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Ontario Place

Weekend Roundup, August 5 to 7

Friday: Quartango asks "What's Classical?" at Harbourfront Centre (photo by Andre Tremblay)

Friday, August 5
The myriad interpretations of “classical” music are explored at Harbourfront Centre’s What’s Classical? festival, which begins this evening with a performance by Montreal’s Quartango, and continues throughout the weekend.

Ontario Place’s 40th-anniversary season continues—enjoy free park admission and, tonight, a complimentary concert by beloved Canadian rock band Sloan at the park’s lakeside Echo Beach venue.

Always a popular summertime event, the 17th annual Toronto’s Festival of Beer opens tonight at Bandshell Park. Delight in over 120 brands on sight, live music, grilling tents and much more (but remember not to overindulge).

Saturday: Serena Williams is among those vying for this year's Rogers Cup

Saturday, August 6
This year’s Rogers Cup serves up the world’s best female professional tennis players. Starting today, top draws including Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniaki begin a week-long battle for  $3 million in prize money and bragging rights heading into the U.S. Open.

Don’t miss the Taste of the Danforth, showcasing Greek culture and cuisine all weekend long in Toronto’s historically Hellenic neighbourhood. Enjoy live music, street eats and fun events along Danforth Avenue, where the celebration of tradition is as rich as the food.

Playwright Eugène Ionesco gets the tribute treatment from Soulpepper Theatre Company—its staging of Ionesco’s Exit the King begins today, and follows a monarch who’s kingdom and life crumble before his very eyes.

Sunday: Tour Toronto's infamous Graffiti Alley (photo by Josh McConnell)

Sunday, August 7
See a side of the city that most people pass by on the Toronto Laneways Bike Tour. This casual group ride takes cyclists through the Trinity Bellwoods, Queen West and Little Italy neighbourhoods to glimpse original laneway homes and local attractions like “Graffiti Alley.”
Step over to the west side of downtown to the 99 MRKT, featuring fresh food, plus artwork and fashion from local designers at the 99 Sudbury event space. In the heart of Liberty Village, this market is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Art Gallery of Ontario presents Haute Culture: General Idea, a retrospective exhibit showcasing works by the groundbreaking Toronto art group. The display is divided into five themed sections to best underline the transgressive and provocative nature of the group’s work.

Weekend Roundup: Canada Day Edition

Our national pride soars on Canada Day (photo by Will Spaetzle)

We’re all-Canadian for this edition of the roundup, as Canada’s 144th birthday is celebrated throughout the city (and nation-wide). On Friday, July 1, check out these fun-for-the-whole-family events and activities.

> Get up early and head north to Downsview Park for a special Canada Day breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. If you’re lucky enough to have tickets, you’ll be certain to return in the afternoon for a much-anticipated concert by the Tragically Hip, with special guests Broken Social Scene, Buck 65 and others.

> Harbourfront Centre is always busy on summer weekends, and this one is no exception, with Canada Day festivities—everything from a strawberry “culinary marathon” to a performance by Esthero—happening all day long.

> A favourite long weekend event, the annual Toronto Ribfest takes over Centennial Park. Live music and kid-friendly attractions keep the whole family entertained, but the real draw, of course, are the meaty barbecue offerings from some of North America’s best “ribbers.”

> Head to Yonge-Dundas Square for something a little different—the downtown venue hosts the fifth annual Multicultural Canada Day Celebration, presented by the Community Folk Art Council of Toronto. Starting at noon, this spirited party features music, dancing and more from a variety of cultures. Be sure to be hanging around at 7 p.m., when the special Bollywood dance party kicks off.

> And, of course, Canada Day wouldn’t be complete without a colourful fireworks display. The city’s biggest show takes place over Lake Ontario’s shore at Ontario Place, where free grounds admission makes finding an ideal viewing spot even easier this year. There are also crowd-pleasing fireworks displays occurring to the east (at Ashbridges Bay), the west (at Centennial Park), the north (at Mel Lastman Square) and even further north (at Canada’s Wonderland).

If you have any energy remaining, the rest of the weekend provides ample opportunity for entertainment, too!

> The TD Toronto Jazz Festival continues through to the end of the weekend, with headline performances by the likes of The Roots (on Friday night), Bootsy Collins (Saturday) and vocal powerhouse Nikki Yanofsky (Sunday)

> A distinctive culinary event comes to the Distillery Historic District on Saturday—Food Truck Eats gathers mobile fare purveyors from Toronto and elsewhere in southern Ontario, all offering samples of street fare such as tacos, poutine, smoked meat and more.

> One of Toronto’s biggest parties, the world-famous Pride Parade, marches down Church Street on Sunday afternoon, in a vibrant celebration of diversity and acceptance.

Hot Dates: Air Show’s Return Flight

The Snowbirds

SEPTEMBER 4 TO 6 Look up in awe as professional pilots perform thrilling aerial aerobatics at the Canadian International Air Show, an annual end-of-summer tradition. A diverse squadron of modern and vintage aircraft swoop the sky above Lake Ontario, but the stars of the four-hour show are the Snowbirds—the Canadian Forces’ iconic demonstration team celebrates its 40th anniversary of dizzying stunts and formation flying this year. Spend the day at the Canadian National Exhibition or Ontario Place and get a great view of the spins, loops and tail slides from the park’s southern shore. 12:30 p.m.; call 416-263-3650 or click here for more information.

Weekend Roundup, September 3 to 5

Though autumn is just around the corner, summer’s still trying to keep up the heat. There are plenty of events and entertainment options this weekend!

Friday: The Jonas Brothers rock Toronto

Friday, September 3rd
Brace yourself for screaming teens as pop sensations the Jonas Brothers play their second show at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. Expect to hear big hits from the boys’ latest album, Lines, Vines and Trying Times, and their new movie Camp Rock 2.

Big, trippy beats are on order as Flying Lotus fills the Opera House with his special brand of experimental techno. The talented producer’s most recent record, Cosmogramma, has been getting rave reviews, and his ability to remix other artists’ chart-topping tracks is also renowned.

Enjoy your last days of summer at the Toronto Zoo. Today marks its final Frozen Friday—a great opportunity to see the arctic polar bears up close during their feeding and learn about these beautiful creatures from the keeper.

Saturday: Laugh for a final time with Mrs. Brown

Saturday, September 4th
Step into the hilarious world of a Dublin family at the final performance of How Now Mrs. Brown Cow. Starring the talented Brendan O’Carroll—who also wrote and directed this comedy—the show follows a nosy mother as she brings her family together for Christmas.

Look to the sky! The Canadian International Air Show begins today. Watch death-defying aerobatic performances and marvel at the power of some of the world’s most advanced military aircraft. And don’t miss the 40th anniversary of the famous Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Surround yourself with both art and history. The Artisans at the Distillery Art Show offers exceptional works in varying media by Canadian artists. The 19th-century Distillery Historic District is taken over by sculptures, photographs, paintings and metallic structures as these artists display their greatest pieces in the outdoors.

Sunday: See Julian Schnabel's untitled self-portrait and much more at the AGO

Sunday, September 5th
Take your kids to Ontario Place for family fun. Today, favourite children’s television characters from Sesame Street make an appearance to meet and greet their young fans. Be sure to take your camera for the wonderful picture opportunities available with these life-size characters!

See how one art form can inspire another by viewing Julian Schnabel: Art and Film at the Art Gallery of Ontario. More than two dozen enormous paintings by the New York-based artist and director (of such movies as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) imply a fruitful relationship between visual art and filmmaking.

Enjoy this summer’s final “World Routes” festival at Harbourfront Centre. At the 15th Anniversary Ashkenaz Festival, you’re sure to find plenty of music, food, apparel and products celebrating Jewish art and culture.

Weekend Roundup, August 20 to 22

The Canadian National Exhibition opens this weekend, but it’s hardly the only game in town. There’s plenty of entertainment for everyone!

Friday: Be touched by the timeless musical, South Pacific

Friday, August 20
Get a major dose of theatre tonight at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, which offers three highly anticipated plays on its various stages. The main event is the debut of Window on Toronto, in which artists from Soulpepper Theatre Company’s academy examine the city from the perspective of a hot-dog vendor. The evening also offers preview performances of Joe Orton’s bold and witty What the Butler Saw, as well as Sharon Pollock’s award-winning drama, Doc.

The play’s the thing at the Four Seasons Centre, too! Take your loved ones to witness a triumphant re-staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific. The heart-rending musical romance has received glowing reviews from Toronto critics and audiences.

Head to the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre to see a Canadian folk-rock institution, as ebullient East Coast band Great Big Sea is in concert tonight. Get to the venue early for a real treat: emerging all-female country group Ladies of the Canyon opens the show.

Celebrate Cuba with the third annual Havana Cultura festival, which showcases that country’s music, arts and food all weekend long. Tonight, hear popular Cuban musician Julio Cuza, see a cigar-rolling demonstration, and much more. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, July 23 to 25

Come rain or shine, Toronto has a bustling weekend ahead with entertainment for everyone!

Friday: Sting gets serious

Friday, July 23
World-famous pop tunesmith Sting has entered the stage of his career where reinterpreting old hits seems enough to satisfy his creative spirit. And so he arrives this evening at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre with a coterie of classical musicians: The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra accompanies the former Police man in a unique performance of his most memorable songs, from “Roxanne” to “Fields of Gold” and much more.

Whet your appetite for Caribbean culture as part of the ongoing Scotiabank Caribana Festival. The big parade may be a few weeks away, but you can get in the mood at the Royal Ontario Museum, which showcases more than 100 works by African-Canadian artists in its “From the Soul” exhibition.

Get ready to (affordably!) strut down the streets of Toronto. Frugal Fashion Week offers an evening of food and apparel at the Bata Shoe Museum, including an exhibition of celebrity- and designer-created shoes, a silent auction and more.

Get to know your prairies as Love, Saskatchewan kicks off at Harbourfront Centre. This weekend-long event features an exhibition on cowboy culture, author readings and performances by such bands as Wide Mouth Mason and Little Miss Higgins.

Saturday: See some stars in Love, Loss and What I Wore

Saturday, July 24
Celebrate women in music with the return of Lilith Fair. The Sarah McLachlan–founded festival was popular in the late ’90s, and has been revived for 2010 with performers including Mary J. Blige, Chantal Kreviazuk and, of course, McLachlan herself.

Take a close friend or loved one to a performance of Love, Loss and What I Wore. The production features a star-studded cast of women who relate dynamic, often hilarious, and always poignant stories from the popular book of the same name.

Steer towards the Young Centre for the Performing Arts to check out the venue’s Saturday Night Cabaret Series. Tonight, acclaimed vocalist Heather Bambrick will have you tapping your toes to infectious jazz rhythms, and on your feet applauding by the end of the evening.

Prepare your best Elizabethan laugh for Canopy Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night, one of Shakespeare’s most affecting romantic comedies. Fall in and out of love with the timeless characters as they’re brought to life under the stars at the University of Toronto’s Philosopher’s Walk.

Sunday: The Bolton Shop sheds light on early photography at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Sunday, July 25
A visit to charming Black Creek Pioneer Village is a journey back to the 19th century. The experience is even more immersive thanks to the venue’s new Bolton Shop photography studio. Here, you can put away your digital SLR and discover the fascinating techniques used to capture and develop images more than a century ago.

“Who let the dogs out?” indeed! Prepare to have your heart melt at Ontario Place—the Purina PropPlan Dog Show is in full swing with canines of all shapes and sizes strutting their stuff.

Finish your weekend with some funny—a night of stand-up comedy—as emerging troupe NBAcomics presents its somewhat strangely named Summer Fest 97’ at Toronto’s renowned giggle garage The Second City.

Canada Day Bashes

Join all of Toronto in celebrating Canada’s 143rd birthday! The city is bursting with memorable parties, activities and festivals to commemorate the special occasion.

photo by Ian Muttoo

There’s no such thing as too many birthday parties!
>> Sing “Happy Birthday” to this country on Canada Day at Mel Lastman Square. The North Toronto venue offers magicians, fire-breathers, jugglers and musical entertainment, including performances by Digging Roots and God Made Me Funky. There’s also an opportunity to meet 2010 Olympic gold medallists Vicky Sunohara (from Canada’s women’s hockey team), Kristina Groves (long-track speed skating), and Charles and François Hamelin (short-track speed skating). Fill up on barbecue fare before the evening culminates with an explosion of fireworks. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, May 21 to 24

Toronto certainly knows how to commemorate a festive occasion. Your Victoria Day weekend will be a memorable one filled with festivals, music and, naturally, fireworks.

Friday: See Elmo and his Sesame Street friends (photo courtesy of VEE Corporation; TM/© 2010 Sesame Workshop)

Friday, May 21
Don’t miss country singer and songwriter Taylor Swift at the Air Canada Centre, as she belts out her hits. American Idol performer Kellie Pickler provides additional vocal firepower as a special guest.

Families are sure to be drawn to the Rogers Centre this weekend. Watch the Sesame Street gang in Elmo’s Green Thumb, a theatrical story in which everyone’s favourite red furball attempts to speed the growth of a sunflower with a spell that, consequently, shrinks him and his friends. Learn a thing or two about patience and our ecosystem and be entertained as the muppets dance, sing and set your sides in stitches.

Seek out art of philosophical meaning and technical precision at the Alison Smith Gallery, a chic gallery in the emerging Dundas West art district.

Saturday, May 22
Peer through the looking glass and behold the world of Alice in Wonderland at Black Creek Pioneer Village, where the beloved story comes to life for an entire weekend of Cheshire Cat crafts, a Mad Hatter’s tea party and much more.

His name was all over the newspapers and now they’ll be writing about his visit to Massey Hallcomedian and erstwhile talk show host Conan O’Brien will have you roaring with laughter alongside Andy Richter and the former Tonight Show band.

Don’t miss your last chance to experience the moral thriller Death and the Maiden at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Watch as this intriguing tale—about a woman who encounters a doctor who may have tortured her in the past—unfolds before your bewildered eyes.

Sunday: Enjoy the Cinesphere and other attractions at Ontario Place

Sunday, May 23
Explore architectural wonders and historic districts on a relaxing yet educational walking tour hosted by the Royal Ontario Museum. This afternoon’s ROM Walk sets off at 2 p.m. for an adventure detailing Sacred Stones and Steeples.

What would Victoria Day weekend be without fireworks? Mark the festive occasion at Ontario Place or Canada’s Wonderland with a day of rides and an evening showcase of bursting, streaming, shimmering lights.

Enjoy a decadent meal aboard the Jubilee Queen cruise ship. Float serenely among the Toronto Islands as sparkling stars—and, of course, those festive fireworks—illuminate the night sky.

Monday, May 24
Celebrate the queen’s birthday at Gibson House, the historic home of one of Willowdale’s founding families. Snack on a treat in the  kitchen, view old-fashioned toys in the parlour or engage in hands-on activities in the Discovery Gallery.

Behold gravity-defying stunts and incredible acrobatics at the Toronto International Circus Festival. World-class acrobats, fire-eaters, stilt walkers and balloon sculptors gather at Harbourfront Centre to amaze and entertain you.

Meander through the Distillery Historic District and feast your eyes on displays of Canadian crafts—including handmade jewellery, sweet-smelling soaps, wood furniture and photographic art—at the Distillery Spring Arts Show.

September Editor’s Picks: Entertainment

The Snowbirds (photo by Craig Moy)SEPTEMBER 5 TO 7 Calling all aviation enthusiasts! The Canadian International Air Show impresses with an array of classic and contemporary planes flying high over Toronto and the shores of Lake Ontario. A tradition for 60 years, this year’s event also marks the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada. Among the performers are the beloved Snowbirds (pictured), an iconic Canadian Forces squadron that engages in adrenalin-pumping individual and team aerobatics. Spend the day at Ontario Place, where airplane aficionados can see all the action from the park’s southern shore. 12:30 p.m.; call 416-263-3650 for more details

The KillersSEPTEMBER 6 The Killers are a hard band to classify: Brandon Flowers, their enigmatic singer and keyboard player, has cited among his influences The Cure, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen and U2. Regardless of genre, these bombastic alternative-new-wave-contemporary-heartland rockers, riding the success of their third album, Day & Age, really know how to put on a show—it must have something to do with their Las Vegas roots. Molson Amphitheatre, 8 p.m., $26.25 to $69.50; call 416-870-8000 or visit Ticketmaster to purchase.

Classic Albums Live recreates Abbey Road at Massey Hall.

Classic Albums Live recreates Abbey Road at Massey Hall.

SEPTEMBER 26 & 27 Much of the recorded output of The Beatles has taken on legendary status in the annals of pop music, but Abbey Road, the last album the Liverpudlian quartet ever recorded, is particularly renowned. Etched onto vinyl in 1969, 40 years later it still sounds fresh and exciting. This month, two distinct concerts commemorate the album’s longevity.

> On one of the city’s most venerated stages, Classic Albums Live reproduces Abbey Road with a 17-piece band, assembled to ensure the multilayered masterpiece gets the treatment it deserves. Massey Hall, 8 p.m., $39.50 to $49.50; call 416-872-4255 or click here for tickets.

> The Art of Time Ensemble brings together a diverse group of performers—including Sarah Slean and Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida—to interpret Abbey Road tracks like “Something” and “Octopus’s Garden.” Enwave Theatre, 8 p.m., $25 to $36; call 416-973-4000 or navigate here to buy.

Weekend Roundup, May 15 to 18

It’s a long weekend. Get out and enjoy it!

Touch sharks and stingrays at the Toronto Zoo (Photo by Dave Cruz Photography).

Friday: Sharks and stingrays at the Toronto Zoo (Photo by Dave Cruz Photography).

Friday, May 15
Interact with the bamboo and nurse sharks, stingrays and your family at the Toronto Zoo’s Sharks at Stingray Bay exhibit, opening today.

Dine amongst the stars at 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower. Included in its summer menu are delectable dishes like fettuccini with East Coast lobster, and wild Canadian prawns with plum tomatoes and tarragon-chardonnay cream.

Spend an evening at storied Massey Hall watching a performance by equally renowned Canadian rockers The Tragically Hip.

Saturday, May 16
Cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays as they swing for the fences at Rogers Centre against the Chicago White Sox. Don’t forget to stop by the Blue Jays Shop for souvenir caps, t-shirts and jerseys.

Embrace Mother Nature at the Royal Ontario Museum with interactive family-fun activities like exploring a rainforest and making tree frog finger puppets—part of ROMKids Nature weekend.

Blue Jays star pitcher Roy Halladay

Saturday: Blue Jays star pitcher Roy Halladay.

Experience the youthful romance and comedic magic of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as interpreted by the Canadian Opera Company. Composer Benjamin Britten’s intoxicating score links together the mortal and fairy world at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Select from an acclaimed menu of ale-infused entrees at Beer Bistro, and toast the long weekend with one of the restaurant’s 130-plus labels.

Sunday, May 17
Take in a heart-pounding Japanese drumming performance by Toronto-based ensemble Nagata Shachu, as part of Harbourfront Centre’s HarbourKIDS Impact Festival.

The boardwalk along The Beach (Photo by Craig Moy).

Monday: The boardwalk along The Beach (Photo by Craig Moy).

Dance and dine aboard Jubilee Queen Cruises as fireworks over Lake Ontario celebrate the Victoria Day weekend.

Monday, May 18
Be astounded by fire-eaters, acrobats and daredevils performing on the final day of the Toronto International Circus Festival.

Indulge your adventurous side with the new and interactive Wild World of Weather attraction at Ontario Place.

Admire the fireworks at Ashbridges Bay after 9:30 p.m., or swing by The Beach early for a stroll and an ice cream along the boardwalk.