Thursday, November 25, 2021

Cavalcade of Lights 2021 to be firework free

The very popular Toronto light festival will begin Saturday, November 27 in Nathan Phillips Square and continue with a month-long lighting display. The 55 year old tradition is known as the official start of the holiday season and has pared down because of covid precautions and removed both the fireworks segment and the stage concert.

On the 27th from 3-11 pm you can watch the official lighting of the 58 foot Christmas tree, watch pop-up performances both in the square and on the ice rink and see enhanced lighting installations. The lighting displays will last until January 2, 2022.

From the City's news Cavalcade of Lights news release:

• "Ice-skating performances by Toronto’s Trinity Synchronized skating team, Montreal-based Le Patin Libre, national ice-skating champions and world bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier
• Aerial and acrobatic performances by Duo Christa and Erick
• Klezmer-inspired musical performances by Beyond the Pale
• PassioN'Strings flamenco performances with Carmen Romero Company and Jonathan Garabedian (violin)
• Bollywood dance by Kanushree Jain
• Lantern installation by Muse Arts

New holiday lighting installations will be revealed, along with special programming, including skating presentations, site activations and live performances that will be ongoing from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. The public can watch the first lighting of Toronto’s Christmas tree online on Saturday, November 27 at

Taking inspiration from light festivals and cultural celebrations around the world, Cavalcade of Lights will include elements from a variety of traditions for its new, enhanced lighting installations. As part of this year's month-long celebration, the public can also explore tunnels made from thousands of energy-efficient bulbs, discover glowing ice sculptures in an enchanted forest (weather dependent) and a luminous lantern garden."

Monday, November 22, 2021

Light show at Currents: Niagara's Power Transformed

Niagara Falls is full of impressive architectural buildings that were part of the electrification of Ontario, some of them have sat idle, decommissioned due to age, cost or changing technology and one such building has been brought back to life as a museum and light show. The Niagara Parks Power Station along with the nearby Toronto Power Generating Station, located along the Niagara Parkway just upriver of the falls, were both examples of the decommissioned, historically significant buildings. But now the Power Station has been brought back to life as a museum and immersive multisensory experience by Thinkwell Studio Montreal. I really enjoyed the night show and can recommend it.

The lights seek out people

The night time show uses animation, 3D projection along with interactive features, sound and lighting to create a 40 minute story of the Niagara River and the resulting hydro power generation in the 600 foot long building. Originally finished in 1905 and shut down in 2006 with the Parks department taking over ownership in 2009 and the Power Plant opened to the public on July 1, 2021.

During the day the Power Station is a museum, full of the original equipment including massive generators running down one side of the building and switches and breakers down the middle of the room. Posters and speakers tell the story of the equipment and the history of power generation in the town known around the world for its waterfalls. You can explore the museum 7 days a week ($20 per ticket) from 10am till 5pm. There is a separate area adjacent the long hall with a waiting area and souvenir store.
Explore the plant during the day

Water was taken into the plant and fell through 200 foot deep tailrace tunnels, spinning the turbines and exiting the station at the base of the river, below the falls. In July of 2022 they expect the newest addition to the site will allow visitors to explore the underground tunnels and rooms of the station with access from an elevator at the tailrace tunnel.

Then at night from 6:30pm till 7:30pm (8:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays) it turns into Currents: Niagara Power Transformed at a cost of $30 per ticket. You can also do a combo package visiting during the day and returning at night for the show for $40. There is some benches along the side of the building, however the show is a standing and exploring show. You walk and sometimes the lights will follow you, jump and the water will splash at your feet. It would make a great night club. 
A small clip from the show

Currents tells the stories of the beginning featuring the ice age and the aftermath which created the Niagara River and its associated Falls, the harnessing of the power of water to generate electricity, the closing of the plant and its rebirth as a must see attraction in the honeymoon capital of the world. The influence of water so important to creating electricity in the plant that in the night show blue is probably the colour used the most.
At night the American and Horseshoe Falls are illuminated
Winter Festival of Light installations at the Floral Showhouse

In the cold months from November 13, 2021 until February 21, 2022 you can also check out the parkland along the Niagara Parkway and around Dufferin Islands with the free outdoor Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights presented by Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

See more of the Power Plant after the jump.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Bay's Christmas Windows 2021

Brief glimpses of Santa's secret workshop were hidden away from the public, only to be revealed on November 5, 2021 along the Bay's Queen Street East flagship location. The Christmas holiday tradition of the holiday windows continues with the animatronic figures in five magical scenes: Snow-Making, Candy Cane, Gifting, Ornament Making and the Mail Room.

From the Bay; "Visiting the iconic windows at Hudson’s Bay is an annual tradition that brings joy and nostalgia to both the city and to visitors," says Denis Frenette, SVP Merchandise Presentation at Hudson’s Bay. "We continue to deliver this favourite pastime and are thrilled to create joy with our "Holiday Your Way" windows in cities across the country."

"Passerby can expect the following displays:

Snow-Making Department: Ever wonder how snow is actually made? A bounty of magical frozen flakes come to life in this winter wonderland. Passersby can snap photos in adult and kid-sized cutouts on the exterior of our windows and join in with our snow angels.

Candy Cane Department: A look at how the magical treats are made and gently packaged with a robotic arm before being dropped into queue to be sent in Santa’s sleigh and delivered to the children of the globe.

Gifting Department: A glimpse into all of the parcels being wrapped, sorted and packed by robots working in sync to keep up with the flow of presents coming down the conveyor belt. Plus, new technology allows onlookers to press a button on the glass and one very friendly robot will want to give you a high-five and take a selfie.

Ornament-Making Department: A snapshot of how some signature ornaments are painted and detailed with precision and care. A giant mechanical hand carefully selects each colour to be applied before the finished crafts are sent out for people to decorate their homes.

Mail-Room Department: The inner workings of the technology used to scan, sort and process all of Santa’s letters. A giant computer spits out a list of names while a map of the globe gives Santa directions to find all the boys and girls around the world."

Friday, November 19, 2021

Toronto Distillery Winter Village 2021

Toronto's favourite winter wonderland opened on November 18 with a tree lighting ceremony and 37 days on the clock till Christmas. The historic Distillery District Winter Village is on from November 18 till December 31, 2021 with food vendors and shopping cabins along with all the existing stores and restaurants that make the neighbourhood a fun destination.

Cabins and food venders will be open starting from noon and closed on Mondays. The district itself is open seven days a week starting at 10am.

Event Hours from November 18 – December 31:
Mondays, 10:00 am to 8:00 pm (Distillery restaurants, cafes and retailers open only. Outdoor shopping cabins and food vendors closed)
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
Fridays and Saturdays: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sundays: 10:00am - 9:00 pm

Special holiday hours:
December 20: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
December 24: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm (Distillery restaurants, cafes and retailers open only. Outdoor shopping cabins and food vendors closed)
December 25: Closed
December 26: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm (Distillery restaurants, cafes and retailers open only. Outdoor shopping cabins and food vendors closed)
December 27-31: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm

You have to buy tickets on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (all other times are free) as well as for the period between December 20-23. Check out their website for times where you have to buy the tickets.

Love Locks are still there
The countdown clock

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Fun things to do in Toronto March & April 2022

In March of 2020 the world at large started shutting down as the Covid-19 started spreading through the populations and the World Health Organization declared the infectious disease a pandemic. As I write this post in the waning months of 2021 the restrictions in Ontario are starting to wind down and more and more people are starting to return to their offices.

A Provincial News Release from October 22, 2021 predicts that most safety measures would be lifted in the first quarter of 2022, we will see if this forecast comes true: "March 28, 2022 At this time, it is intended that remaining public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted, including wearing face coverings in indoor public settings. Recommendations may be released for specific settings, if appropriate. In addition, the provincial requirement for proof of vaccination will be lifted for all remaining settings, including meeting and event spaces, sporting events, concerts, theatres and cinemas, racing venues and commercial and film productions with studio audiences."

Hopefully Covid restrictions will end, just as winter starts to fade and the first day of spring happens on Sunday, March 20, 2022. Yeah for the vernal equinox!

Ontario Place Winter Light Exhibition Sat to Sun, Feb to Mar. To be confirmed

Winter Stations in the Beach From Feb 21 until Thurs, Mar 31. It's a go.
International Bicycle Show The Spring show has been cancelled until 2023, but the fall 2022 show is a go.

Toronto Rock Lacrosse till April 30.
Toronto Spring Camping & RV Show Thurs to Sun, Mar 3-6
Celebrate Toronto Fri to Sun, Mar 4-6.
Toronto Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival Sat, Mar to Sun, April. To be confirmed
Toronto Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo Fri to Sun, Mar 11-13. It's a go.
Green Living Show Fri to Sun, Mar. To be confirmed
National Home Show  Fri to Sun, Mar 11-20. Canada Blooms will return in 2023
Sugar Shack Sat to Sun, Mar down at the waterfront. To be confirmed
St Patricks Day Parade Sun, Mar 13.
Toronto Sportsmen's Show Thurs to Sun, Mar 17-20. It's a go
Toronto ComicCON Fri to Sun, Mar 18-20. Come for the costumes, read a few comics and meet some stars. It's a go
Earth Hour Sat, Mar 26 at 8:30 pm.

Toronto Pillow Fight cancelled but the day remains around the globe with World Pillow Fight Day Sat, Apr 2.
Toronto Blue Jays Home Opener Mon, April 4.
International Spring Motorcycle Show Sat to Sun, Apr 9-10.
Toronto Roller Derby League Who knows?
Toronto Beaches Lions Easter Parade Sun, Apr. To be confirmed
Fashion Art Toronto Thurs to Mon, Apr. To be confirmed
Future of Innovation, Technology and Creativity FITC Sun to Tue, Apr. To be confirmed
ImportExpo - Toronto Opener 2022 Sun, April 24. Now at the Enercare Centre
Hopefully the fruit blossoms will come out to play, along with the warm weather. Check out the famous High Park Cherry Blossoms Festival.

Moved to June
O'Cannabiz Conference and Expo Wed to Fri, June 1-3. It's a go

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

2021 Xmas tree at Toronto City Hall

A 58 foot Christmas Tree is in Nathan Phillips Square ahead of the 55th annual Cavalcade of Lights. This year the festival won't include a fireworks show but the magic will remain as over 300,000 lights and over 500 large ornaments will decorate the tree. The 2020 tree is shown in the photo at top.
Previous Cavalcade skating party

A 58 foot Christmas Tree is in Nathan Phillips Square ahead of the 55th annual Cavalcade of Lights. This year the festival won't include a fireworks show but the magic will remain as over 300,000 lights and over 500 large ornaments will decorate the tree.
The 2021 tree has been raised and is awaiting the decorations (Nov 18)
The pond is drained and waiting to be turned into a skating rink

The rest of the square will have enhanced lighting which you can view online during the holidays to help with social distancing. Mayor Tory suggests wandering through the square in small groups as opposed to the massive party that it became precovid. The Cavalcade of Lights is on Saturday, November 27, 2021.

Mayor John Tory says “I'm happy to see the City of Toronto's official Christmas tree arrive to mark the start of the holiday season. Watching the Christmas tree arrive in Nathan Phillips Square and seeing crews working to decorate for the Cavalcade of Lights is another sign of the progress we are making fighting COVID-19. I can't wait to see the tree lit up later this month and hope it will help fill people with the spirit of the holidays."

A New Year's Eve celebration is also planned for City Hall on Friday, December 31, 2021.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Fun things to do in #Toronto in Jan and Feb 2022

Of course the best laid plans always fall apart when Covid-19 crashes the party. On December 17 the Premier of Ontario introduced plans for new capacity limits and an accelerated booster rollout - taking effect on Sunday, December 19, 2021, in response to the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant. Once announced the result was almost immediate as events started to be cancelled and some businesses that serve the public give up and begin to close for the holidays. 

So the new questions are; Why didn't they open the boosters back up for large scale distribution in September? Will Omicron be milder? Why are cloth masks now not recommended? OMG I have never seen more reverses on the benefits of something (in this case wearing masks) from health experts that I have with this virus. Is March 28, 2022 still the magical end to restrictions in Ontario?

From the "Ontario Releases Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term" report. "March 28, 2022: At this time, it is intended that remaining public health and workplace safety measures will be lifted, including wearing face coverings in indoor public settings. Recommendations may be released for specific settings, if appropriate."

It's even more important now to check ahead before going to an event, or buying a ticket, than before. Good luck Toronto.

-------------------------------------------back to the original post------------------------------------
Roll the dice and see what the new year has to offer, will it be lockdown, or maybe booster shots? Here's to things returning to normal, or semi-normal and the city coming back to life. These are the events that typically happen, will they return in 2022? I will note if the organizers cancel the event as the information becomes available, otherwise check their websites before you make concrete plans to attend.

Drive Thru Fun Co. Presents Snow Magic at Ontario Place Nov 12 - Sun, Jan 16. It's a go.
Polar Bear Dip at Sunnyside Beach. Wed, Jan 1. Noon at Sunnyside Beach. 'Do the Dip'. Was a go, now cancelled.
Toronto Rock Lacrosse The 2021-2022 season starts in Dec of 2021. All home games are played in Hamilton. It's on.
North American International Motorcycle Supershow Fri to Sun, Jan 7-9. It's on. Now cancelled. Now postponed to unknown dates.
Toronto No Pants Subway Ride Sun, Jan 9. Meet at 3pm at Eaton Centre Dundas Street entrance, 3:20pm head out on the rails. To be confirmed. Now cancelled.
Festival of Cool at Harbourfront Wed, Jan 19 to Sun, Feb 13. Spectacle and celebrations down at the water's edge.
Canada's Bridal Show Fri to Sun, Jan 21-23. It's on.
Toronto International Boat Show Sat to Sun, Jan 22-30. It's a go. Not anymore - Omicron has entered the conversation. Now revised to a virtual show from Wed to Sun, Jan 26-30.

Toronto Light Festival Fri, - Sun, Jan. To be confirmed.
Blue Jays Winter Fest Sat to Sun, Jan. To be confirmed.
Ice Breakers at Queens Quay. To be confirmed.
Toronto Roller Derby League Sat Jan TBD Season Opener and 2022 season.
Toronto Chinatown Lunar New Year Celebrations Sat to Sun, Jan. To be confirmed.
Winterlicious Mon, Jan 31 start. To be confirmed.

Harbourfront Centre Kuumba Feb. To be confirmed.
Hey, it's Groundhog Day on Wed, Feb 2. Groundhogs can't be stopped! Don't forget about Wiarton Willie!
Toronto Coldest Day of the Year Ride Sat, Feb 5. To be confirmed.
Bloor-Yorkville Icefest Festival Sat to Sun, Feb. To be confirmed.
Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival Sat, Feb 5. Brought to you by Steam Whistle and the Toronto Railway Museum.
Black Film Festival Wed to Mon, Feb. To be confirmed.
Happy Valentine's Day Mon, Feb 14. Hugs and kisses everyone.
Motorcycle Show Toronto Fri to Sun, Feb 18-20. It's a go. Not Anymore
Spring Fish and Boat Show Fri to Mon, Feb 18-21. It's a go.
Canadian International AutoShow Fri to Sun, Feb 18-27. It's a go.
Beaches Winter Stations Design Competition Displays start Mon, Feb 21. It's a go.
Winterfolk Festival Fri to Sun, Feb 18-20. It's a go.
Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show Fri to Sun, Feb 25-27. It's a go.

Moved into March....

Toronto International Bicycle Show Fri to Sun, Mar. To be confirmed.
Toronto Sportsmen's Show Wed to Sun, March 17-20. It's a go.

Moved into April....

Moved into April Interior Design Show IDS2022 Thurs to Sun, Apr 7-10. It's a go.
The Franchise Expo Fri to Sun, Apr 22-24. It's on.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Wineries closer to Toronto than Niagara-on-the-Lake

Thousands from the GTA travel on weekends into the Niagara-on-the-Lake area, famous for its blend of wineries, scenery and lovely towns. Getting there is a scramble on the QEW which many times slows to a glacial pace, then you have to wait to get close to the tasting bars. Well, you can get off the path most travelled and enjoy the Bench and Niagara Escarpment areas from Beamsville to St. Catherines. 
Back 10 Cellars

I know one of Ann's favourite wineries is Angel Gate which is on the Beamsville Bench and the last time we visited I learned that Nuns used to look after the property. Then when it became Angels Gate they made the building look like a church or mission.

Grape vines on rolling hills

The BENCH Brewing Company
We found a Ghostbusters hearse
Spend some time watching the boats travel the Welland Canal in St. Catherines

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Shoreline Commemorative in Toronto

Once upon a time the edge of Lake Ontario cut through what would become Church Street, just north of the Esplanade. The spot was marked with a work of art as part of a development in 2014. You can find other markers of the past limits of the waters of the Great Lake throughout Toronto, like the one in nearby Distillery District.

From the artist's website, "Shoreline Commemorative by artist-architect Paul Raff is a public artwork commissioned by Concert Properties for their urban boutique residential development The Berczy. The artwork’s location, south of Front Street on the west side of Church Street, was the site of Lake Ontario’s shoreline for thousands of years. The artwork has a sculpted limestone base evoking the original topography of the city’s edge. Its focus is a glowing glass orb set on a bronze tripod, which acts as a dense glass rendition of the line separating sky and water. The tripod reminds passerbys of the surveyors’ instrumentation of the line of sight, an important tool in creating the city. The brick wall to the south is inscribed with the text: “For 10,000 years this was the location of Lake Ontario’s shoreline. This brick wall stands where water and land met, with a vista horizon.” These elements, as an ensemble, present a summary of the experience of being on the shoreline with the horizon view open to open water, an experience formerly available at this exact location."

The inscription reads "For 10,000 years this was the location of Lake Ontario's shoreline. This brickwall stands where water and land met, with a vista of horizon"

Monday, November 08, 2021

Mini Train and Carousel in Guelph

The 80 acre park in north Guelph along Woolwich and Woodlawn Streets is a lovely park bisected by the Speed River, full of special features including the miniature train and carousel. The amusement rides are open daily from Victoria Day weekend to mid-September and during weekends only until early October (10:30am till 6pm).

Standing on the tiny railway track
Carousel building

The park hosts seasonal events including outdoor concert series at the amphitheater and in winter time the annual Rotary Sparkle in the Park returns December 16 to 31, 2021 (5:30pm to late).

You can also find rock gardens, children's playground, horseshoe pits, a windmill, a 9-hole disk golf course, a floral clock and walking trails. 

In autumn the park is full of vibrant colours. You can see more photos after the jump.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square