A Toronto Christmas

And so the seasonal madness begins….

If you’re gonna get “stuck” anywhere over Christmas.
If you can’t be with your family somewhere far away, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the season to the full with a host of fabulous festive events held across the GTA.
Here are a selection of festive sound bite

Santa Clause parade
Sunday 17 November and featuring Mayor Rob Ford in all his fallen glory. Begins at St. Lawrence market, wends it’s way along Bloor street west to finish at Christie Pitts.

Cavalcade of Lights – A Holiday Tradition
Paste link below into your browser to watch 2012 Fireworks

Saturday, November 30, 2013 will mark the official start to the holiday season in Toronto with the celebration of the 47th annual Cavalcade of Lights presented by Great Gulf. Featuring the illumination of Toronto’s official Christmas tree, music from soul singer Divine Brown plus others, a fireworks show and a skating party

Twelve Trees at the Gardiner Museum – from 23 November to 15 December
Always a huge treat to see Designer dressed trees scattered and reflected off the glass cases housing the ceramic displays. This year’s theme “Celebrating All Things G”
Friday November 29, 2013, 6 – 9:30 pm
“featuring a spectacular Downton Abbey-inspired dinner by Chef Jamie Kennedy, this year’s edition will also have costumed hosts from Toronto’s Spadina Museum sharing insights into the Downton era, a sneak preview of Season Four from Vision TV”

Russ Petty’s traditional Xmas
Family show
(we call it a Pantomime) – The Little Mermaid
Nov 22 – Jan 4

The Distillery Xmas Market
Nov 29 – Dec 15, 2013.
The Distillery does ” Dickens” so very atmospherically thanks to its setting amidst Victorian industrial buildings (original home of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery) and cobbled lane ways. Gorgeous restaurants and artsy boutiques alongside the German style chalets of the Christmas vendors. Huddle round the wood burning outdoor braziers nursing a cup of Christmassy mulled wine.

One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale
Thursday, November 28 to December 8, 2013
Weave in and out of aisle upon aisle of sumptuously decorated craft and food boutiques booths. Taste amazing Christmas fayre and leave at least half a day for hunting down those special one off presents.

Carol Singing at Montgomery’s Inn
Friday, December 6, 7:30pm
Saturday, December 7, 7:30pm
Step back in time and sing nineteenth century carols in a nineteenth century heritage Rooming Inn. $20 plus tax, savoury treats, mulled cider, cash bar for historic drinks. Pre-registration only.

Also at Montgomery’s Inn and other heritage properties in and around the GTA The Humber River Shakespeare company present Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”
Usually yummy homemade biscuits available at the Montgomery’s Inn location

Christmas Afternoons at Colborne House
Nov 23, to Jan 5,
12:00 pm until 4:00 pm
All decked out for a Victorian Christmas discover the magic of Christmas in the winter wonderland surroundings of High Park and enjoy a tour of Colborne Lodge, the picturesque home of the founders of High Park. learn about festive traditions, decorations and the foods enjoyed during the 19th-century in Toronto. Toast the season with a glass of hot mulled cider by the wood stove and nibble on special holiday treats.

Sing Along Messiah at Massey Hall
– December 22 @ 2pm – word to the wise, bring your own sheet music if you want to join in singing as they always run out of the scores. The Tafelmusik conductor dressed as Mozart very audibly directs both the orchestra and the audience. Quite the experience!

The non singalong version of Handel’s Messiah – again by Tafelmusik at the acoustically and architecturally fabulous Koerner Hall
Wed Dec 18, Thurs Dec 19, Fri Dec 20 and Sat Dec 21 at 7:30pm

The Nutcracker Ballet at The Four Seasons
December 14- January 4.
Two treats in one evening – the National Ballet’s sumptuous and magical annual performance of ETF Hoffman’s Christmas Tale and a chance to experience it in the Four Seasons Centre – a state of the art glass and blonde wood confection in the heart of Toronto’s west end. Go early for the pre-show performances and a chance to get the autographs of the prima donnas.

Kitchener Christkindle
5-8 December
Kitchener Christkindl reflects the enormous German population of this area and is Christmassy in a way that only a German Christmas Market can be! Look out for Gluhwein, the corresponding mugs; traditional wooden decorations including revolving candle holders and table decor; Bavarian imports, oktoberfest sausage and oompah bands.

Also check out Christmas events at Casa Loma – www. casaloma.org
and heritage houses in Hamilton area
Dundurn Castlehttp://www.hamilton.ca/Dundurn
Bovaird House http://www.bovairdhouse.ca
Whitehern House and Gardenhttp://www.whitehern.ca

A Merry Toronto Christmas
Over and Out


Postcards from The Gardiner – Twelve Trees

This year all the trees are inspired by the theme “A Child’s Christmas” – celebrating Christmas Traditions and festivals around the world.

The exhibition is on until December 9 – see www.gardinermuseum.com
Cost is $15 except on half price Fridays

.and whilst you are there check out the “Go East” exhibition on the top floor which includes an amazing “chinese whispers’ inspired project involving 101 artists from across China; 101 identically shaped porcelain vases and a single theme.
The first vase was hand painted – using the traditional blue and white (cobalt) – to a specification/brief.
A blueprint of that vase plus a “spec” went to the second artist who painted a similar vase and sent only a picture of his vase plus the original “spec” and so on until you get to the 101′ nth vase.
Did vase number 1 and vase no 101 look anything like each other?
And how did the appearance of the vases in between evolve?
You’ll have to see for yourself!
oh yeah and look out for a part of that exhibition entitled “Spode’s Conceit” – Neat…..
Over and Out

Twelve Toronto Days of Christmas


So over the run up to Christmas I will be showcasing some festive soundbites.

If you’re gonna get “stuck” anywhere over Christmas.
If you can’t be with your family somewhere far away, you will have plenty to distract yourself – with a host of many fabulous festive events held across the city.

Over next few weeks why not try some of the following:

Twelve Trees at the Gardiner Museum

Kitchener Christkindl reflects the enormous German population of this area and is Christmassy in a way that only a German Christmas Market can be! Look out for Gluhwein, the corresponding mugs; traditional wooden decorations including revolving candle holders and table decor; Bavarian imports, oktoberfest sausage and oompah bands.

The Distillery Christmas Market

Carol Singing at Montgomery House

Christmas at Bovaird House Brampton

Christmas at Dundurn Castle Hamilton

Christmas Afternoons at Colborne Lodge

Jerome Godboo’s Christmas party at The Rex

The Nutcracker Ballet at ThE Four Seasons Opera House

“The National Theatre of the World” Christmas “farce” at The Passé Muralle theatre.

Mozart Magic at “Casa Loma”

The One of a Kind Show

Unfortunately we didn’t make it to:
The Santa Clause Parade

Lighting the tree at Nathan Phillips Square (although we are getting the benefit of the Christmas Lights festooning villages all over the city – we even have Xmas music blaring out of speakers on St Clair west which makes waiting for the streetcar jolly).

We won’t get to see;:
Russ Petty’s annual family show – akin to a good old British pantomime!

Handel’l sing-along Messiah

Handel’s Messiah by Tafelmusik baroque orchestra

Over and out


Twelve Trees at the Gardiner – no words necessary

Well just a paragraph ( lifted straight from the website of the Gardiner Museum) about the splendid Tsar’s Cabinet exhibition on the top floor. One of the most evocative exhibits for me – a Meissen porcelain plate depicting a Canetti scene of the revolutionary soldiers storming the winter palace in 1917 – and thus the ending of the reign of the Tsars

The Tsars’ Cabinet presents more than 200 examples of decorative arts, including objects with Fabergé mounts, gilded dinner services, imperial porcelain eggs, and historic court photographs that document the extravagance and sumptuousness of life in palaces and yachts during the Romanov era.

The exhibition follows the history of the tsars and their family, including Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia. The Tsars’ Cabinet also features intimate Romanov family photographs from the Toronto-based Di Rocco Wieler Private Collection and personal artifacts once owned by Grand Duchess Olga, the younger sister of Tsar Nicholas II, who spent her final years living in Toronto.

Most of the objects in the exhibition were specifically designed for and used by the tsars and members of the Russian imperial family. The pieces include magnificent examples of works from the Imperial Porcelain Factory, the Imperial Glassworks, and the private firms of Fabergé and Ovichinnikov. Many of the objects are extremely rare and offer one of the best opportunities to see outstanding imperial Russian art outside of Russia.

The Tsars’ Cabinet was developed from the exceptional private collection of Kathleen Durdin, and organized by the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in collaboration with International Arts + Artists, Washington D.C.

The Gardiner Museum is the first stop of an international tour”.

Showing till January 8 2012.

So below in order of encounter on the 3 floors of the Gardiner are the “all Creatures Great and Small” themed Xmas trees….






A Partridge in a Pear Tree20111204-103825.jpg






Over & Out

The Countdown to Christmas has already Begun – ENJOY

Santa Claus in parade, in Toronto

Image via Wikipedia

So Our Santa Clause Parade has already happened – seems so early to have this on 20 November. With 20 bands, 26 floats and more than 1,500 volunteers, Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade is one of the largest in Canada; the “Macy’s” Parade it is not – but still pretty impressive….

From the vantage point of a 5th floor office window overlooking the main parade route, one gets an entirely different perspective on the parade. You do miss that sense of palpable excitement, that you can only get being amongst the crowds; the sort that sets the atmosphere buzzing with spine-tingling electricity; a feeling of suspense and expectation that even an unaccompanied adult like myself – drilling down through the years to childhoods past can re-appreciate at the thought of Santa (maybe I need to get out more!)

Though unseasonably warm for this time of year, the day that started off as a balmy 5 degrees, evolved into a typical November day: the icy fingers of a “fooled you” winter wind, whipping exposed baby cheeks – already pink with excitement – on its way down Toronto’s arterial roads and the oncoming parade. Leaving in its wake old and young jostling for protective clothing and hot-footing it to the nearest “Timmies” for hot chocolate. From above the road is a sea of moving colour (predominantly red). Men with an extra two foot of squirming kid on their shoulders totter precariously amongst strollers, mittened and swathed tots, leashed dogs and sidewalk artistes. Being inside I was impervious to the first audible signal of the oncoming processions. Suddenly I was witnessing a giant mexican wave (but with heads) as the whole crowd pivoted, unrolling like the vertebrae of a spine, as more and more people strained to catch the distant sound of the lead marching band. First the thump, thump thump of the base drum; then the discordant shrill of the brass section playing a vaguely recognisable festive song. Soon enough preceded by straggles of mini Ronald Macdonald’s; marching fruit and vegetables and all sorts of things I couldn’t actually identify (think I might have lost the wonder of youth somewhere along the line – what has a walking lightbulb have to do with Xmas! – oh yeah Xmas is commercial…………). A couple of hours later the star of the procession finally arrives with all the pomp and ceremony afforded to Royalty. I often wonder how parents correlate/manage expectations this early visit from Santa with the fact that it is still 5 weeks or so before Santa really does arrive – via the forced air heating vent ………

My favourite part of the parade afternoon is to walk the opposite way to the parade, all the way down to “The Hudson Bay Company” on Queen Street, pushing through the crowd to gaze at the magical Christmas window displays and just breathe it all in – hot dogs/hot chocolate/roasted chestnuts; the down-town high-rises gradually emerging, glittering and impenetrable as the early dusk gives way to night. Glorious if you like that sort of thing.

Continuing On:

The Eaton Centre Swarovski Christmas Tree light-up ceremony occurred last Friday – 18 November so mark calendars for mid November next year in order to see this and the accompanying “party”.

This weekend don’t miss the The “Cavalcade of Lights” at Nathan Phillips Square. This is usually a spectacular affair with perfomances by Canadian musicians; and best of all a choreographed firework set – last year this involved brave souls absailing down the arced buildings of City Hall with fireworks on their backs!! – wonder what it will be like this year? Anyhow here’s the website blurb……

On Saturday, November 26 at 7pm, Cavalcade of Lights a spectacular 45-year Toronto tradition presented by Scotiabank, returns to Nathan Phillips Square. The night will feature the lighting of the City of Toronto’s official Christmas tree, fireworks and live musical performances by award-winning artists Jarvis Church, Kellylee Evans, JRDN, rising star Justin Hines and singer Victoria Duffield. The concert will be hosted by Citytv’s very own Kevin Frankish and Flow 93.5’s Jeni and culminates in a spectacular fireworks display at 8pm, followed by a skating party sponsored by Timothy’s World Coffee on the Nathan Phillips Square rink

Also the various city “villages” are also scheduled to “light up” from November 26 – see CelebrateToronto@list.ca over the next week or so.

Christmas Carol’s have been playing in Malls for at least 2 weeks accompanying the dizzying array of Christmas junk that finds it way onto the shelves of our pharmacies; grocery and department stores.

Galaxy FM our cable network started “Holiday Favourites (710) and Smooth Jazz Holiday toons (744) at the beginning of last week which I LOVE…..

The Christmas films are being advertised at the cinemas and on television.. In fact “A very Harold and Kumar Christmas” is already showing

The neighbours lights have been up for weeks already and I’ve already replaced the ordinary coffee mugs in the cupboard with the Christmas ones – I NEVER did this in the UK. Somehow it’s easy to get carried away with Christmas when you live in a city that LIVES to celebrate the holiday season.

The Parkwood Winters’ Evening Tea ( see last years December 2010 “Parkwood” blog) with mince pies, trifle & holiday interpretation of the first floor rooms will be offered on Friday, December 2, 2011 It is vital to register for this event. http://www.parkwoodestate.com – 270 Simcoe St N, Oshawa, ON, L1G 4T5

Toronto Christmas Market 2011 Dates: December 2nd to December 18th Times: http://www.torontochristmasmarket.com/ Monday to Friday Noon to 9pm; Saturday and Sunday 10am to 9pm. Celebrating the traditional sights, sounds and scents of Christmas and modeled on the European Christmas markets originating in Germany in the early 1400’s. This is the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District and it must be good because this year it has been extended by around 5 days!! Take dozens of Twinkly tiny timber-framed Bavarian looking booths, bedecked with Christmas foliage and lights. Add the sound of Christmas Carols and live Festive choirs of all nationalities; breathe in the smell of mulled wine and wood smoke. Mix all these into the industrial setting of the Gooderham and Worts Distillery district with its cobbled roads; ironwork and red brick Victorian era factory complexes; add a sprinkle of fresh snow (hopefully) and you have the perfect recipe for a family Christmas outing. Christmas Fair at The Distillery Dec 2-18 (noon till 8pm daily)

Don’t forget about Sing -Along Messiah at Massey Hall – http://www.tafelmusik.org/concerts/messiah.htm;

The Messiah: at Koerner Hall – Wed 14 Dec to Sat 17 Dec http://www.tafelmusik.org/concerts/messiah.htm

At “The Gardiner” the following “holiday” events:

Twelve Trees of Christmas; November 19 – December 11, 2011 – exhibition of Christmas trees designed by the city’s top interior designers and architects – (see December posts of last year for full descriptions).

AFTER FIVE : Holiday Wine + Cheese – Friday December 2, 2011 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Wine tasting, live music, hors d’oeuvres by Chef Jamie Kennedy, holiday decorating tips by Michelle Mawby (interior designer and resident design expert Marilyn Dennis Show)

Harlequin & Pierrot Christmas Decorations:
Saturday December 3, 2011 10:30 am – 4 pm
The Nutcracker Suite” annual ballet at the Four Seasons for the Performing Arts” – this has become a Xmas tradition in our household! – http://national.ballet.ca/performances/season1112/

AND “Blimey” – November 23 and still no snow!! – tempting fate – I think so

Over and Out


Another Festive diary note for next year – The Twelve Trees of Christmas – The Gardiner Ceramic Museum

Every Year the Gardiner Museum hosts a “Twelve Trees of Christmas” exhibit featuring trees decorated and submitted by various Toronto Design teams/firms i.e. this year the Brian Gluckstein team decorated one of the trees. This exhibition runs every year usually for about two weeks and oddly only up to the week before Christmas (so forget taking your Christmas visitors for a lovely festive treat here!). Normally booking is not required as the trees are interspersed amongst the various ceramic exhibits on the three floors of this stylish (off Bloor Street and opposite the ROM) museum.

The following are some of the twelve trees on show this year. Check out the ever-so-cute Doll’s house tree……..


Over and Out