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Winter Wonders: Winterlude

Winterlude kicks off with an ice carving competition at Confederation Park. Stop by to see some beautiful works of glacial art! (Photo: Canadian Heritage)

Winterlude kicks off with an ice carving competition at Confederation Park. Stop by to see some beautiful works of glacial art! (Photo: Canadian Heritage)

Ottawa’s frosty winters offer visitors and residents the opportunity to experience things those living in southern climes can only dream of. Winterlude was created in 1979 as a way to celebrate the fact that, although winter can be cold and dark, it can also be beautiful and fun. This year’s festival runs from January 30 to February 16, and there’s plenty to do, see, and eat at its three major sites.


Unique Ideas for Valentine’s Day in Toronto

Restaurants, gifts and activities for a more memorable Valentine’s Day in Toronto

Valentine's Day Toronto 2015

This Valentine’s Day, see Once, dine at The Steady, get gifts at the Drake General Store, skate at the Natrel Rink and more (photos: Joan Marcus; The Steady; Drake General Store; Doug Brown)

Planning a perfect Valentine’s Day in Toronto can be a challenging task—particularly if your idea of a great date includes dinner, gifts and perhaps even some complementary activities. It’s also not good enough to reserve a table at any old restaurant, or to offer up any old bouquet of roses. Thus, we’ve rounded up a selection of dining rooms, boutiques, venues and entertainment options to help make your romantic evening a little more unique. Be sure to book what you can in advance to help ward off disappointment on the special day!


Weekend Events: January 30 to February 1


Toronto weekend events winterlicious cluny

Cluny is among the new participants in Winterlicious, which starts this weekend (photo: Paula Wilson)

Toronto’s annual ode to culinary indulgence, Winterlicious, kicks off on Friday with more than 200 top restaurants enticing diners with (relatively) affordable three-course prix fixe menus. This year’s foodie-friendly fest counts the likes of French bistro Cluny and dim sum spot Luckee among is new participants, and runs through to February 12. If you’re more inclined to imbibe than to graze, the Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival (Saturday) brings together more than two-dozen of Ontario’s top artisan brewers, including Beau’s, Oast House and Block Three, while the Toronto Tea Festival (Saturday and Sunday) presents the opportunity to discover a world of earl greys, lapsang souchons, matchas and more.


Big Sugar at Shenkman Arts Centre

Big Sugar, Canada's resident reggae rock band, brings their unplugged tour to Shenkman Arts Centre. (Photo: Michael Maxxis)

Big Sugar, Canada’s resident reggae rock band, brings their unplugged tour to Shenkman Arts Centre. (Photo: Michael Maxxis)

JAN. 30 Reggae rock group Big Sugar was popular in Canada throughout much of the ‘90s. Their sophomore album, Five Hundred Pounds, sold 10,000 copies through word of mouth alone, based on their reputation as a live band. After a six-year hiatus, they reunited and have since produced one live and two studio albums. The band performs some of their best-loved songs, plus new material from their latest album, Yardstyle, in an entirely acoustic setting. —Amy Allen
•Shenkman Arts Centre, 245 Centrum Blvd., 866-752-5231. shenkmanarts.ca

Ottawa Weekend Calendar Jan. 30 to Feb. 1

Kick off Winterlude at the opening ceremonies on Friday night, complete with a DJ dance party at Confederation Park.

Kick off Winterlude at the opening ceremonies on Friday night, complete with a DJ dance party at Confederation Park. (Photo: Canadian Heritage)

Friday, Jan. 30

Winterlude officially kicks off on Friday! To commemorate the Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, which is coming to stadiums across the country in June, FIFA is creating its very own snow sculpture at Snowflake Kingdom in Jacques-Cartier Park. Plus, have your photo taken with snowy owl Shuéme, the official mascot of the Women’s World Cup, and join in a game of snow soccer. The event runs all weekend, and admission is free.


Feast on Drake One Fifty Pop Up Dinners All Year Long

Drake One Fifty pop up dinners continue to draw foodies to the Financial District

Drake One Fifty Pop Up Dinners

Drake One Fifty executive chef Ted Corrado plans to welcome guest chefs to the restaurant throughout 2015 (photos: Connie Tsang; James McDonald)

In its first year, the Drake Hotel’s downtown spin-off restaurant, Drake One Fifty, made a name for itself not only by dishing out high-quality food in an always-energetic dining room, but by showcasing the offerings of guest chefs in a series of popular pop up dinners. Over the course of 2014, acclaimed names including Donnie Masterson (of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico’s The Restaurant), Emma Cardarelli (Nora Gray in Montreal) and Jamie Malone (Minneapolis’s Brut) joined Drake executive chef Ted Corrado and his team in the kitchen to introduce Toronto diners to their eclectic cooking.

Corrado has even bigger plans for 2015, with Drake One Fifty pop up prix-fixe dinners scheduled monthly—many boasting some serious visiting talent.


Starting From Scratch: Wilf & Ada’s

At Wilf and Ada's, delicious diner fare is made in-house from scratch.

At Wilf and Ada’s, delicious diner fare is made in-house from scratch.

After 20 years in business, the owners of Ada’s Diner, a beloved greasy spoon in Centretown, retired and sold the property to a new generation of restaurateurs. The location was reborn as Wilf & Ada’s and has been serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch ever since. Dishes are lovingly prepared from scratch wherever possible, using high quality products sourced from local suppliers. Popular choices include the hot chicken sandwich and the house-made sugar pie.
•510 Bank St., 613-231-7959. wilfandadas.com

Fresh Flavours Grow at The Elm Tree


The Elm Tree

(photo: Craig Moy)

The fresh flavours of the Mediterranean are a time-tested antidote for the chill of Toronto’s winter. Being able to enjoy those flavours in a warm and welcoming restaurant like The Elm Tree makes the remedy even more effective. Tucked just north of the Toronto Eaton Centre and Yonge-Dundas Square, the low-key, family-owned spot also offers respite from the city’s stresses: whether at midday or after work, you’ll find business professionals, families and travellers all relaxing over a glass of wine plus recognizable yet contemporary dishes, including a three cheese–stuffed Portobello mushroom, saffron orzotto with shrimp and scallops, and oven-baked sea bass.  —Craig Moy

• The Elm Tree, 43 Elm St., 647-846-0274; theelmtree.ca
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Skating at Rideau Hall

The Rideau Canal isn't the only place for wintertime skating — try the outdoor rink at Rideau Hall! (Photo: MCPL Evan Kuelz © Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)

The Rideau Canal isn’t the only place for wintertime skating — try the outdoor rink at Rideau Hall! (Photo: MCPL Evan Kuelz © Office of the Secretary to the Governor General)

While the Rideau Canal provides the quintessential skating experience for outdoor enthusiasts, those seeking quieter ice might try their luck at the Rideau Hall skating rink. Originally opened in 1872, it’s one of the oldest rinks in the city, and was the site of many skating parties hosted by Canada’s third governor general, the Earl of Dufferin. Public skating takes place on weekends from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. —Amy Allen
•Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Dr., 866-842-4422. gg.ca
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Icy Art at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection


Jean de Pomereu's Fissure 2 (Antarctica) is among the works at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection's Vanishing Ice exhibition

Jean de Pomereu’s Fissure 2 (Antarctica) is among the works included in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s Vanishing Ice exhibition

JANUARY 31 TO APRIL 26  It’s tradition for Canadians—and Torontonians in particular—to begin complaining about the cold, snow and biting winds during winter’s deepest, darkest months. We tend to forget, though, that the arrival of freezing weather is vital to the wellbeing of the environment. It’s also played an important role in art. With the exhibition Vanishing Ice, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection examines the visual legacy of the planet’s alpine and polar landscapes—glaciers, ice fields, icebergs and more—even as they are increasingly threatened by climate change. Stretching across 200 years, 70 striking works by artists from Canada to New Zealand, Finland to Peru interpret the beauty of the tundra, reminding us of the cultural, ecological and historical significance of our coldest frontiers.  —Craig Moy

• McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 10365 Islington Ave., Kleinburg, 905-893-1121; mcmichael.com
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Pukka Plates Modern Indian Fare with Flair


Pukka Toronto Indian Restaurant

photo: Craig Moy

Toronto is known for its vast diversity of restaurants. Whatever your craving, there’s likely to be a very good establishment able to cater to your tastes. That said, the dining scene hasn’t quite been saturated; a handful of gastronomic niches remain underserved. Indian food, arguably, is one of them. Sure, the city boasts numerous local haunts known for their inexpensive lunch buffets and heaping mounds of butter chicken, but “destination” dining rooms—restaurants that highlight the more innovative elements of modern Indian cooking—are fewer and farther between.


Burn with Desire at the Ryerson Image Centre

Ryerson Image Centre Glamour

Gene Daniels’s 1971 photo of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (photo: the Black Star Collection, Ryerson Image Centre)

JANUARY 21 TO APRIL 5  Hollywood stars have long set the standard when it comes to popular notions of beauty, charisma and allure. What we tend to forget, however, is that those standards are often mediated by photographers’ lenses. The Ryerson Image Centre makes this clear in two contrasting exhibitions. The first, Burn with Desire: Photography and Glamour, draws from the institution’s Black Star Collection and other holdings to examine photography’s role in defining desirability over the past century. Complementing that major showcase is Anti-Glamour: Portraits of Women, featuring contemporary works that critique and counter prevailing ideas about female identity.  —Craig Moy

• Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St., 416-979-5164; ryerson.ca/ric
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