February is a month for family and love. It’s also Black History Month, Family Day Weekend, and Heart Health month. So, there’s plenty to see and do in and around Toronto to help us get through another wintery month.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH at TIFF Bell Lightbox: Throughout the month of February, join TIFF in celebrating Black excellence in film, featuring the 30th-anniversary restoration of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, the 25th-anniversary restoration of Hype Williams’ Belly, a 1990s Black cinema retrospective, and special events. Complete schedule available on the site. TIFF’s public spaces will also include a live painting by Curtia Wright between February 1 and 6. Wright’s mural, Milk n Honey, will be on view throughout the month and is presented in partnership with StreetARToronto.
TWILIGHT SYMPHONY AT Casa Loma: Casa Loma. February 2 to March 5. Escape the winter and into our city’s enchanting castle for an intimate candlelight concert featuring the Casa Loma Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Maestro Paolo Busato, each concert will offer a one-of-a-kind performance for an intimate crowd of no more than 150-seat setting. From classic Hollywood scores to Broadway’s favourite hits and Opera’s arias, the musical evenings return to delight as one of the city’s favourite hidden gems. Concert goers may want to enjoy cocktails prior to the performance in the Carriage Room or make an unforgettable date night with dinner at the award-winning BlueBlood Steakhouse located right inside the Castle.
CASA LOMA HIGH TEA Family Day Weekend: Also returning for the season is Casa Loma’s famous High Tea during the Family Day long weekend (Feb 18 to 20). Guests of all ages will enjoy a classic British-inspired service with a delicious selection of both savoury and sweet offerings including Traditional Castle Scones, Smoked Wild King Salmon, Farjouse Egg Salad with white truffle, Coronation Chicken, and more. A selection of international teas and bar offerings are designed for the perfect pairing. Reservations required.
ROM AFTER DARK: Love Struck (19+ event): Royal Ontario Museum. February 10. One of our favourite parties in the city. This Valentine’s Day-inspired night is a fun outing with friends and lovers. Listen to live jazz, dance to floor-shaking DJ sets, lose yourself in extraordinary exhibitions, eat tasty treats, and so much more. Performances include:
- kLoX, a cosmic psychedelic blend of tabla, violin, and computer-aided technology that explores the vast reaches of electronic music
- Opera Atelier, redefining and revitalizing opera for a contemporary audience
- FabCollab Mosaics with Lady Son and Tara Moneka. a spicy mix of global tunes with spectacular special guests that are sure to heat up the dance floor
- DJ Grump, a surprising and exciting set of club anthems with a Latin twist
- Hala on Stilts, carnivalesque wonders who take art forms to new heights
Plus beats by Sudeep K, live jazz from JPEC, interactive performances—and a few surprises!
NEW EXHIBITIONS AT THE POWER PLANT: Harbourfront. February 3 Toronto’s popular Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery will reopen its doors to the public launching with three new exhibitions simultaneously: notable Cree artist based in Edmonton Brenda Draney’s largest exhibition to-date titled Drink from the river, UK-based Amartey Golding’s In the comfort of embers, first-ever solo exhibition in Canada, and an exhibition comprised of all local artists, in parallel. Bringing together six artists, including Toronto-based artist and writer Simon Fuh, emerging Trinidadian artist Anique Jordan, and Mi’kmaq (Metepenagiag Nation) settler artist and educator Julia Rose Sutherland, the group exhibition presents a variety of different mediums, like film, sculpture and photography. Free admission as always.
DENYSE THOMASOS: just beyond: Art Gallery of Ontario until February 20. One of the finest painters to emerge in the 1990s, the late Trinidadian-Canadian artist Denyse Thomasos (1964-2012) left an indelible, yet frequently overlooked, mark on contemporary painting. A career retrospective, this exhibition brings together more than 70 paintings and works on paper, many rarely seen, to show how she challenged the limits of abstraction, infusing personal and political content onto her canvases through the innovative use of formalist techniques. Through pattern, scale and repetition, Thomasos conveys the vastness of events such as the transatlantic slave trade without exploiting the images of those who were most affected.
HAMILTON: Princess of Wales Theatre. February 22 to June 11. Hamilton is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway, the wildly popular musical has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography. It has won Tony®, Grammy®, and Olivier Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and an unprecedented special citation from the Kennedy Center Honors.
APRÈS SKI Weekends at The Distillery: until March 19 (weather dependent) for those who prefer the gatherings without the ski-hill, this may just be the perfect outing for you. Gather around fire-pits with friends and family in Trinity Square and enjoy the snowy picturesque setting of the historical area. Enjoy food and drink of the season including S’mores with giant marshmallows, poutine, hot chocolate, mulled wine as well as food truck favourites. Seating is first-come first serve.
DREAMS & FANTASIES BLOOR-YORKVILLE ICEFEST: Yorkville. February 18 & 19. Free event. Celebrate winter while discovering over 40 one-of-a-kind glistening ice displays made from over 60,000 lbs of ice! The theme this year, Dreams & Fantasies, will see the neighbourhood reimagined through whimsical castles, unicorns, an elegant carriage, dragons, mermaids, cosmic journeys, and more. In addition to the sculpture displays, the event will include live ice carving demonstrations, an ice lounge, and an ice wall with projections throughout the weekend.
THINGS I KNOW TO BE TRUE: CAA Theatre. February 1 – 19. A poignant family drama with universal resonance, this is the story of a year in the life of the Price family. Bob, recently let go from his job at a car factory, and Fran a registered nurse, have raised their four children — Pip, Mia, Ben and Rosie — the best they could. Now in their 60s, their children grown, they should be slowing down and taking time to smell the roses and enjoy a job well done. But a parent’s job is never finished, and as the seasons change, Bob and Fran find themselves guiding and supporting their children as they each face life-altering changes that shake the foundation of the once-stable family home.
TORONTO BLACK FILM FESTIVAL: February 15 to 20. Canada’s largest celebration of Black History Month, attracting hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers of all ages and ethnic backgrounds both in-person and online. Year after year, through its audacious and diverse programming. This year’s Festival will present 125 films from 20 countries – including 37 World premieres, 18 International premieres, 37 Canadian premieres, 18 Ontario premieres and 7 Toronto premieres. Opening night will take place on February 15that 8PM at the Isabel Bader Theatrewith the OntarioPremiere of Matt Waldeck’s LOVELY JACKSON (USA), followed by a Q&A session with the director and subject Rickey Jackson. The film is exonerated prisoner Rickey Jackson’s daring first-hand account of the psychology of survival and spiritual fortitude required to withstand 39 years of wrongful incarceration for a murder he didn’t commit. The Festival will also pay tribute to award-winning Writer, Producer and Director Jennifer Holness — the first Black woman in Canada to win a CSA for best writing, she is the 2021 Indiescreen Producer of the Year and a 2022 WIFT Creative Excellence Award winner. Her recent feature doc, Subjects of Desire, has won numerous festival awards and was a 2021 TIFF top 10 film. Her TV series include Shoot The Messenger and Guns, with the latter winning 5 CSA’s and garnering a prestigious Rose d’Or nomination. Her narrative feature films, Home Again and Love, Sex and Eating the Bones have screened around the globe, with Bones winning a Best First Feature award at TIFF.The TBFF All Access Passes and individual tickets are on sale now on the Festival’s website.
THE FLIGHT: Factory Theatre MainStage. February 10 to 18. This original, new work, written and performed by acclaimed theatre artist Beryl Bain (Queen Bess Productions), and directed by the fiercely creative Marcel Stewart (b current Performing Arts), explores the life of ground-breaking aviation pioneer Bessie Coleman, the first African American, and the first Native American, to hold an international pilot’s license. Coleman earned her license in France in 1921, after being unable to find anyone in the United States who would teach an African American woman to fly. The Flight evokes Coleman’s unshakable optimism, her determination, her vision, and the indomitable self confidence that led her to soar above the clouds, reaching ever closer to the sun. The production is in partnership with Theatre Gargantua.
YERMA: Coal Mine Theatre (2076 Danforth Avenue): February 5 to 26. Simon Stone’s YERMA is the hotly anticipated production directed by Diana Bentley and stars acclaimed film and television actress Sarah Gadon (Ferrari, North of Normal, Alias Grace) in her on-stage debut. This reimagining of Federico Lorca’s tragic tale of a young woman driven to the unthinkable by the desire to have a child. This is also the inaugural production in Coal Mine Theatre’s new space.
THE MAGIC OF ASSEMBLY : Toronto Dance Theatre: February 2 – 4 and 9 – 11. Wincheter Street Theatre. This new creation for Ashley “Colours” Perez is made in collaboration with TDT’s Artist Director Andrew Tay with music from electronic duo LAL. Taking on an experimental approach between Tay and eight invited artists. They will explore the magic created from the act of assembling with one another as artists, and the irreplaceable experience of gathering to witness performance in the current moment.
REDBONE COONHOUND: Tarragon Theatre (in co-production with Imago Theatre, Montreal). February 7 to March 5. The play, written by real-life couple Amy Lee Lavoie and Omari Newton and inspired by a first-hand experience. This new piece that’s as riotously funny as it is deeply pensive, we meet interracial couple Mike and Marissa. As they go on a walk they meet a dog whose breed bears an unfortunate name, a redbone coonhound, which catapults the pair into a discussion of race as it relates to their relationship. Traveling through the 19th, 20th and 21st century and from Vancouver to Detroit, and many places in between, Redbone Coonhound manifests as a series of microplays, a deeply satirical examination of race, gender, systemic power, oppression and privilege.
KUUMBA: Harbourfront Centre. February 3-11. Celebrate Black Futures at Harbourfront Centre through music, dance, theatre, film and literary arts, strengthening Toronto’s Black community by connecting our future to its past. The festival launches with Hubert Davis’ award-winning documentary Black Ice, followed by a choreographed show of outstanding drag artists curated by Hollywood Jade. Listen to diverse storytelling with Letters to My Future Self, presented in partnership with JAYU, take in real talk at When Sisters Speak, hosted by Dwayne Morgan and enjoy JUNO award-winning R&B singer/songwriter Sean Jones’ Valentine’s Day special, The Love. Affair.
OKAY, YOU CAN STOP NOW: Theatre Passe Muraille. February 4 – 11. A physical theatre experience that explores how we deal with, manipulate, and come to terms with information, in Okay, you can stop now four performers are invited into a landscape full of newspapers: a tangible form of history. Over time, knowing that history is continual, the weight of the news gets the better of each individual. Through personal accounts and collective experience, each performer navigates their relationship to privilege and power: how do we move forward once history has indelibly been changed? Okay, you can stop now is created and choreographed by Shakeil Rollock.
CABARET NOIR: Berkeley Street Theatre. February 9 to 11. A MAYDAY Production co-presented by dance Immersion and Canadian Stage, CABARET NOIR is created, directed, and choreographed by Demers with the collaboration of the interpreters. The cast of CABARET NOIR uses movement, dialogue, and music to reconstruct emblematic scenes from popular culture in a work that is both a celebration and resistance of concepts of “Blackness”. The artists play with clichés, folklore, and prejudices, summoning the words of Frantz Fanon, Nina Simone, Dany Laferrière, and Spike Lee to illustrate that no external authority can define our identities. The show contains text in French, English, Creole, and a hint of Spanish without surtitles.
ARE WE NOT DRAWN ONWARD TO NEW ERA: Bluma Appel Theatre. February 9 to 11. Canadian Premiere. Fresh off a hit run at the Public Theatre’s Under the Radar Festival, the influential Belgian company Ontroerend Goed visits Toronto for three nights only with this conceptually daring, visually stunning performance of environmental apocalypse – with a twist.
CANADIAN INTERNAIONAL AUTO SHOW: February 17 to 26. Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The massive car enthusiast show celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and there’s lots to see and do for the entire family and for those who are looking for their next ride. The latest models and concept cars will be features from all car brands. For the dreamers, be sure to have your phones charged up for the supercars. For fun, go explore LEGO and Hot Wheels. Also visit the Toronto Star Live Stage for special guest appearances and talks on the latest news in the automotive industry.
BEYOND THE CITY…
SKATE ESCAPE at Friday’s Harbour: This destination located just over an hour’s drive outside of the city has quickly gained popularity for a great getaway! From now until mid-March the luxe resort destination offers a full list of things to see an do for lovers and families. Visitors can delight in outdoor winter skating (skate rentals available), visit local shops and restaurants, and enjoy a curated selection of sweet and savoury treats, handcrafted beverages, live entertainment, and cozy up après skate in warming lounges. Special events are also being planned for Valentine’s Day, Family Day and March Break