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TD Toronto Jazz Festival

Weekend Roundup: June 22 to 24

Friday: Janelle Monae offers a high-energy set at the Toronto Jazz Festival

Friday, June 22
More than 1,500 musicians are crowding into the city over the next 10 days for this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival. The much-anticipated event’s opening-night concerts include one-of-a-kind guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel take the stage for a solo performance, while modern-day R&B/soul/funk phenom Janelle Monae gets everyone grooving at the Nathan Phillips Square mainstage.

Celebrity air hostess Pam Ann touches down at the Panasonic Theatre for three uproarious nights of comedy. Fasten your seatbelts and follow Ann back to the glitzy golden age of flight—her huge hairdo, candy-pink uniform and disco boots certainly hearken back to that “glamorous” era!

Francophones and Francophiles come together to celebrate the diversity of French culture at this weekend’s Franco-Fête festival. Voila! Harbourfront Centre offers culinary delights, dancing and musique from Canadian artists like Ariane Moffatt and Samian et Anodajay, performing tonight on the WestJet Stage. (more…)

Hot Date: Groove With 1,500 musicians at the Toronto Jazz Festival

Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding is among this year's jazz fest headliners (photo by Carlos Pericas)

JUNE 22 TO JULY 1 Finally, the summer can really find its groove, thanks to the
TD Toronto Jazz Festival
. The long-running event now features more than 1,500 of the best musicians from around the world performing more than 350 concerts. The intersection between jazz and other genres like R&B, pop and hip hop is a focal point this year, with headliners including Esperanza Spalding, Janelle Monae, Ziggy Marley, the Robert Glasper Experiment and more. The fest also mixes music and visual art at special Groove and Graffiti workshops, where top taggers discuss their expressive aerosol art form. Various venues, $10 to $95; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit here for showtimes and to buy.

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.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This June

3. The Art Gallery of Ontario, complete with Henry Moore sculptures (photo by Roger Yip)

1. The soulful voice of Aretha Franklin, who opens the TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a free concert on June 24.

2. Donning red and white to cheer on the Toronto FC.

3. Admiring the collection of Henry Moore sculptures housed at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

4. Sipping a cappuccino from White Squirrel Coffee Shop while seeking its namesake critters in adjacent Trinity-Bellwoods Park.

5. Practicing your swing at Polson Pier’s lakeside driving range.

10. Toronto's skyline

6. Receiving a boisterous greeting from servers and chefs upon entering Japanese izakaya Guu.

7. Examining industrial-landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky’s latest exhibit about the oil business at the Royal Ontario Museum.

8. Strolling the pedestrian-friendly outdoor retail complex Shops at Don Mills.

9. The fervor of the “scramble” at Yonge and Dundas, where you can cross the street in any direction.

10. Taking the ferry to the Toronto Islands and looking back at the impressive skyline.

13. The Rex

11. Perusing refined Scandinavian design at Mjölk.

12. Admiring the cavernous grandeur of Union Station (65 Front St. W.).

13. Winding down the week with the live jazz and laid-back vibe at The Rex.

14. Walking beneath architectural artist Philip Beesley’s Sargasso installation, featured in Brookfield Place during Luminato.

15. The sense of otherworldliness in Sarah Anne Johnson’s Arctic Wonderland photos, displayed at Stephen Bulger Gallery.

19. Buca

16. Queuing for the $5.99 lunch specials at Sushi on Bloor—it’s worth the wait.

17. TV’s Rachel and Finn—a.k.a. Lea Michelle and Cory Monteith—belting it out on stage for Glee Live! In Concert!

18. Working up the courage to step onto the CN Tower’s glass floor, then looking down at the street 342 metres below.

19. Crunching on crispy pigs’ ears within Buca’s reclaimed industrial space.

20. Centering yourself at a drop-in yoga class at the Evergreen Brick Works.

24. Stillwater Spa

21. Finishing off a meal at The Gabardine with a burnt marshmallow ice cream sandwich.

22. Ordering creative cocktails and shareable snacks at Origin.

23. Admiring the elaborately designed merchandise windows at posh Holt Renfrew.

24. Getting pampered with a deep blue Tahitian massage at Stillwater Spa.

25. Picking up a new pair of flip-flops or sandals at always on-trend  shoe store Get Outside.

26. The Drake General Store

26. Quirky items from the Drake General Store to bring back home to your family and friends.

27. Tucking into tacos el pastor and a bowl of guacamole at Mexican stalwart El Trompo.

28. Coveting the volume of tomes at The Cookbook Store.

29. Scouring the rows of kitchenware at Chinatown’s Tap Phong Trading Company (360 Spadina Ave., 416-977-6364).

30. A stroll through the ravines of the Don Valley—you might glimpse a white-tailed deer by the river.

Hot Date: Aretha’s In Town for the Toronto Jazz Festival

Aretha Franklin

JUNE 24 TO JULY 3 To mark its 25th season, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival stages 350 concerts at more than 40 venues with 1,500 musicians. But the only one big enough to kick off the event’s silver anniversary is Aretha Franklin, who gives this city some free opening-night R-E-S-P-E-C-T at David Pecaut Square. Fans can then find all the right grooves at shows by the Dave Holland Quintet, Kurt Elling, power trio The Bad Plus, and pianist Kenny Barron. Various venues and showtimes; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit here to buy.

Weekend Roundup, July 2 to 4

We hope you have some energy leftover following the big Canada Day bash, because the city is flush with exciting activities all weekend long.

Friday: Cirque du Soleil inspires awe (photo by Domenique Lemieux)

Friday, July 2
The impossible is achieved before the naked eye in Cirque de Soleil’s Alegría, yet another spellbinding performance by the world-famous troupe. This spectacle derives its name from the Spanish word for jubilation, a feeling sure to be evoked by its gravity-defying acrobatics, graceful contortionists and more.

Immerse yourself in the theatrical arts at the Toronto Fringe Festival, which presents 150-plus independent theatrical productions—musicals, dramas, single-person shows and much more.

Dig into some juicy beef and pork at the Toronto Ribfest. The popular event at Centennial Park also features live entertainment, plus vendors for those who may be immune to the allure of a juicy rack of ribs.

Saturday: Catch a Cyndi Lauper concert

Saturday, July 3
Lords and ladies are welcome to attend Casa Loma’s Renaissance Festival. Take a trip back to medieval times:  warhorses parade in the stables, warriors patrol a Viking encampment, and minstrels stroll by as you explore the castle. Don’t be surprised to see soldiers burst into spontaneous duels!

Gather at Yonge-Dundas Square this evening for a free concert by Chaka Khan, Macy Gray and Quebec-based trio Lost Fingers, courtesy of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

“Girls just wanna have fun”—and you probably do, too, so head over to Queen’s Park, where Cyndi Lauper—along with The Clicks and Dragonette—performs live as part of this week’s Pride festival. The pop icon also marks the release of her latest album, Memphis Blues, with a CD signing at the Manulife Centre’s Indigo store.

Sunday: The Queen comes to town (photo by Steve Punter)

Sunday, July 4

Hear ye, hear ye! Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, grace Toronto with a royal visit today. The monarchs will greet well-wishers following the 11 a.m. service at St. James Cathedral, and then preside over the 151st running of the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack.

Show your (rainbow) stripes at the 30th annual Pride Parade takes off from Church and Bloor streets at 2 p.m., in the country’s biggest celebration of sexual diversity.

Gather at Exhibition Place to partake in the annual CHIN International Picnic, the world’s largest free picnic and music festival. Snack on multicultural fare, see jungle cats, a dog show and circus acts in the midway, and then cheer the crowning of this year’s “Mr. Chin.” (Saturday’s festivities name Miss Chin and culminate in an evening of fireworks.) If the karaoke competition doesn’t raise the bar, a musical performance by Italy’s Nek certainly will.

Weekend Roundup, June 25 to 27

Although the G20 summit may disrupt your ability to move around the downtown core, Toronto can still grab your attention with theatrical productions, festivals and more. If you plan your route carefully, you’ll find it’s easy to enjoy an entertaining array of events!

Friday: Jeff Irving is one of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers.

Friday, June 25
Settle comfortably onto the rolling hills of Toronto’s largest park for an open-air performance of Shakespeare’s beloved Romeo and Juliet, this summer’s Canadian Stage TD Dream in High Park production. This play-within-a-play adaptation retells the romantic tragedy of the Capulets and Montagues with iPods and travel bags commandeered by a acting troupe stranded outside a Verona train station.

Take in the city’s many colours as Pride Toronto kicks off its week-long celebration of sexual diversity and identity with a 30th-anniversary launch party at Woody’s bar.

If you’re anxious to avoid the downtown detours, head west to Sherway Gardens, a mall decked with skylights and more than 200 shops and services. Yorkdale Shopping Centre—easily accessible at the north end of the University subway line—is another grand-scale retail destination with 250-plus stores and dining options like Moxie’s Classic Grill, Milestones Grill & Bar or the family-friendly Amazonian experience of the Rainforest Café.

Saturday: André Rieu strikes up the band

Saturday, June 26
Delight in a heartening musical experience with André Rieu performs live at the Air Canada Centre with his Johann Strauss Orchestra. You’ll be humming and clapping along as the renowned violinist makes classical music that’s accessible and unforgettable.

Explore Chinese history at the Royal Ontario Museum,which displays the famed terracotta warriors of Emperor Ying Zheng for the first time ever in Canada. This landmark exhibition, The Warrior Emperor and China’s Terracotta Army, presents more than 250 stunningly preserved artifacts, including 10 full-sized warrior figures, from one of history’s most significant archaeological discoveries.

Take a break from World Cup action to cheer on this city’s professional soccer team, Toronto FC, as it takes to the BMO Field pitch for an evening draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Sunday: Harry Connick Jr. sings his hits

Sunday, June 27
The TD Toronto Jazz Festival is now in full swing—with more than 350 concerts at 40-plus venues through to July 4. Tonight sees celebrated crooner Harry Connick Jr. take to the Canon Theatre stage.

See lions and tigers and bears—and then touch live stingrays, sharks and horseshoe crabs—with a family visit to the perennially popular Toronto Zoo.

Seize one last chance to save at the Summer Designer Sale, which features the latest fashions priced at 40 to 90 per cent off retail. The sale is on at the Sheraton Hotel in Richmond Hill, but for brands like Lacoste, Diesel, and Rock and Republic—and to avoid the congested G20 summit zones—it’s worth the short drive north

Weekend Roundup, July 3 to 5

This weekend bestows continuous culture and cuisine with a stream of events flooding Toronto.

Friday: Saxophonist Branford Marsalis keeps things cool at the Toronto Jazz Festival.

Friday: Saxophonist Branford Marsalis keeps things cool at the Toronto Jazz Festival.

Friday July, 3
Get lost in circuitous compositions and innovative improvisation as saxophonist Branford Marsalis performs with the Dave Holland Quintet in a Toronto Jazz Festival event at Nathan Phillips Square.

Celebrate the life of literature while mourning the (alleged) death of books at the 2009 Scream Literary Festival. Tonight, wander down to the basement of Type Books (883 Queen St. W., 416-366-8973) for poetry and performances.

Head to The Hot Spot at the Harbourfront Centre and marvel at a performance by Roberto Linares Brown, one of Cuba’s most skilled arrangers and composers.

Saturday: Lots to see and do (and taste!) at the Corso Italia Toronto Fiesta.

Saturday: Lots to see and do (and taste!) at the Corso Italia Toronto Fiesta.

Saturday, July 4
Behold the balconies, bakeries and boutiques busting with food, music and drink during the annual Corso Italia Toronto Fiesta along St. Clair Avenue West.

Delight in Oscar Wilde’s comedic tale of social hypocrisy and flawed identity in an all-female Toronto Fringe Festival rendition of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Travel back to a time of dueling knights and dancing gypsies with the Renaissance Festival at Casa Loma—fire eaters, archery demonstrators and more provide a full day of family fun.

Pamper your palate with the prix fixe Summerlicious selections at Il Posto Restaurant. Your choice of mains includes seafood spaghetti, fresh fish or veal scaloppini.

Sunday: Soak City gets you wet at Ontario Place.

Sunday: Soak City gets you wet at Ontario Place.

Sunday, July 5
Drench yourself in water and sunshine at Ontario Place’s Soak City.

Wake up on Pop Bistro’s patio with an order of eggs benedict—perfectly poached eggs are served on a bacon-stuffed, Hollandaise-drizzled croissant.

Surrender to the legendary charisma and class of Tony Bennett as he closes the Toronto Jazz Festival at the Canon Theatre.