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Massey Hall

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.

What to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events this October

THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT EVENTS AND CONCERTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY THIS MONTH!

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

Gavin Creel in The Book of Mormon, North American Tour. © Joan Marcus, 2012.

ALL MONTH LONG  Tony Award–winning musical The Book of Mormon is back at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The story centres on two missionaries who travel to Uganda in hopes of spreading the gospel but who experience a disconnect with the villagers who are dealing with AIDS, famine, poverty and war. Tickets are $49 – $200; visit mirvish.com for more information and to purchase.

ALL MONTH LONG This season at the Design Exchange, guest curator Jeanne Beker peeks into the wardrobes of iconic fashion designers and pulls out pieces that have made important political statements over the past 50 years for the exhibition “Politics of Fashion.” The striking garments lend both style and substance to longstanding ethical debates, gender issues, anti-war activism and more. General admission is $9.25 – $18.50; visit dx.org for more information and to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 3 Known for vibrant, thickly textured canvases that explore the physical and psychological connections between artist and landscape, artist Kim Dorland offers a series of new works for display at Angell Gallery. Expect pieces that continue to expand on the artist’s signature style and thematic concerns, further entrenching his position as Canada’s painter of record. Angell Gallery; 12 Ossington Ave., 416-530-0444. Open Wednesday to Saturday.

STARTS OCTOBER 12 Helen Lawrence, a new media production by visual artist Stan Douglas, mixes theatre, visual art, live action filming and computer-generated simulation in this story set in post-World War II Vancouver. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-366-1656. Tuesday to Thursday 8 p.m., Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 1 & 8 p.m., Wednesday & Sunday 1 p.m.; $30-$99; visit canadianstage.com or call 416-368-3110 to charge.

OCTOBER 17 TO 19 If you’ve ever longed to taste the recipes being made by TV chefs, the Delicious Food Show is your meal ticket. Whether you hunger for the inside scoop on trendy cuisine, advice on grilling the perfect steak, or simply a sinful chocolate cake recipe, celebrity chefs such as Tyler Florence, Chuck Hughes and Mario Batali have you covered. Join them, plus local chefs like DaiLo’s Nick Liu and Yours Truly’s Lachlan Culjak for a feast of workshops, cooking demos and food pairings. Direct Energy Centre, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., general admission is $22; visit deliciousfoodshow.com for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 23 Giants of the literary world descend upon the waterfront for 35th edition of the International Festival of Authors. A global roster of 200-plus novelists, poets, essayists and more share their passion for the written word during 11 days of readings, panel discussions, interviews and book signings. CanLit darling Ann-Marie MacDonald, poet Dionne Brand, crime fiction novelist James Ellroy, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, Irish scribes Colm Tóibín and John Boyne, and critically acclaimed Emma Donoghue are among the expected participants. Harbourfront Centre, general admission $18 for most events; call 416-973-4000 or visit ifoa.org for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

Opera Atelier Alcina. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Opera Atelier’s Alcina starts October 23. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

STARTS OCTOBER 23  Sorceress sisters weave romantic entanglements in Alcina, the latest offering from Opera Atelier. In the company’s new, period-appropriate production of Handel’s 18th-century masterwork, the handsome Ruggiero finds himself on an island in search of the seductress Alcina; his true love, Bradamante, follows, disguised as a knight, and immediately draws the gaze of Alcina’s sister Morgana. But on this island of illusion, it’s true love that proves to be most magical. Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge St., evenings at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $38 – $181; call 1-855-622-2787 to charge or visit operaatelier.com for details.

OCTOBER 24 TO 26 Cask Days brings unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated brews to the masses, allowing breweries the chance to show off their hops. This year’s event has about 300 different cask-conditioned ales by 100-plus breweries from across Canada, the United States and the U.K., including Niagara Oast House, Nelson Brewery, Grizzly Paw, Microbrasserie Le Castor and Grand River Brewing. A special focus on California includes 30-plus breweries from the state. Not into ale? A number of ciders are available, too, as well as gluten-free beer options. Evergreen Brick Works, Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 and up; see caskdays.com to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 Cirque du Soleil is back in Toronto, and this season the famed Montreal troupe presents a kaleidoscope of characters and objects in its latest travelling show, Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities. Under the big top, audiences are transported back to the 19th century to meet an inventor who’s able to defy time, space and even gravity—one spectacular scene even features an upside-down dinner party! Grand Chapiteau, 51 Commissioner St., Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 4:30 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 and 5 p.m.; $50 to $160; visit cirquedusoleil.com to purchase tickets.

STARTS OCTOBER 29 Although the Toronto Raptors endured a heartbreaking end to their 2013-14 playoffs this past May, the Dinos have retained their core and begin a new season stronger than ever. Forward DeMar DeRozan, point guard Kyle Lowry and shooting guard Terrence Ross are among the returning stars who’ll take on the world’s best basketball players this fall. The Raptors start their new season at home against the Atlanta Hawks. Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m., $12.50 and up; call 416-366-3865 to charge.

ALSO THIS MONTH!

Cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei. Photo by Peter Holgerson, courtesy of World Press Photo.

The training regime of cancer-stricken Swedish Olympic heptathlete Nadja Casadei, photographed by Peter Holgersson. Courtesy of World Press Photo.

TO OCTOBER 21 World Press Photo, the annual juried exhibition of award-winning photojournalism covering events and issues that impacted the world in 2013, is on display at Brookfield Place (181 Bay St.). Admission is free.

OCTOBER 3 The Blue Dot Tour with David Suzuki—promoting clean drinking water, fresh air and healthy food for all Canadians—comes to Massey Hall, with such special guests as Stephen Lewis, the Barenaked Ladies, Chantel Kreviazuk and Raine Maida. The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 – $79.50. Visit bluedot.ca for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 4 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night art affair, returns with more than 100 public installations, many of which invite visitors to be part of the works themselves. The free sunset-to-sunrise event expands into several new neighbourhoods, including Fort York, Chinatown and Bremner Boulevard, the latter of which hosts a magical night circus. Elsewhere, Máximo González’s installation, Walk Among Worlds, takes on political undertones by way of 7,000 beach balls to visualize first- and third-world states. Visit scotiabanknuitblanche.ca for a list of locations.

OCTOBER 5 TO 7 Part of the National Geographic Live series, award-winning photographer Steve Winter shares his experience travelling the globe in search of tigers, cougars and snow leopards. Tickets are $19.50 – $79.50. Roy Thomson Hall, October 5, 2 p.m.; October 6 and 7, 8 p.m. Visit roythomson.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 6 New York-based indie rockers We Are Scientists take the stage at The Horseshoe Tavern with guests Surfer Blood and Eternal Summers. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.50; visit horseshoetavern.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 7 TO 11 Award-winning actor, director and producer Ravi Jain and his mom Asha star in A Brimful of Asha, a family story about the search for the perfect bride. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Mill St., 416-203-6264.Tuesday to Saturday 9 p.m., Wednesday & Saturday 2 p.m.; $35-$55; visit soulpepper.ca or call 416-866-8666 to buy.

OCTOBER 8 Indie folk-rock chanteuse Cat Power brings her unique fusion sound to The Danforth Music Hall, 8 p.m. Tickets are $36; visit ticketmaster.ca or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 8 & 9 Pop singer-songwriter Jason Mraz plays at Massey Hall, with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55.50 – $75.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Russell Peters

Russell Peters is back bringing the laughs at the Air Canada Centre on October 9.

OCTOBER 9 Brampton, Ontario’s best-known export, Russell Peters, is back with all-new material in his latest headlining show, the Almost Famous World Tour. Hot on the heels of appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and Notorious on Netflix, Peters brings his trademark brand of wit and observation to what is sure to be a well-attended show—back in 2007, he was the first comedian to sell out the ACC. Air Canada Centre, 8 p.m. Tickets are $58.50 – $125.75; call 1-855-985-5000 or see russellpeters.com for information.

OCTOBER 10 Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Esperanza Spalding—who plays both upright bass and cello—brings her distinctive sound to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place. Tickets are 49.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to charge.

OCTOBER 13 Aussie pop star Betty Who—made famous by a flash mob proposal video shot in a Home Depot that went viral—takes the stage at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club, with guests Joywave and Great Good Fine OK. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $19.50; visit livenation.com to purchase.

STARTS OCTOBER 14 A musical journey through the short-lived career of the legendary rock and roll pioneer, who died tragically in a plane crash, Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story features “That’ll be the Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “Everyday.” Various times. Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901. Tickets are $29 – $120; call 1-855-622-2787 or visit ticketmaster.ca to buy.

OCTOBER 15 Brit rock band Bastille makes a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre during their North American tour. Tickets are $34.50 – $42.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 16 TO 18 Bach and breakdancing may seem an unlikely combination—until you witness the Flying Steps, that is. The seven-member all-male dance troupe arrives in Toronto for one of two Canadian stops on its Red Bull Flying Bach world tour. Also featuring Swedish dancer Anna Holmström, this high-energy performance combines fast-footed jumps, head spins, jackhammers, hand hops and more choreographed to a live piano and harpsichord performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. Massey Hall, Thursday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $25 – $70; call 416-872-4255 for tickets; see flying-steps.de for more information.

OCTOBER 18 Christine McVie rejoins her bandmates for a Fleetwood Mac North American tour, making a stop in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Tickets are $49.50 – $199.50; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

OCTOBER 21 Bruce McCulloch, of Kids in the Hall fame, chronicles his life as a rebellious teenager in Alberta to her early days in Toronto to fatherhood in Young Drunk Punk. The show, presented by the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, combines stand-up, live music and anecdotes in the lead up to McCulloch’s new book Let’s Start a Riot: A Series of Bravery and Stupidity. General admission is $39; admission plus a copy of the book and a post-show reception is $55. Visit torontosketchfest.com or call 647-505-1050 to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 21 October is breast cancer awareness month, and Eat to the Beat provides a novel way to help. The 19th edition of this popular fundraiser for Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support has 60 of the country’s best female chefs preparing signature bites like duck breast on polenta cream, grilled cheese, brownies and pies. Local culinary favourites include Doona Dooher of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Trista Sheen of Crush Wine Bar and Bonnie Gordon of Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., $175 includes all food and beverages, 7 p.m.; call 416-778-6314 ext. 236 or see eattothebeat.ca for details.

STARTS OCTOBER 21 In the world premiere of The Bakelite Masterpiece, set in Holland following World War II, an artist accused of selling art to the Nazis must prove his innocence by painting a work by Johannes Vermeer in front of a prosecutor and art historian. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $48-$53; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 22 TO 26 The crafty and DIYers won’t want to miss the fall Creativ Festival, a massive consumer show bringing together sewing, quilting, beading, knitting, needlework, DIY decorating, crafting, scrapbooking and more. Workshops and seminars begin on October 22, while the Show Floor is open October 24 to 26, offering a chance to browse and buy a variety of goods, including fabrics, fibres, papers, beads, patterns, tools, books, kits and equipment. Show Floor hours are Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for one day is $4 – $15, and a three-day pass is $25 ($5 for students with valid ID). Hands-on classes and seminars are an extra cost. Visit creativfestival.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

OCTOBER 24 The ever-bold Irish singer Sinead O’Connor brings her incredible voice to Massey Hall. Tickets are $49.50 – $79.50; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

Art Toronto

Art Toronto brings together contemporary art from around the world. Photo courtesy of Art Toronto.

OCTOBER 24 TO 27 The 15th annual Art Toronto, a modern and contemporary fine art fair, will feature more than 100 galleries from Canada and around the world. There will be a feature exhibition by Quebec-based collective BGL, as well as fair tours and expert talks. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W.; visit arttoronto.ca for ticket info and further details.

OCTOBER 25 Feist, Sarah Harmer, Jason Collett, Hayden, Lou Canon, Kevin Hearn and other musicians will come together for the first annual Dream Serenade Benefit Concert at Massey Hall in support of services for children with developmental disabilities. Tickets are $50 – $200; visit masseyhall.com or call 416-872-4255 to purchase.

TO OCTOBER 26 In the Henrik Ibsen drama An Enemy of the People, a doctor discovers that his town’s baths are contaminated and must decide if he should inform the public of the health risk or keep it to himself to prevent the local economy from collapsing. Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave., 416-531-1827. Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 2:30 p.m.; $25-$48; visit tarragontheatre.com to purchase.

OCTOBER 27 Canadian synth-pop darling Lights brings her sparkling tunes to The Danforth Music Hall with special guest Rush Midnight. Tickets are $35; visit livenation.com or call 1-855-985-5000 to purchase.

Luminato Festival: Joni Mitchell is Feted at Massey Hall

The Luminato Festival celebrates Joni Mitchell on June 18 and 19 (photo: Jack Robinson)

The Luminato Festival celebrates Joni Mitchell on June 18 and 19 (photo: Jack Robinson)

JUNE 18 & 19  Since it launched in 2007, one of the Luminato Festival’s signature events has been its concert honouring the Canadian songbook and beloved performers like Kate McGarrigle and Neil Young. This year, the festival’s musical centrepiece pays tribute to one of the 20th century’s most influential artists: Joni Mitchell. Covering more than 40 years of poetic lyrics and memorable melodies, Joni: a Portrait in Song brings together the likes of Glen Hansard, Kathleen Edwards, Rufus Wainwright, Herbie Hancock and many others for a performance of Mitchell’s iconic tunes—and a celebration of her 70th birthday. Massey Hall, 7:30 p.m., $35 to $175; call 416-368-4849 or visit luminatofestival.com for more information.  —Anna Marszalek

Diana Krall’s Toronto Double Date

Diana Krall Toronto

photo: Mark Seliger

FEBRUARY 21 & 22  Canadian jazz crooner and pianist Diana Krall returns to Toronto to promote her 11th studio album, Glad Rag Doll, at two highly anticipated shows. Praised for her sultry sophistication, Krall offers laid-back Vaudeville-era covers from her latest release, plus a selection of songs from her Grammy- and Juno-winning oeuvre and soulful renditions of some of the past century’s most unforgettable songs. Massey Hall, 8 p.m., $75 to $130; call 416-872-4255 or visit the venue’s website for more information and to purchase tickets.  Eva Voinigescu

Wynton Marsalis leads the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra in Toronto

Wynton Marsalis Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra Toronto

Wynton Marsalis

JANUARY 30  Swing enthusiasts rejoice as the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis once again finds its groove in Toronto. Heralded by the Daily Telegraph as the “finest big band in the world today,” the 15-piece ensemble is also one of the globe’s hardest working groups, spending more than a third of each year on the road. Led by artistic director and trumpet legend Marsalis, the orchestra presents a program of favourites by the likes of Duke Ellington and Mary Lou Williams as well as original arrangements. Massey Hall, 8 p.m., $39.50 to $99.50; call 416-872-4255 or click here to purchase tickets.  Eva Voinigescu

Hot Date: 3 Top Holiday Concerts

The Barra MacNeils offer Maritime holiday cheer (photo: Evan MacNeil)

Enjoy the sounds of the season at two of Toronto’s finest concert venues; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to buy.

DECEMBER 15  Cape Breton’s first family of song, The Barra MacNeils, present an East Coast Christmas with special guests including Alan Doyle and Jimmy Rankin. Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m., $29.50 to $69.50.

DECEMBER 15 & 16  Angelic tunes are on offer as the St. Michael’s Choir School lends its 270 voices and 75 years of tradition to a charming holiday concert. Massey Hall, Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m., $20 to $40.

DECEMBER 18, 19, 21, 22 & 23  The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir join to perform Handel’s Messiah, a seasonal tradition. Roy Thomson Hall, various times, $38 to $105.  —Eva Voinigescu

10 Venues That Shaped Toronto’s Live Music Scene

By EVA VOINIGESCU

Toronto live music scene, Massey Hall

Massey Hall is arguably Toronto’s most iconic live music venue

The dynamism of Toronto’s live music scene may not be measurable solely by the hoards of screaming girls at last weekend’s Justin Beiber concert, but if the crowds at his Rogers Centre show indicated anything, it’s that Toronto’s live music venues are definitely a draw for the world’s most popular artists, as well as music events from NXNE and the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

[RELATED: 10 Best Places to Buy Unique Gifts]

Perhaps our musical bona fides aren’t as robust as, say, New York City; nonetheless, Canada’s largest metropolis has a long history of shining the spotlight on the best of the best at venues large and small, from Massey Hall to the Horseshoe Tavern. The former, especially, has played host to some of Toronto’s most memorable concerts: Enrico Caruso made his Toronto debut at Massey Hall in 1908; young piano phenoms Oscar Peterson and Glenn Gould took the stage in 1946; and on May 15, 1953, it hosted one of the greatest live music summits ever recorded—a performance by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. For those of us too young to have witnessed this one-time-only team-up, the “Jazz at Massey Hall” show is immortalized as a live album that, six decades later, remains a must-have for modern music aficionados. (more…)

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.

Hot Date: This American Life, Live

Ira Glass “performs” This American Life (photo by George Barcos)

OCTOBER 27  Live radio has never looked so good. This American Life, North America’s most influential podcast, comes to the stage in Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass. This rare presentation sees host Ira Glass providing an inside look into how he and his staff produce their compelling content and strive to break new ground in broadcast journalism. Featuring live stories and material from previous programs, the evening is sure to offer enlightenment for journalism junkies and media watchers alike. Massey Hall, 8 p.m., $37.50 to $57.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit here
to purchase tickets.

Hot Date: John Pinette Offers All-Consuming Comedy

OCTOBER 11  For more than two decades, John Pinette has been making audiences chuckle with his self-deprecating wit and original observations about everyday life. The veteran stand-up comedian and actor has toured with Just for Laughs and appeared in all manner of media—from guest spots on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Seinfeld and The View to a role as Edna Turnblad in the Broadway musical Hairspray. You can now get up close and personal with the full-figured funnyman when he makes his way north of the border as part of his “Still Hungry” tour. Massey Hall, 7:30 p.m., $39.50 to $49.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to purchase.

Weekend Roundup: March 9 to 11

Friday: The piano at Hugh's Room is sure to get a workout

Friday, March 9
Be at Hugh’s Room when an all-star cast of musicians perform the work of songwriting great Randy Newman. The wit and lyrical brilliance that infused songs by Etta James, Tom Jones and Joe Cocker will be in full force at this tribute.

It’s bound to be an evening chocful of blonde hair and pink accessories at the Lower Ossington Theatre when Legally Blonde: The Musical struts onstage. You’ll cheer as Elle Woods, sorority-girl extraordinaire, enrolls in law school and silences naysayers.

Ballet Jorgen unites the lyricism and innovation of ballet throughout the ages in this weekend’s production of classical and contemporary ballet. This two-show run by one of Canada’s leading modern dance companies is sure to inspire and delight as it glides across the Betty Oliphant Theatre stage. (more…)

Hot Date: Celebrate with Wynton Marsalis

FEBRUARY 23 An impressive assortment of classic and contemporary big band music is on the playlist as the renowned Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra swings into Toronto. Touring in honour of co-founder and music director Wynton Marsalis’s 50th birthday, the group is slated to perform selections from the trumpeter’s vast compositional output, such as his Pulitzer Prize-winning Blood on the Fields, as well as other new works. Of course, the ensemble is also dedicated to preserving the spirit of traditional jazz, through interpretations of tunes by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan and more. Massey Hall, 8 p.m., $39.50 to $99.50; call 416-872-4255 or visit here to buy.