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Rogers Centre

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.

Quick Pick: 5 Restaurants Near the Rogers Centre

PEANUTS, CRACKER JACKS AND HOT DOGS ARE A BALLPARK TRADITION, BUT THEY DON’T NECESSARILY ADD UP TO A SATISFYING MEAL. HERE ARE 5 RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS NEAR THE ROGERS CENTRE—GREAT FOR BEFORE OR AFTER YOU TAKE IN A TORONTO BLUE JAYS GAME.

Where to eat near Rogers Centre O&B Canteen

The O&B Canteen is just one of the many great restaurants near the Rogers Centre

• A few blocks directly north of the stadium you’ll find the popular O&B Canteen, which boasts a sizable patio and a menu of fresh-market fare—plus many grab-and-go items if you’re in a hurry. 330 King St. W., 647-288-4710; oliverbonacini.com

• The downtown location of Milagro features zesty Mexican cooking and a vibrant ambience to match. Celebrating a Jays win on a balmy afternoon? You can’t go wrong with tacos and a refreshing margarita or two. 5 Mercer St., 416-850-2855; milagrorestaurant.com

• Contemporary, upscale Indian food at 259 Host makes for a winning alternative to traditional game-day meal. 259 Wellington St., 416-599-4678; 259host.com

• Wander west from Rogers Centre through the veil of condo towers and you’ll find new gourmet Italian spot Citta, which, in addition to its dinner service, offers an intriguingly rustic brunch on Saturdays. 92 Fort York Blvd., 416-623-9662; cittatoronto.com

• Or, march south to the harbourfront’s Amsterdam Brewhouse and talk balls-and-strikes over a few beers on the huge lakeside patio. 245 Queens Quay W., 416-540-1020; amsterdambrewhouse.com

—Craig Moy

The Toronto Blue Jays’ Baseball Season Opens with Many New Faces

Toronto Blue Jays Baseball 2013 Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista is back and hoping to lead a bevy of new Toronto Blue Jays teammates to Major League Baseball glory this season (photo: Toronto Blue Jays)

STARTS APRIL 2  There’s a lot of excitement under the dome as the Toronto Blue Jays open what could be a stellar baseball season. Retooled over the winter, the team now boasts a pitching staff headlined by Cy Young Award-winning knuckleballer R.A. Dickey—acquired from the New York Mets—plus ex-Miami Marlins aces Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson. An already potent offence led by Jose Bautista has also added some punch with speedy Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera and others. Can all these high-priced players be successfully molded into a dominant club? Head down to the ballpark to find out! Rogers Centre, $14.25 to $216.25; call 416-341-1234 or visit bluejays.com for a complete schedule and tickets.  —Macrina Smart

Disney on Ice in Toronto Features Your Favourite Princesses

Disney on Ice Toronto Rockin' Ever After

Beauty and the Beast‘s Belle is but one of the heroines in the latest Disney on Ice show in Toronto

MARCH 13 TO 17  Childhood fantasies are entertainingly brought to life this March Break as Disney on Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After, an all-new musical production featuring everyone’s favourite characters from across the Magic Kingdom. Among the stars of this elaborate skating spectacle? Little mermaid Ariel, long-locked Rapunzel, Belle and her beloved Beast, and strong-willed Merida, the heroine of Brave, in her first on-ice appearance. With splendid songs and graceful choreography, it’s a show that’s sure to enchant audiences of all ages. Rogers Centre, $25 to $90; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit Ticketmaster for showtimes and to purchase.  —Macrina Smart

Hot Date: Disney’s On-Ice Escapades

DECEMBER 21 TO 30  Experience the magic as your family’s favourite animated movies come alive as Disney on Ice Presents Worlds of Fantasy. This holiday-season spectacular features dazzling skating, of course, plus characters from Toy Story, Cars, The Little Mermaid and more. Whether you’re following Buzz Lightyear and the gang as they try to escape from Sunnyside Daycare, watching Lightning McQueen race across the ice, or meeting Tinkerbell and her fellow fairies, it’s sure to be an animated good time. Rogers Centre, $25 to $90; call 1-855-985-500 or visit here for a full schedule.  —Ana Taveira

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.

Kick Off Your Fun at the 100th Grey Cup Festival

The Toronto Argonauts celebrate their 1996 Grey Cup win

NOVEMBER 15 TO 25  Hailing itself an “invitation to the nation,” the 100th Grey Cup Festival promises to be a cultural extravaganza uniting football fans, cinephiles, foodies and music lovers alike. Even if you don’t know a slotback from a safety, you’ll still have a ball at this pigskin-inspired party.

DO
The Nissan Family Zone at Yonge-Dundas Square boasts a mini football field where kids can learn to kick or throw a football.

Hit the Adrenaline Zone at Nathan Phillips Square to brave the tallest urban zip line in North America; it’s suspended 725 feet in the air between the two towers at City Hall, and runs all the way down to Queen Street. If you’d rather stay on the ground, why not test your athleticism on the obstacle course created by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.

Revellers can also crowd the Scotiabank Fan Zone at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, while the Telus Street Party, along King Street from John to Simcoe streets, gets everyone into high spirits with live shows, team celebrations, and food and beer tents. A tailgate party presented by Frank’s Redhot and an outdoor ribfest are sure to create a frenzy in the lead up to the big game, which takes place on November 25.

SEE
Jolly old St. Nick and his reindeer have a special item aboard their sleigh this year: the Grey Cup trophy makes a special appearance during the Santa Claus Parade (click here for the route) on November 18.

Cinephiles can catch game in all of its Hollywood glory at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St. W.) during the Football Film Festival, which includes screenings of Any Given Sunday, The Longest Yard, Remember the Titans and Jerry Maguire. Toronto Argonauts alumnus Mike “Pinball” Clemons is on hand for the tragic yet endearing Brian’s Song.

A varied lineup of performers takes to stages throughout the city for ticketed and free concerts. Count on acts such as Burton Cummings, K’Naan, Sam Roberts Band, Matthew Good, Treble Charger, Kreesha Turner, Big Sugar, April Wine and Kim Mitchell to bring crowds to their feet.

EAT
Chefs and culinary students from George Brown College team up at Nathan Phillips Square’s High Octane Food Zone, where individual servings of comfort foods with a twist cost no more than $5 apiece.

Feast right on the field of the Rogers Centre during the exclusive Scotiabank 100th Grey Cup Gala on November 21. Celebrated chefs Mark McEwan of Bymark and Rob Gentile of Buca team up to offer a sophisticated menu while chart-toppers Chris Willis and Brad Mates provide the dinner music.  —Linda Luong

Staff Picks: 5 Spots to Spot Public Art

Canoe Landing Park (photo by Ian Muttoo)

It’s true that Toronto can’t compete with, say, Paris when it comes to decorating our parks and public spaces with art, but more intriguing sculptures, murals and installations are popping up all the time. In particular, these five locations offer visuals that are equally worth photographing and contemplating. (more…)

Where in Toronto: Ghosts of Seasons Past

Jose Bautista leads the Jays into a hopeful new season (photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays)

Ever since Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista graced the cover of Where Toronto’s April issue, it seems as though I’ve been seeing the team everywhere. No—I wish I’d been running into the likes of Adam Lind and Ricky Romero around town; I mean that I’ve started noticing Jays hats, sweatshirts, merchandise in the windows of every sporting-goods store, and, of course, even an entire section dedicated to the Jays in Sears at the Eaton Centre. It might be that I’m just beginning to take notice of our hometown team, or maybe it’s just Toronto getting into the spring swing of things. (more…)

Fielding a Winner: the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012

Jose Bautista (photo courtesy of the Toronto Blue Jays)

Ah, spring! The time of year when Torontonians find any excuse to dust off their patio furniture and their hopes for our beloved Major League Baseball team. At Where we’ve been dutifully doing the latter for the past few years—sure, the Toronto Blue Jays may be in the midst of a rebuilding process, but sometimes it seems as though the squad is just one more top player and a bit of luck short of squeaking into the playoffs. (more…)

Hot Date: A Royal Disney Revue

MARCH 14 TO 18 Introduce your tykes to three beloved princesses as Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream this March Break. The most chuckle-and-gasp-inducing moments from Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, and Cinderella are brought to life. Explore the new adventures of Rapunzel, delve into the bayou with Princess Tiana, and relive the classic romance of Cinderella and her Prince Charming as costumed world-class skaters glide gracefully across the ice. Rogers Centre, $15 to $90; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit Ticketmaster for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Date: Fun on the Field

MARCH 10 TO 16 Forget all of your “what should we do this March Break?” worries and treat the kids to a day at a carnival. Forget about the cold weather, too, because Spring Fling brings the fun indoors to the city’s biggest stadium. The annual family-friendly fun is ongoing throughout the week, with a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, midway games, live entertainment and more—all under one domed roof. Rogers Centre, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., admission starting at $20; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit here to purchase tickets.