A month of love. A month of acknowledgement. Time to celebrate family and we are here for it all. There’s lots to celebrate here in Toronto to warm our hearts! Check out what we love in this month’s City Girl’s Guide to what’s happening this February in Toronto!

VALENTINE’S DAY CITY LOVE:

Did you know San Valentino was Italian? The patron saint of love spent much of his life in Rome! Consequently, Italians like to think that they know something about love. With the special day just around the corner, Eataly Yorkville wants to make it unique with a Valentine’s Day Taste-Around. Expect a 10-station tasting tour of chef-curated creations. The focus is on celebrating our love for sweets with dishes like as hazelnuts mascarpone risotto, and Tiramisù. This is a ticketed Event.

If you’re looking for a neighbourhood gem to dine at this Valentine’s, we love Miss Aida in the Roncesvalles part of the city. This restaurant is modelled after traditional and authentic flavours of Middle Eastern cuisine. This Valentine’s Day, guests can enjoy Aida’s feast for two, a chef’s tasting menu. Comprised of dishes from Executive Chef Mohamad‘s hometown of Beirut, all are prepared using quality wholesome ingredients.

The menu is made up of seven Levantine-style shareable dishes and includes two glasses of Prosecco. Don’t forget the desserts comprised of made in-house by pastry chef and co-owner, Tara Tang. The menu is priced at $150 per person and is available from Wednesday (Feb 14) to Saturday (Feb 17). Reservations can be made here.

Miss Aida
Miss Aida

Spice up your Valentine’s with this special dinner night at The Cottage Cheese. This urban Indian restaurant located in the heart of Kensington Market was recently awarded “Toronto’s Best Indian Restaurant” by the Canadian Choice Awards. A special Valentine’s menu will be available for one night only in this cozy and warm spot. Paired with two glasses of sparkling wine, for $110 per couple, diners can choose from some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, such as Butter Chicken, House Ricotta Kofta, made of paneer and fig, and Chicken 65, deep-fried morsels of chicken tossed in a hot & tangy sauce. Reservations can be made here.

BTW, no one said that Valentine’s Day had to be celebrated on the one day! So, grab your reservations or take out…heck on any or all the other days.

You need a little break from routine:

Retro Arcade returns to Hotel X Toronto from February 16 to March 17! This blast from the past comes with the best arcade games of the 80s and 90s. Located inside the hotel’s Kandy Gallery and open to hotel guests (complimentary with stay), will also be open to locals with a $18.80 play all day pass. We’ve learned it will be double in size (and fun) in this second year. Get ready to play favourites including Dance Dance Revolution, Skee-ball, Mario Kart Arcade GP, Street Fighter, NFL Blitz, and more! There will also be themed nights like Flashback Fridays with DJs and a retro bar, along with Family Fun Weekends. Retro snacks and concession stands will also be available. Check the Hotel X Toronto’s site for more details.

Kimpton Saint George Hotel offers an arts and culture stay just steps from the hotel. Start right at the property! Throughout the hotel and within each guest room, the hotel feels like you are walking through a curated gallery. All of the art pieces in the hotel are original, including the dreamy ‘Marble Moon’ by Ottawa artist, Laura Langford, who created one-of-a-kind, hand-dipped metal wall pieces for all guest rooms.

For the month of February, guests can hit the hot cocoa station in the morning. As well, you can enjoy the cozy winter chalet-inspired lobby for a social hour for all guests daily between 5-6 pm with wine. Valentine’s Day, guests will receive an in-room chocolate treat and a live musician will be performing during the social hour playing some favourite classic love songs. The hotel is located just steps from Yorkville. 

If you dream of road trips or sports cars or maybe in the mood to check out the latest wheels on the road, then be sure to mark your calendar to visit the Canadian International Auto Show (February 16 to 25). This popular multi-day consumer show is full of excitement including crowd-pleasing super cars, classics, and concept cars. Yes, the latest in automobile debuts, trends and announcements will also be made here at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Truly something fun to see for the whole family. Expect to get up close and personal also with Barbie’s Pink 1957 Chevy Corvette, Porsche Vision Gran Turismo — the German automaker’s first concept study for a car created specifically for the use in a video game. BTW, Porsche’s return to CIAS will also be the iconic company’s largest ever presence ever! Also, be sure to check out the all-new V12-powered Lamborghini Revuelto making it’s Canadian auto show debut.

On Wednesday, February 14 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., in partnership with Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, AGO Youth presents Kiki Vogue Ball x Keith Haring in Walker Court, a one-night-only celebration of Keith Haring and queer love, marking the 33rd anniversary of the artists passing. This event is free and suitable for all ages. For more details, visit AGO.ca/events/kiki-vogue-ball-x-keith-haring

GALENTINE’S DAY IN TORONTO:

Let’s hear it for our girl squad! Bring your independent besties to SIX The Musical on February 13th at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. 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! Then, join the queens of SIX for a post-show Galentine’s party at the Royal Alexandra’s Yale Simpson Lounge, in the lower level of the theatre! Full details at Mirvish.com here.

The cast of the Toronto Production of SIX. (L-R) Maggie Lacasse, Elysia Cruz, Jaz Robinson, Julia Pulo, Krystal Hernández, Lauren Mariasoosay. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

Mamma Mia Galentine’s Day Movie Sing-along: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Saturday, February 24. This annual Galentine’s Day sing-along is back by popular demand celebrating the core of all relationships between women: ABBA Gather the Dynamos to your Donna split a bottle of wine, dance in your seats and sing away to all the favourites! Ticketed Event.

Consider making it a girls’ weekend getaway in the city with a stay at the perfectly situated SoHo Hotel, just steps from the theatre district as well as shopping a few blocks away on Queen St West. We love the art-filled spaces throughout the property (soooo worth exploring if you’re a contemporary art lover!) including guest rooms. Guests also have access to the indoor pool and gym. Two delicious dining options are also onsite at Moretti’s (Italian) and Moretti Cafe. Of course, couples are welcome too. You won’t want to leave! More info and special packages here.

Soho Hotel Toronto

BLACK HISTORY MONTH AROUND TOWN:

British-Trinidadian artist Zak Ové joins AGO Curator, Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora, Julie Crooks in conversation about his art practice and its connection with Carnival, Trinidad, and the African Diaspora. Presented in Baillie Court in conjunction with Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art, 1950s-Now. The talk is happening on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 7 pm. For tickets and more details, visit AGO.ca.

Also at the AGO is their ever popular AGO Friday Nights when they stay open until 9 pm. On February 2 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., spend an evening in Walker Court with sounds by OKAN Musica, a Canadian Afro-Cuban jazz group. Their 2020 album, Espiral, won the Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year in 2021. For more details, visit AGO.ca

On Friday, February 9, internationally renowned musical artist Sharon Marley will premiere a new single and video exclusively at the AGO. The concert is part of AGO Friday Nights: Black History Month celebrations and will see Ms. Marley return to Toronto with her latest single ‘Steppah,’ as part of her soulful evolution in her musical journey.

Then, on Friday, February 16 and 23, immerse yourself in the vibrant world of steelpan music with Suzette Vidale at the AGO. Known for her live performances that captivate audiences of all ages. This Caribbean-infused experience in Walker’s Court will treat the audience to her skillful performance on iconic hammered metal pans. Originating from Trinidad and Tobago in the early 20th century, steel pans have evolved into a symbol of musical energy, resonating through the streets, festivals, and now cultural and educational institutions.

Stuart Samuel’s 2013 documentary RasTa: A Soul’s Journey comes to AGO’s Jackman Hall on Saturday, February 10. An epic journey across eight countries, the film follows Donisha Prendergast, Rita and Bob Marley’s granddaughter, as she explores the roots of the Rastafari. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Donisha Prendergast and her mother Sharon Marley. For tickets and more info, visit AGO.ca/events/rasta-souls-journey.

RENAISSANCE: A Film by Beyoncé: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Directed by Beyoncé Knowles. The film accentuates the journey of the Renaissance World Tour, from its inception to the opening in Stockholm, Sweden, to the finale in Kansas City, Missouri. Received with extraordinary acclaim, Beyoncé’s tour created a sanctuary for freedom, and shared joy, for more than 2. 7 million fans. Join on February 17 for a special screening featuring disco decor, specialty cocktails and live performance by rapper, DJ, and producer Myst Milano. Ticketed event.

Bob Marley One Love: Special Advance Screening at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Celebrate the life and music of an icon who inspired generations through his message of love and unity. On the big screen for the first time, discover Bob’s powerful story of overcoming adversity and the journey behind his revolutionary music. This Canadian Premiere evening  at the TIFF Bell Lightbox will also host director Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men, King Richard) and Ziggy Marley in attendance in-person for a post-screening conversation. The film is produced in partnership with the Marley family and starring Kingsley Ben-Adir as the legendary musician and Lashana Lynch as his wife Rita. Ticketed Event.

USHER IN THE LUNAR NEW YEAR:

There are many great events happening across the city to usher in the Year of the Dragon. From exciting traditional lion dances and 40 ft tall Golden Dragon to Lunar New Year Markets supporting Asian Small Businesses and artisans to Afternoon Tea, there is plenty to see and do! Our full Lunar New Year Event List can be found here.

Holt's Cafe - Lunar New Year - 2024
Lunar New Year at Holt’s Cafe

LOVE FOR A WORTHY CAUSE:

SickKids Fired-Up Gala: Get your best dress on to support this incredible cause that aims to raise $75,000 for SickKids Hospital’s Burn & Plastics Unit and their highest priority needs. This black-tie event at the Four Season’s Hotel in Toronto on Friday, February 23rd will include a four-course dinner, top-shelf open bar all night, live an silent auctions, entertainment and dancing. This year’s DJ afterparty will start at 10 PM and include late-night bites and sweets. Canadian artist Karl Wolf will kick off the event with a performance not to be missed! We will be there! Tickets and info here.

WHAT’S ON STAGE IN TORONTO:

Uncle Vanya at the CAA Theatre: Chekov’s classic masterpiece adapted for the stage by Liisa Repo-Martell is brimming with emotional intensity, comedic genius, and tragic weight in this Crow’s Theatre commission and world premiere. The story follows the waining days of Czarist Russia, Ivan “Vanya”Voinitsky, and his niece, Sonya. After retiring, Sonya’s father, a celebrated professor, returns to the estate with is young, glamorous wife. When he announces his plans to see the land and evict them all passions explode and lives come undone.

An Evening with Dolly Alderton (Curious Minds Series – Author Talk) at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Theatre: On February 24 at 8 pm, spend a heartwarming evening I the company of award winning author, screenwriter and journalist Doll Alderton to celebrate the release of her much-anticipated new novel Good Material. Dolly will be in conversation with writer and comedian Monica Heisey (Really Good, Actually; Smothered). Ticketed event.

Universal Child Care: Canadian Stage. February 13 to 25 at the Berkeley Street Theatre. Theatre artists Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava (Quote Unquote Collective)  who first came to prominence in 2015 with a show called MOUTHPIECE which was a runaway indie theatre success – toured internationally, won awards in Toronto as well as at Edinburgh. Their new show UNIVERSAL CHILD CARE has its world premiere this February and it is an equally feminist exploration of global approaches to child care which they have created both as a piece of art and political act.

What this show is really about is addressing the truth that lack of access to affordable childcare is a direct barrier to women being able to fully and equally participate in society. Stay tuned as we’ll have an interview to share with  soon!

AS I MUST LIVE IT: Theatre Passe Muraille. February 11 to March 2.  A funny, endearing, and thought-provoking new work, AS I MUST LIVE IT comes from award-winning spoken word artist Luke Reece. Through poetic storytelling touching on everything from antagonistic squirrels to Chris Pratt’s abs, Reece shares his experiences growing up with a mentally ill father in a mixed-race family. Featuring Reece’s signature deft wordplay, with the direction of internationally acclaimed audience-specific practitioner Daniele Bartolini and stunning projections from one of the UK’s leading immersive production design companies, Limbic Cinema.

Eve of St. George is truly something unique to experience. This immersive theatre production by TranscendDance Project is a recreation of Dracula that draws the audience into the dark and seductive world of one of literature’s most iconic figures. Taking place in all corners of The Great Hall (February 20 to 24) audience members can roam around the space as 16 performers tell the story throughout the evening. The performance is created, directed and choreographed by Julia Cratchley. This is a 19+ performance.

CHILL OUT IN TORONTO:

Après Ski Weekends at the Distillery District: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 pm to 7 pm until March 7. Cozy up by the fire-pits and Muskoka chairs, while you embrace winter in the city.  Roast marshmallows and make S’Mores, enjoy warm (or cold) drinks such as hot chocolate, mulled wine or beer. Indulge in some fire-side favourite eats from the on-site Food Truck and outdoor grill. You’ll forget it’s winter.

Winter Chalet Experience at the InterContinental Toronto Centre: Inspired by the iconic getaways of St. Moritz and the Swiss Alps, guests can immerse themselves in alpine-inspired luxury decor by visiting the Azure Restaurant and enjoy a culinary experience filled with signature tastes and wintery sips.

Dairy Chill by @ MilkUP at The Bentway: This cozy and delicious winter wonderland bringing fun and warmth to February and is the ultimate fuel for making the most of winter. Located at The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd), opening weekend runs Friday, February 2 to Sunday, February 4. Regular hours Fridays and weekends from Friday, February 2 to Monday, February 19 (Family Day).

This is a “Post to Pay” event. That means, Post on TikTok or Instagram in exchange for free dairy filled treats & limited edition goods from local makers like: Caramel Brulee Latte and Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate by Playground Cafe, cereal milk and tres leche glazed donuts by COPS Donuts, grilled cheese sandwich and cream of corn soup by DAM Sandwiches, and Charm bar by Buttercup Studios.

AGO Yoga in the Gallery: Join instructor Karmit Ifrah for yoga in AGO’s Galleria Italia. Open to all ages and skill levels, these gentle Hatha yoga sessions promote balance, strength, flexibility, and stillness in the mind. Ongoing and various dates. For full schedule and to register, visit AGO.ca/events/yoga-gallery

WANT TO GET AWAY FROM CITY LIFE?

Stratford is a favourite destination of ours and an easy drive out of the city. This quaint town has shops, fine and casual dining, and lots of history and local walks worth exploring. We also highly recommend exploring the “chocolate trail”. For a beautiful stay, check out Hotel Julie that is situated within easy walking distance of all the key points of interest.

Hotel Julie Stratford
Hotel Julie – photo credit: Carol Nelson Brown

Another favourite quick getaway that’s just over an hour’s drive out of the city is to The Elora Mill Hotel and Spa. This charming boutique hotel is a cozy stay with a beautiful spa on site that overlooks the waterways that rush past the property. Peaceful walking trails make you forget about city life and reconnect with your favourite person. The town is sweet with some great gems to explore. Be sure to book into the Elora Mill restaurant for an epicurean escape.

Picton really put a love spell on us when we stayed at The Royal Picton Hotel. We loved it so much we stayed twice last year! The completely new hotel is modern yet inviting. The staff is wonderful, the food at the restaurant and café are spectacular, and the decor gave us serious “let’s go home and change everything” vibes. You won’t feel like leaving. Located on the main strip of Picton, it’s a charming place to walk around. A short drive to discover local wineries, the new Base31, other parts of Prince Edward County, and Sandbanks National Park.

Escape the city this month, and meet Once Upon A Stay, a unique collection of vacation rentals spanning popular destinations in Canada and the U.S., with a diverse collection of cozy cottage rentals nestled in Ontario’s picturesque Bruce Peninsula. Check out the cottages of Li’l Ranch (a stunning updated 1900s log home) and Wish Lakehouse (hot tub & 4 bedrooms — beachside!), perfect for winter staycations! Perfect backdrop for a romantic, secluded getaway with a loved one.

Elevate your stay between Feb 9 and 19 with Once Upon A Stay’s hand-curated ‘Pamper Me package’ received upon check-in. This includes a Once Upon A Stay signature ‘Dream’ Shampoo, Creme Rinse, Body Moisturizer and Massage Oil, along with Prosecco, Mill Creek chocolates, and a date-night game. Minimum 2-night booking required, available at all Once Upon A Stay ‘Lake Living’ cottages for a $150 add-on + HST and fees. More info here.

Feeling super romantic? The Pearle Hotel & Spa (Burlington) offers something pretty special for Valentine’s. Book the “With Love Package”, which includes a brief breathing exercise and meditation prior to your service. Following your treatment (90-minute Couples Massage Experience), enjoy a glass of prosecco by the pool. As you make your way to the relaxation area, you will be guided with a pathway of candles & flower petals which will bring you to your private table for two – where you will enjoy an exclusive, chef-inspired three-course meal. Just the two of you. priced at $1200 + tax and gratuity. Hubba hubba!