Blog

Your Destination for Hot Topics at
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!

  • image of bell lightbox for tiff

    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.

  • a photo of torontos skyline

    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?

  • a photo of toronto

    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.
  • a photo of torontos skyline

    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.

  • cn tower and toronto harbour reflection

    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. 

  • maple syrup

    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! 

  • truffles on chefs board

    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.

  • girl tying ice skates

    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. 

  • holiday sheet music with christmas ornaments

    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.

  • man in art museum

    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!

  • raw cholocate

    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!

  • toronto skyline with cn tower

    "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!

  • distillery

    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.