We’re bringing the champagne and the coffee. We’re throwing on our glitter and then maybe the coziest leisure wear we have –and trust us, we’ve got lots! Now that party season is winding down (momentarily) we’re also inspired with a few outings to get us off the screens and the couch. Here are a few events and happenings in and around the city of Toronto that have caught our attention for the month of January!
Skating at The Bentway: The skate trail officially opens (weather permitting) for the season. Bring your own skates or rentals are available. You may also be interested in the events happening throughout the trail opening times including free skate rental nights, free hot chocolate nights, beginner skate lessons, and The Bentway’s Polar Bear Skate. Adding some extra warmth this year, they will be celebrating the experiences of newcomers encountering Toronto’s cold season for the first time. Featured “First Winter” programming includes a glowing new art installation by Shellie Zhang, plus performance, music, storytelling, and community care initiatives.
Greenhouse Festival: a festival of creation at The Tarragon Theatre. January 6 to 15. Features four artistic collectives in repertory, debuting new, in-progress works that challenge the boundaries of performance genres and celebrate creative process and evolution. The Greenhouse Festival begins with performances, micro-performances and special presentations throughout Tarragon Theatre. This process-led residency program, focused on growing vibrant, theatrical ideas and facilitating exchange between artists and audience. Audiences are encouraged to come and explore new parts of Tarragon as a space, as they explore new works from the celebrated creatives in residence for Greenhouse Festival. The features include JANE — a speculative fiction drama about three college students caught up in a virtual reality deep fake pornography scandal, inspired by growing ethical concerns around digital consent and content regulation. Benevolence examines and celebrates the history of the Hakka diaspora in Canada, who represent some of the first Chinese in Canada. Intimate, epic, personal, and playful, this solo-performance by Kevin Matthew Wong (Chemical Valley Project) tells the story of the 2000-year migration, and their struggles and triumphs as early Chinese-Canadians. Emilio’s A Million Chameleons is a family-friendly musical spectacular, about embracing what makes you special, and letting that inner sparkle shine. Mass Exodus is a non-verbal, sensorial fairy-tale set on a dying planet. Tasked by The Government™ to “be the solution” and save their world, a lone worker wonders: do the animals have other plans? There will also be a special presentation of These Are The Songs That I Sing When I’m Sad is an intimate and joyous performance that explores the songs people turn to when they’re sad, the songs that they play to soothe their blues or lift them up out of the depths. It’s a rare opportunity to hear a superb singer up close and personal, as she delves into the link between deep emotions and the musical elements that make sad songs so addictive. Full details on dates/times of performances can be found here.
IDS Toronto: Metro Toronto Convention Centre. January 19 to 22. If you’re looking for a refresh of your work or living space or just curious of what’s trending in the interior design world you won’t want to miss this! From big name brands, design houses to emerging, local, and sustainable you’ll find everything and more for your design inspo. Meet with representatives and definitely take in the multitude of guest speakers slated for this annual design show. This year’s theme MOVING PARTS asks: how are contemporary designers creating, sourcing, producing and distributing products in an ever-changing landscape? Designers are now faced with a reality that requires not only creativity but ongoing adaptation, leading to a new way of working – building constant change and flexibility into their practice. More info and admission tickets here.
DesignTO Festival: January 20 to 29. Canada’s leading and largest annual design festival that celebrates design as a multidisciplinary form of creative thinking and making, with 100+ exhibitions and events. The Festival happens online and in-person at venues across the City of Toronto. Most events and exhibitions are free, but some require a RSVP or purchased ticket.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: Princess of Wales Theatre. until February 18. The sensational brand-new production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat comes to Toronto for a limited North American premiere engagement! Joseph is the musical that launched the Rice-Lloyd Webber collaboration, becoming a multi-award-winning show performed in over 80 countries and recognized as one of the world’s most beloved family musicals. Our review is here. Ticketed performances.
Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical: Royal Alexandra Theatre until January 15. This heartwarming, and feel good, musical is an adaptation of the British film that was based on a true story about a group of Cornish fishermen who became a singing sensation after a musical label discovered them. The fishermen came together to sing the traditional working songs they’d sung for generations, they hoped to raise a few quid for charity. Nobody, least of all the fishermen, expected their story to end on the Pyramid stage of Glastonbury. Featuring 24 multi-talented musicians and performers, Fisherman’s Friends is about about community, friendship and music. Our review is here. Ticketed performances.
Fall on Your Knees Part One: Family Tree: January 20 to February 4. Canadian Stage, Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front Street East). In 1996, Fall On Your Knees, written by the internationally acclaimed Canadian writer Ann-Marie MacDonald, was released – a sweeping novel that chronicles three generations of Cape Breton Island’s Piper family. The story moves from the battlefields of the First World War to the emerging jazz scene in Harlem, NY, and into the lives of four unforgettable sisters. Now, the National Arts Centre English Theatre, Vita Brevis Arts and Canadian Stage, Grand Theatre, and Neptune Theatre have announced an unprecedented partnership to present this compelling story in two part production. Fall on Your Knees Part Two: Diary will run January 22 to February 5. Ticketed performances.
Miigis: Underwater Panther: Red Sky Production. Canadian Stage (Berkeley Street Theatre at 26 Berkeley Street). January 22 to 29. This production is about a prophecy in which the Anishinaabe should move west or perish. It is about the remarkable journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes as we explore catalysts for movement, water trade routes, Anishinaabe archetypes, and mystery beings on a journey from salt to fresh water. Utilizing architectural and iconic Indigenous forms, Miigis reveals the power of nature, and the rise of matriarchy through dance, theatrical innovation, and a fusion of athleticism, music, and film. Ticketed performances.
Housewarming by Karine Giboulo at the Gardiner Museum: on now until May 7. The exhibition takes the form of a large-scale, immersive reimagining of the artist’s home, populated by more than 500 miniature polymer clay figures. A response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition is a sculpted documentary of individual and collective experiences grounded in current events. The colourful dioramas furnishing each room prompt reflection about the challenges we face as a society, including connectedness and isolation, aging and care, labour and consumerism, the climate crisis, food insecurity, and housing instability. Karine Giboulo is a self-taught, Montreal-based artist who over the past twenty years has gained recognition for her miniature dioramas. Always direct and incisive, Giboulo’s microcosms articulate unexpected juxtapositions—playful and sad, realistic and absurd, poetic and political—prompting a range of emotions from delight to profound empathy.
Candlelight Concert Series: various dates and venues across the city. Looking for a break? These wonderfully intimate concerts by some of the city’s finest musicians complete with the glow of candlelight makes for a beautiful and affordable night out – date night, family night, friends night or even solo. Each night offers a different program from tributes to ABBA, Vivaldi, Adele, Coldplay, Beatles, and more.
Disney Animation Immersive Experience: (One Yonge Street at Lighthouse Immersive) Revisit your inner child and dive into the wonderful world of Disney Animation where dreams do come true. Discover this incredible immersive time capsule featuring 100 years of the most beloved Disney family films including Peter Pan, Lion King, Aladdin, Encanto, Frozen and many, MANY more. Try your hand at drawing your own favourite on-screen characters. Learn about the artists behind the scenes and the process of how the famous animation studio works. Then experience Disney films like you’ve never seen before in a fully-immersive 360 degree production that will bring back all the magic. Ticketed event.
Lights on Stratford Winter Festival: until January 27. From 5 pm to 10 pm nightly. Looking to get out of the city? Our favourite theatre town comes alive this month with a beautiful Winter Festival complete with magical art installations. Lights on Stratford transforms the heritage downtown core and park system with luminous art and interactive installations. This winter’s theme is REKINDLE – “relight (a fire) or revive (something that has been lost).” As we emerge from another year of having to stay home, missing our friends, family and favourite places; the importance of rekindling a sense of joy, wonder and community has never been greater. The Festival will also feature new Made-in-Stratford light displays along the Light Trail connecting Market Square to Tom Patterson Island. Free event.
2023 Niagara Icewine Festival: held over three weekends in January, this exciting program offers wine and culinary experiences in the Niagara as well as the Niagara-on-the-Lake areas. The Festival kicks off with the Cool as Ice Gala on January 14 at the spectacular new Niagara Parks Power Plant. Guests will have the opportunity to explore an incredible array of VQA Icewine, table wine and cocktails, paired with culinary selections from some of Niagara’s most talented chefs. Attendees will also get to immerse themselves in the Power Station experience which includes stunning views of Niagara Falls from ‘The Tunnel’, 180-feet below ground. Then, Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival begins its two weekends of celebrations on Friday, January 20 with the Sparkle & Ice Gala at the Courthouse Grand Hall. The Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Village returns and takes place on historic Queen Street on January 21, 22, 28 and 29. The epic Niagara Icewine Cocktail Competition is back on the evening of Saturday, January 28 at the Courthouse Grand Hall.Full details on all Icewine Festival events, including participating wineries, how to purchase tickets and make travel arrangements, can be found in the Niagara Icewine Festival Calendar of Events.
Niagara Falls: Since we had a blast of wintery weather recently, Niagara Falls is worth a visit. Bundle up and explore nature’s artistry as it happens against the backdrop of one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls. Definitely visit the tunnels including the newest Power Station experience for an epic and sweeping view that will take your breathe away. Then warm up at the many restaurants and shops (and yes, the casino) or even stay the night. Winter months offer great deals!
Susan Hobbs Gallery — two solo exhibitions with new work by Yan Wen Chang and Katie Bethune-Leamen: 137 Tecumseth Street. Opening on 19 January 19 and running until February 25, the gallery will present Yan Wen Chang’s exhibition, Odile’s Notorious Magnum Opus Of Thirty-Two Fouettés, investigates the relationship between a desire and a dream, their differences, and the lengths one takes to achieve them. The exhibition’s title references a character in the classical ballet Swan Lake. Odile is the Black Swan and, through deceit and desire, successfully lures the Prince to commit his love dooming the White Swan to her death. The prima ballerina is tasked with the challenge of performing as both swans. In Katie Bethune-Leamen’s exhibition Pickle Fingers brings historical domestic languages of geometric abstraction–as found in 19th century ‘red work’ quilts and 1930s European spritzdekor ceramics–into the space of the gallery. Here, she makes their parallel to the aspirational, revolutionary languages of early avant-garde and spiritualist abstraction explicit. These references frame a large, slipcast porcelain tile sculpture that is extrapolated from the ceramic cladding of shared public spaces and circular porcelain works that emulate airbrushed dinnerware, themselves at times supporting small stacked marble and bronze pieces. Together, these materials speak in the range of references they encompass, from the utilitarian to the vaunted.
Winterlicious: January 26 to February 9. Winter is here and we’re missing our patio days already. Our city’s hospitality industry invites us to revisit and/or discover new restaurants across the city in this delicious annual event. Prix Fixe menus galore but be sure to book early as it’s a popular culinary event. See which restaurants are participating (and their menus) here.
Lunar New Year Celebrations at The Bentway: January 22. 12 pm to 3 pm. Celebrate the beginning of Lunar New Year, a festival of prosperity, abundance, and togetherness celebrated by the East and South Asian community. Featuring a performance by Hong Luck Kung Fu Club, as well as local food vendors and community partners. The Bentway Skate Trail will be open for those who want to lace up their skates. Kick-off a season of good luck and new beginnings at this free event! Full program will be announced on their site.
Mindful Self Compassion with MountainView Compassion: 8 week online program from January 12 to March 2. Many of us are recovering from pandemic stress and trying to discover our new normal. Some of us are dealing with work stress, managing ailing relatives, facing loss or navigating our own health concerns while trying to support loved ones that may also be struggling. If you are having a hard time trying to find your balance or would simply like to learn how to live more in the moment, this course could be very helpful. Everyone can benefit from learning self compassion – the ability to evoke good will and care toward ourselves, especially when we are suffering. The program is scientifically proven to make a positive changes for people. More info and how to register here.
AND LOOKING AHEAD…
Canadian International Auto Show: February 17 to 26. Metro Toronto Convention Centre. With more than 650,000 square feet of exhibits, displays and attractions at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Canadian International AutoShow is not only the largest automotive expo in Canada, it is also the country’s largest consumer show — a leader in lifestyle, technology and all things automotive. It boasts more than 1,000 cars, trucks, SUVs, concept cars, exotics, classics, muscle cars, fully electric and autonomous vehicles each year.