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Weekend Events: November 28 to 30


Toronto Weekend Events

The Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District is must-see weekend event

The holiday shopping season is really kicking into high gear! Not only are many stores offering American Thanksgiving–style “Black Friday” sales, but two of Toronto’s biggest artisan markets are also enjoying their opening weekends. The massive, always popular One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale has more than 800 vendors—with everything from shortbread cookies to designer toques to handcrafted furniture—staking claim to the Direct Energy Centre. On the other side of downtown, the historic Distillery District hosts its annual Toronto Christmas Market, featuring numerous outdoor stalls as well as musical performances, daily caroling, a beer garden and more. A special tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday to official open the market. And if you’re still in the Christmas spirit on Saturday night, head to Nathan Phillips Square for Toronto’s annual Cavalcade of Lights, featuring the illumination of the city’s official Christmas tree, fireworks, performances by the likes of Kardinal Offishall, Kellylee Evans and Shad, and a skating party with tunes courtesy of DJ Grouch.

As ever, this weekend in Toronto boasts a bevy of varied musical performances, including the final two shows of Gordon Lightfoot‘s annual Massey Hall residency and a Canadian neo-soul double bill at Koerner Hall, featuring Jarvis Church and Ivana Santilli. If your tastes sit lean more toward the esoteric side of the pop-music ledger, electro singer-songwriter James Blake takes the stage at the Mod Club.

A pair of Soulpepper Theatre Company favourites—one contemporary, one classic—have returned to the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. The modern option? The return of Ins Choi’s acclaimed 2012 play Kim’s Convenience, enjoying a well-deserved victory lap following its recent national tour. The all-time classic? Soulpepper’s beloved adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a Toronto holiday tradition for many years.

• Those zany special effects-and-science guys, the Mythbusters, bring their experiments to the Sony Centre stage.

• Taiwanese “Queen of Ballads” Della also appears at the Sony Centre—to belt out some ballads, presumably.

• Art appreciation and philanthropy combines at Gallery TPW’s annual Photorama show and sale, featuring photo-based works by the likes of Edward Burtynsky, Robert Burley and Chris Curreri. Proceeds from the (affordably priced) pieces go to support the artist-run not-for-profit centre’s operations and initiatives.

Ovest Draws King Street Diners Farther West

A meal at Ovest could include (from left): fresh ricotta with peppers and salsa verde; spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes; and a chocolate nest with chocolate mousse (photos: Craig Moy)

A meal at Ovest could include (from left): fresh ricotta with peppers and salsa verde; spaghetti with sun-dried tomatoes; and a chocolate nest with chocolate mousse (photos: Craig Moy)

King Street West, particularly the stretch running between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street, is well-trod by the trendier, more well-to-do segment of Toronto’s foodie community. Past Bathurst, however, the eating options begin to thin. Ovest Cucina e Vineria aims to fix that problem; the recently opened Italian restaurant offers a robust menu of regional Italian fare from Sicilian-born chef Luca Stracquadanio (formerly of La Bettola di Terroni). Like the majority of its clientele, the 120-seat dining room is smartly—though no doubt expensively—adorned: a sizeable marble bar features heavily near the front-of-house, as does a glass-walled wine cellar boasting many fine bottles from Italy.

To go with that wine? The chef’s daily salumi board, plus Ovest’s varied carte, offering a handful each of inventive antipasti, pizzas, pastas and larger mains—all very stylishly plated but deceptively simple, with most dishes built on only three or four ingredients. Among them are his signature smoked swordfish carpaccio with fennel and orange, plus the decadent likes of house-made squid ink gnocchi with lobster, porcini- and speck-stuffed rabbit, and more.  —Craig Moy

• Ovest, 788 King St. W., 416-214-6161; ovest-to.com
Map and reviews

Holiday Gifts for Everyone on Your List


The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes shopping for everyone from your spouse, parents, kids and in-laws to friends and co-workers and maybe even party hosts and hostesses. In the spirit of giving, we’ve curated more than 60 holiday gifts worthy of your best wrapping paper.

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Holiday Gifts Made Personal

Off-the-shelf items become extra special holiday gifts when they can be customized with special image or the receiver’s likeness, or by having their initials engraved into them. Many businesses offer monogramming services for a minimal charge (or better yet, gratis). Of course, do take note of production and delivery dates to ensure your items are completed in time for gifting season.

Holiday Gifts for Globetrotters

For the world-travelling relative, friend or co-worker whose bags are always packed, these holiday gifts are sure to be valuable for future adventures or business trips.

Holiday Gifts That Anyone Can Enjoy

Spread the seasonal love around with these holiday gifts for hosts and hostesses, neighbours, caregivers, employers and anyone else who deserves something special.

Holiday Gifts for New Parents

Welcoming a new baby is a happy occasion for every family. And while buying itty bitty clothes and stuffed animals is fun, what are the items new parents really need? Mother of two Karen Hunter curates this woodland-themed selection of practical, engaging and whimsical holiday gifts for new moms, dads and their bundles of joy.

Holiday Gifts for Super-Cool Kids

Holiday gifts are even better when they’re given to children—the mini mes, nieces, nephews, tweens and teens in your life. There’s nothing like seeing their faces light up with the joy of the season.

Holiday Gifts for Women About Town

Fantastically feminine holiday gifts for wives, girlfriends, sisters, moms, grandmothers and BFFs.

Holiday Gifts for Alpha Males

Whether you’re buying for a husband, boyfriend, brother, dad, grandfather, beer buddy or colleague, these holiday gifts are sure to garner a handshake and grunt of approval from the big man in your life.

Sea Witch is a Fresh Catch on St. Clair


Fast becoming a haunt of locals, Sea Witch Fish & Chips is an enchanting addition to St. Clair West’s growing crop of eateries. The menu is simple: Pacific halibut, Atlantic haddock, Pacific cod, Arctic char or pickerel coated in a light, crispy batter and served with fresh-cut chips, or on a bun if you fancy a sandwich. Additional offerings include halibut cakes, halibut poutine and the delightfully named Witch’s Brew house chowder. This family-friendly joint also has kid-sized fish and chips on the menu, plus high chairs and colouring books at the ready. Patrons can dine at a wooden bar along the front window, in a charming church-pew booth or at a long, wooden communal-dining table. Paired with a classic white, black and red palette and an open kitchen, the restaurant has a warm industrial-meets-coastal vibe you’ll feel at home in.  —Cara Smusiak

• Sea Witch, 636 St. Clair Ave. W., 647-349-4824; seawitchfc.com
Map and reviews

Snowfall: Brookfield Place’s Designer Holiday Decor


ON NOW  Forget tinsel-draped trees, garlanded bannisters, Santa’s Workshop dioramas and all the other traditional trappings of holiday decorating. This winter, Financial District hub Brookfield Place unveils a new art installation that offers a sophisticated interpretation of one of the more inescapable symbols of the season. Conceived of and created over the past five years by Toronto art-and-design duo Brad Hindson and Mitchell F. Chan (together known as Studio F Minus), Snowfall is now prominently displayed within Brookfield Place’s Allen Lambert Galleria and its adjacent lobbies. The commission’s 60 stylized snowflakes notably mirror Brookfield Place’s architecture and design: each piece geometrically evokes the distinctive Y-frames that buttress architect Santiago Calatrava’s soaring Galleria archway; collectively they reflect off of the building’s gleaming glass and polished-stone surfaces, evoking a full gust of snowy weather. Central to the display—and surely its most photogenic element—is a monumental sculpture titled Frost, a 20-foot-tall touch-sensitive snowflake: its illuminated surface responds to touch in the manner of a cold window being wiped clean of condensation.

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