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Umbra

You Are Here: Queen Street West

The downtown segment of what is arguably Toronto’s coolest street becomes an even cooler destination as winter arrives.
View You Are Here: Queen Street West in a larger map

Kids can learn about animation in the NFB's winter wonderland workshop

HOLIDAY MOVIEHOUSE Edging into the Entertainment District you’ll find the National Film Board’s Toronto Mediatheque, an education centre and library of Canadian flicks that can be watched for free at one of many digital viewing stations. Like what you see? Sign up for a Winter Wonderland workshop, where kids (ages 6 to 13) can create animated films of their own.

DESIGN DEN Just north of Queen West is the distinctive facade of the Umbra Concept Store, the design company’s only standalone location in the world. Not only does this retail space feature the firm’s entire line of modern, affordable home products, it also showcases designers at work. For the holidays, nearly 100 brand-new items are on offer—perfect for stocking stuffers.

Chef David Lee oversees the action at Nota Bene (photo by Nikki Leigh McKean)

BOUNTIFUL BITE Nota Bene stands out on a section of Queen Street otherwise stocked with bars and Indian buffets. The stylish yet casual restaurant provides the perfect atmosphere for both intimate dinners and larger, more boisterous celebrations. For a winter warm-up, be sure to try chef David Lee’s Yucatan hot and sour soup, or pasta with hearty rabbit ragu.

MUSICAL GEM Home to some of the city’s top operatic and dance productions—including the National Ballet’s The Nutcracker, opening December 11—the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is a local landmark. From street level it strikes a staid stance, but inside it’s a marvel of design. Take a docent-led tour on most Saturdays to learn more about the building’s architecture and incredible acoustics.

Marvel at The Bay's detailed holiday window displays

WINDOW SHOPPING Massive department store The Bay has eight floors of fashion, furniture, fragrances and more—something for everyone on your holiday gift list. As Canada’s oldest corporation, this store is an iconic part of our national history. The flagship location continues a Toronto tradition, too: each year its Queen Street frontage features intricate window displays with seasonal scenes.

GATHERING PLACE City Hall’s two curving towers overlook Nathan Phillips Square, an outdoor hub for concerts and cultural events. The multipurpose site offers something to look forward to when temperatures drop, as its reflecting pool turns into a public skating rink. Even in winter the square is bustling—the annual Citytv New Year’s Eve bash is just one can’t-miss activity.

Frugal Faves: Yuk Yuk’s and Holiday Sales

There’s so much to see and do in this city, but after a while, admission fees, restaurant bills and shopping sprees start to add up. Where Toronto’s weekly tips on discounted tickets, exclusive sales, free events and more help you get the most out of your trip without burning a hole in your pocket.

Yuk Yuks is sure to get anybody laughing (photo by ECohen)

Yuk Yuk's is sure to get anybody laughing (photo by ECohen)

Comedy on the Cheap
Giggle and guffaw at the hilarious on-stage antics at Yuk Yuk’s comedy club for only $3 every Tuesday evening. The well-known venue’s weekly amateur night features two separate performances that are sure to tickle your funny bone and bust your gut. The early show at 7:30 p.m. is highlighted by original routines by students from the Humber College School of Comedy. At 9:30 p.m., audiences laugh (and cringe) during an open-mic showcase for budding local stand-ups. The pocket-change ticket price covers both shows, while full bar service and snack foods are available for purchase throughout the night. Yuk Yuk’s amateur night runs Tuesdays year-round, starting at 7:30 p.m. $3; call 416-967-6425 to reserve.

Stylish Savings
Frugal holiday shoppers can find gifts for the whole family at the Bargains Group’s sixth annual Friends & Family Warehouse Sale. The popular clearance event is put on by Canada’s largest discount wholesaler and promises savings of up to 80 per cent on brand-name toys, men’s, women’s and kids clothing and accessories, bedding and more. On now until December 24. 890 Caledonia Rd.; click here or call 416-785-5655 for info and hours.

Save on scarves (and much more) at the Bargains Group sale

Save on scarves (and much more) at the Bargains Group sale

Donate your previously loved shoes, boots or handbags and receive $20 off any purchase of $100 or more during the Good For Your Sole promotion at Nine West. All footwear collected will be donated to local Goodwill stores to support job-training and employment services. On now to December 13 at Nine West locations throughout the Greater Toronto Area.; call 416-977-8126 for details.

Find big savings on designer denim at trendsetter haven and celebrity hangout Over the Rainbow. Just print off this coupon and bring it to the Yorkville boutique to receive $35 off any purchase over $100. On now until December 24. 101 Yorkville Ave.; call 416-967-7448  for details.

Looking to spruce up your boudoir for a bargain? Don’t miss the discounted decor items up for grabs at the annual Umbra factory sale. Shop for contemporary accessories for your home and pick up stylish gifts like picture frames, clocks, wall art, bath products and more. December 12 and 13, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Direct Energy Centre; call 416-299-0088 or visit here for more information.