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yonge-dundas square

The National and Many More Come to Toronto for NXNE

Yonge-Dundas Square hosts free NXNE concerts by The National, Big Boi and others (photo: Phil Brennen)

Yonge-Dundas Square hosts free NXNE concerts by The National, Big Boi and others (photo: Phil Brennen)

JUNE 10 TO 16  Melancholy and morose or introspective and therapeutic? However you classify the music of Brooklyn’s The National, you’re sure to be captivated by their free June 14 concert at Yonge-Dundas Square, presented as part of NXNE. The festival itself features nearly 1,000 musicians, plus films, comedy shows, art installations and an interactive conference. Also headlining free Yonge-Dundas shows are Canadian punk band Billy Talent and enduring rockers Social Distortion. Various venues, festival wristband $20 to $275; call 416-863-6963 or visit nxne.com for showtimes and tickets.  —Macrina Smart

Kick Off Your Fun at the 100th Grey Cup Festival

The Toronto Argonauts celebrate their 1996 Grey Cup win

NOVEMBER 15 TO 25  Hailing itself an “invitation to the nation,” the 100th Grey Cup Festival promises to be a cultural extravaganza uniting football fans, cinephiles, foodies and music lovers alike. Even if you don’t know a slotback from a safety, you’ll still have a ball at this pigskin-inspired party.

DO
The Nissan Family Zone at Yonge-Dundas Square boasts a mini football field where kids can learn to kick or throw a football.

Hit the Adrenaline Zone at Nathan Phillips Square to brave the tallest urban zip line in North America; it’s suspended 725 feet in the air between the two towers at City Hall, and runs all the way down to Queen Street. If you’d rather stay on the ground, why not test your athleticism on the obstacle course created by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.

Revellers can also crowd the Scotiabank Fan Zone at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, while the Telus Street Party, along King Street from John to Simcoe streets, gets everyone into high spirits with live shows, team celebrations, and food and beer tents. A tailgate party presented by Frank’s Redhot and an outdoor ribfest are sure to create a frenzy in the lead up to the big game, which takes place on November 25.

SEE
Jolly old St. Nick and his reindeer have a special item aboard their sleigh this year: the Grey Cup trophy makes a special appearance during the Santa Claus Parade (click here for the route) on November 18.

Cinephiles can catch game in all of its Hollywood glory at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St. W.) during the Football Film Festival, which includes screenings of Any Given Sunday, The Longest Yard, Remember the Titans and Jerry Maguire. Toronto Argonauts alumnus Mike “Pinball” Clemons is on hand for the tragic yet endearing Brian’s Song.

A varied lineup of performers takes to stages throughout the city for ticketed and free concerts. Count on acts such as Burton Cummings, K’Naan, Sam Roberts Band, Matthew Good, Treble Charger, Kreesha Turner, Big Sugar, April Wine and Kim Mitchell to bring crowds to their feet.

EAT
Chefs and culinary students from George Brown College team up at Nathan Phillips Square’s High Octane Food Zone, where individual servings of comfort foods with a twist cost no more than $5 apiece.

Feast right on the field of the Rogers Centre during the exclusive Scotiabank 100th Grey Cup Gala on November 21. Celebrated chefs Mark McEwan of Bymark and Rob Gentile of Buca team up to offer a sophisticated menu while chart-toppers Chris Willis and Brad Mates provide the dinner music.  —Linda Luong

Weekend Roundup: June 15 to 17

Friday: See the National Ballet's Chroma and more (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Friday, June 15
Audiences and critics have been raving about the National Ballet of Canada‘s triple bill of Chroma, Song of a Wayfarer, and Elite Syncopations. Make sure you get to this evening’s performance—the works offer a dynamic exploration of the kinesthetics of the human body.

Rain or shine (and really, it looks as though the weather will be wonderful), the Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival enlivens Sugar Beach tonight and all day Saturday. Sample hundreds of international beverages, taste dishes by local chefs, attend fun and informative seminars and enjoy an evening full of entertainment on one of Toronto’s chic urban oases.

The NXNE festival has riffing away all week long; this weekend’s free outdoor concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square offer an excellent wrap-up to the party. This evening, veteran music icon Matthew Good takes the stage, while psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips enchant the crowd on Saturday night. The festival comes to a close on Sunday with hip-hop pioneers Raekwon and Ghosface Killah of Wu Tang Clan. (more…)

Hot Date: The Flaming Lips Fire Up NXNE

The Flaming Lips headline NXNE's lineup of free concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square

JUNE 11 TO 17 Throw up your rock fist as the North by Northeast Festival returns for another year. More than 600 emerging and established artists are slated to perform at venues throughout the city, including Yonge-Dundas Square, which hosts four nights of free headlining concerts by the likes of Canadian alt-rocker Matthew Good, punk legends Bad Religion, Wu Tang Clan’s Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, and iconic psychedelic-rock band The Flaming Lips, whose jubilant live show is known to feature more special effects than you can shake a drum stick at. The festival also offers screenings of 40 music-themed films, plus a conference for industry professionals. Various venues. Festival wristbands $25 to $250; call 416-863-6963 or click here for more information.

Staff Picks: 5 Unmistakable Moviehouses

The TIFF Bell Lightbox is a sleek shrine to cinema (photo by Maris Mezulis)

Everyone loves going to the cinema. Whether you want to take in the latest Hollywood blockbuster or prefer to catch a though-provoking documentary, these Toronto movie theatres are great venues at which to screen your favourite flicks. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, November 18 to 20

Friday: The National Ballet of Canada interprets Romeo and Juliet (photo by Bruce Zinger)

Friday, November 18
See one of the greatest dance dramas in a brand new light when the National Ballet of Canada presents Romeo and Juliet. Choreographer Alexi Ratmansky gives the classic tale with a modern edge for a fresh show at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

One of Canada’s best-known musical voices, Steven Page, interprets the tunes of Elvis Costello, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and others in Songbook 6. The always innovative Art of Time Ensemble accompanies the singer at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre.

Find unique Aboriginal arts, crafts and fashions at the Thunderbird Centre’s presentation, Very Beautiful Things. The exhibition and sale at the Gladstone Hotel will be a trove for discerning gift buyers and Aboriginal art collectors.

The rest of the weekend is just a click away!

Weekend Roundup, August 12 to 14

Friday: Cirque du Soleil offers high-flying spectacle (photo by Daniel Auclair)

Friday, August 12
Come one, come all to the Grand Chapiteau for the opening weekend of Cirque du Soleil’s Totem. Behold a cast of colorfully costumed characters whose feats of strength and grace are sure to amaze!

Experience an entire weekend of Pan-Asian culture as Harbourfront Centre’s Fortune Cooking Food Festival begins tonight. Among many activities, visitors can watch an Iron Chef competition, sample a variety of Asian cuisine and partake in cooking demonstrations.

Revel in the golden voice of theatre star Colm Wilkinson, who takes the Four Seasons Centre stage tonight and Saturday. Wilkinson’s performance includes a mix of famous Broadway hits from plays such as The Phantom of the Opera, as well as Irish ballads and contemporary pop favourites.

Saturday: Britney's back! (photo by chicagofabulousblog.com)

Saturday, August 13
Head to the Air Canada Centre to witness the return of Britney Spears, who brings her Femme Fatale tour to Toronto. The pop star is accompanied by an all-female line-up of special guests, including hip hop diva Nicki Minaj, Jessie and the Toy Boys, and Nevo.

Yonge-Dundas Square hosts this year’s India Day celebration. The festivities kick off with a parade down Yonge Street featuring floats that highlight India’s cultural diversity.

Support green farming initiatives at the first annual Conscious Food Festival at Fort York. The festival promotes local and natural foods and includes live music, vendors and seminars on food values.

Sunday: The Third Floor is just one of many SummerWorks plays showing today (photo by Wojtek Arciszewski)

Sunday, August 14
Don’t miss the final day of SummerWorks Theatre Festival, an event dedicated to showcasing new Canadian plays to theatr- going audiences. Even today there are numerous plays to see!

Join party-girl popster Ke$ha, whose Get $leazy tour rolls into the Molson Canadian Ampitheatre, with guests LMFAO and Spank Rock.

Brace yourself for Ron Sparks’ Celebrity Roast of Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) at the Drake Hotel. A night full of comedic insults and attacks by enlisted “roasters” is sure to ensue during this comedy hour.

Weekend Roundup, July 15 to 17

Friday: Hear all manner of music as the Beaches International Jazz Festival begins

Friday, July 15
Kick off your weekend at the 23rd annual Beaches International Jazz Festival, which begins tonight at Woodbine Park. With acts ranging from jazz, blues, calypso and more—legendary Toronto rocker Carole Pope is even part of this evening’s bill—the festival offers ear candy for a wide variety of listeners.

The Colombian Colours Il Diaspora Festival also starts this evening an continues all weekend long. Part of Harbourfront Centre’s summer line-up of cultural celebrations, it features performances by Colombian musicians, dancers and other artists proudly representing their distinct heritage.

Do you have tickets to see Grammy-winning sensation Taylor Swift belt out her hits at the Air Canada Centre? The contemporary country singer’s Speak Now Tour brings one of 2011′s hottest concerts to Toronto for one night only.

Saturday: Sarah Harmer and other artists celebrate Parks Canada's 100th anniversary

Saturday, July 16
Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada—the world’s first national park service—with a free festival on Centre Island. Starting at noon, the special Parks Day event showcases the country’s diverse natural heritage, and boasts live performances by musicians including Serena Ryder and Sarah Harmer.

Yonge-Dundas Square also offers an event for the environmentally aware—the Live Green Toronto Festival features hundreds of vendors with eco-friendly products, live music and more.

Sit back and relax with Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band at the Molson Canadian Ampitheatre. The “Margaritaville” singer instills a beachy state of mind as part of his Welcome to Fin Land tour.

Sunday: Slurp up some seafood at the Souther Ontario Oyster Festival

Sunday, July 17
Foodies are invited to take part in a truly succulent tasting at the much-anticipated Southern Ontario Oyster Festival hosted by Toronto’s mollusk mecca Rodney’s Oyster House. Attendees can enjoy live music, cheer on the oyster shucking contest, and, of course, indulge in fresh oysters. Tickets are $30 and help benefit the Environmental Defense organization.

Spend your Sunday night with British indie-rock band Gomez as they fill the Phoenix Concert Theatre with their distinctively rootsy sound.

Experience the rich culture of the Asian subcontinent at the 39th annual Festival of India, taking place on the Toronto Islands. This free event, celebrating Toronto’s large Indian community, includes an arts and culture showcase, a South-Asian bazaar, and much more.

Weekend Roundup, June 17 to 19

Friday: Devo is among the bands at this year's NXNE (photo by Snarkygurl)

Friday, June 17
From June 16 to 19, the North by Northeast (NXNE) festival takes over Toronto with concerts by 650 bands, plus screenings of 40 music-related films and 50 panel discussions. Don’t miss free shows taking place at Yonge-Dundas Square this weekend, including acts like Descendents, DEVO and Men Without Hats.

Join in the annual Taste of Little Italy free street party where locals and visitors alike descend onto Toronto’s historic Italian neighbourhood on College Street between Bathurst and Shaw streets. Enjoy live bands, entertainers and street food from Friday through Sunday.

To fete its imminent opening at Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall in September 2011, British fashion store TopShop opens a pop-up location this weekend at Queen Street West and Soho Street. The Pop-Up Top Shop previews a collection for sale and also offers contest, a beach zone, free frozen yogurt and a live DJ.

Saturday: Get some haute street food at 1,000 Tastes of Toronto

Saturday, June 18
One of Toronto’s most anticipated foodie events takes place today and tomorrow along John Street (between Adelaide and Wellington). As part of  Luminato, 1,000 Tastes of Toronto showcases street food-sized portions of diverse cuisine from top restaurants like Woodlot, Queen Margherita Pizza and Lee.

Visit St. Lawrence Market for its annual Strawberry Festival, inaugurating the start of this delicious fruit’s harvest. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., you’ll be treated to samples, lessons on making strawberry jam, and cooking demonstrations by Toronto chefs Massimo Capra (of Mistura) and Michael Bonacini (of the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant group).

Iconic Beach Boys singer and songwriter Brian Wilson plays an intimate show at Massey Hall this evening, in promotion of his latest album, Brian Wilson Re-imagines Gershwin .

Sunday: See a revolutionary war reenactment at historic Black Creek Pioneer Village

Sunday, June 19
Celebrate this Father’s Day at Black Creek Pioneer Village, where you can watch as 200 costumed soldiers re-enact the Revolutionary War in the “Battle of Black Creek.” Walk around the village to see how soldiers lived in camps or visit the historic brewery for samples. Last but not least, end the day with a Father’s Day barbecue rib dinner.

The second annual Ontario Craft Beer Week kicks off in Toronto today. The festival showcases 27 craft brewers from across the province—at events and venues throughout Toronto—until June 25.

Crowds of screaming fans are sure to fill Queen Street West for the MuchMusic Video Awards tonight. Co-hosted by Selena Gomez, performers and guests include Lady Gaga, Avril Lavigne, Bruno Mars, City and Colour, the Black Keys and many more.

Weekend Roundup, May 27th to 29th

Friday: See designs by Lux and Luster (and 300 other designers) at the Clothing Show

Friday, May 27
Find a unique treasure amongst the offerings of 300 independent designers and artisans at The Clothing Show. Whether you’re looking for vintage accessories or eco-friendly clothing, you can find it all at this annual event at Exhibition Place’s Queen Elizabeth Building.

Shoot down to the Niagara region for a culinary adventure at the Niagara Food and Wine show. Local chefs and vintners gather all weekend long at the Scotiabank Convention Centre to show off the fruits of their labours. Stop by and pair local wine with delectable gourmet food.

Delighting audiences since the mid-sixties with his soulful voice and authentic lyrics, Gordon Lightfoot returns tonight to Massey Hall for the second of four Toronto shows. Hear the celebrated Canadian singer and songwriter’s favourite hits, including “If You Could Read My Mind” and “Sundown.”

Saturday: the Spadina Museum is one of many Toronto buildings participating in Doors Open

Saturday, May 28
Ever wonder what some of the city’s favourite landscapes look like behind the scenes? This weekend you can get an inside look at 150 buildings across Toronto during Doors Open. The free, annual event allows you to see many of the city’s most interesting and historic spaces—from Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens to City Hall’s green roof.

Check out the vintage, classic and modern aircraft and vehicles on display at Downsview Park during the Wings and Wheels Festival. Flight enthusiasts of all ages are sure to be delighted by planes such as the C-130J Super Hercules, plus a variety of other exhibits, vendors and more

Known as the “Pied Piper of Manila,” Carlos Celdran performs If These Walls Could Talk, his world famous “walking tour” of Intramurous, the oldest district of Manila. This entertaining re-telling of the city’s colourful history takes the stage at Harbourfront Centre.

Sunday: Tan Dun appears at Roy Thomson Hall (photo by Chris Lee)

Sunday, May 29
Renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun picks up the conductors baton at Roy Thomson Hall to lead a performance of his personal Water and Paper concertos. The pieces call for unique solo instruments, including some that interact with water and that are constructed from paper.

The CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival kicks off with a free party at Yonge-Dundas Square tonight. In addition to live performances by local bands, a selection of videos will be projected onto a giant cube.

This year’s first Pedestrian Sunday occurs today at Kensington Market. In addition to browsing the neighbourhood’s eclectic boutiques and grabbing a bite at one of many internationally flavoured restaurants, local studios and galleries are also opening their doors to the public.

You Are Here: Entertainment and Shopping
on Yonge Street

Toronto’s best-known thoroughfare stretches from Lake Ontario to locales far north of the city. Its main strip, of course, runs through the downtown core and offers lots to see and do. Strut along the street for some serious shopping, or find a seat at one of three historic theatres to witness unforgettable entertainment.
View You Are Here: Yonge Street in a larger map

Panasonic Theatre

MODERN CLASSIC Built almost a century ago, what is now the Panasonic Theatre began life as a private residence. Soon after it became a cinema and went on to serve as a primary venue for the Toronto International Film Festival, during that event’s infancy. Since undergoing renovations in 2005, the theatre has been a state-of-the-art home for a variety of live shows, from an 18-month engagement by Blue Man Group to the recently acclaimed production Love, Loss and What I Wore. 651 Yonge St., 416-872-1212.

PUBLIC PLAZA The unofficial centre of downtown Toronto, bustling Yonge-Dundas Square is a year-round gathering place and host to concerts, cultural celebrations, film screenings and many other events, many of which are free. This month, do a bit of early holiday shopping at the Arts at the Heart marketplace (October 2, 9, 10, 23 and 24) and be serenaded by such Canadian bands as Woodpigeon (October 6). Southeast corner of Yonge and Dundas streets, 416-979-9960.

Canon Theatre

SPLENDID SITE When the venue now known as the Canon Theatre opened as a moviehouse in 1920, its 3,373 seats made it the largest cinema in Canada. Since then it has survived scandal, numerous ownership changes and a spell in legal limbo to become a premier facility for live theatre. Opulently outfitted with huge chandeliers and a sweeping lobby staircase, the Canon welcomes theatregoers to Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel (to October 10) and the popular Tony Award-winning musical Wicked, which opens October 20. 244 Victoria St., 416-872-1212.

MALL STOP Spanning two full blocks, the Toronto Eaton Centre is the city’s largest and most heavily trafficked shopping spot. More than 230 retailers, from Harry Rosen and Michael Kors to Williams-Sonoma and Apple, sell their sought-after wares here—for anyone seeking to spend, this mall is a one-stop shop. The domed-glass ceiling ensures a bright and airy ambience in which to ponder your purchases. 220 Yonge St., 416-598-8560.

Winter Garden Theatre

DRAMATIC DUO The only double-decker theatre operating in the world, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is truly a local landmark. Restored to its early-20th century majesty, the former vaudeville playhouse and cinema now hosts musical and theatrical productions, including Opera Atelier’s Acis and Galatea, opening October 30. Weekly tours offer behind-the-scenes insight about the Elgin’s damask and gilded plaster detailing and the upper-level Winter Garden’s garden murals and beech-leaf canopy. 189 Yonge St., 416-314-2901.

ALL IN ONE The flagship location of Canada’s oldest department store, The Bay, is an eight-storey mecca with goods to satisfy any shopper’s desires. The main attractions are apparel and accessories for men, women and children from respected Canadian and international brands—ladies, in particular, have the run of The Room, which features high-end designer fashions—but space is also made for housewares, electronics, eateries and much more. 176 Yonge St., 416-861-9111.

Weekend Roundup, October 8 to 10

Toronto’s fun doesn’t stop just because the temperature drops outdoors! There are plenty of new exhibits, shows and performances which will guarantee a good time for everyone this weekend!

Friday: Be wowed by iD (photo by Valérie Remise/Theatre T & Cie)

Friday, October 8th
Catch the entertaining, adults-only puppet show, Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy at the Factory Theatre! When puppeteer Billy Twinkle gets fired from his job on a cruise ship, he must perform his life story as a puppet show to rediscover his love for the craft. It’s a must-see performance that has been garnering rave reviews!

Cirque Éloize has created another masterpiece! Now showing at the Sony Centre For the Performing Arts, iD is filled with jaw-dropping acts  that combine theatre, dance, music, and circus arts. With lots of energy and risky stunts, this innovative show brings plenty of visual effects to make for an unforgettable evening.

Trick or treat! Although Halloween is a few weeks away, visitors to Canada’s Wonderland should prepare to scream as this famous amusement park is once again transformed into the largest haunted attraction in the country. The annual Halloween Haunt offers tons of spooky attractions like haunted mazes and the Psycho Circus. Plus, experience all your favourite rides in complete darkness!

Saturday: Hear classics performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, October 9th
Enjoy a night of legendary music as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performs George Gershwin’s legendary Rhapsody in Blue. This all-American concert will also feature Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Leonard Bernstein’s overture to Candide. Head to Roy Thomson Hall for this powerful performance!

Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida has returned to the Canadian Opera Company stage! This tragic opera tells the forbidden love story between an Ethiopian slave girl and an Egyptian king in a time of war. It’s a stirring show, on now at the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts.

The Fryderyk Chopin and Romantic Piano exhibit opens today at the Royal Ontario Museum. Showcasing numerous instruments, costumes and original scores from the Romantic Era, the show celebrates the bicentennial of this amazing composer’s birth.

Sunday: See mythical beasts at the Ontario Science Centre

Sunday, October 10th
Are you fan of all things fantasy? Head to the Ontario Science Centre to see their newest exhibit Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns and Mermaids. On display is an unbelievable range of sculptures, fossils, creatures and characters that have played a large role in popular myths and fables. You (literally) can’t miss the 40-metre long Chinese dragon that stretches along this exhibit!

The Arts at the Heart market takes over the busy Yonge-Dundas Square this weekend as hundreds of vendors display their handmade wares for sale. Find unique and colourful apparel, fashionable jewelery, belts, accessories and so much more.

It’s your last chance to check out Cirque du Soleil’s Banana Shpeel! This unique production brings together incredible circus acts, colourful costumes, vibrant dance routines, and a hilarious story. The final performance is tonight at the Canon Theatre.