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Things to Do in Toronto: Festive Concerts and Events This December

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!

BY STEPHANIE YOUNG

Casa Loma hosts a number of holiday happenings this month

Casa Loma hosts a number of holiday happenings this month

DECEMBER 7 TO 23  It’s a childhood delight to rush downstairs on Christmas morning and see that St. Nick has enjoyed the milk and cookies you left him. But why wait until December 25 when you can enjoy breakfast with the jolly man himself at Casa Loma’s annual Breakfast with Santa. Families will also note that Peter Pan is scheduled to visit the historic manor this holiday season: the story of the boy who never grew up is dramatized in the conservatory and library. Casa Loma, breakfast $25, general admission $20.55; call 416-923-1171 or visit here for more information and a complete schedule of events.

DECEMBER 7 & 8  For more than 75 years the boys of St. Michael’s Choir have come together to wish Toronto joyful holiday blessings. More than 250 youthful voices join in harmony at the famed chorus’s annual concert of Christmas carols. Audience members are encouraged to add their pipes, too, during a special sing-along portion of the performance. Massey Hall, Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m., $20 to $40; call 416-872-4255 or visit: masseyhall.com for more information.

DECEMBER 8, 10 & 11  Spend a wintry afternoon celebrating the true meaning of Christmas with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s pocket-sized performance of A Christmas Carol. Performers from the Canadian Children’s Opera lend their voices to tell Charles Dickens’s classic tale while dancers provide an extra bit of artistry to the show. During intermission, children are free to participate in a holiday-themed art activity. Also this season, the ensemble presents its Pops Christmas concert—an evening filled with favourite holiday songs and sing-alongs. Roy Thomson Hall, $16 to $110; call 416-598-3375 or visit tso.ca for tickets and showtimes.

DECEMBER 11  Celebrate this most joyous of seasons with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Led by renowned conductor Noel Edison, the choir’s one-night-only Festival of Carols brings together 70 voices in the performance of more than a dozen sacred and secular holiday classics. Special-guest tenor Ben Heppner is also scheduled to sing his favourite fireside songs—with the choir and solo—while the audience is encouraged to sing along for select numbers. Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, 7:30 p.m., $25 to $35; 416-598-0422 or visit tmchoir.org for more information.

DECEMBER 12  Sibling ensemble the Barra MacNeils once again lend their unique harmonies and congenial way with storytelling to favourite yuletide tunes. This year, the group’s holiday performance also includes folk singer Jenn Grant plus a mix of Irish and highland-style dancing to lend real East Coast energy to the evening. Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m., $29.50 to $69.50; call 416-872-4255 or click here for more information.

DECEMBER 13  Three-time Juno winner Johnny Reid takes to the stage to perform holiday favourites from his latest album A Christmas Gift to You, including soulful renditions of “O Holy Night,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and more. Massey Hall, 7:30 p.m., $42.50 to $85.50; call 416-872-4255 or navigate here for additional information.

DECEMBER 13 TO 15  Beloved Canadian storyteller Stuart McLean ambles casually into town to present another holiday edition of his CBC radio show, The Vinyl Café. McLean’s homespun tales of used record store owner Dave and his wife Morley are, as ever, the production’s centerpiece, while affable folk trio The Good Lovelies soundtrack the show. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts; $42.39 to $62.14; call 1-855-872-7669 or visit sonycentre.ca for further details.

DECEMBER 14 TO JANUARY 4  Adapted from E.T.A Hoffman’s original 1892 tale—and featuring Tchaikovsky’s beloved score—the National Ballet of Canada’s lavish production of The Nutcracker continues to hold audiences in awe two decades since its premiere. Boasting breathtaking sets and costumes, and some of the finest dancers in the country, it’s a performance that’s sure to ignite the imaginations of young and old alike. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $25 to $155; call 416-345-9595 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

DECEMBER 16  Festive music gets a poperatic twist courtesy of Canada’s renowned classical vocal quartet, The Tenors. The constantly touring group is back on home turf for a concert featuring traditional holiday fare (as performed on The Tenors’ seasonal album, The Perfect Gift) and bonus material from their other records. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $60 to $175; call 1-855-872-7669 or visit sonycentre.ca for more information.

Sing along with Handel's Messiah at Massey Hall (photo: Gary Beechey)

Sing along with Handel’s Messiah at Massey Hall (photo: Gary Beechey)

DECEMBER 17 TO 22  Partake in a holiday tradition at one of three mesmerizing performances of Handel’s Messiah.

Tafelmusik, Toronto’s baroque orchestra and chamber choir, presents Handel’s oratorio as it was first intended—on period instruments in an acoustically splendid setting. Koerner Hall, $49 to $117; call 416-408-0208 or see tafelmusik.org for a performance schedule and tickets.

• The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has performed the Messiah for more than 75 years. With the 140-voice Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, it offers a grandiose take on the classic. Roy Thomson Hall, $33 to $109; call 416-593-4828 or visit tso.ca for showtimes and to buy.

• Join the musical fun as Tafelmusik director Ivars Taurins conducts you and 2,700 other voices in an uplifting Sing-Along Messiah. Massey Hall, $29 to $47; for more information, call 416-872-4255 or visit masseyhall.com for further details.

DECEMBER 20 TO 29  An enchanted journey filled with chivalric exploits and imaginative flights of fancy awaits as Disney on Ice presents Princesses and Heroes. In this rink-side extravaganza of choreographed skating and song, Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine and other beloved maidens—plus their princely suitors—explore animated kingdoms while meeting new friends and vanquishing evildoers. Spectacular theatrics, intricate sets and special effects all come together to transport you to their magical worlds. Rogers Centre, $28 to $93; call 1-855-985-5000 or visit disneyonice.com for showtimes and to buy.

DECEMBER 21  The Toronto Children’s Chorus fill one of the city’s top auditoriums with enchanting interpretations of lesser-known holiday music. Accompanied by harp, organ and percussion, the young vocalists are scheduled to perform such works as Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and David Hamilton’s A Child Comes Forth as part of a joyous afternoon of seasonal song. Roy Thomson Hall, 2 p.m., $34.50 to $44.50; call 416-872-4255 or click here for more information.

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