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The Nutcracker

East Coast Holidays

Live Music, Theatre, Parades, and More—Christmas Celebrations Abound in the Halifax Area

 

Grand Parade in Halifax (Photo Credit: Tammy Fancy)

FAMILY FIRST
The Holiday Parade of Lights on Nov. 17 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as thousands of spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts (and, of course, Santa Claus). Back downtown on Nov. 24, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. Also on Nov. 24 (and 25), Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing holiday traditions dating back to colonial days. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 1, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.

 

The Celtic Tenors

SEASONAL SYMPHONY
Symphony Nova Scotia offers a full calendar of holiday concerts at the Dalhousie Arts Centre, starting Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 with A Celtic Tenors Christmas. Up next is perennial favourite The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) running from Dec. 7 to 9 and 13 to 16. As usual, things reach a crescendo on Dec. 21, 22, with Handel’s magnificent Messiah. This year presented in the historic “Dublin” arrangement, it features Mezzo-soprano Marion Newman, tenor Michael Colvin, and baritone Alexander Dobson.

 

The Ennis Sisters

MERRY MUSIC
Oh What A Night—The Christmas Show takes the stage at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on Nov. 18. The cast of the Oh What A Night tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons offer audience favourites from the original production, plus a musical tribute to “Mr. Christmas” Andy Williams. Prefer your holidays with an East Coast twist? On Nov. 30, The Ennis Sisters from Newfoundland combine original songs and holiday classics in a show that features stunning harmonies, recitations, lively step dancing, and playful humour. See them at St. Matthew’s United Church on Barrington Street. And on Dec. 6, Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street hosts Serena Ryder Christmas. The eponymous singer/songwriter offers a mix of new material, old hits, and holiday classics.

 

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

FESTIVE THEATRE
Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on Nov. 27 and continues through Jan. 5. Artistic director Jeremy Webb adapts Cinderella as a musical comedy for the stage, starring Samantha Walkes as the title hero. Concurrently, Neptune’s studio stage hosts another holiday mainstay: Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a one-man show starring Rhys Bevan-John. The pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is another annual family favourite. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, see Sleeping Beauty from Nov. 22 to Dec. 8.

 

Neon Dreams

AULD LANG SYNE
Join thousands of revellers at Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall for the East Coast’s largest New Year’s Eve party. The family-friendly celebration begins at 10:30 p.m., with headliners Neon Dreams and A Tribe Called Red offering live musical performances, followed by a giant fireworks show at midnight.

 

25 Things To Do in Calgary in December

By MICHAELA RITCHIE

A Tribe Called Red will bring their revolutionary sound to The Palace Theatre Dec. 1. (Photo by Matt Barnes.)

For some of you, Christmas has been top of mind for the past several months—but now that we’re just weeks away, the rest of us can no longer deny: ’tis the season! To help get you and yours’ in a festive mood, here are 25 of our favourite local celebrations and holiday traditions that you can take part in to count down the days until Christmas!

(If Christmas just isn’t your cup of holiday cheer, never fear! We threw in a couple of chilly activities, sans festivities, down below for getting out around town and making the most of our city at this jolly time of year—so keep scrolling, and get ready to bundle up!) (more…)

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.

‘Tis the season

By Trevor J. Adams

Parades, live theatre, concerts galore and more—Halifax is abuzz with Christmas magic.

November and December are lively months in Halifax, with dozens of special events to celebrate the holiday season. Read on for our favourites. With an exciting mix of traditional classics and new events, there’s plenty here for the whole family.

YULE PARTIES

Holiday Parade of Lights. Photo: Will Roberts

Holiday Parade of Lights. Photo: Will Roberts

The Holiday Parade of Lights on November 21 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as some 100,000 spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts. Also on November 21,

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing Christmas traditions dating back to colonial days. The event continues on November 22.

Victorian Christmas at Halifax Citadel. Photo: Parks Canada

Victorian Christmas at Halifax Citadel. Photo: Parks Canada

Back downtown on November 28, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on December 5, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.

CRAFTY CHRISTMAS

Back for its 38th year, Christmas at the Forum is one of Canada’s largest annual indoor markets of its type, with some 450 vendors offering art, gifts, antiques, and food. The Halifax Forum on Windsor Street hosts on November 6 to 8.

THERE’S A SONG IN THE AIR

Alexander Weimann

Alexander Weimann joins Symphony Nova Scotia for Handel’s Messiah

Symphony Nova Scotia offers holiday concerts galore, with Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on November 28 and 29, The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) on December 4 to 13, and Handel’s Messiah on December 18 and 19.

A King’s Christmas is back on December 13. A special guest narrator joins the King’s College Chapel Choir at All Saint’s Cathedral on Martello Street for seasonal songs and stories. Paul Halley directs.

The holidays get a Celtic twist on December 20, as the Barra MacNeils perform A Cape Breton Christmas at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Barra MacNeils

Barra MacNeils

MAKING MERRY

Beloved humourist and storyteller Stuart McLean brings his Vinyl Café Christmas Show to the Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street on November 20. December sees the return of a popular holiday-themed comedy event on December 11 and 12. The annual Ha Ha Halidays event comes to the World Trade and Convention Centre on December 11 and 12, with a lineup that includes Australian funny guy Jim Dailakis and Newfoundlander John Sheehan.

PLAY ON

Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 28. A Year With Frog and Toad brings Arnold Lobel’s character to the stage in a Tony-nominated musical. The holiday pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is another seasonal mainstay. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, The Emperor’s New Clothes runs from November 26 to December 12.

 

Calgary Christmas Entertainment for the Whole Family

AChristmasCarol

Theatre Calgary’s staging of A Christmas Carol. Photo: Trudie Lee, courtesy Theatre Calgary.

Once Upon a Christmas
Weekends, Nov 23 – Dec 22
Christmas past is alive and well and perfectly enchanting at Heritage Park Historical Village. Go for a wagon ride, take in live historical theatre, sing holiday carols and pay a visit to jolly old Saint Nick. Three of the park’s historic homes open their doors to share the Yuletide traditions of Alberta’s pioneers. Admission, $8 adult, $6 child (does not include access to Gasoline Alley. Combined admission price for Once Upon a Christmas and Gasoline alley, $11 adult, $9 child, $5.75 senior).

•Heritage Park Historical Village, 1900 Heritage Dr SW, 403-268-8500.
Heritagepark.ca
•Maps and Reviews

[RELATED: Winter Activities For The Whole Family at Heritage Park]

A Christmas Carol
Until Dec 24

Charles Dickens’s beloved story of greed, redemption and the spirit of generosity is told in Theatre Calgary’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. The second year for director Dennis Garnhum’s revamped production marks the 20th year Stephen Hair, Calgary’s favourite Ebenezer Scrooge, has played the role of the miserly Christmas curmudgeon. Tickets $35 – $155.50. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for December 7 to 9

Friday, December 7

Leonard Cohen returns to Ottawa, performing at Scotiabank Place in support of this latest album Old Ideas.

Renowned singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen returns to Ottawa this weekend, performing at Scotiabank Place. Presented by CBCMusic.ca, the show will honour Cohen’s 12th studio album, Old Ideas, which recently debuted at No. 1. Known for his poetic lyricism and baritone vocals, Cohen is an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the recipient of a 2010 Grammy for lifetime achievement. Don’t miss your chance to experience one of Canada’s musical greats.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas here in the nation’s capital: holiday tunes on the radio, festive décor in the shops. We even had some snow, albeit briefly. But the city will be stepping things up a notch this week as Confederation Boulevard is lit by roughly 300,000 lights. National museums, monuments, embassies and more will remain illuminated until Jan. 7. Come celebrate the Christmas season in style!

The 25th Annual Contemporary Canadian Jewellery Exhibition kicks off at L.A. Pai Gallery this week. The longest-running show of its kind in the area, this year’s event will feature work from both new and established artists. Also debuting at the gallery will be work recently exhibited at the International Art Fair SOFA Chicago 2012.

Saturday, December 8

The Alberta Ballet presents The Nutcracker this weekend at the National Arts Centre.

It’s a tradition unlike any other. Holiday favourite The Nutcracker returns to the National Arts Centre for a spectacular five-night engagement, Dec. 5 to 9. Danced by the Alberta Ballet and set to Tchaikovsky’s classic score, this is a show you won’t want to miss.

 

Country music superstar Carrie Underwood graces the stage of Scotiabank Place. The American Idol winner (and wife of former Ottawa Senator Mike Fisher) is currently on tour promoting her latest album Blown Away. Underwood will be donating a portion of each ticket sold to support Red Cross disaster relief.

This weekend is your last chance to view November, a quirky political comedy now on stage at The Gladstone. Directed by John P. Kelly, the play is a no-holds barred take on the state of America and the lengths to which people will go to win. Please be warned: this performance is for adults only.

Sunday, December 9

The Story of Holly and Ivy – a great holiday production for the whole family.

Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre presents a holiday performance for the whole family. Based on the book by Rumer Godden, The Story of Holly and Ivy tells the tale of a doll who wishes for a child; a couple who wish for a daughter; and an orphan who wishes for a doll, a grandmother and a place to go for Christmas. On stage this Friday through Sunday at the Shenkman Arts Centre.

Today was set to be the final showing of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice at the National Arts Centre. However, with tickets in high demand, the NAC has arranged a handful of extra performances (a matinee and two evening showings) for early next week. Experience the courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in this classic tale of life, love, and the politics of marriage.

Love the holidays but hate the stress that comes along with big box-store shopping? The Museum of Civilization has the cure: Its annual Christmas Market returns this weekend with nearly 40 vendors! Mingle with local artisans, be wowed by the incredible assortment of homemade goodies, and, most importantly, cross a few names off your holiday shopping list.

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for December 2 to 4

Minor Empire plays the National Arts Centre on Dec. 3.

Friday, Dec. 2
If you’re looking for something different and interesting, come check out Minor Empire, a Toronto-based band composed of Turkish and Canadian musicians. The band will be performing music from their debut album Second Nature, which brings together traditional Turkish music and electro-jazz. Minor Empire has received rave reviews and performed at the Sunfest World Music Festival and the Markham Jazz Festival. Catch them this Friday night, along with special guest Jane Bunnett.

The magic of The Nutcracker is coming to life this weekend at the National Arts Centre. The Pennsylvania Ballet will be performing the iconic show in the George Balanchine style, where children play the lead roles (with no allusion to romance between them) and the costumes and set design are gloriously rich. This holiday classic is sure to melt your heart and get you in the Christmas spirit. Show runs Thursday through Sunday with matinees on Saturday and Sunday.

Canadian choral music will be at its finest this weekend at Coro Vivo Ottawa’s concert,”Northern Lights.” This large, vibrant choir will celebrate the uniqueness of Canadian choral compositions by showcasing some of the finest. Among them are Eleanor Daly’s arrangement of the “Huron Carol” and Mark Sirett’s “Dormi Jesu.” If you’re a choir music aficionado, or just looking to enjoy some fine music for an evening, this concert is sure to please. Concerts on both Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, Dec. 3
It’s back! Head out to 101 Frames, the annual fundraising auction where people can bid on fascinating, one-of-a-kind artwork at Gallery 101. This is the fourth year with the theme “the seven deadly sins.” In past years, eager art-goers were able to see artists’ interpretations of wrath, pride, and lust — and now’s it’s gluttony’s turn. After the auction, people get to indulge in a groovy dance party and live entertainment. Gluttony never looked so good! (more…)

Hot Date: Classics of the Ballet

The National Ballet's beloved production of The Nutcracker (photo by Bruce Zinger)

The National Ballet of Canada celebrates its 60th anniversary season with a fresh version of Romeo and Juliet (November 16 to 27). Internationally celebrated choreographer Alexi Ratmansky blends the story’s timeless elegance with a modern emotional edge to create an unforgettable dance drama. Then, seasonal favourite The Nutcracker (December 10 to 31) takes centre stage with dazzling stagecraft, expert choreography and enchanting design. Tchaikovsky’s glorious music underscores the entire production. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $25 to $234; call 416-345-9595 or visit here for showtimes and to purchase.

Hot Shows for the Holidays

The holiday hoopla is beginning to reach fever pitch in Toronto. In the lead-up to December 25, the city offers numerous seasonal shows that are sure to enthrall the whole family.

The National Ballet's Nutcracker

SPIRIT OF THE SEASON
DECEMBER 6 TO DECEMBER 30 A classic tale is told in Soulpepper Theatre’s lauded staging of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The troupe’s adaptation is noted for its reverence to Dickens’ original prose, as well as strong performances by a stellar cast, including Joseph Ziegler as the tormented Ebenezer Scrooge. Performed in the round, this is a holiday treat for the traditional theatre lover.

GET CRACKIN’
DECEMBER 11 TO JANUARY 2 The Four Seasons Centre is transformed into a magical kingdom in the National Ballet of Canada’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Choreographer James Kudelka’s reworking of this classic story is an elegant take on Misha and Marie’s journey through a fairy tale land of sugar plum fairies and toy soldiers. Watching the ballerinas float across the stage in perfect coordination with Tchaikovsky’s memorable score is a delight that is sure to transport you into the blissful land of sweets and snow.

MULTIPLE MESSIAHS
DECEMBER 16 TO 21 (TSO)
DECEMBER 15 TO 19 (TAFELMUSIK)
Classical music doesn’t get much more joyous than this! The renowned Toronto Symphony Orchestra offers a stirring rendition of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah at Roy Thomson Hall. Featuring more than 60 instruments and accompanied by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, this is a performance on the grandest possible scale. If you can’t help but join in the music-making, the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir invites you to Massey Hall for its Sing-Along Messiah, a holiday tradition spanning a quarter-century. It’s a truly moving experience to be part of the hundreds of voices singing this immortal oratorio. (Tafelmusik also offers four traditional Messiah concerts at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas

GREEN CHRISTMAS
DECEMBER 17 TO JANUARY 2 Dr. Seuss’s world of whimsy comes to life at the Sony Centre in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical. This acclaimed Broadway production is true to the author’s original story and illustrations, remaking the stage as an animated Whoville. Though the Grinch may start the show with a heart “three sizes too small,” he soon comes to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

MONSTROUS FUN
NOVEMBER 25 TO JANUARY 2 Popular producer Ross Petty brings his brand of zany enchantment to the Elgin Theatre in the form of Beauty and the Beast: The Savagely Silly Family Musical. Featuring stars of stage and screen, this is a unique, contemporary theatre experience for kids and families, with many laughs to be had as the characters guide you through a classic tale with a comedic twist.

AN ICE-BOUND TRIP
DECEMBER 25 TO JANUARY 2 Disney on Ice dazzles Rogers Centre spectators with Mickey and Minnie’s Magical Journey. See the beloved cartoon mice as they dive under the sea with The Little Mermaid, venture into Africa with The Lion King, fly through the skies with Peter Pan and hula dance with Lilo & Stitch. This round-the-world journey makes a great gift for both kids and parents.