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Things to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events This May

There are always so many things to do in Toronto. Get out and enjoy some of the many great events and concerts taking place throughout the city this month!


This month in Toronto: the COC presents Don Quichotte; Crystal Pite's Tempest Replica; Patrick Chan in Stars on Ice

This month in Toronto: the COC stages Don Quichotte; the Canadian Stage presents Crystal Pite’s Tempest Replica; Patrick Chan in Stars on Ice (COC photo: Rosarii Lynch)

MAY 2  The whole country cheered as Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and figure skater Patrick Chan became silver medalists at the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics. Be among the first to offer them in-person applause as they perform their inspired routines as part of the Stars on Ice tour. Joining the skating idols in an evening of spins and salchows are four-time world champion Kurt Browning, 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette and many more of the country’s top talents. Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m., $38 to $174.50; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit starsonice.ca to buy.

MAY 6 TO 10  Singers, songwriters, recording engineers and concertgoers pack Toronto as densely as Phil Spector’s wall of sound for Canadian Music Week. The annual all-in-one conference and trade show features keynote interviews with the likes of Deadmau5, Bruce Cockburn and super-producer Nile Rodgers offering insight from the studio, the executive suite and everywhere in between. Of course, if you just want to be entertained, the week includes concerts by Neko Case, Television, City and Colour, a double bill with Ellie Goulding and Tegan and Sara, and many other notable names. Music-focused film screenings—as well as select comedy performances—round out the multifaceted showcase. Various venues, individual concerts $15 to $65.49; visit cmw.net for more information.

MAY 7 TO 11  Award-winning Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite sourced her latest acclaimed dance work, The Tempest Replica, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Employing the latter’s storm-tossed island as a symbol of isolation, captivity and desire, Pite strips the tale to its roots: first, plot points are delivered as a sort of minimalist on-stage storyboard dominated by blank-faced characters, then dancers present the dramatic narrative through movement and emotional communication, revealing Pite’s choreography as the production’s ultimate protagonist. Bluma Appel Theatre, Wednesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m., $24 to $79; call 416-368-3110 or visit canadianstage.com for further details.

MAY 9 TO 24  Master bass singer Ferruccio Furlanetto embodies both the chivalry and naïveté of one of literature’s greatest rogues in Jules Massenet’s Don Quichotte. Staged by the Canadian Opera Company, the early 20th-century work inspired by Cervantes’s novel has the comedic-heroic protagonist serenading the Spanish maid Dulcinée, and then seeking to reclaim her necklace from bandits. Mocked by his peers—save for loyal minion Sancho Panza—the knight-errant does more than just tilt at windmills in the name of love, even if his efforts are tragically in vain. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $24 to $332; call 416-363-8231 or check out coc.ca for showtimes and to buy.

Game of Thrones: the Exhibition

Game of Thrones: the Exhibition

MAY 14 TO 18  Just a month after the hotly anticipated season-four premiere of its associated HBO television show, Game of Thrones: the Exhibition invades the city to carry forth frothing fans into the epic (and bloody) fantasy world of Westeros. Featuring nearly 100 props and costumes from the series—everything from King Joffrey’s crown and the Hound’s battle armour to house banners, maps and even the Iron Throne itself—the display ensures that your spectatorial lust for quasi-medieval nobility, treachery, ambition, love and death will meet its maker. TIFF Bell Lightbox, free admission but reservations recommended; call 416-599-8433 or visit themovienetwork.ca/exhibit for more information.

MAY 23 & 24  When paying tribute to one of the best-selling musical groups of all time, you’ve got to bring your A-game. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has done just that for its classi-pop revue of ABBA’s biggest tunes. For two nights, the ensemble hosts Finland’s Rajaton, which sees ABBA’s original two-man, two-woman lineup and raises the stakes with an additional male and female singer. In all, that’s two sopranos, an alto, a tenor, bass and baritone, backed by an orchestra and breathing sophisticated new life into some of the most recognizable bubblegum pop from the 1970s. Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m., $29 to $105; call 416-593-7769 or see tso.ca to purchase tickets.

MAY 24 & 25 Unlock the mysteries—and histories—of more than 150 of the city’s most architecturally, culturally, economically and socially significant buildings during Doors Open Toronto. For its 15th edition, the free public-access event highlights a “secrets and spirits” theme by taking visitors inside the reputedly haunted Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, the eerie grounds of the Toronto Necropolis, and other sites with a spectral past. Less spooky but still storied are this year’s new venues, including the Great Hall, Arcadian and Artscape Youngplace. Also new for 2014? Guided walking tours revealing the ghosts of the University of Toronto, the spirits of the Toronto Islands and more. Various venues, free; dial 311 (within Toronto) or see toronto.ca/doorsopen for further details.

TO MAY 28  How would you relate to an old woman who turns her yard into a sculpture garden as a means of challenging the status quo? South African playwright Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca asks just that question, and in doing so has been celebrated as an incisive exploration of friendship and self-expression in a restricted and intolerant society. Though the drama plays out during the apartheid era, it continues to resonate more than a quarter-century after its publication, as the Soulpepper Theatre Company and director David Storch stage the inspired-by-true-events story for Toronto audiences. Diana Leblanc stars as the irascible lead character, Miss Helen. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, $29 to $74; call 416-866-8666 or visit soulpepper.ca for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

ALL MONTH LONG  Boasting songs by a triple-threat of masters—Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer—and a pedigree as a beloved Disney movie and groundbreaking musical, The Lion King roars onto the Toronto stage once again. Broadway’s fourth longest-running and arguably best-known production tells of exiled cub Simba’s quest to return to the pride lands, and uses innovative costumes and puppetry to artfully re-create its classic animal characters. Feel the love on whichever night you can get tickets and enter the circle of life. Princess of Wales Theatre, $30 to $150; call 416-872-1212 or see mirvish.com to buy.


Kenny vs. Spenny bring their hijinks to Toronto on May 7

Kenny vs. Spenny brings comedic hijinks to Toronto on May 6 and 7

MAY 2  A controversial evening is surely in store at Roy Thomson Hall, which hosts a Munk Debate on State Surveillance featuring ex-NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden and journalist Glenn Greenwald (he of the Edward Snowden leaks).

MAY 3  The world’s finest whiskies are available for sampling as part of the 10th annual Spirit of Toronto event at Roy Thomson Hall.

MAY 3 TO JUNE 1  A high school reunion is the catalyst for hijinks in Daniel MacIvor’s Bingo, which enjoys its Toronto premiere at Factory Theatre.

MAY 4  Veteran singer-songwriter David Gray plays his hits (and perhaps a few cuts from his upcoming new record) at the Danforth Music Hall.

MAY 4  Celiac sufferers—and anyone looking to cut wheat from their diet—can discover hundreds of tasty products at the Gluten-Free Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

MAY 5  Journalist Laura Ling appears at Roy Thomson Hall to talk about her experience being held captive in North Korea.

MAY 6 & 7  The Queen Elizabeth Theatre hosts eccentric and ever-combative comedy duo Kenny vs. Spenny.

MAY 7  Indie It Girl Angel Olsen warbles and rocks at Lee’s Palace.

MAY 9  Alt-country darling Neko Case sings her evocative story-songs at Massey Hall.

MAY 10  Prepare for Mothers’ Day by purchasing some local blooms at this year’s first Toronto Flower Market.

MAY 10  Koerner Hall hosts an evening of beboping and scatting as hunky jazz singers Kurt Elling and Denzal Sinclaire take the stage.

MAY 10  Owen Pallett bows his violin strings (while tugging your heartstrings) at the Danforth Music Hall.

MAY 11  Indie duo Wye Oak perform music from their new album, Shriek, at the Horseshoe Tavern

MAY 13  British dance-rockers Foster the People try to get Massey Hall patrons out of their seats.

MAY 13  Lana Del Ray brings her dour-pop stylings to the Sony Centre.

MAY 13  Mogwai fills the Danforth Music Hall with their epic post-rock compositions.

MAY 14  Channeling James Blake and Jamie Woon, SOHN performs intimate electronica at the Horseshoe Tavern.

MAY 16  Get a whole lotta love as Classic Albums Live re-creates Led Zeppelin II at Massey Hall.

MAY 17  Elbow conjures sombre sonics at the Danforth Music Hall.

Tessanne Chin brings her voice to Toronto on May 17

Tessanne Chin brings her voice to Toronto on May 17

MAY 17  Reggae-leaning, The Voice-winning vocalist Tessanne Chin sings at the Sony Centre.

MAY 18  Country superstar Brad Paisley gets all twangy and drawly at the Air Canada Centre.

MAY 20  Musically adventurous Animal Collective member Panda Bear brings his dense, swirling indie rock to the Opera House.

MAY 20 TO JUNE 8  George F. Walker’s darkly comedic Dead Metaphor takes the stage at the Panasonic Theatre.

MAY 21  Il Divo sells an evening of popera at the Sony Centre.

MAY 21  The Garrison gets loud and trippy with Acid Mothers Temple.

MAY 21 TO 25  The Royal Conservatory’s inaugural 21C Music Festival presents modern compositions by the likes of R. Murray Schafer and Chilly Gonzales.

MAY 23  Hamilton electro-R&B diva Jessy Lanza brings her slinky, sultry beats to the Garrison.

MAY 23  Massey Hall hosts an evening of haunted balladry courtesy of Timber Timbre.

MAY 23 & 24  Branford Marsalis pairs with the Art of Time Ensemble’s Andrew Burashko for an evening of classical saxophone-and-piano duets at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre.

MAY 24  Blues run Joe Bonamassa‘s game at the Sony Centre.

MAY 27 TO JUNE 8  What a feeling! Flashdance the Musical opens at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

MAY 27  Eels gets arboreal at the Winter Garden Theatre.

MAY 28  The Phoenix goes lo-fi with Kurt Vile.

MAY 28 TO JUNE 1  The National Ballet of Canada presents a trio of modern dance works as part of its Physical Thinking performance.

MAY 30  All-woman Weezer cover band Sheezer destroys your sweater and says it ain’t so at Lee’s Palace.

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