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Phoenix Concert Theatre

Weekend Roundup, July 15 to 17

Friday: Hear all manner of music as the Beaches International Jazz Festival begins

Friday, July 15
Kick off your weekend at the 23rd annual Beaches International Jazz Festival, which begins tonight at Woodbine Park. With acts ranging from jazz, blues, calypso and more—legendary Toronto rocker Carole Pope is even part of this evening’s bill—the festival offers ear candy for a wide variety of listeners.

The Colombian Colours Il Diaspora Festival also starts this evening an continues all weekend long. Part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer line-up of cultural celebrations, it features performances by Colombian musicians, dancers and other artists proudly representing their distinct heritage.

Do you have tickets to see Grammy-winning sensation Taylor Swift belt out her hits at the Air Canada Centre? The contemporary country singer’s Speak Now Tour brings one of 2011’s hottest concerts to Toronto for one night only.

Saturday: Sarah Harmer and other artists celebrate Parks Canada's 100th anniversary

Saturday, July 16
Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada—the world’s first national park service—with a free festival on Centre Island. Starting at noon, the special Parks Day event showcases the country’s diverse natural heritage, and boasts live performances by musicians including Serena Ryder and Sarah Harmer.

Yonge-Dundas Square also offers an event for the environmentally aware—the Live Green Toronto Festival features hundreds of vendors with eco-friendly products, live music and more.

Sit back and relax with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at the Molson Canadian Ampitheatre. The “Margaritaville” singer instills a beachy state of mind as part of his Welcome to Fin Land tour.

Sunday: Slurp up some seafood at the Souther Ontario Oyster Festival

Sunday, July 17
Foodies are invited to take part in a truly succulent tasting at the much-anticipated Southern Ontario Oyster Festival hosted by Toronto’s mollusk mecca Rodney’s Oyster House. Attendees can enjoy live music, cheer on the oyster shucking contest, and, of course, indulge in fresh oysters. Tickets are $30 and help benefit the Environmental Defense organization.

Spend your Sunday night with British indie-rock band Gomez as they fill the Phoenix Concert Theatre with their distinctively rootsy sound.

Experience the rich culture of the Asian subcontinent at the 39th annual Festival of India, taking place on the Toronto Islands. This free event, celebrating Toronto’s large Indian community, includes an arts and culture showcase, a South-Asian bazaar, and much more.

Hot Date: Calling All Gleeks!

JUNE 11 & 12 Freed from the small screen, the talented cast of Glee performs infectious renditions of music from the TV show’s first two seasons—from “Don’t Stop Believin’” to “Empire State of Mind.” Air Canada Centre, 3 and 8 p.m., $49.50 to $89.50; call 1-855-958-5000 or visit Ticketmaster to buy.

Weekend Roundup, May 20th to 22nd

Friday: Gluck's Orfeo is enthralling (photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Friday, May 20
Follow the critics’ raves to the Four Seasons Centre, where the Canadian Opera Company stages the heart-wrenching Orfeo ed Euridice. Compsed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, this opera tells of Orfeo who, after losing his beloved Euridice, literally goes to hell and back to find her.

Take a scenic drive west of Toronto to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, where two new plays begin previews. Shakespeare’s classic Richard III tells the dark story of a man trying to seize the English throne by dispatching all those who stand in his way. For something a little lighter, the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar brings the story of Judas Iscariot to life through rock opera.

Running to May 29, Inside Out, the 21st annual Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival, screens throughout the city. Tonight at 9:30 p.m. (at the TIFF Bell Lightbox), catch Bloomington, a story about a television actress who begins to question her sexuality while trying to lead a normal life as a freshman at Bloomington University.

Saturday: See Aussie troupe Circa among many other acts at Harbourfront Centre (photo by Leif Norman)

Saturday, May 21
Celebrate the weekend at Harbourfront Centre, which hosts the Toronto International Circus Festival, a three-day event beginning today and featuring extraordinary circus artists from the around the world. Catch eye-popping acrobats, gravity-defying rope walkers, fire-eaters, clowns and much more.

What’s black and white and coming back to the Toronto Zoo? Endangered African Penguins! The zoo’s new 6,000-square-foot penguin exhibit opens today with a state-of-the-art underwater viewing area so you can come face to face with the penguins.

Also starting today, the Alice in Wonderland experience takes over Black Creek Pioneer Village with events like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a “Through the Looking Glass” Maze and the Queen of Hearts’ Field of Games. Families can also enjoy all that the historic village has to offer, including farm animals, Victorian dancing lessons, and the interactive history centre.

Sunday: See cosmopolitan indie artist Lykke Li at the Phoenix (photo by SpoiltCat)

Sunday, May 22
The unique sounds of alternative rock-pop artist Lykke Li pervade the Phoenix Concert Theatre on tonight. Influenced by her nomadic past—having lived in Portugal, Sweden, India and New York City—Li’s quirky use of harpsichords, flutes and Theremins makes her music all the more mesmerizing.

The Kids’ World Energy Festival wraps up today at the Evergreen Brick Works, with family-friendly activities focusing on renewable energy, climate change and the science of energy. Together, parents and kids can learn what they can do to contribute to a sustainable future.

Celebrate the long Victoria Day weekend by catching some fireworks. Weather permitting, Canada’s Wonderland offers a show starting at 10 p.m., or make your way to Ashbridge’s Bay on Monday at 9:45 p.m. for a dazzling display of lights over Lake Ontario.

Weekend Roundup, December 10 to 12

Friday: Help Wintersleep raise money for the Daily Bread Food Bank (photo by Dustin Rabin)

Friday, December 10
Help support the Daily Bread Food Bank by jamming to Jingle Bell Rock. Venerable Canadian indie rockers Wintersleep are one of five bands performing at the Phoenix Concert Theatre for a worthy cause.

The Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre employs eclectic modern dance and ballet to illuminate a tapestry of solstice traditions in its 23rd annual installment of Wintersong— Dances for a Sacred Season. Marvel at the grace of these young performers tonight (and Saturday afternoon) at Harbourfront Centre.

Enjoy the soaring strains of the boys of St.Michael’s Choir School, which presents its 71st annual Christmas Fantasy concert. The holiday harmonies of these talented young singers fill Massey Hall tonight and tomorrow.

Saturday: Cheer on Dion Phaneuf (just back from injury) and the rest of the Maple Leafs

Saturday, December 11
Are you still looking for that special present for someone on your holiday gift list? The 401 Richmond Artisans Marketplace offers truly unique selections from numerous local artists. Browse through the diverse designs to find something that is truly one-of-a-kind.

Let Forte: The Toronto Men’s Chorus serenade you with its performance of Four Strong Winds—Songs for a Canadian Winter at the Metropolitan United Church. In addition to classic seasonal favourites, the group will sing tunes by Stan Rogers, Ian Tyson, Joni Mitchell and Sarah McLachlan.

Our hometown hockey heroes—the Toronto Maple Leafs—renew their age-old rivalry with Montreal Canadians tonight. Find your seat at the Air Canada Centre to see if the buds can get back on a winning track.

Sunday: Take heart in the soaring songs performed by André Rieu

Sunday, December 12
Experience a witty interactive theatre twist on a classic holiday tale as DuffleBag Theatre Company performs its version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The show will have you and your family rolling in the Solar Stage Theatre aisles.

Hurry, hurry! The holidays are coming to an end in the Distillery Historic District—its Toronto Christmas Market concludes today. Don’t miss out on foraging through the fairy tale forest maze that leads to Santa’s house and Rudolph’s reindeer zoo.

Don’t miss a celebration of classical music as entertaining violinist, conductor and composer André Rieu—accompanied by his 55-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra—brings joyous waltzes, polkas and romantic ballads to the Air Canada Centre.

Luminato To-Do, Day Eight

The festival enters its final weekend with many great performances and events!

Goran Bregovich and his Orchestra (photo by Stephanie Berger).

Goran Bregovich and his Orchestra (photo by Stephanie Berger).

Friday June 12

Closing Weekend Celebration featuring Cirque du Soleil
It’s been a long time since the words ‘free’ and ‘Cirque du Soleil’ have appeared in the same sentence. The success of the Montreal-based circus troupe is unrivaled, its shows play to packed houses on every continent. If you’ve been neglecting Luminato events, this one should be worth the effort. Starting Friday evening two “communities” of Cirque performers form on the waterfront: one represents nature and the other urban living. Tonight the groups emerge and move to their respective “homes” at opposite ends of the Harbourfront site. Then, over the rest of the weekend both communities will begin to interact with each other (and lucky passers by). The concept seems intentionally vague, but that just means there’s a greater chance to experience something truly, transcendently creative.
Queens Quay West, between Harbourfront Centre and the Toronto Music Garden, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (and continuing throughout the weekend), free.

Goran Bregovic
You might not be familiar with his name, but there’s a good chance you’ve heard tunes by this “musical superstar of the Balkans in such films as Borat, Time of the Gypsies and Underground. Tonight, the Sarajevo-born rocker will be joined by a 20-piece iteration of his brass-heavy Weddings and Funerals Orchestra—its gypsy-rock sound so infectious, you won’t need any Sljivovica (plum brandy) to encourage dancing like crazy. Don’t be surprised if the infectious gypsy-rock beat forces you out of your seat and onto the dance floor.
Yonge-Dundas Square, 8 p.m., free.

Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s 20 th Century
“Punk musical” might sound like an oxymoron to most people, but that’s exactly what director Jay Scheib has created with the help of Brooklyn’s cabaret punk band World/Inferno Friendship Society. The show is inspired by the life of character actor Peter Lorre, best known for his roles in Fritz Lang’s M and The Raven, who obtained success while remaining something of an outsider. Onscreen and off, Lorre played sinister like no other. Part Rocky Horror, part Cabaret, Bad Ideas explores a strange life with recreations of movie scenes as well as interactive video. This unique musical paints a memorable portrait of a man who defined the role of the outsider in the 20th century.
Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne St.), 11 p.m., $35.

Luminato Preview—Guide to Gothic

The third annual Luminato Festival brings international creativity to Toronto from June 5 to 14. This year, a significant part of its programming celebrates the concept of the macabre, partly inspired by the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth. Check out these gothic happenings.

Neil Gaiman brings a gothic sensibility to the city (photo by Phillipe Matsas).

Neil Gaiman brings a gothic sensibility to the city (photo by Phillipe Matsas).

TALE FROM THE CRYPT
JUNE 8 Fantasy enthusiasts need no longer seclude themselves in darkened rooms, casting 12-sided dice and conjuring Lovecraftian visions, for the genre is now enjoying a popular renaissance. British writer Neil Gaiman is one of the prime movers behind fantasy’s contemporary cachet. The creator of The Sandman comic series, as well as bestselling adult and all-ages novels like American Gods, Anansi Boys and Coraline, graces Toronto with a reading from his latest work, The Graveyard Book. Winner of the 2009 Newbery Medal for children’s literature, the mildly macabre story has been described as The Jungle Book set in a cemetery. Gaiman also discusses his writing in an onstage interview and participates in a book signing following the event. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front St. E., 416-366-1656), 7 p.m., $15.

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Weekend Roundup, May 29 to 31

The weekend arrives once again. Enjoy it!

Friday: Embrujo Flamenco's paella festival

Friday: Embrujo Flamenco's paella festival

Friday, May 29
Explore how the shape of a garment communicates cultural beliefs and outlooks in The Cutting Edge, a feature exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada.

Savour the exotic flavours of Embrujo Flamenco’s paella festival, featuring various takes on the filling, authentically Spanish dish. A gazpacho starter, one of four daily paellas like the arroz negro—black rice and seafood cooked in squid ink—and dessert are just $49.

Sing along to the roots-rock hits of eclectic British band Gomez as they storm the Pheonix Concert Theatre stage.

Saturday: Sommelier Taylor Thompson offers wine expertise at Reds (photo by Daniel Shipp).

Saturday: Sommelier Taylor Thompson offers wine expertise at Reds (photo by Daniel Shipp).

Saturday, May 30
Spend the day discovering the art of food-and-wine pairing by participating in historic Campbell House Museum’s Global Wine Tour: Fundamentals of Food and Wine course.

Combine food and fashion while celebrating South-Asian music and culture at DesiFest.

Marvel at the poise of performers from the Canadian Children’s Opera Company as they stage Hansel and Gretel Go Into the Woods: A Fairy Tale.

Choose your favourite tipple from more than 90 wines available by the glass at Reds Bistro & Wine Bar—or, seek the advice of Taylor Thompson, the restaurant’s expert sommelier.

Tuck into brunch at the Drake Hotel's eclectic Corner Café

Sunday: Tuck into brunch at the Drake Hotel's eclectic Corner Café

Sunday, May 31
Relax at The Rex with enough jazz, blues and beer to keep you occupied between lunch and dinner.

Take in the Drake Hotel’s trendy ambience as you chomp down on a hearty breakfast burrito from its lauded brunch menu.

Catch the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox—or perhaps even a foul ball—as these Major League Baseball rivals do battle at Rogers Centre.