October might be the month of all things spooky and we’re here for it. But it’s not all about thrills and chills! It’s time to check into some fun, inspiring, and even thought-provoking things to see and do! Grab your coziest sweater and go! Here’s what is happening in Toronto!

ARTS & HAPPENINGS:

KAWS: FAMILY at the AGO: open until March 31, 2024. The AGO’s latest exhibition features the work of Brian Donnelly aka KAWS to the city. The artist bridges the worlds of art, popular culture and commerce with sophisticated humour and insightful appropriation. Renowned for his larger-than-life sculptures of cartoon-inspired characters and exuberant hard-edge paintings that playfully emphasize line and colour, much like 1960s Pop artists.Donnelly also blurs the boundaries between populist and elite art, bringing mass media imagery into traditional art spaces. Great for all ages.

KAWS FAMILY at the AGO

arcana pop up at Holt Renfrew Bloor: until October 29. This creative immersive pop-up collaboration celebrates the 10th anniversary of Holt Renfrew’s H Project and its Fashion the Future campaign. Building on this theme, arcana will bring the experience of bridging the gap between urban life and the restorative superpowers of nature. The pop up will be anchored by a listening portal, designed to encourage visitors to ground themselves in sounds of nature and take a moment of reflection. A curated assortment of arcana and Holt Renfrew items will complement the journey.

Toronto Vintage Clothing Show: Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Place. September 30 and October 1. This massive two-day pop up features over 130 vendors. Considered a treasure trove for vintage lovers the show offers a huge selection of vintage clothing, accessories as well as home furnishings and decor from the 1950s throughout the early 2000s.

The Water Series at Harbourfront Centre: October 14 to 27 (FREE)
Tremendous Productions, in partnership with Harbourfront Centre and Princess Margaret UHN, is proud to present “The Water Series”, an ambitious, immersive video art installation by Toronto artist Naomi Jaye. This evocative work is a nine-screen, twenty-speaker voyage that spans Harbourfront Centre Theatre. Through sound, moving image and architecture, it invites visitors to journey through the profound interplay between water and grief. Donations in support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre for Breast Cancer Research will be collected on site.

TORONTO THEATRE:

SIX THE MUSICAL: Royal Alexandra Theatre. On stage until December 17. From Tudor Queens to Pop Icons, the SIX wives of Henry VIII take the microphone to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into a Euphoric Celebration of 21st century girl power! This new original musical is the global sensation that everyone is losing their head over! SIX won 23 awards in the 2021/2022 Broadway season, including the Tony Award for Best Original Score (Music and Lyrics) and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.

Six - Musical - Mirvish

SIX Broadway Cast. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

IN DREAMS: CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre. On stage until November 12. This touching and surprisingly funny new musical from the creators of the Broadway and West End smash-hit & Juliet (David West Read and Luke Sheppard) tells the story of a country-rock singer who invites her old bandmates to join her for “the party of a lifetime”, while keeping her true motivations a secret. In Dreams explores our longing for love and connection, through the iconic songs of Roy Orbison!

WILDWOMAN: a SoulPepper Theatre production. October 5 to 29 at the Baillie Theatre, Young Centre for the Performing Arts. a viciously bold and sexy comedy based on the shocking true story that inspired Beauty and the Beast. An exploration of cyclical notions of gender, class and power, WILDWOMAN examines the lives of three very different women as they wrestle for survival and legacy in the 16th Century French Court of King Henry II. Newly-arrived in France, Queen-to-be Catherine de Medici must contend with her unruly husband, a scheming maidservant and the king’s much-older mistress, as she struggles to give the kingdom what it needs most: an heir. But it’s Pete, the King’s pet wildman, a caged-oddity kept for amusement, who has the most surprising impact on their lives. Written and directed by Kat Sandler ( part of the Six Women Writing Commissioning Program), WILDWOMAN features Rosemary Dunsmore, Dan Mousseau, Rose Napoli, Tony Ofori and Gabriella Sundar Singh.

Jungle Book Reimagined: October 12 to 14. Bluma Appel Theatre. Based on the story by Rudyard Kipling. Internationally acclaimed dancer/choreographer Akram Khan has reinterpreted this classic tale from another perspective, through the lens of today’s children – those who will inherit our world and become our future storytellers. With spectacular technology that turns the stage into a mythical world, this JUNGLE BOOK reimagines the journey of Mowgli through the eyes of a refugee caught in a world devastated by the impact of climate change. This family-friendly epic dance work speaks to all generations as a step to remind, to relearn and to reimagine a new world together. Featuring an original score by the BAFTA and Olivier Award-winning composer Jocelyn Pook, a cast of ten international dancers, and a stage bursting with state-of-the-art animation and visual projections, this is a JUNGLE BOOK with nuanced beauty and devastating immediacy that expresses a universal need for connection and a deep respect for the natural world.

Canadian Stage - Jungle Book Reimagined

Ali Macofsky at the Comedy Bar Danforth: October 6 and 7. Ali Macofsky is a stand up comedian, actress, and writer who began her comedy career at the age of 7 when she would join Ryan Seacrest on KIIS FM every weekday morning and prank call listeners as her character “Lil Ally” and has continued to pursue comedy ever since. Shortly after high school, Ali quickly established herself in the Los Angeles comedy scene where she became the first regular to perform on over 100 episodes of the Comedy Store’s weekly Kill Tony podcast. This lead Ali’s career in headlining venues across the country. She’s opened for comedians including Russell Peters and Joe Rogan. Most recently, Ali was named a New Face of Comedy at the Just for Laughs Comedy festival in Montreal. Ali’s stand up has been featured on Just For Laughs digital receiving over 3 million views and her stand up has been seen on TikTok over 10 million times. She has a popular series on her Instagram (@notalimac) where she talks to strangers online and she hosts a weekly podcast called Resting Bitch. Ali’s voice on and off stage has captured a wide range of fans who gravitate toward her honest, relatable sense of humor and unique perspective on life.

FESTIVALS:

Ontario Culture Days Festival: until October 15. Various locations. Over 1000 FREE arts, culture, and heritage events are happening now across Ontario. Included in the program, Ontario Culture Days has set September 30th aside to create space exclusively for events organized to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, including those sharing First Nations, Métis, and/or Inuit experiences and perspectives. The day will also celebrate the creative and cultural expressions of Indigenous peels and communities. Events are available for a wide range of interests and ages. Check the full schedule on their site.

Harvest Moon: Celebrate the final super moon of the year on September 29. Traditionally celebrated by many asian communities, this festival includes such delicious pastries as “mooncakes”. Gifted to friends and family. My personal favourites are from ChaTime. Modern flavours (Taro, Black Sesame with Duck Egg, Matcha, Pineapple Coconut) are popular options but they also have the tradition. ChaTime also has really, really cute packaging! While you’re there, try their new Pumpkin Spice Bubble Tea (Roasted Milk Tea is my go-to) and seriously the only pumpkin spice anything that I actually like. Available for a limited time throughout the fall season. Looks like a good night to take in the views so take it outdoors and enjoy under the moonlight.

cha time - bubble tea - pumpkin spice

FILM FESTIVALS:

Planet in Focus International Environment Film Festival: October 12 to 22. Paradise Theatre. Canada’s largest and longest running environmental film festival, has announced its 24th film lineup slated for October 12-22, 2023. This year’s edition will be filled with opportunities to build community, learn from guest speakers and filmmakers, and experience films —and even a piano concert!  Full schedule available on their site.

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival: October 17 to 29 (in person and online). The Festival celebrates Indigenous storytelling  from 13 countries in film/video, audio, and digital/ interactive art through screenings, exhibitions, special events, and more. An incredible selection of thoughtfully curated work spans a variety of genres. FANCY DANCE is the Opening Night Film at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. 
Rendezvous With Madness Film & Arts Festival: October 27 to November 5.Workman Arts. This is the largest and longest-running arts festival in the world dedicated to the intersection of mental health and artistic expression. The Festival presents  a total of 38 films from 12 countries. Post-screening Q&As and curated panel discussions will be offered. In addition to this year’s film program, the Festival includes the 2023 exhibit – wherever you are is where i want to be – featuring innovative work made in various media. There will also be two live performances, Upstairs, In Our Bedroom and Holler Rat. The 2023 programming will be presented at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, the CAMH Auditorium, CAMH Community Centre, and Artscape Youngplace.

SPOOKY SEASON:

Legends of Horror at Casa Loma and Zombie Apocalypse: September 29 to October 31. Returning this  fall is this very popular chilling immersive experience. The classic and much loved Halloween-themed walk through event at Toronto’s famous castle celebrates it’s 8th year running. When the sun sets, follow the path that snakes through the gardens and into the underground tunnels. This is what nightmares are made of. Thrills and chills await. And so does a half-way clear house complete with a Captain Morgan’s bar to help recharge or calm the eff down. Wear proper walking shoes as you meander through the spectacular indoor and outdoor spaces. Family friendly hours (no actors) are also on the schedule. Strongly suggest booking your tickets NOW online as it sells out fast.

Legends of Horror 2022- Casa Loma

The Zombie Apocalypse experience created in partnership with Secret City Adventures takes a spine-tingling spiral that’s NOT for the weak or those who cannot control their bladder. Located in an abandoned facility south of Casa Loma at 175 Kendal Avenue, this 45 minute indoor activation features live and interactive characters to leave audiences dead in their tracks. Yeah.

Jaymes White Seance at Isabelle Manor: The annual spine-chilling experience returns at this historical site that’s slated for demolition. But not before the Seance experience attempts to conjure up a few spirits. Scared? You should be. Kidding. Not really. But go. Don’t worry, if you follow the instructions no spirits should follow you home. Pick Friday the 13th if you’re brave. Here’s a previous interview with Jaymes. Jaymes White-Seance

Halloween Haunt and Camp Spooky at Canada’s Wonderland: The spookiest time of year is back at Canada’s Wonderland this month with Halloween Haunt returning for its 18th season. Camp Spooky daytime fun for kids and families starts Sept. 23 with costume parties, trick-or-treating and live entertainment with the PEANUTS Gang.

This year Haunt will feature three new horrifying mazes:

Dark Ride: An abandoned carnival ride sits dark and in ruin, its time of amusement long dead. Unbeknownst to curious visitors, the long-neglected attraction now houses a sinister world of terror created by outcast carnival workers and performers. Explore this Dark Ride at your own peril, for the freaks wait within with wicked smiles and treacherous plans.

Necropolis: Step into Necropolis and enter the underworld where the dead wait to terrorize the living. Ancient mausoleums, labyrinth of passages and dark tombs conceal the guardians of this deathly place. Don’t linger too long or they may select you to join their ghostly ranks.

Trick or Treat Street: The most twisted Halloween street party has come to town and you’re invited. Expect deranged decor, eerie party guests and ghoulish games. We’re sure you’ll have a diabolically haunted time. BYOB – Bring Your Own Blood.

Spooky Halloween Market at Storm Crow Manor: October 15. Our favourite place to geek out on all things otherworldly! Have a blast shopping at this once-a-year fall market. Filed with items from local artisans and makers. Find the perfect nerdy gifts and stay a while to explore the remarkable space.

*lead in photo taken at the AGO. Photo credit Eng C. Lau.