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What to See Toronto

IceFest Brings Frosty Fun to Yorkville

THE BLOOR-YORKVILLE ICEFEST RETURNS FOR ANOTHER YEAR OF STUNNING FROZEN SCULPTURES.

Bloor-Yorkville IceFest Toronto

FEBRUARY 21 & 22  Bloor-Yorkville transforms into a frozen paradise—and all without the magical powers of Elsa, Princess of Arendelle. The annual IceFest returns for another year, as 12 master ice carvers (along with their assorted picks, chisels and chainsaws) chip away at 20,000 pounds of ice to create glacial works of art. Given that the theme for the 2015 incarnation is archaeology and prehistoric times, expect to see the likes of dinosaurs, sabre-toothed tigers, pyramids and Egyptian gods. Visitors can cast their vote for their favourite ice sculpture, as well as sample maple syrup taffy. Village of Yorkville Park (at Cumberland and Bellair streets), noon to 5 p.m., free; see bloor-yorkville.com for more details.  —Linda Luong

The Artist Project Hosts Its Annual Viewing Party

ANNUAL FAIR THE ARTIST PROJECT SHOWCASES THE WORK OF INDEPENDENT CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS AT EXHIBITION PLACE

The Artist Project Toronto

FEBRUARY 19 TO 22  A response to the (debatable) stuffiness and exclusivity of traditional art fairs, The Artist Project assembles more than 250 independent artists from Canada and elsewhere in a colourful showcase of contemporary works. The juried expo is especially suited to art lovers with wide-ranging tastes: this year’s offerings range from digital paintings by Matthew Catalano to experimental cityscape photos by Chris Albert to collage-based pieces by Robyn Thomas. Additional attractions include the requisite art talks, a display featuring the Canadian finalists for the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards, and a number of striking, large-scale installation works, including a 100-foot-long piece by Bruno Billio.  —Craig Moy

• The Artist Project, Exhibition Place’s Better Living Centre, 195 Princes’ Blvd., 416-960-4516; theartistproject.com

The Soulpepper Concert Series Puts Singers on Stage

MUSIC STEALS THE SPOTLIGHT FOR THE SOULPEPPER CONCERT SERIES

Soulpepper Concert Series Toronto

P.E.I. singer-songwriter Mike Ross kicks of the 2015 Soulpepper Concert Series

Though best known as an artist-founded stage ensemble, Soulpepper Theatre Company also produces a popular concert series, which returns for a second season of acoustic performances and stories. A Moveable Musical Maritime Feast (February 15, 20 and 22) kicks things off with a classic East Coast kitchen party hosted by P.E.I.’s Mike Ross. The Nina Project (February 16) sees three Canadian songbirds—Jackie Richardson, Shakura S’Aida and Kellylee Evans—pay tribute to legendary crooner Nina Simone. And American Pie—A Songbook Investigation (February 27) reflects on the standards that defined a generation, with tunes by such artists as Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and The Rolling Stones. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, various times, $15 and up; call 416-866-8666 or visit soulpepper.ca to reserve. —Linda Luong

Blithe Spirit Appears at the Princess of Wales Theatre

NOËL COWARD’S COMEDIC PLAY, BLITHE SPIRIT, BRINGS ANGELA LANSBURY TO THE TORONTO STAGE.

Blithe Spirit Angela Lansbury Toronto

Angela Lansbury stars in Blithe Spirit (photo: Robert J. Saferstein)

FEBRUARY 11 TO MARCH 15  What happens when an eccentric medium, a successful novelist and his two wives—one of whom is dead—come together under one roof? Comedic chaos, of course. The latest revival of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit has Angela Lansbury reprising her Tony winning role as Madame Arcati, a bumbling clairvoyant invited by author Charles Condomine to hold a seance as research for his next book. Unwittingly, Madame Arcati summons the ghost of ill-tempered Elvira, Condomine’s first wife, who haunts him and accidently kills his current spouse. The psychic is then called upon to exorcise the spirits of both women, though her success is far from assured. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $39 to $130; see mirvish.com to book.  —Linda Luong

The AGO Shows Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Prescient Paintings

THE ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO PRESENTS A WIDE-RANGING THEMATIC RETROSPECTIVE OF WORKS BY JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT

Jean-Michel Basquiat Obnoxious Liberals Art Gallery of Ontario

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Obnoxious Liberals (© the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat; licensed by Artestar, New York)

FEBRUARY 7 TO MAY 10  It’s relatively rare when art that’s intrinsically linked to a time and place continues to resonate in myraid communities, decades after its creation. Such are the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat: the artist earned acclaim in his (brief) lifetime by capturing the gritty urbanism of 1980s New York—a city then beset by significant racial and economic tensions—in pieces that drew on abstract expressionist and conceptual traditions as freely as they did street art, jazz music, sports and comic culture. Today, Basquiat’s paintings and drawings are as relevant as ever. They’re accessible, too, thanks to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which is staging the first major thematic retrospective of the artist’s work in Canada. Aptly titled “Now’s the Time,” the exhibition features close to 85 large-scale pieces that even now challenge our perceptions about both visual art and society at large.  —Craig Moy

• Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648; ago.net
Map and reviews

Icy Art at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

THE MCMICHAEL CANADIAN ART COLLECTION PRESENTS A NEW EXHIBITION WITH AN ENVIRONMENTAL MESSAGE

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
Map and reviews

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
Map and reviews

25 Indoor Ways to Enjoy Winter in Toronto

BY LINDA LUONG & CRAIG MOY

Winter in Toronto

Sure, you can bundle up and try to be a cold-conquering hero, or you can be a city insider with these 25 unique-to-the-city things to do and places to explore—all to ensure your ample enjoyment during winter in Toronto.

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OCADU’s Sharp Centre Celebrates 10 Years

Janie Reed's Feet First is among the works featured at the Sharp Centre for Design's 10th-anniversary exhibition

Janie Reed’s Feet First is among the works featured at the Sharp Centre for Design’s 10th-anniversary exhibition

NOVEMBER 25 TO APRIL 9  There aren’t many buildings that can claim to have kick started an architectural renaissance. In Toronto, that distinction goes to the Sharp Centre for Design: completed in 2004, Will Alsop’s distinctive “tabletop” structure on the OCADU campus was the first in a series of cultural-institution openings and redevelopments, including the ROM, AGO and Four Seasons Centre opera house. To mark the Sharp Centre’s 10th anniversary, OCADU fittingly hosts an exhibition featuring works commenting on the building’s conception, construction, and, of course, its playful appearance—in particular its multicoloured stilts and pixel-patterned cladding. Other venues might get more attention, but the art-and-design school’s hallmark edifice remains one of downtown’s liveliest landmarks. That’s certainly worth celebrating.  —Craig Moy

• OCAD University, 100 McCaul St., 416-977-6000; ocadu.ca

25 Great Things to Do in Toronto with Kids

BY CARA SMUSIAK

Things to do in Toronto with Kids

Friendly, safe, and packed with fun attractions, Toronto is terrific city to travel to with the whole family. Don’t believe us? These 25 great things to do in Toronto with kids ensure everyone’s time in town will be filled with excitement and discovery.

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Discover the Lost Dhow at the Aga Khan Museum

The Aga Khan Museum presents artifacts raised from a 1,000-year-old shipwreck

Dragon-headed ewer (photo: Aga Khan Museum)

Dragon-headed ewer (photo: Aga Khan Museum)

DECEMBER 13 TO APRIL 26  We often think of globalization as an explicitly modern concept—the world and its diverse peoples connected by airplanes and computers—but its origins can be traced back more than a millennium, when ancient empires in the Middle East and Asia forged important trade routes across both land and sea.

A fascinating new exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum focuses on ocean-going commerce and its resultant cultural connections. The Lost Dhow: a Discovery from the Maritime Silk Route assembles artifacts from a 9th-century Arab trading vessel that were salvaged from the bottom of the Indian Ocean in 1998.

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15 Great Reasons to Visit Toronto in 2015

BY CRAIG MOY

Perhaps you’ve heard: Toronto is one the most dynamic cities in the world. An endlessly fascinating place to live; an equally amazing destination to visit. Whether you’re an international jetsetter or on a cross-Canada excursion, travelling within Ontario or just looking to be a tourist in your own hometown, there are literally thousands of compelling reasons to visit Toronto. And for 2015, here are 15 more.

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