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Sony centre for the performing arts

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.

Luminato Festival: Mark Morris Dance Group’s Legendary L’Allegro

The Mark Morris Dance Group performs its masterpiece at the Luminato Festival (photo: Jim Steere)

The Mark Morris Dance Group performs its masterpiece at the Luminato Festival (photo: Jim Steere)

JUNE 21 TO 23  Lovers of the fine art often dabble in related interests, but rarely have diverse artistic fields been combined so effectively as in the Mark Morris Dance Group’s landmark production, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. Though created in 1988, the work—frequently hailed as one of the greatest dance pieces of the modern era—has never before been performed in Canada. Synthesizing Handel’s harmonies, Milton’s poetic verses, William Blake’s paintings, and, of course, Morris’s memorable choreography, the work employs 24 dancers, a team of vocalists and an orchestra to produce one of the 20th century’s most dazzling displays of artistic virtuosity. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m. $45 to $95; call 416-368-4849 or visit luminatofestival.com for tickets and further details.  —Sam Cheung

In Toronto, the Eifman Ballet’s Rodin Makes a Statement

The Eifman St. Petersburg Ballet's Rodin offers a stirring artistic statement

The Eifman St. Petersburg Ballet’s Rodin offers a stirring artistic statement

MAY 23 TO 25  The artist’s creative process has always held a deep fascination for Boris Eifman. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that the Russian choreographer found inspiration in the turbulent life of Auguste Rodin. Through the expressive language of dance, the Eifman St. Peterburg Ballet’s Rodin uses the love affair between the French sculptor and his muse to explore the psychological and emotional price exacted by artistic genius. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m., $55 to $145; call 1-855-872-7669 or visit sonycentre.ca to purchase tickets.  —Anna Marszalek

Celebrity Chefs Bourdain and Ripert Serve Up Stories

Anthony Bourdain brings to Toronto his acerbic wit and astounding tales from the kitchen

Anthony Bourdain brings to Toronto his acerbic wit and astounding tales from the kitchen

MAY 4  What goes on behind closed kitchen doors? Find out as renowned chefs, authors and TV personalities Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert dish about their culinary experiences around the world. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $65.85 to $75.85; call 1-855-872-7669 or visit sonycentre.ca to buy.  —Anna Marszalek

Hot Date: Aziz Ansari Inspires Chuckles

JULY 6 Parks and Recreation’s Aziz Ansari, lauded last year by People Magazine as the Funniest Dude in Prime Time, brings his Buried Alive comedy tour to Toronto for two stand-up shows. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 7:30 and 10 p.m., $35 to $49; call 1-855-872-7669 or navigate here to buy.

Hot Date: Seinfeld at the Sony Centre

MAY 4 & 5 Everyone’s favourite observational humourist, Jerry Seinfeld, brings his trademark brand of stand-up to Toronto as part of his Just For Laughs tour. Though far removed from his namesake sitcom, the New York-based funnyman remains a major draw—comedy fans have four opportunities to see Seinfeld poke fun at the little things in life. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 7 and 9:30 p.m., $66 to $100; call 855-985-5000 or navigate here to purchase tickets.

Hot Date: Riverdance’s Celtic Rhythm

APRIL 19 TO 21 An incomparable evening of Irish song and steps awaits as Riverdance returns to Toronto one last time. Now in its final year, the show tells the history of Irish culture with unrivaled, gravity-defying footwork and rich Gaelic music. While similar productions will continue to tour, the original phenomenon, which debuted in North America 16 years ago, is now wrapping up. Don’t miss your chance to see the show that popularized the mesmerizing art of Irish step dance. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Thursday and Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 2 and 8 p.m., $34 to $89; call 1-855-872-7669 or navigate here to purchase tickets.

Hot Date: Buddy’s the Boss

Hey! Where's the fondant!?

NOVEMBER 21 Buddy Valastro does things big—like a 2,000-pound cake shaped like a Transformers robot big. He’s certainly earned the title of his hit TLC series Cake Boss. The bold baker shares stories from his show and his colourful Italian family, answers audience questions, and gives a live demonstration of his confectionary-crafting skills at this interactive event. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m., $35 to $60; call 416-368-6161 or visit here to purchase.

Weekend Roundup, October 28 to 30

Friday: Contemporary art overwhelms the historic Gladstone Hotel (photo by Samuel Bietenholz)

Friday, October 28
Immerse yourself in everything artistic at the Toronto International Art Fair, a.k.a. Art Toronto. See Andy Warhol’s 1979 BMW Art Car, a new site-specific installation by Kent Monkman, plus numerous other exhibiting galleries, presentations and discussions with artists, curators, and collectors. The show runs through to Monday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Introduce yourself to dozens of new musical and theatrical acts at the Global Cabaret Festival, a weekend-long event at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts that celebrates songs, stories, and ideas with 150 musicians taking part in 44 performances.

Explore the sometimes-chaotic interactions between nature and culture at upArt, the Gladstone Hotel’s annual contemporary art fair. The exhibition runs throughout the weekend with works by local, national, and international artists and collectives.

Saturday: OCADU Celebrates its 135 Anniversary (photo by Thomas Hawk)

Saturday, October 29
Swing by Lavish&Squalor today as the shop opens its new antiques and vintage objets d’art section, and commemorates the occasion with a store-wide sale. Cocktails, snacks and live music round out your shopping experience.

Happy 135th Birthday, OCAD University! The highly regarded school of art and design invites you to join its anniversary festivities, which today include an open house, digital game-making event and an exhibition of acclaimed works by OCADU community members.

Bright colours, spectacular dances and a musical extravaganza reveal India’s cultural diversity in Bharati, the Wonder That is India. Dancers, actors, singers, acrobats, musicians and martial artists are all part of the show at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

Sunday: Roy Thomson Hall welcomes The Wizard of Oz

Sunday, October 30
Take the whole family down the yellow brick road, which, strangely enough, leads to Roy Thomson Hall and Oz with Orchestra. Watch the classic film The Wizard of Oz on a giant screen with live accompaniment provided by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The NFL moves north of the border (for a day) with the Bills in Toronto Series coming to the Rogers Centre. The Buffalo Bills look to keep their winning season going as they take on the Washington Redskins.

Rare books, maps, prints, and manuscripts from around the world are on display at the Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair. Peruse limited edition, signed volumes, and unusual books of all kinds at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

But wait! There’s More!
As it happens, there are a slew of Halloween-centric activities happening this weekend around the city, too. Check out those bloodcurdling events here. If you dare.

Weekend Roundup, October 14 to 16

Friday: Cheer on the Argos as the seek to stop the Stampeders (photo by John Steadman)

Friday, October 14
Watch Chad Owens as he tries to become the first player in pro football history to rack up 3,000 combined yards in back-to-back seasons when the Toronto Argonauts take on the Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre.

Hear the sweet stringed sounds of Sinfonia Toronto at their first Masterpiece Concert of the new season at the Glenn Gould Studio. The virtuoso chamber orchestra welcomes pianist Davis Jalbert and trumpeter Guy Few for the show.

Tiptoe around corpses, feel the blood on the walls of a darkened maze, and outrun movie slashers come to life! Screemers, the indoor haunted scream park, takes over the Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place. (more…)

Hot Date: China’s Guangzhou Ballet

OCTOBER 18 The contemporary dance of China steps delicately into Toronto this month, as the Guangzhou Ballet presents its exquisite Return on a Snowy Night. This four-act ballet spins a mystical story about a 20-year relationship between a Peking opera singer and the concubine of a high-ranking official. Incorporating traditional Chinese dance and opera along with more exploratory, modern elements, the production evokes a dramatic range of emotions while the dancers’ precise movements relate a poignant love story. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $45 to $175; call 1-855-872-7669 or visit here for more information and to buy.

Hot Date: Military Glee

SEPTEMBER 8 Enjoy an evening of lusty Slavic singing as the Russian Alexandrov Red Army Choir and Ensemble brings its 125 musicians, vocalists and dancers to the Toronto stage. Accompanied by a full orchestra blending traditional Russian and western instruments, this official choir of the Russian military performs a repertoire of folk tunes, church hymns, popular songs and more in a spirited recital that’s sure to connect with a diverse range of music lovers. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $52 to $110; call 1-855-872-7669 or click here for more information.