Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Looking forward to Unusual Events in Toronto

First of all, Happy New Year's Eve and I hope you have a great 2020! The next decade brings excitement and adventure in the 416 with the very first day of the year bringing a chance to jump into an icy cold lake. I always look forward to the unusual events that happen, the out of the ordinary and just plain different. In Toronto, one of the best nights of the year is the annual Nuit Blanche art festival which happens on a Saturday night in late September or early October.

Nuit Blanche is always different, much like a box of chocolates, and the adventure is in finding the contemporary art spread throughout Toronto. This year Nuit happens on October 3rd from sunset to sunrise.

Some other interesting events are Kensington Market's Winter Solstice and the Night of Dread at Dufferin Grove Park, Winter Stations at Harbourfront and Woodbine Beach and some cool pop-ups.
No Pants Subway Ride: 20202015 Crowds of people wearing underwear ride on the subway. Jan 12, 2020.
World Naked Bike Ride2019201820172016 Environmental protest where hundreds ride naked in Toronto. Saturday in early June. June 13, 2020.
Toronto Le Dîner en Blanc (White Dinner): Secret location where people meet, dressed all in white, and eat their own meals. You have to bring everything including the folding table. Love the idea but I have never attended. Apparently there is a giant waiting list.
Night of Dread2019201820172016 More masks, puppets, parade and fire shows. Saturday near Halloween.
Nuit Blanche2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 Thousands wander the streets of Toronto, all night long. Oct 3, 2020.
Winter Solstice in Kensington Market: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 Masks, puppets, parade and fire shows. Dec 21, 2020.

Some of the great things that I always look forward to have disappeared over the years including Les Rues Des Refuses, which was the anti-Nuit Blanche event, and the Toronto Zombie Walk.

Events that sadly no longer happen:
Les Rues Des Refuses: 20162015, 20132011 Mobile raves, rope play and other exhibitions.
Zombie Walk: 2012, 20112010, 2009 special edition, 2009 The undead try to eat brains and then parade.
Icycle: 2014, 2012 Bike courier bicycle race on ice at Dufferin Grove Park.
Tweed Ride2011 Bicycle riders take to the streets in a group all wearing tweed and other old styles of clothes.

Come back as I add to the unusual event list.

Nutcracker Christmas at Casa Loma

The massive house on the hill, built in 1914, comes to sparkling life with a Nutcracker Christmas from December 1, 2019 to January 5, 2020. If you have never seen the fairy tale castle it is worth a drive by if nothing else.

Originally a home to financier Sir Henry Pellatt the estate has long since become a City of Toronto owned heritage landmark. Now you can tour the buildings and yards and take in several special events held throughout the year, including their Christmas season holiday celebration.
The pathway alongside Casa Loma looks down from the hill onto downtown Toronto - what a view
Casa Loma describes the event on their website; "This December join us to celebrate and take part in the holiday magic at Casa Loma during A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle. We are excited to host a wide range of activities and thrilling performances that are sure to be fun for the whole family. Enjoy new shows by famed illusionist entertainer Professor Wick and ice skating performers Glisse on Ice. These spectacles of illusions and wonder will amaze audiences young and old alike. Guests will be surrounded by holiday magic throughout the castle which will be resplendent with holiday décor, including a 40ft tall tree in the Great Hall and eight other signature trees by talented Canadian designers. As always kids are invited to visit Santa in his castle workshop and participate in festive arts and crafts, visit with wintery holiday mascots, and much more. On weekends, Casa Loma will host special meet and greets with characters from Paw Patrol."

Nutcracker schedule:
Daily – Dec 1st, 2019 to Jan 5th, 2020 – 9.30am-5pm *
Nightly – Dec 16th , 2019 to Dec 30th, 2019 – 5pm-9pm *
*Casa Loma closes at 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve – December 24. Closed Christmas Day – December 25.

Monday, December 30, 2019

2020 New Year's Eve at Nathan Phillips Square

New year, new decade. Start it off with a bang down at Toronto City Hall during the late night celebration on December 31, 2019. Festivities start at 9pm in the great courtyard known as Nathan Phillips Square with a night that is alcohol free and free to attend for all-ages.

Musical performances, DJs and fireworks are on the city's entertainment list:
• a skating party, sponsored by Tim Hortons®, with DJ Nana Zen who brings alternative hip-hop and Caribbean culture to her unique live mixes.
• Juno nominated cellist and composer Cris Derksen, who intertwines the traditional and contemporary with new school electronics to create genre-defying music.
• globally distinguished, Juno nominated, vocalist and musical visionary Zaki Ibrahim, who blends retro R&B vibes with electronics to create and futuristic soul through her headline performance.
• a fireworks display from the towers of Toronto City Hall at midnight.

"There is no better place to ring in the New Year in Toronto than at Nathan Phillips Square. This annual, free and family-friendly celebration has become a staple in our city filled with live music, fireworks and a skating party. I encourage residents and visitors to head to Nathan Phillips Square on December 31st to ring in the New Year and the new decade!"
- Mayor John Tory

North American International Motorcycle SUPERSHOW 2020 coming

The big one by the airport is almost here, now with a Sherman tank! The 44th annual Motorcycle SUPERSHOW is on from January 3-5, 2020 at the International Centre. The tank is part of the Military Museum display in hall 3. Update: Check out my photos of the 2020 show here.
Leader of the Purrfect Angelz 2020
The Sherman tank 'Billy'

NAIMS President, Richard Kehoe announces, "As North America's largest Motorcycle show, we're looking forward to a great crowd of motorcycle enthusiasts this coming January. We're thrilled to take the show to new levels, and it is with great pleasure to announce that Dalton Timmis Insurance will again be the Official Presenting Sponsor of the Show. Our continued partnership is monumental, and I look forward to building and maintaining our fantastic working relationship for many years to come."

Show hours are: Friday 11am-9pm, Sat. 10am-8pm and Sun 10am-5pm. The following halls of the massive International Centre will be full of the following: Touring and Cruising Halls 1W and 1E, Industry Showcase Halls 2W and 2E, The Vintage, Classic and Military Museum Hall 3, Racing and Performance Hall 4 and Choppers and Custom Bikes Hall 5 competing for $50,000 in prizes as part of the Canada Cup Championships.

In addition to the motorcycles you can watch stage shows and live bands including the Hellbent Rockers and Hitcher along with Live Freestyle Shows, Purrfect Angelz performances along with celebrity guests.
Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife Beth were the celebrity guests in 2017

Advanced Tickets On SALE NOW. Save $3.00 OFF Admission www.motorcyclesupershow.ca

Ghosts of Todmorden Mills

Oooooohhh, scary. The early 1800's heritage site sits across the Don River from the Evergreen Brickworks, open for exploring and hosting all manner of art exhibitions, some of them with tales from beyond the grave, or reasonable facsimile of. The Ghosts of Todmorden Mills photo exhibition is on from December 18 to January 5, their hauntings will continue until the end of time.

The Ghosts features work by 10 local youth who have put together a haunting exhibition that seek to portray the feelings of loss, mental health and the connection to things unseen. 

From Art Starts; "The Ghosts of Todmorden Mills will explore how the living take over the spaces of the dead, by animating this space which was once a paper mill owned by Colin Skinner and John Eastwood, then later by John Taylor and brothers. Today, the spirits of the past are still rumoured to roam the grounds."
Go for the art but don't forget to look around the grounds of the 9.2 hectare hidden treasure. The Todmorden website says; "Todmorden Mills Heritage Site features a group of historic buildings set in the scenic Don Valley that were once part of the small industrial community of Todmorden. The historic site exemplifies the changing human and natural history of the Lower Don Valley over the past 12,000 years. A 9.2 hectare wildflower preserve with a walking trail adjoins the museum site where a number of natural habitats can be explored, including upland and bottomland forests, dry and wet meadows, swamp lands and a pond. Todmorden Mills consists of two historic millers’ homes, a Brewery building dating from the 19th century and the renovated Papermill Theatre and Gallery."

Winter at the Scarborough Bluffs

Fall is the best time for the bluffs, followed by summer, spring and in last place - winter. But it is in winter that I did come, away from the massive crowds that stream down the sharp slope of Brimley Road South as it runs past Kingston Road and into Bluffers Park.

The eastern part of Toronto, Scarborough, begins at the edge of Lake Ontario and the high hills are pounded by the waves of the Great Lake and ground into dust by the winds that buffet the edge of lands end. Gravity and rain finish what the lake has started and the 90m high grey gash at Bluffers Park has become a tourist attraction well worth visiting no matter what the season.
You can wander the trails leading down to the waters edge and wet, grey clay sticks to your shoes where the snow cover has melted away. But when the light is right, the bluffs are magnificent in their details and not just a bland and boring shade of concrete. Some of the old glacial deposits at the very edge of the bluffs look ready to come down at any time, cracks are visible in some of the towers and a the base of the bluffs are piles of fallen materials so be careful where you walk.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Polar Bear Skate 2019 at The Bentway

Taking a Polar Bear Dip? That's so next year. One of your last chances to be super adventurous in 2019 is the second annual Polar Bear Skate under the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto.

Registration starts at 1pm then the skate happens at 2pm on Sunday, December 29. The skating path under the expressway is adjacent to historic Fort York at 250 Fort York Boulevard. The Bentway has been home to some great events this year and has become a must visit for Torontonians.

It's cold and raining in Toronto but under the Gardiner it is dry and yes, still cold. But if you are brave enough to strip down to your underwear or a bathing suit you are all set to go. Besides you have sat around partying too much during the holiday season, probably in your pajamas and it's time to strap on your skates and get some exercise.

The bentway website says; "This event is free to attend – just bring your skates and you’re good to go. If you don’t have skates, we have rentals available on-site.  All participants must sign a waiver before taking part in the Polar Bear Skate. Participants under 18 must be accompanied by a legal guardian. The first 100 pre-registrants (via Eventbrite) will receive a free hot chocolate."

See more of the skate after the jump.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Holiday Week at Evergreen Brick Works 2019

Christmas season winds down with a free Holiday Festival at the brick works between December 26 to 31 with stories, tours, skating, food trucks and more from 10am to 5pm. You can bring your own skates and skate for free in the old brick factory, or rent a pair for only $5.

The heritage buildings nestled into the side of the Don Valley have been restored and made into an award-winning public space which sees half a million visitors every year with public markets and other events. I was last there in late October for the Day of the Dead festivities.

Holiday Week takes place in the Garden Market, Koerner Gardens (skating rink) and the TD Future Cities Centre. The Pavilions have been given over to parking. One of the reasons that I wanted to come relatively early was to see the kilns and other industrical bric-a-brac that is contained within the Future Cities Centre. They are usually only open on weekends from 10am to 3pm however, with the Holiday Week festivities they are open later. The kilns are special to me as I explored them before the site was restored. I love how they left a lot of the old equipment and kilns as is and you can see them even now covered with the last graffiti that was sprayed before it became civilized again.

Pictures by Ann and James.

Light Up the Dark at the Aga Khan Museum

A bright panorama of designs, decorations and artworks are projected along the outer facade of the museum at 77 Wynford Drive in Toronto as Light Up the Dark special event returns for another year. You can only see the free show for three nights only from December 27-29, 2019 from 6-9pm.

The museum becomes the canvas for a slide and video show of epic proportions. Music by Sina Bathaie plays along with the projections while inside you can warm up from the winter's cold and enjoy free pop-up performances, grab some food and drink and view the collection galleries for free while the museum extends its hours during the event. For an extra $10 you can also explore exhibitions like Caravans of Gold and Fragments in Time.

The museums website says; "The Aga Khan Museum presents and collects art from historically significant Muslim civilizations as well as contemporary Muslim communities and diasporas around the world. The core of its Permanent Collection — spanning a vast geographic area from Spain and North Africa in the west, across the Middle East, to South Asia and China in the east — was assembled by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (1933–2003), uncle of His Highness, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV. Prince Sadruddin began acquiring works of art in the 1950s while studying at Harvard University. Together with his wife, Princess Catherine Aga Khan, he continued to collect throughout his lifetime. His Highness the Aga Khan and his family have supported and expanded Prince Sadruddin’s collection since his death. Today, it represents the foundation of North America’s first museum dedicated exclusively to Islamic arts, where it is enhanced by superb objects from the private collections of Prince Amyn and His Highness the Aga Khan as well as new acquisitions, special exhibitions, and a rich roster of performances and public programs."

Friday, December 27, 2019

Fun things to do in Toronto November & December 2020

Silver and gold and Bumbles that fall, it's time to get ready for Christmas - setup some decorations after Remembrance Day and find all your favourite Christmas movies. You don't have to hibernate when there is so much going on around the city.

You can check out the current weather and wind flows on this cool site.
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Royal Horse Show Fri to Sun, Nov 6-15.
Remembrance Day Ceremony Wed, Nov 11.
Toronto Everything to do with Sex Show Fri to Sun, Nov TBD.
Winter Magic Illuminite at Y-D Square Sat, Nov TBD.
Aurora Winter Festival Thurs to Sun, Nov TBD-Jan TBD. In Ontario Place.

Brainfreeze Polar Bear Dip at Cherry Beach Sat, Nov TBD
Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District Thurs, Nov TBD - Sun, Dec TBD.
Toronto Santa Speedo Run Sat Dec TBD. The run took time off in 2016 but it came back for 2017 as well as 2018 and 2019!
Port Dover Friday the 13th Motorcycle Rally Friday, Nov 13.
Toronto Santa Claus Parade Sun, Nov TBD.
Seasons Christmas Show Fri to Sun, Nov TBD.
Cavalcade of Lights Sat, Nov TBD. Music and the City lights up Nathan Phillips Square and sets off some fireworks.
CP Holiday Train Nov TBD
Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square Dec TBD
Toronto Comicon Fan Days Holiday Show Sat, Dec TBD. At the MTCC.
Kensington Winter Solstice/Festival of Lights Mon, Dec 21. A parade and a fire show.
The Bentway Polar Bear Skate Sun, Dec 27. It's an underwear skate event
New Years Eve Celebration Thurs, Dec 31 from 8 pm to midnight with Toronto's largest dance and skating party - with some exciting fireworks and live bands.

And the next day is the Toronto Polar Bear Dip Fri, Jan 1, otherwise known as the Sunnyside swim.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square