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Ivey Donald K. Johnson Centre

We’re event professionals, dedicated to crafting the perfect occasion for our guests. With our blog, we aim to arm you with the same tips and tricks used every day to create unforgettable events here at Ivey Donald K. Johnson Centre. We hope you enjoy!

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    The Best of Fall in Toronto

    With crisp air and colorful foliage, autumn is a truly spectacular time in Toronto. Check out this guide for the best fall sights and activities to add to your itinerary.

    To See

    Vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold paint the Toronto skies each fall. Explore the city’s best spots to see the fall colors.

    High Park

    Just west of downtown, you’ll find vibrant leaves dancing around the ponds of Toronto’s largest public park, also known for its spring cherry blossoms.

    Toronto’s Islands

    Fall is the ideal time to explore Toronto’s Islands, with smaller crowds than the summer months. Take a 13-minute ferry ride from downtown and take in views of the Toronto skyline while the colors of fall surround you.

    Rouge National Urban Park

    Just north of Toronto, discover breathtaking ravine cliffs and walking trails lined with vibrant maple and oak trees.

    Crothers Woods

    Here, in the lower Don Valley, you’ll find yourself surrounded by fall foliage with close to 10km of trails with views of the Toronto skyline.

    To Do

    Toronto knows how to bring it for spooky season. If you find yourself here during October, be sure to check out these Halloween favorites.

    Halloween Haunt at Canada's Wonderland

    Less than an hour from Toronto, you’ll find one of Toronto’s top theme parks with thrilling rollercoasters and a waterpark. Yet, through October 31, Canada’s Wonderland turns from theme park to a scream park, with scare zones, zombie marching band, night rides, and more.

    Legends of Horror at Casa Loma

    Each October, this historic mansion and garden bring the season’s scariest tales to life with an immersive theatrical experience. Meet the characters of Halloween as you wander through Casa Loma’s haunting grounds and tunnels.

    Whether you prefer a scenic afternoon or a Halloween scare, we know you’ll fall in love with Toronto’s favorite season. Plus, you’ll beat the crowds and the winter chill. Ready to pack your bags? Explore the best stays, eats, and things to do in downtown Toronto.

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    The Toronto International Film Festival 2021

    The 46th annual Toronto International Film Festival is just around the corner. As one of the largest film festivals in the world, TIFF is recognized for giving a platform to emerging filmmakers and diverse voices. During this ten-day event, underrepresented voices are pushed into the spotlight as audiences are exposed to compelling stories from around the world. While attendees marvel at talented filmmakers who dare to surprise us, new filmmakers are able to take advantage of the festival’s immersive Talent Development programs.

    TIFF will be held from September 9 through September 18 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto. With the return of indoor theatres, TIFF will take the form of a hybrid celebration, with a combination of live and virtual events. Festival-goers can attend in-person screenings at drive-in cinemas, open-air cinemas, and indoor theatres, including Festival Village at Ontario Place. Online screenings will be available across Canada through the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

    TIFF is a cultural event deeply intertwined with the Canadian arts scene. Its ripple effect impacts the film industry on a global scale. If the Toronto International Film Festival falls during your visit to Toronto, consider yourself lucky. Attend a screening or seminar and cross an item off of every Canadian’s bucket list.

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    Toronto’s PATH: An Underground City

    While traversing through the city of Toronto, you may have come across our underground PATH, a pedestrian walkway that connects transit systems with indoor concourses like clothing stores, coffee shops, food courts, and commercial and financial institutions. You can also access some of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions through the PATH, like Eaton Centre Mall, Scotiabank Centre, Hockey Hall of Fame, Rogers Centre and the Toronto City Hall.

    An attraction in its own right, The PATH holds the Guinness World Records for the largest underground shopping complex in the world, with 30 kilometers of interconnected commercial space. Thousands of subway passengers use the thoroughfare every day to reach their workplaces. The underground concourse reduces crowds at the street level and offers pedestrians added comforts with air-conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter.

    While the many twists and turns of the underground PATH may feel like a maze to first-time travelers, the convenience is unmatched. No matter what you are looking for, there is a very good chance you will find it along the PATH.

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    Yonge Street: A Toronto Legend

    During your time in Toronto, chances are you’ll find yourself on Yonge Street, the most iconic thoroughfare in the city and one of the most famous in Canada. Until 1999, Yonge Street held the official record for the longest street in the world. The Guinness designation sparked a controversy that has persisted well after it was lost to the Pan-American Highway. The official length of Yonge Street is 1896 km, extending from Toronto’s Lake Shore to the U.S. border in Rainy River, Ontario. Yet, many Canadians have conflicting views on whether Highway 11 should be included in the total length. If Highway 11 was omitted, Yonge Street would only span about 56km.

    Long before it was a bustling commercial street, Toronto's portion of Yonge Street was known to indigenous peoples as the “Carrying Point Trail.” John Graves Simcoe, Ontario’s first lieutenant governor, learned of this passage and proposed a strategic military route to protect against U.S. invasion. Construction was completed three years later, in 1796. Eventually, Simcoe expanded his route and finally named it Yonge Street after his friend Sir George Yonge, a secretary of War in the British Cabinet.

    Aside from its rich history and legendary tales, Yonge Street offers extensive leisure and entertainment options. Check out the Hockey Hall of Fame to learn more about our national pastime or explore hundreds of shopping and dining options inside Eaton Centre. Then stop by Yonge-Dundas Square for free outdoor events or catch a performance at one of Yonge Street’s world-class venues.

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    Toronto: A Cosmopolitan Babel

    On any given day, a stroll through downtown Toronto will expose you to a world of languages that span the entire globe. In fact, Toronto is the most linguistically diverse city in Canada and one of the most diverse in the world. According to a 2011 census, Approximately 200 different languages are spoken here, and 45% of the residents speak a native language other than French or English. Here are a few of the most spoken languages to listen for:

    Italian
    With a whole district historically dedicated to their culture, it’s no wonder Italian is one of Toronto's most widely spoken languages. Over 40,000 Italian immigrants arrived here between 1914 and 1918 after an economic depression in Southern Italy left them impoverished. Today Little Italy is more diverse—a large population of Spanish and Portuguese speakers has moved into the neighborhood—yet the heritage is unmistakable. Enjoy some of the best authentic Italian cuisine at a trattoria and end the night with an after-dinner stroll with gelato.


    Tagalog
    Perhaps the most surprising and fastest growing community of foreign-language speakers is Filipinos. Between 2011 and 2016 alone, more than 15% of new immigrants settling in Canada were Filipino, bringing their mother tongue Tagalog and delicious pancit and chicken adobo with them. Near the centre of Toronto’s Filipino community is the Kapisanan Philippine Centre where visitors can learn about traditional Filipino art and culture. You’ll know you’re in a Filipino restaurant or small business when you’re greeted by a warm smile and friendly greeting of, "Mabuhay!"


    Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese)
    The Toronto Chinese community is so prevalent that two Chinese languages take second (Mandarin) and third place (Cantonese) among the city’s most widely spoken languages. If you’re looking for authentic Chinese culture, you have two communities to explore in the Greater Toronto Area. The first is in Markham where you can visit the mega Pacific Mall—one of the largest indoor shopping centers of all cultural groups. The second is Chinatown, located between Queen St and College St, considered to be one of the largest concentrations of Chinese outside of China.

    So as you explore the delicious global cuisines and cultural neighborhoods that permeate the city, listen closely and try to recognize a few of the mother tongues that call Toronto their home.

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    The Shifting Identity of Toronto's Harbourfront

    Like many great cosmopolitan cities, Toronto’s waterfront has always been one of its most defining characteristics. But the sparkling 46 kilometres of urban shoreline that you see today has come a long way throughout history and continues to be as transformative and iconic as Toronto’s skyline. Today, we’ll explore the shifting identity of one of the city’s greatest attractions, starting at the birth of Toronto herself.

    After the American Revolution, Toronto gained importance as a place to expand the fur trade and as a settlement. The British, wanting to enable the movement of supplies and troops to Lake Ontario, began constructing Fort York in 1793—now considered the birth of urban Toronto.

    Up until the 1840s, the harbourfront flourished as a marine shipping hub. However, the lack of available land along the waterfront severely limited the city’s growing industrial, shipping, and railway infrastructure. Beginning in the 1850s and for the next hundred years, the shore was extended farther and farther south until the 1950s where Front Street was built along the edge of the shoreline, as we know it today.

    After the Second World War, industries took over the waterfront, making it an undesirable place to live. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Toronto began redeveloping the waterfront as a sort of regeneration project that catapulted the city’s status to being a world-class destination, attracting more residents, more jobs, and of course, more visitors.

    And now, Toronto is home to one of the longest and most recently developed urban lakefronts in the world, resulting in the pristine attraction-filled hub of culture and tourism you see today. As you explore Harbourfront Centre, Queen’s Quay Terminal, and the plentiful green spaces and beaches that border the city, think back to a time when this was all water in the harbour, and imagine all the change left to come.

  • Toronto Island Park

    Toronto: A City Within a Park

    With over 1,500 parks covering 8,000 hectares of Toronto, it's no wonder how the city earned its reputation as a "city within a park." As the snow continues to melt away and the trees begin to don shades of verdant green, take a moment to stretch your legs between meetings and find respite in the picturesque parks hidden within Toronto’s urban jungle. Here are just a few of the well-known ones for your consideration:

    High Park
    Toronto’s largest park is a true escape for nature enthusiasts looking to not only take a stroll but discover an incredible concentration of rare plant species along the way. Famed for its charming cherry blossoms and lakefront views, High Park is also jam-packed with modern amenities like sports facilities, restaurants, and even a mini zoo.

    Toronto Island Park
    For complete parkland immersion, hop on a ferry to the 600-acre Toronto Island Park. Complete with bike and boat rentals, trails, and even an amusement park with over 30 rides, the island is easily an all-day affair. If it weren’t for the spectacular Toronto skyline as your backdrop, you’d easily forget you were anywhere near a cosmopolitan city.

    Trinity Bellwoods
    A quick drive down Queen Street West will take you to Millennial-favorite Trinity Bellwoods. Steps away from Queen’s trendy boutiques and dining scene, this 14.6-hectare park offers three baseball diamonds, eight tennis courts, two volleyball courts, a picnic area, a wading pool, and an artificial ice rink in the cooler months. Layout your picnic blanket and try to spot the elusive white squirrels who have made Trinity Bellwoods their permanent home.

    With outdoor activities seemingly being the norm for the near future, whether the park closest to your location is big or small, why not make use of nature’s wonders at any of the City of Toronto’s parks. You will certainly enjoy the natural beauty and its serenity of these scenic wonderlands without having to leave the City.

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    Honor Toronto’s Irish Roots Around The City

    On one special Sunday every March, the streets of Toronto erupt into a shamrock-green cavalcade, celebrating the Irish’s vibrant culture. While our annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade may be canceled, the history of the Irish’s migration to Canada is still evident throughout our city if you know where to look. Honor their 200-year history on your own walking tour to these Irish-Canadian landmarks.
    St. Paul’s Basilica: Toronto’s oldest Roman Catholic church served as a familiar comfort for Irish refugees escaping the Great Famine in 1848. At the front of this Italianate structure, designed by Irish-Canadian architect Joseph Connelly, is a monument resembling Michelangelo’s Pietà. The sorrowful statue is dedicated to victims of the Famine and Toronto’s first Bishop, Michael Power, who ministered many refugees coming off the boat.
    Adelaide and Berkeley Streets: Owning a home was every bit a dream to the Irish as any Torontonian. When around 40,000 Irish immigrants passed through Toronto in the 1800s, some stayed and lived in Irish tenements on the intersection of Adelaide and Berkeley while they awaited their homes to be built. Though most of the houses standing today were built after the immigration boom, they still reflect the character of the streets when they were a predominantly Irish area.
    Cabbagetown: When the impoverished Irish set up homes here in the 1940s, they grew cabbage patches in their yards to the amusement of Toronto’s elite families. The once derogatory nickname has risen to become the name and symbol of one of Toronto’s most beautiful neighborhoods with an ornate cemetery that serves as the eternal resting place of 281 nameless Irish graves from the Famine.
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    The Beauty of Unity in Toronto

    Over the past several months, we hoped you’ve enjoyed our monthly blogs featuring the sights and sounds of our beautiful City of Toronto. For this month’s posting, we would like to do things a little differently and feature regular people like you and me who also make a valued contribution to our beloved city’s offerings.

    From the public transport driver who takes pride in carrying us from place to place to the restaurant chefs that prepare their exquisite meals, we’ve all been doing our part in making the City of Toronto what it is today.

    Regardless of the circumstances that we may be faced with, we all stand resilient and still do what we can to make the City of Toronto the place to do business, to sightsee, to shop, or simply, to sit back and just relax.

    This, we guarantee will never stop.

    As we all look forward to seeing how this new year will turn out, you can rest assured that we will be here for each other, just as the City’s offerings have always been here for us all to enjoy.

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    Casa Loma: Holiday Lights to Hollywood Nights

    For a fairytale beginning to the New Year, consider a visit to the nearby Casa Loma, just a 15-minute drive away from our Toronto convention center. Experience the magic of this enchanting winter wonderland as you wander through a dazzling display of lights. This year’s theme, Holiday Lights to Hollywood Nights, takes visitors on a 2km self-guided walk through the castle’s outdoor gardens and grounds and will be on display from January 24th, 2021 to February 14th, 2021.

    Traverse the winding stairways and secret tunnels of Casa Loma while taking in a spectacular array of holiday-themed settings and meticulously decorated trees. The tour is designed to keep guests safe and socially distanced and promises to be fun for all ages.

    Doors open at 4:00 pm daily and tickets start at just $35 per person, with the option to upgrade. The Premium package includes hot chocolate and cookies for just $8 more and is well worth the splurge! Tickets must be purchased in advance and are date and time-specific. Children 3 and under are complimentary. For more information and to purchase your tickets online, visit the Casa Loma website here.

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    Skating Through the Sixth

    Skating outside in Toronto’s fresh winter air is one of the best activities you can do in December—when the snow is newly fallen and the Christmas spirit is in full effect. Though this year looks a little different from the rest, you can still book a session at one of the city’s 54 outdoor skating rinks, allowing everyone to skate safely and remain a healthy distance apart.

    Every rink has something different to offer, whether it be a border of lush evergreens or the glittering lights of a city center. Here are a few of our favorites:

    Colonel Sam Smith Skating Trail
    Not your typical ice rink, this was Toronto’s first figure eight-shaped skating trail. It’s easy to forget you’re only 15 minutes from downtown when you’re skating by all kinds of nature and wildlife peeking through the snow.

    Paul Quarrington Ice Rink 
    Discover the best skyline views of Toronto’s east side as you glide across the ice at this rink named after a Canadian musician, author, and filmmaker. Just a 7-minute drive from our center, you can’t go wrong with this waterfront rink set on an award-winning park.

    Nathan Phillips Square
    For the quintessential downtown atmosphere and beautiful Christmas decor, skating in Nathan Phillips Square is an absolute must. Usually the most crowded rink of all, you can take advantage of the 25 person limit and experience Toronto skating like never before.
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    Walking in Toronto’s Winter Wonderland

    Maybe it’s the friendly pedestrians, the stunning variety of architecture, or the characteristic neighbourhoods that make Toronto the perfect walking city. As the holidays approach and snow begins to decorate every surface, Toronto becomes an urban winter wonderland that must be experienced on foot to truly be appreciated. With your cup of coffee or tea in hand, explore these captivating Toronto streets this fall and winter season.

    Queens Quay West (The Waterfront): It’s easy to forget Toronto is a lakeside city amid all the skyscrapers in the financial district. Escape to Queens Quay West, less than two kilometres from the conference centre. This waterfront promenade offers breathtaking views of Lake Ontario. When the lake freezes over and the Toronto Islands sparkle in the distance with new-fallen snow, you’ll discover a serene kind of charm that only a few get to experience if they know where to look.

    Tank House Lane (Distillery District): Nothing feels more like the holidays than the cobblestone streets and Victorian Industrial architecture of this historic district. Founded in 1832, what was once the world’s largest distillery is now an artisanal playground with one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. On Tank House Lane, snap pictures in front of the distinct red bricks and green window trimmings of the district’s refurbished buildings, or discover new art installations that change throughout the year.

    King’s College Circle (University of Toronto): This lamppost lined street on the campus of Toronto’s oldest university could easily be mistaken for Hogwarts. Beautiful lawns, soaring trees, and classic architecture (preserved from the 1800s!) make this the most magical street for any time of the year. In the fall, the trees erupt into a kaleidoscope of reds, golds, and greens. In the winter, the warm glow of the lampposts and the snow-coated turrets and towers are straight out of a frozen fairytale.

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    TIFF 2020

    Every fall, right after Labor Day, one of the biggest events on the film calendar, and on Toronto’s, kicks off. Widely known by its acronym, TIFF, the Toronto Film Festival creates transformational experiences for film lovers and creators of all ages and backgrounds.

    Since its launch in 1976, the 10-day event has become one of the largest and most prestigious in the world, driving emerging filmmakers onto the scene. But for your average moviegoer, the festival’s importance is derived from its reputation as the unofficial kick-off to the "prestige movie season." Thus, keeping an eye on what’s buzz-worthy at TIFF may tell you a lot about what films will be part of the awards chatter later on in the year.

    TIFF’s 45th edition will take place now through September, 19th and, like most events in 2020, will be tailored to fit the moment. The now physical and digital Festival will feature drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences, and industry talks. And, most importantly, its programming teams are committed to curating the most memorable experience possible for audiences through a diverse selection of high quality films from around the globe.

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    These Are a Few of our Favorite (Toronto) Things

    We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: Toronto is arguably one of the most interesting places in the world. In fact, there’s so much to be said about the 6ix, that we’ve narrowed down quite possibly our favorite things about it.

    Kaleidoscope of Cultures
    The people of Toronto have a way of making you feel at home, no matter where you’re from. This not only has to do with the city’s friendly nature (seriously, don’t be surprised if a complete stranger gives you a compliment), but also because of the fact that almost half of the city’s population aren’t locals. In fact, if you listen close, you can hear over 180 different languages on the streets.

    Go Leafs, Go!
    As the only Canadian city that’s represented in seven major sports, Toronto’s fans are the most spirited—and loyal. Take the Toronto Maple Leafs, for instance. They’re considered to be one of the worst teams in the NHL and haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967, yet tickets to their games are continuously sold out.

    Bon Appétit
    Home to over 8,000 restaurants with various international cuisines, you certainly won’t go hungry here in Toronto. No exaggeration, it would take you approximately 22 years to try and visit them all if you dined at a new one every night. We’re in, who’s coming?

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    Toronto’s Early Beginnings

    Though it may come as a surprise to many, Toronto’s history is actually one of humble beginnings. What was once a fur trade center and safe haven for the British has now become a multicultural hodgepodge of New World seekers and a prominent North American city. Today, the vastly unique city boasts vibrant communities while retaining several historical reminders of its past. Let’s take a look back in time of how Ontario’s capital came to be.

    • Long before the residents that occupy the land today knew about Lake Ontario, Native Americans inhabited the region, specifically the Iroquois and the Hurons. They typically used the area as a shortcut between lakes and referred to it as "Tkaronto", which meant "trees standing in water". This nickname was re-shaped through tongues of French explorers along with subsequent British settlers to create what we call the city today.
    • Toronto’s landscape today can be credited to the melting of ice from the past glacial age. A glacial lake referred to as Lake Iroquois, much larger than present-day Lake Ontario, existed in its place around 11,000 years ago. The lake waters receded with the opening of the St. Lawrence River, dropping in excess of 300 feet below the surface. Once the water levels rose to the present condition over time, a marshy shoreline with a fine natural harbor was left. Though the city is almost uniformly flat, there is a fairly sharp rise inland, which is undoubtedly the shoreline elevation of the former glacial lake.
    • Along Dundas West and St. Clair West between Keele St. and Runnymede Road, there is a residential neighborhood known as "The Junction." Home to popular restaurants and local watering holes, this area used to be one of the most well-known manufacturing hubs featuring several assembly-line factories. At one point, the area was home to Canada’s largest livestock market.
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    6 Facts About The 6ix

    Arguably one of the most interesting places in the world, Toronto’s history is so rich and extensive that there’s always at least one fact about the city that takes people by surprise. Enjoy these six facts about “The 6ix” that will make you never forget this magnificent city. 

    1. Toronto is home to one of the tallest buildings in the world: the National Tower of Canada (CN Tower). With a total height of 553.33 meters, it stakes its claim in the Guinness Book of Records.

    2. The city is one of the most popular places for movie production! About a quarter of Hollywood films are actually filmed in Toronto.

    3. You can hear over 180 different languages and dialects when you visit Toronto, as more than a third of its residents speak a language other than English and French. 

    4. There are 52 outdoor skating rinks in Toronto, one to be enjoyed for every week of the year!

    5. Housing 16,000 animals of 491 different species, The Toronto Zoo is the largest zoo in Canada and the third-largest zoo in the world.

    6. Though the reason for the city’s ever-popular nickname, “The 6ix”, is still up for debate, the creator behind this phenomenon is none other than Toronto-born, Grammy award-winning artist: Drake.

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    See the Sea at Toronto's Harbour

    Toronto Harbor is fresh and open and beautiful. Locals and tourists alike might agree it's one of the most picturesque spots in the city, and, it's less than a mile from the Ivey Donald K Johnson Centre. From the shoreline path, take in sweeping views of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands. If you feel a slight rise and fall in the path, you are right! The city named the path the Wavedeck, incorporating gradual ups and downs to resemble the rising and falling waves on the lake. Along your way, divert to visit one of the adjoining parks. Stop off at Music Garden, co-designed by YoYo Ma, to 'see' the six movements of Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G Major. Or make a stop farther along at Ireland Park to reflect upon a monument honoring the nearly 40 thousand Irish immigrants who fled to Toronto during the Great Famine. However you decide to enjoy your outdoor springtime or summer stroll, we know the fresh air and sunshine will make it a memorable one. 

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    Sample Toronto's Sweetest Maple Syrup

    Tap into spring and indulge in one of Toronto's favorite seasonal treats. Every year, running straight from our trees, maple sap is carefully crafted into some of the world's finest syrup and sweets. And this year, on March 14th and 15th, sugaring experts are serving up their first and finest of the season to you. Find Sugar Shack TO from 11-5, less than 10 minutes drive from the Ivey Donald K. Johnson Center at Sugar Beach. Try delicious maple taffy, made from soft and sticky maple candy hardened on ice. Sample natural syrups and maple creams, and wash it all down with a glass of hot mulled cider. There's live music, too, and a chainsaw battle to prove who can carve the best ice sculpture. Sample sweet and savory French Canadian treats at the winter marketplace and leave feeling full of excitement for spring. Sugar Shack TO is proof that the next season is right around the corner! 

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    Whet Your Appetite for Winterlicious

    Winterlicious might be as fresh and fanciful as it sounds. Did you imagine a food festival, ripe with rich and comforting winter-inspired cuisine? Then you'd be right! It's the complement to Toronto's annual Summerlicious food-fest and features the city's very best gourmet eats. Beginning January 31st and ending February 13th, you'll have ample time to taste on tour during your visit. Every day features a unique Culinary Event, including Edible History, Afternoon Teas, The Art of Pizza Making, a fireside feast, literary-themed meals and more. Find details on the City of Toronto's website or go straight to the featured restaurants whose names and locations are mapped-out here. Should you choose, many of the participating restaurants will offer selections from their regular daily menu as well. Want more details? Stop by Toronto's City Hall for a small printed Winterlicious guide. Hours, reservation information, fees, and some menus are included.

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    Spin into 2020 on Skates

    Skate into the new year on a new rink! For the first time ever, Toronto flooded and froze Union Station to become the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the city. Skate under the twinkling lights for free—skate rentals included! The rink at Union Station's John A. MacDonald Plaza opened to skaters back in December and will remain open until January 4th, giving the ever-popular Nathan Phillips Square rink its first competition. New skaters are encouraged to come for a spin, too, with helmet rentals and lessons also offered for free. But don't despair if you won't make it to Toronto before the 4th—the city caters to skaters all winter long. Find a covered rink with a warming room at Greenwood Park, a pond-sized rink at Ryerson Park, a place to push the puck at Christie Pits, or a rink with a view at Sherbourne Common. 

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    Pop-up Concerts, Lights, and Art to Inspire and Delight

    Saturday's in December, watch live music pop-up at rotating parklets along King Street. Discouraged by the thought of standing out in the cold? Don't be! Warming stations, hot drinks, and baked goods are sure to sweeten the deal. December 7th, warm up with solo trumpeter, Michael Louis Johnson followed by award-winning blues guitarist, Adam Solomon. December 14th, keep the beat with Little Rambunctious, a self-described brassy interactive on-the-spot songwriting act. And on December 21st, celebrate the Winter Solstice with Ukranian winter carolers, Kosa Koliadnyky. Each of the performances begins at noon and ends at 3:00 pm. And if you're feeling so inspired, pop into the nearby Making Room—a collaborative community space designed for interdisciplinary artists. After dark, see the Aurora Winter Festival on Ontario Place West Island. Back for its second year, the winter wonderland is sure to dazzle your inner child with stunning light installations, fabulous food, marketplaces, amusement rides and more.

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    Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario

    It's a cold Wednesday night in November and the day's events are finished at the Ivey Donald K. Johnson Center. But after a full day spent inside, you can't bear to spend the night inside, too. Where to go? AGO! Every Wednesday night, from 6 to 9 pm, the Art Gallery of Ontario treats you to a free night with the masters. AGO boasts 95,000 works from contemporary to traditional art, with Canadian artists featuring prominently in the mix. The museum's website details each collection so you can plan how to spend your time. Most other days of the week, AGO schedules performances and screenings, courses, and talks with the museum's docents and visiting curators. There are even activities for youngsters. There's always something new to see and to learn at AGO, and it's just around the corner!

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    Melt into a Month of Chocolate

    If you think this sounds like a good idea, wait until you taste it. The 14th annual Toronto Chocolate Festival melts deep into the month of October, giving you 30 days to delight in the city's most delectable chocolate. Indulge in a Chocolate Afternoon Tea, attend the "50 Shades of Chocolate" themed Chocolate Ball, save room for a multi-course Chocolate Dinner, take the Ultimate Chocolate Tour, and send your tastebuds on overdrive at the Blind Wine and Chocolate and Craft Beer and Chocolate pairings. Finally, don't miss the Ultimate Chocolate Relay Challenge. Sit back and laugh as teams of Police, Firefighters, and EMS chow-down in a race to win the annual Chocolate Bowl. They're eating for charity and so are you! Partial proceeds from each event are donated to the Prostate and Breast Cancer Initiatives Fund. Find locations and ticket information on the festival's website. Chocolatiers unite!

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    "Look, Mom, no hands!"

    Look up! Are those people leaning off of the CN Tower? Yes! It's Edgwalk, the world’s highest, full-circle hands-free wild walk, 116 stories above street-level. For half an hour, visitors walk in groups of six, while attached to an overhead safety rail via a trolley and harness system. Trained guides hang-out with you to push personal limits, and encourage the brave to lean over Toronto with nothing but air, and views of Lake Ontario beneath them.

    Edgewalk is designed with the highest international safety and security standards and includes a comprehensive safety orientation. Tickets start at $195 CAD (plus tax) and include a keepsake video, printed photos, and a certificate of achievement. Extreme weather, including high winds and electrical storms, present the only weather that will cancel walks. You'll be given a special walk suit to wear over your clothes as well as non-slip rubber shoes, but it's still up to you to dress for warmth!

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    Feel the Charm of Toronto's Distillery District

    Enjoy a summer evening out in this 13 acre stretch of historic Toronto. The Distillery District boasts the largest number of Victorian industrial buildings in North America. Once home to Gooderham and Worts, the biggest distillery in the world, the Distillery District has turned its barrel-aged reputation into a trendy, must-see, date night destination. With plenty of boutique shops and inviting restaurants, plus a microbrewery, sake brewery, and chocolate factory, there's something to satisfy everyone's tastes. The area is designated for pedestrians and cyclists only, which means that you and yours can sip, stroll, and shop without a care in the world. Architects have married the industrial feel with creative contemporary practicality, making it a beautiful walk, even if you don't have much time to shop or nosh. Check out the calendar for seasonal events like the Toronto Light Festival we featured in February. Distillery District charm transcends the seasons!

  • fresh fruit at market

    Taste Fresh at the St. Lawrence Farmers Market

    A city landmark more than 200 years old and more than 200 vendors strong, the St. Lawrence Farmers Market is sure to fill you with the most mouthwatering and memorable food Toronto and its neighbors have to offer. Get the most out of your visit by getting there early. Located on the southwest corner of front and lower Jarvis Streets, vendors are ready to greet you beginning at 5 am on Saturday morning. The produce won't be picked over and bread will still be warm if you're there in time to get first dibs. It's also the best time to speak to vendors about the sweet path that berry you'll sample took before reaching your mouth. Private market tours are offered Saturday's during summer as well as a variety of cooking classes. South Market, with a different variety of artisan selections, is open Tuesday through Friday. Come taste fresh!

  • flea market

    Leslieville Flea Market

    The Leslieville Flea Market is back for another romp in the sun. One of Toronto’s most popular curated markets, the Leslieville Flea gathers together local artists and collectors to show and sell their wares. Once a humble pop-up in the Duke Tavern parking lot, the market has grown to fill out more than one location, including two acres of green space at the Ashbridge Estate and outdoors at the Distillery District. No matter where you go, or on which date you decide to visit, you can count on the very best food, craft beer, and music to quench your thirst for fun. Expect to join more than a thousand others as you visit vendors to score vintage finds, furniture, clothing, collectibles and antiques, and artisan jewelry. Better still, you'll get to talk to the makers and learn how the piece you bring home was made. Check out their official website for all of the details, dates, times, and locations.

  • toronto distillery district

    Redefine Cool in West Queen West

    Get down with the hipsters in Toronto's coolest neighborhood, West Queen West. It's not a title the city gave itself, but one that was given to it by the style legend Vogue. This trendy neighborhood, wedged between Chinatown to the east and Little Portugal to the west, gets its reputation from having the most art galleries in one place in the city. And that's not all. Add to the list, stylish boutiques and vintage shops, live music venues, restaurants and bars. It's a place without any specific large tourist attractions so plan to blend in with the shoppers, diners, and if it's warm enough, sunbathers. Trinity Bellwoods Park is tucked inside, too, so bring a frisbee and your dog! If you're not up for a sit-down meal, follow your nose to one of several hole-in-the-wall bakeries. And after dark, grab a drink and dance at one of the bars on the South end of Ossington Avenue. West Queen West is a neighborhood you won't want to miss! 

  • sakura blossom

    See Spring in Full Bloom

    We have a colorful day planned for you and it starts in High Park to see the flowering cherry trees. Toward the end of the month and into May, think pink and walk amongst the delicate blossoms. More sights to see on the rise at Scarborough Bluffs. Pack a lunch to enjoy at the picnic tables above or on the sandy beaches down below. Hiking trails are marked for all levels of walking. If it's Easter Day, don't miss the Beaches Easter Parade. All along Queen Street, watch the bands and collect free chocolate eggs! Every other day of April, trade the pomp and circumstance for spring flowers at Allan Gardens. Free to the public, it's a gimme for flower lovers. A leisurely stroll through the fragrant greenhouse and you'll forget winter ever happened. End your day at Polson Pier to watch the sun set over Toronto's sparkling skyline. 

  • wooden stairs beach boardwalk

    Expand Your Mind at Winter Stations

    When creative minds become masters in design, Winter Stations is the resulting genius. Revered by Canadians and people the world over, this interactive series of award-winning installations invites members of the public to step into global issues and try on new perspectives with perfect strangers. "Above the Wall" offers more than a good ocean view. As visitors climb stairs from one side of a symbolic wall affixed to the lifeguard stand on Woodbine Beach, they have the opportunity to pause at the top and befriend the person who has ascended the stairs from the opposite side, thus transcending the barrier meant to divide. Othe exhibits include the Forest of Butterflies, the Cavalcade and Mind Station. And each is intended to stimulate the thoughts of its visitors by challenging individuals' values through a global lens. Find these temporary public art installations affixed to the lifeguard stands along Ashbridges Bay, east to Balmy Beach until April 1st.

  • red and blue neon lights on Toronto high rise

    Be Illuminated at the Toronto Light Festival

    Last year 200,000 illuminated gummy bears set aglow Archeo Patio in old-town Toronto. This year 13 acres of equally creative light displays will dazzle your sites. From January 18th through March 3rd Toronto welcomes you to its spectacular Light Festival. 44 buildings will glow in a spectrum of color. See one for each of the festival's 45 days or do a grand tour. Walking the city is free, so you can take your pick and do it all over again!

    The old Victorian industrial buildings set alight compose much the city's historic neighborhood. But not all of the lights are grounded in history. Some displays give the illusion that they're floating. Others are interactive. All are the creations of local and international artists. So bundle up and get outside for an illuminating evening. Toronto's third annual Light Festival will be sure to lift even your darkest winter doldrums.

  • ice skater under black lighting

    Skate the Bentway Trail

    Go for it Blade Runner! Toronto's Bentway Skate Trail has iced a path just for you. The slick 1.75 km trail runs in the shadow of the Fred Gardner Expressway. That means it's neighbor to Fort York Historic site and a short walk from almost every major downtown attraction. There's ample parking for drivers and streetcar stops along its length from Strachan Avenue to Bathurst Street. Plans are underway to stretch the trail to Spadina Avenue.

    When you tire of skating or reach the end of the trail, nearby Liberty Village will charm you with its restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops. Take a hot chocolate to go and stroll along the shore of beautiful Lake Ontario. It might be hard to imagine, but during the summer, the Bentway Trail is known for its pop-up art exhibits and craft markets. Only Toronto's winter visitors get to enjoy the privilege to skate!

  • dangling star-shaped Christmas lights

    Get in the Spirit at Toronto's Christmas Market

    Indulge your senses at the Toronto Christmas Marketwhere each day of the week until December 23rd, holiday-themed entertainment will steal the spotlight to delight your inner child. 400 free performances light up the main stage including award-winning singers, brass bands, carolers, and even a daily sing-a-long with Santa’s elves. There’s truly something for everyone. And that’s not all. Wind through a textured maze of artist vendors selling their craft. Find a souvenir and follow your nose to grab a delicious bite to eat. Try Santa’s BBQ, stollen, waffles, Canadian poutine, and gingerbread. Then wash it down with a visit to one of the market’s jolly beer gardens. Mulled wine, Christmas cocktails, hot toddies and a variety of craft beers are for sale under the glow of heated lamps and crackling fires. Admission is free until 5 pm on weekdays and weekend tickets are available on the market’s website for only $6 each.

    If it's whimsy you seek, lose yourself in the hidden village at the Aurora Winter Festival in Toronto's Ontario Place. From now until December 30th, you can visit Santa's Workshop or catch the forest nymphs flitting through fantastical light displays. Enjoy the market huts, food and beer gardens, amusement rides, live entertainment, and other activities with your family and friends. Don't miss the Festival's inaugural year! Tickets are available online.

  • hand on piano keyboard

    Free Concert Series in Downtown Toronto

    Steal away for an afternoon of free music at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, walking distance from our Ivey Donald K. Johnson Centre. Every Tuesday and Wednesday in November, the Canadian Opera Company has invited world-renowned musicians to dazzle your senses inside the breathtaking Richard Bradshaw Amphitheater. As part of its Free Concert Series, you'll experience a collection of vocal, piano, jazz, dance, chamber and world music performances.

    Admission is first come, first served so don't delay! Trust us when we say that the concert is not only a feast for the ears but for the eyes! From your elevated seat, you'll enjoy an exclusive view through the glass wall onto the hustle and bustle of holiday traffic as it zips along Queen Street West. And while you're there, don't miss an opportunity to secure a seat at the opera or ballet. The theatre is the first of its kind in Canada, with unparalleled acoustics for the performing arts.

  • catering canapes for party

    How To Make Your Holiday Party A Culinary Masterpiece

    At Ivey Donald K. Johnson Centre, we believe a great party begins with a great menu. Rose Reisman Catering, our onsite caterer, shares our passion for making food the focal point of every festive holiday gathering. Whether you’re planning a formal soiree or a casual get-together with colleagues, Rose pulls out all the stops, showing her culinary creativity in flavorful menus that shine with originality and holiday spirit.

    We caught up with Rose in the catering kitchen to sneak a peek at what she’s planning for the upcoming holiday season and, suffice it to say, her hand-crafted menus are a work of art. Highlights include the crowd-favorite Rose’s Braised Beef Brisket Au Jus garnished with Roasted Cipollini Onions; Pan-Seared Chicken Supreme with Sun-dried Tomatoes, White Wine and Lemon Herb Sauce; and classic Farro & Arugula Salad with Chickpeas, Green Onion & Cherry Tomatoes.