, family-friendly exhibit before it ends its run on September 9. This exhibition features more than “15 interactive areas offering scientific adventures that allow visitors to enter the world of robotics”, with influences from the 2005 animated film Robots. While you’re there, be sure to check out a showing of Hubble at the IMAX™ theatre. This film, which runs twice daily until September 3, offers a history of space exploration with images taken from the Hubble telescope and is narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. General admission will cover admission to Robots; separate admission is required for Hubble but can be combined with general admission for a discount. Call 780-452-9100 or visit the website for tickets.

Hot Dates: What’s Happening for the Holidays

Ho ho holy moly! There’s a lot of festive events going on around town! Musical performances galore, an abundance of stage works, oodles of kid-friendly activities, and of course a plethora of places to cover your gift-giving needs. Have a look at what Toronto has planned this month for holiday-season revellers. (more…)

30 Things We Love About Toronto This April

3. Ultra

1 Celebrating Prince William’s wedding on this side of the pond with a cup of the royal wedding blend tea from Majesteas.

2 The quiet confines of the Toronto Sculpture Garden.

3 Dramatic 15-foot-tall renderings of roosters in the dining room at Ultra.

4 Crispy thin-crust pizza from Mercatto.

5 A rejuvenating soak in the hot green tea pool at Body Blitz Spa.

8. Woodbine Racetrack

6 The retractable roof at the Rogers Centre—you can gaze at stars in the sky or at the Toronto Blue Jays on the field.

7 Heading lakeside to explore the Harbourfront.

8 The thundering sound of hooves on opening day at Woodbine Racetrack.

9 Admiring the “Canada” bowl, circa 1725, the first depiction of this country in ceramic, at the Gardiner Museum.

10 The adventurous rotating menu at Beast, which has included oven-roasted bone marrow.

11. Purdy's Sweet Georgia Browns

11 Sweet Georgia browns from Purdy’s—toasted and salted pecans with caramel and milk chocolate all in one morsel.

12 Warm and doughy bagels from St. Urbain at St. Lawrence Market.

13 Getting lost in the curated stacks at Type Books, a favourite of resident bibliophiles.

14 The fervor of the “scramble” at Yonge and Dundas, where you can cross the street in any direction.

15 Designer Kimberley Newport-Mimran’s favourite things—an international collection of goods from New Zealand to Sweden at Seventy-Seven.

13. Type Books

16 Reveling in the smooth sounds of jazz at The Trane Studio, named for saxophonist John Coltrane.

17 Inventive Japanese fare at Ginza Sushi, with offerings like sashimi boats.

18 Seeing the city on your own schedule with Gray Line’s Hop-On, Hop-Off City Tour.

19 Local retail therapy at Shopgirls, which stocks items by many Toronto fashion, accessory and decor artists.

20 Sampling a variety of vintages courtesy of Eight Wine Bar’s “buck an ounce” program on Friday nights from 4 to 9 p.m.

19. Shopgirls

21 The homey interior of Bobbette & Belle, where framed whisks and vintage plates adorn the walls as art.

22 Slurping back a freshly shucked oyster from Rodney’s Oyster House.

23 The upscale diner ambience of The Counter, which serves all-day breakfast and more.

24 Strolling along Canada’s Walk of Fame and counting how many names you recognize.

25 Inspecting the intricate and ornate silver art deco doors of the Design Exchange.

26. Real Sports Bar & Grill

26 Catching playoff hockey action at the ultimate man cave, Real Sports Bar & Grill.

27 Tracing the career of silent film star Mary Pickford in an exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

28 Shopping for vintage finds for less at Haute Classics. You might find classic Chanel and Chloé pieces.

29 The melodious church bells of St. James Cathedral.

30 Soaking in the academic vibe on the University of Toronto’s bustling campus.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This March

2. Thomas and Friends

1 Taking a bite of a delicious ice cream sandwich for dessert at Marben—even in winter.

2 Having fun with the kids—and a big blue tank engine—at Thomas and Friends, live on stage from March 18 to 20.

3 Indulging at the Toronto Wine and Cheese Show, which runs from March 18 to 20.

4 The tweedy atmosphere at Nicholas Hoare—perfect for bibliophiles.

5 Seeing Swan Lake performed with unerring grace by Russia’s famed Mariinsky Ballet.

7. Elmwood Spa

6 Applauding top Canadian musicians as they get deserved praise at the 40th annual Juno Awards on March 27.

7 Rejuvenating skin, muscles and mind at Elmwood Spa.

8 Singing and swooning along with songbird Sarah McLachlan on March 17 and 18.

9 Marrying French and Japanese culinary delights at Forte Bistro’s new sushi bar.

10 The selection of whimsical modern and classic toys from Kidding Awound.

12. The Chef's House

11 Learning all about the vital importance of water at the Royal Ontario Museum’s newest exhibition.

12 Helping George Brown College culinary students hone their skills by dining at teaching restaurant The Chef’s House.

13 Ordering daring fare like pig-face tacos at the Black Hoof.

14 Finding fashionable, organic and oh-so-soft clothes for little ones at Mini Mioche.

15 Being in the audience as Janet Jackson sings her hits at the Sony Centre on March 12.

16. The art of Tim Burton

16 Exploring a world-renowned director’s creative process at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s massive Tim Burton exhibition.

17 Admiring the skills of Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo, who joins the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on March 23 and 24.

18 Answering the call of the wild from March 16 to 20 at the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show.

19 Picking up spring wardrobe staples at the two-storey H&M on Bloor Street West.

20 Embracing our love of French fare with dishes like milk-poached veal and sautéed sweetbreads at Auberge du Pommier.

23. Secrets From Your Sister

21 Examining the colourful works of ceramicist Betty Woodman at the Gardiner Museum.

22 The savoury-sweet taste of cashew chicken at Golden Thai, one of the city’s most venerable Southeast Asian eateries.

23 Finding the perfect cup size with a personalized fitting at lingerie boutique Secrets from Your Sister.

24 Oohing and aahing as Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan flies in for another dunk at the Air Canada Centre.

25 The adorable meerkats in the Toronto Zoo’s African Rainforest pavilion.

24. DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors

26 Marvelling at the stories of Robert Munsch, performed live by Solar Stage Children’s Theatre from March 5 to 20.

27 Exploring the varied indoor and outdoor attractions—from a skating rink to a shopping centre—in the Harbourfront area.

28 Sipping a cocktail at Avenue’s commanding onyx bar.

29 Getting a runway-side seat to see the latest couture trends—LG Fashion Week starts March 28.

30 Spotting all the intricate details in Scott Conarroe’s latest landscape photos at Stephen Bulger Gallery.

Hoop Dreams

March is a slam dunk for basketball fans in Halifax

By Trevor J. Adams

If you’re a serious basketball fan, you picked a great month to visit Halifax. One of Canada’s top basketball events is returning to Halifax. The top men’s university teams in the country compete at the CIS Final 8 Men’s Basketball Championship from March 11 to 13. The Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street hosts the action.

This will mark the return of the event to Halifax after a three-year hiatus. The city has a long and storied history with the high-profile national championship, hosting it from 1984 to 2007. “Atlantic University Sport is excited and proud to bring the Final 8 back to Halifax for 2011 and 2012,” says Phil Currie, executive director of Atlantic University Sport. “When we submitted our bid for the 2011 and 2012 events, we focused on the pride, the passion and the people who are the foundation of the event we have all grown to love.”

Attracting university alumni and fans from across the country, the event has a very sociable quality. “It really is like old-home week,” Currie says. “There are a lot of people who only see each other at the Final 8, so it makes things a lot of fun, really adds to the excitement and energy of the event.”

During the event, downtown restaurants and bars will be abuzz with activity. For sports fans, popular spots include the Split Crow on Granville Street, The Maxwell’s Plum on Sackville Street, the Halifax Alehouse on Brunswick Street, The Loose Cannon on Argyle Street and the Midtown Tavern on Grafton Street.

Organizers promise competitors and fans alike a big dose of Maritime hosptiality. “After three years away, the fans, volunteers and community are anxious to show the rest of the country that Halifax is still the university basketball capital of Canada,” says event chair John Patterson. TSN is televising the event nationally.

The weekend before the big tournament, the Metro Centre hosts the regional championship as well. Atlantic Canada’s top men’s basketball teams will for the AUS Men’s Basketball Championship, with the winner going on to the nationals.

And if all that isn’t enough, you’ll also find professional action at the Metro Centre throughout the spring. Nova Scotia’s only pro hoops team is the Halifax Rainmen. One of the Premier Basketball League’s most popular team, they’re currently in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Hot Date: IceFest’s Chilly Reception

FEBRUARY 26 & 27 Bloor-Yorkville, one of Toronto’s premier shopping, dining and cultural districts, celebrates midwinter in style with its popular IceFest. This annual event takes artistic advantage of frosty temperatures to present an ice carving competition—see the intricate, crystalline sculptures in the Village of Yorkville Park and vote for your favourite. For a $5 donation, visitors can also have their picture taken with one of the large sculptures. Or, help raise funds while you shop—participating area boutiques will be giving a portion of their Saturday sales to charity.

Hot Dates: 5 for Music Lovers

Heart performs on February 3 at the Metro Centre.

•    January 13: At the intersection of rock and Celtic, you’ll find Rawlins Cross, performing at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

•    January 29: Warm and sincere, with a working-class touch, bluesman Matt Minglewood is an enduring local favourite. See him at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street.

•    January 29: Tonight’s concert at the Dalhousie Arts Centre with Jenn Grant is sure to be a highlight of In the Dead of Winter, an acoustic-music festival.

•    February 3: Before there was “girl power,” there was Heart. See the trailblazing rockers at the Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street.

•    February 11: Something to make you feel old: The Goo Goo Dolls have been together for 25 years. Relive your angsty youth at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This December

1. The Four Seasons Centre's R. Fraser Elliott Hall

1 Appreciating the splendour of the horseshoe-shaped R. Fraser Elliott Hall at the Four Seasons Centre.

2 Tasting the finest Quebec fromages from Canoe’s cheese offering.

3 Admiring the ornaments on designer-decorated tannenbaums at the Gardiner Museum’s 12 Trees of Christmas exhibit.

4 Coming face-to-face with life-sized figures at the ROM’s The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army exhibit.

5 Enjoying a hot-lather shave at Truefitt & Hill.

4. Terracotta warriors are on display at the Royal Ontario Museum

6 Ambling through peaceful Mount Pleasant Cemetery after a snowfall.

7 Reveling in close encounters with a five-metre-long dragon at the Ontario Science Centre’s Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids exhibi.

8 Enjoying seasonal carols at the St. Michael’s Choir School’s concert on December 10 and 11.

9 Dancing the night away at the opulent Dolce Social Ballroom, which features gold foil-wrapped columns.

10 Catching a hockey game at the Great One’s namesake sports bar, Wayne Gretzky’s.

14. Colourful Swatch watches

11 The first sip of Mayan hot chocolate from Soma, which blends chilies, ginger, cinnamon, orange peel and vanilla.

12 Bloor-Yorkville’s storefronts specially adorned for the holiday season.

13 Biting into a flaky, buttery croissant from Clafouti.

14 Giving the gift of time with a watch from Swatch’s Toronto Eaton Centre location.

15 Feeding animals at the Toronto Zoo on its Treats Walk.

19. Casa Loma

16 Perusing the beautiful selection of journals at The Paper Place.

17 Singing along at Kenny Rogers’ holiday show—it’s a gamble you can count on.

18 Making new friends at the wooden communal table at Dark Horse Espresso Bar.

19 Taking in the majestic and commanding Christmas tree at historic Casa Loma.

20 Adding bling with a shimmery cocktail ring from Banana Republic.

20. Banana Republic offers bling

21 Reminiscing with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future—and Scrooge, too—in A Christmas Carol.

22 Tucking into an authentic subcontinental breakfast of masala omelette at Jaipur Grille.

23 The well-curated selection of professional titles at Books for Business.

24 Discovering what’s so hush-hush at the opening of the Victoria’s Secret location at the Toronto Eaton Centre.

25 Biting into airy doughnut holes with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces from Kultura.

24. Victoria's Secret at the Eaton Centre

26 Exploring the tomes at the kid-friendly “booktique” at Advice from a Caterpillar.

27 The ever-glowing sign at Honest Ed’s bargain emporium lighting up the corner of Bloor and Bathurst streets.

28 The elaborate, visually appealing wrought-iron window screens at George.

29 Posing with the NHL’s most coveted prize, the Stanley Cup, at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

30 Toasting in 2011 with a glass of bubbly from the highest perch in the city, 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower.

Weekend Roundup, November 19 to 21

The holiday season has begun in earnest in Toronto. Start getting into the spirit with a variety of fun (and in some cases, festive) events this weekend.

Friday: Indulge at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo

Friday, November 19
The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo offers oenophiles, epicureans and bon vivants the opportunity to sample more than 1,500 wines, beers and spirits while enjoying food from Toronto’s top restaurants. The decadence is on all weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

A mix of jazz, classical, pop and world music–inspired melodies fills Massey Hall tonight, as pop orchestra Pink Martini brings a bubbly show to Toronto in support of its latest album, Splendour in the Grass.

In its own unique fashion, the Bata Shoe Museum is currently celebrating 40 years of the Juno Awards! See the footwear sported by to Canadian musicians like Drake, Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne, and many other past Juno winners and nominees.

Saturday: Glimpse the lives of India's historical royalty through such artworks as "Procession of Raja Ram Singh II of Kota and His Son at Kota" (© Victoria & Albert Museum, London)

Saturday, November 20
It’s your last chance to see the National Ballet of Canada’s performance of Cinderella! The company’s James Kudelka–choreographed production at the Four Seasons Centre has received universal acclaim from critics and is certain to leave you and your family enchanted.

The posh Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood celebrates the season with its annual Holiday Magic festival. Join in the merriment tonight at the “flick the switch” lighting ceremony, featuring a performance by Juno winner Ivana Santilli, free hot beverages and colourful displays in local shop windows.

More than 200 extravagant artworks, furniture, jewellery and much more—all created for India’s royal court—are now on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s much anticipated Maharaja exhibition. You’ll be dazzled by this glimpse of royal life on the subcontinent.

Sunday: Welcome Santa and his reindeer friends to the city

Sunday, November 21
Santa Claus is coming to town! A tradition since 1905, the Santa Claus Parade officially heralds the holiday season in Toronto. Line Bloor Street West, University Avenue and Yonge Street this afternoon to see all the floats, marching bands and the big man himself.

If you’re still craving holiday cheer after the parade, head to the Harbourfront Centre for its annual Swedish Christmas Festival! See live performances, browse handmade crafts, enjoy Swedish sweets, and try a glass of the traditional mulled wine known as glögg!

Get ready to cheer—it’s the Major League Soccer Cup Final today at BMO Field! FC Dallas battles the Colorado Rapids at 8:30 p.m. in what’s sure to be an exciting match!

Hot Date: Santa Heralds the Holidays

NOVEMBER 21 Kris Kringle is once again coming to town! For 106 years Torontonians have delighted at the sight of elves, reindeer, gingerbread people and, of course, the jolly old man himself making their way through town on the Santa Claus Parade. More than 1,500 participants of all ages comprise this year’s procession, and hundreds of thousands more are sure to line the streets to glimpse all the festive floats, marching bands and favourite holiday characters. Ring in the season starting at 12:45 p.m., as the parade commences at Bloor and Christie streets, then travels southeast all the way to Front and Church streets. Call 416-249-7833 or visit here for more information.

Hot Date: Sympathetic Cinema

A scene from My Suicide

NOVEMBER 5 TO 13 The power of movies to shed light on contemporary issues is in evidence at the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival, an annual showing of provocative features, shorts and documentaries on topics such as addiction and mental illness. This year, see how filmmakers take on stereotypes and break down barriers in films like Repeaters—a harrowing story of three rehab-centre residents—and My Suicide, which tells how a student’s life changes after broadcasting his intention to commit suicide. Discussions following each screening promise even greater insight. Various locations and times, $10; call 416-583-4606 or click here for more information and to buy.