Friday, December 30, 2016

A New Year is coming

This weekend brings baby New Year to Toronto. On Saturday, December 31 you can go to a club, stay home or go to City Hall for the New Year's Eve celebration at Nathan Phillips Square as we count down to 2017. I will be at Yuk Yuk's in Mississauga for the comedy blowout of the year featuring MC Sam Easton, Sean Emeny and feature comedian Rob Pue.

Then you can head to Sunnyside Park for the annual Polar Bear Dip. Arrive by 11am and the dip begins at noon.
And during the first full weekend of 2017 visit the North American International Motorcycle Supershow January 6-7. You can meet Dog the Bounty Hunter on the Friday and Saturday of the show. See other things to do in January 2017 on my post here.
Then we wait for Spring.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Season's greetings

Santa screams HO HO HO and kicks your door down and shoves presents under the tree - no more cramped, sooty chimneys for ol' Saint Nick. He heads out to the next house, slowing only to grab some pop and wings from the kitchen before he hops back aboard the sleigh and Rudolph leads the way across the world. Oh look, I got coal for Christmas.
Santa from the Holiday Fair TO at City Hall gives the thumbs up. PS he would never kick down your door.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Winter Buskers in Toronto

Cold weather can't keep some street performers away from the public, especially around Christmas or when you are dressed as busker Claus. Ho Ho Ho.

This is a mini-me type of situation going on

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Celebrate the Winter Solstice 2016

The shortest day of the solar year means that the "warmth and light in the heart of Kensington Market" will return as the long winter nights pass in slightly less than the blink of an eye. Ignite the longest, darkest night on Wednesday, December 21 as Red Pepper Spectacle Arts presents the 27th annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice parade and non-profit, hand made and commercial free festival.
The day will begin with lantern sales ($12 each) at Stephen's Community House from 5 to 6:30pm and everyone is welcome to bring or buy a lantern when they march in the parade.

Lantern and the bright flames of fire breathers will illuminate the happy crowd in the vibrant neighbourhood as the crowd gathers in the streets at Oxford and Augusta after 6pm. Bands, giant puppets and paper mache horses will take part in the parade which will leave the market at 7pm heading towards Alexandra Park near Bathurst and Dundas. In 2015 the bonfire was created from a giant paper mache hand, this year they used a big snake in a circle, eating itself, which is a ouroboros.

"See theatrical scenarios, a myriad of performers and giant puppets, and the fiery finale at Alexandra Park just behind Scadding Court. It all starts at 6:30PM on December 21st at Oxford and Augusta (just south of College)! In collaboration with local community members and performers including host Rosina Kazi of LAL, Samba Squad, Shadowland Youth Theatre, Native Men’s Residence, Richard Underhill & the Kensington Horns, Maracatu Mar Aberto, Kazoo Clowns, Spiritwind, Eagle Woman Singers, Hand Drummer Isaiah Cada, A-Rhythmics, Befana Hag Choir, The Solsticks, Jenni-Lea & Circle Sing, New Model Circus Army, and many more."
The hand-made lanterns available for purchase

See more photos of the 2016 celebrations after the jump.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fun things to do in Toronto July & August 2017

Time for shorts and sandals, it's a sun baked season of fun in the big smoke. There should be no snow on the ground by now (please, please, please) so restaurant patios are full and festivals are popping up all over the place. Some of the city's biggest events happen during the summer like Pride, Caribbean Carnival and the Honda Indy Toronto, so keep these in mind when you are in need of something to do.
Pride Toronto Festival Fri to Sun, June 23-25. The parades culminate with the massive Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25 - start time 2 pm. Pride has moved completely into June for 2017.

TD Salsa in Toronto Mon to Sun, July 3-23.
Toronto Fringe Festival Wed to Sun, July 5-16.
Redpath Waterfront Festival Sun to Mon, July 1-3. Now with the World's largest Rubber Duck!
Digital Dreams Festival Fri to Sat, July 7-8.
Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition Fri to Sun, July 14-16.
Salsa on St Clair Sat to Sun, July 8-9. Festival Parades both days at 2pm.
Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition Fri to Sun, July 8-10.
Beaches Jazz Festival Fri to Sun, July 7-30.
Toronto Caribbean Carnival Sun to Sun, July 10 - July 31. The official launch is Tuesday, July 11. King and Queen Show Thur, Aug 3. and the famous parade down by the lake on Sat, Aug 5.
Honda Indy Toronto Fri to Sun, July 14-16. Exhibition Place will sound like a jacked up hornet's nest as the IndyCar series and the NASCAR Pinty's series light up the streets of Toronto.
Tim and Brenda's Cruise for the Cure Show and Shine in nearby Vaughan, Sunday, July TBD.
Toronto Festival of Beer Fri to Sun, July 28-30. Hmmm, beer.
Toronto International BrazilFest Sun July 23. In Earlscourt Park.
Live Green Toronto Sat, July TBD. With free concerts in Yonge-Dundas Square.

Rogers Cup Tennis Sat to Sun, Aug 5-13.
Taste of the Danforth Fri to Sun, Aug 11-13.
Importfest Saturday, Aug 26 - cars and girls at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Canfitpro Consumer Fitness and Wellness Show Wed to Sun, Aug 16-20.
Wheels on the Danforth Fri to Sat, Aug 18-19.
York-Eglinton International Street Festival Sat to Sun, Aug TBD. Suspended due to road construction.
Canadian National Exhibition CNE Fri to Mon, Aug 18-Sept 4. Do you want to go faster? And don't forget the fantastic Canadian International Airshow.
Hope Volleyball Tournament Sat, Aug 19 on Toronto Islands. Charity volleyball bash/tournament.
Chinatown Festival Sat to Sun, Aug 19-20.
Aloha Toronto Festival Sun, Aug 20.
Big on Bloor Festival Sat to Sun, July 22-23. Car free from Dufferin to Lansdowne.
Taiwan Fest Fri to Sun, Aug 25-27.
2 Day Best of the Beach Coed Volleyball Sat to Sun, Aug TBD.
Miss Sexy Car Wash Show and Shine Sun, Aug TBD in Scarborough from 11 am to 7 pm.
Toronto Tamil Festival Fri to Sun, Aug 26-27.
Bloorcourt Arts and Crafts Fair Sat, Aug 26.
Leslieville Beerfest Sat, Aug 26.
Go Topless Day protest in Toronto Sun, Aug 27. 12 pm to 4 pm at Hubbard Blvd and Hammersmith Ave - to be confirmed? Always Sometimes the Sunday closest to Women't Equality Day which is August 26.
Fan Expo Canada Thurs to Sun, Aug 31 to Sept 3. Some amazing cosplay on display.
Also coming up is Buskerfest during the Labour Day weekend at the Beaches in Woodbine Park. Fri to Mon, Sept 1-4, for USA and Airshow Fans: Thunder Over Michigan Sat to Sun, Sep 2-4 and the world famous Toronto International Film Festival, or tiff Sept 7-17.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Toronto Cold Weather Alert Dec 2016

Two in two days, those Cold Weather Alerts are blowing in faster than a polar vortex greasing the way for Santa's sleigh ride. Issued by the Medical Officer of Health the alert is for temperatures at 15 degrees Celsius or colder, or with wind chills at 20 degrees or colder and the city asks that you seek shelter and check on loved ones. Keep an eye out for hypothermia and frostbite, you can call 311 for street outreach assistance or 911 for emergency response. Stay warm Toronto!

"Those most at risk of cold-related illness are people experiencing homelessness or those underhoused, those who work outdoors, people with a pre-existing heart condition or respiratory illness, the elderly, and infants and young children. People with heart problems can experience worsening of their condition for several days after cold weather occurs. Extreme Cold Weather Alerts activate local services that focus on getting and keeping vulnerable residents inside. These services include additional shelter beds, notification to community agencies to relax any service restrictions, availability of transit tokens in some drop-ins, and overnight street outreach. Between December 15, 2016, and February 28, 2017, two cold weather drop-ins will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

See more of Joe's atmosphere pictures after the jump.

Fun things to do in Toronto May & June 2017

Spring is sprung and summer in the city is coming, so time to get on the TTC (if it is working), or pay some tolls on the highways and take advantage of the city. There is always something to do when warm weather comes back to Toronto, so check out these activities.
Global M March. Note: No permits means no festival but the march continues - gather at high noon Sat, May 6 at Queen's Park North, march begins at 2pm.
World Naked Gardening Day Sat, May 6 (usually first weekend of May)
Toronto Marathon Sun, May 7.
Colour Me Rad 5k Sat, May 13 in Downsview Park.
Toronto Comic Arts Festival TCAF Sat to Sun, May 13-14.
Toronto Roller Derby League.
Cherry Blossoms in Toronto - should happen May (TBC). Best views in High Park. Update: Peak Blossoms in High Park April 23-26.
Miss Hooters Toronto Bikini Contest Wed, May (TBC) at the Downtown Hooters and Thurs, May (TBC) at the Toronto Airport Hooters - doors open at 7pm. Cost is $10.

Toronto International Circus Festival Sat to Mon, May TBD.

Anime North Fri to Sun, May 26-28.
Woofstock Sat to Sun, May 27-28. Cute dogs in costumes at Woodbine Park in the Beach area. Don't forget about Winter Woofstock in November.
Toronto Lift Expo Sat to Sun, May 27-28.
Doors Open Toronto Sat to Sun, May 27-28. Chance to see things normally closed to public or attractions with no entrance fee.

Toronto Pro SuperShow Sat to Sun, May 27-28.

World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) Sat, Jun 10. Right through downtown Toronto, nude. Meet at Coronation Park by noon, ride begins at 1pm.
Toronto edition of the Global Reddit Meetup in Trinity Bellwoods Sat, Jun TBD, starting at 2pm.
Luminato  Wed to Sun, June 14-24. Cool art installations.
Toronto Wine and Spirit Festival Fri to Sat, Jun 16-17 at Sugar Beach.
The Beaches Ribfest - Beach BBQ and Brews: Fri to Sun, June 16-18.
Northern Ink Xposure Tattoo Show Fri to Sun, June 16-18.
North By North East (NXNE) Music Festival Fri to Sun, June 16-25.
Roncy Rocks in Roncesvalles Sat, June 17.
Taste of Little Italy Fri to Sun, June 17-18.
Bloorville Exotic Cars Sun, Jun 18.
iHeartRadio MuchMusic Video Awards 2016 Sun, Jun 18.
Toronto Jazz Festival Fri to Sun, Jun 23 to Jul 2.
World Pride: Toronto Pride Week and Pride Parades Fri to Sun, June 23-25. The parades are things of colour and beauty: Trans March on Friday, Dyke March on Saturday and the Pride Parade on Sunday. The Street Festival on Church St is on during Pride Weekend.
Pride Parade, Sunday, June 25: Formation area: Rosedale Valley Road closed from Bayview Avenue to Park Road to accommodate the formation of the parade. Parade route: Starts at Church Street and Bloor Street East, goes west on Bloor Street East to Yonge Street, south on Yonge Street to Dundas Street and back to the festival on Church Street. Roads will be closed for varying periods between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. The parade takes place from 2 to 6:30 p.m.
Battle of Black Creek Re-enactment Sat to Sun, June 17-18.
OM T.O. Wed, June 21. International Yoga Day
Dragon Boat Race Festival Sat to Sun, Jun 17-18.
Redpath Waterfront Festival Sat to Mon, July 1-3.
Toronto Roller Derby League: Clam Slam Fri, Jun TBD. Part of the Pride Celebrations - love the name.
Will the CHIN Bikini Contest return to the CHIN Picnic?
CHIN Picnic has been merged with Taste of Little Italy Festival Fri to Sun, June 16-18.
Canada Eve Fireworks Fri, June 30.

Events moved into July
Redpath Waterfront Festival Fri to Sun, July 1-3.
Digital Dreams Festival Fri to Sat, July 7-8.
Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition Fri to Sun, July 14-16.
Honda Indy Toronto Fri to Sun, July 14-16. Moved back into the traditional month of July.

Moved to August: Hope Volleyball Tournament Sat, Aug 19 on Toronto Islands. Charity volleyball bash/tournament.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

New Year's Eve and Canada 150

2017 is our nation's 150th birthday and Toronto will celebrate all year long - starting with the send off of 2016 on NYE Saturday, December 31. Musical group 'Walk Off The Earth' will headline the New Year's Eve celebrations at Toronto City Hall and entertainment will start at 7pm in Nathan Phillips Square. You can enjoy the night which was made for counting down with a DJ skate party sponsored by Tim Horton's, site animations and a fireworks display at midnight all presented by the City along with the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada, the next day you can sober up with a rousing dip in Lake Ontario with the Polar Bear Dip. Photo at top by Joe Hamilton.

"The evening of entertainment and fireworks will feature local and national talent while recognizing cultural and artistic diversity. Live musical performances include 2016 JUNO Awards Group of the Year, Walk Off The Earth; award-winning Mexican/Canadian artist, Boogat, Canadian/Jamaican reggae artists, Exco Levi and High Priest; and soul/pop singer and songwriter Nefe. Other site animations include a skating party sponsored by Tim Hortons with DJ Shub, formerly of A Tribe Called Red."

New Year's Eve Program from the City of Toronto:

7 pm – Skating Party with DJ Shub sponsored by Tim Hortons | Title earning DJ and award-winning producer, formally from A Tribe Called Red takes over the skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square.
8 pm – Nefe | A rising star, this Canadian talent has the soulful power of Tracey Chapman, the uniqueness of Bruno Mars and a voice that can silence a room.
8:45 pm – Exco Levi & High Priest | Jamaican/Canadian musician Exco Levi pays tribute to the founders of reggae music through a modern twist of poetry and sound.
9:30 pm – DJ Shub & performance by techno music producer, Classic Roots.
9:45 pm – Boogat | An MC with a unique artistic approach. His popularity has earned him an ADISQ Felix Award (Quebec) for Best World Music Album and led to songs featured in U.S. films and television shows, including "Homeland."
10:55 pm – Walk Off the Earth | A multi-talented five-piece musical phenomena who won Group of the Year at the 2016 JUNO Awards. WOTE have built a massive following of dedicated fans from around the world drawn to their honest songwriting, cover interpretations and beautifully filmed videos.
11:55 pm – Countdown to 2017 and Fireworks.

The last night of 2016 will also kick-off 'TO Canada with Love!' which will be our contribution to Canada's birthday. "Canada 150 is going to be an opportunity for all of us to share our pride for our city and our country. All year long we are going to celebrate with 'TO Canada with Love' events across the city beginning on New Year’s Eve," said Mayor John Tory. "The generous funding from the Province of Ontario and Government of Canada will help create free and accessible cultural events and will help us make our existing City-produced events even better for residents and visitors to enjoy."

“The year 2017 is a historic one in Canada: the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Toronto, along with 18 other urban centres across the country, will mark the countdown to the New Year with a bang. Projects like the New Year's Eve celebration will help showcase what it is that makes our communities so unique, diverse and dynamic,” said the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Member of Parliament (Etobicoke North). “I encourage Torontonians and all Canadians to participate in the exciting activities that will be taking place all across the country throughout this remarkable year.”

“As part of the province’s Ontario150 program, this $1.5 million investment in 'TO Canada with Love' will honour the past, present and future of our culturally diverse and exciting capital city,” said Eleanor McMahon, Ontario Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport. “From cultural festivals and fireworks to citizenship ceremonies and historical activations, everyone across the region will have a chance to create their own 150 experience, beginning with festive New Year’s Eve celebrations.” There will also be community celebrations in addition to some of the following events.

"Some of the upcoming TO Canada with Love events include:
• December 31, New Year's Eve at Nathan Phillips Square
• January to May (public participation) and September to October (exhibition), My City My Six
• January 27 to February 9, Winterlicious presented by YP Dine
• March 25 to July 15, Becoming Canadian in Toronto: Snapshots Through Time at the Market Gallery
• April 8 and 9, 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge at Fort York
• May to December 31, Momento
• May 15, Toronto Newcomer Day at City Hall
• May 27 and 28, Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf
• June 3 to August 27, The Road to Confederation at Gibson House
• June 21, National Aboriginal Day at Fort York
• June 24 to 25, Indigenous Arts Festival¬¬ at Fort York
• June 30 to July 3, Four-day Canada Day Celebrations at Nathan Phillips Square
• July 1, Canada Day Celebrations at Mel Lastman Square, Albert Campbell Square Park and Humber Bay Park West
• July 22 to November 18, Maple Leaf Forever: Toronto's Take on a National Symbol at the Market Gallery
• Canada 150 Citizenship and Reaffirmation Ceremony at Fort York (date to be confirmed)
• September 30, Nuit Blanche Toronto - The Canada 150 Edition"

So for now - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Toronto Polar Bear Dip 2017 coming New Year's Day

Sunnyside Beach remains the place to be on the first day of the year - if you like your water frigid and your friends beside you also freezing their asses off! The annual swim into Lake Ontario water sometimes requires ice to be broken so the swimmers can make it into the rocky waters that lie between the sandy beach and the concrete break-wall protecting the inner harbour.

The Polar Bear Dip is in support of Habitat for Humanity and has continued since 2005. People start gathering early to register for the event, grab some free hot chocolate and wonder why they signed up for this punishment. The dip starts at noon and everyone lines up and with a rush they all head into the cold water. Some don't make it far before they return to shore and start to dry off, others seem to revel in the water and dive headfirst and spend some time hanging out in the deeper waters offshore.
Usually there are several news outlets on hand, however it is rare that any of the journalists actually dive into the water. There will be lots of photographers in and around the water taking photos, you can see some of the ones I took posted here and they also used mine on the Polar Dip's photo page.

Some tips: Don't use flip flops as they tend to come out as soon as you hit the water, try sandals that will stay on your feet. At the water's edge the sand turns into round beach stone which is hard to keep your footing on and the water quickly deepens to your waist so a fast run usually doesn't last too long before you are falling into the water. It stays waist deep for some distance so you really don't have to worry about swimming - it is really more of a dip. Not everyone dives into the water, some don't get wet above the waist. Don't try to knock any photographers down (I will be in the water) - there is a lot of expensive equipment trying to capture the event for everyone's enjoyment. And the crowd - and the news, love individual and group costumes.

Sad news though - Sears Great Canadian Chill which took place in the Beaches and moved to Family Day in Yonge-Dundas Square has been cancelled for 2017.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square