In today's Urban Planner: Hogmanay parties and holiday smackdowns.
- Parties: Oh, sure, everyone’s going to be partying hard on New Year’s Eve. But the folks at Mackenzie House are getting started a night early with a traditional gas- and candle-lit Scottish Hogmanay party, with Scottish delicacies (sure bet there’ll be haggis), and musical entertainment by Gin Lane. Mackenzie House (82 Bond Street), 7 p.m., $25. Details
- Sports: John Cena, Randy Orton, Goldust, and more WWE personalities take part in a special holiday edition of WWE Live, at Ricoh Coliseum on the Exhibition Place grounds. Ricoh Coliseum (100 Princes Boulevard), 7:30 p.m., $20-$95. Details
History: The name “Mesopotamia” derives from a Greek term meaning “land between the rivers.” The Royal Ontario Museum’s latest major exhibit, which opens on June 22, takes this literally, as visitors flow between painted representations of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers on the floor.
Presented by the British Museum and rounded out with pieces from institutions in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, “Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World” covers 3,000 years of human development in the cradle of urban civilization. Most of the 170 artifacts on display have never been shown in Canada. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), all day, $27 (Includes general admission). Details
- Film: It’s not every day that a media tour opens with the injunction not to photograph “the sex blob,” but so began TIFF’s preview of “David Cronenberg: Evolution,” the organization’s first large-scale touring exhibition (for now, it’s stationed at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s HSBC Gallery). It’s an exhaustive, stunning look at some of the wildest, most perverse creations of a pioneer of the body-horror genre—who also happens to be Canada’s most internationally renowned filmmaker. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 2:40 a.m., $15, $12 students, $5 Tuesdays. Details
- Art: Virginia Woolf once remarked that, “On or about December 1910, human character changed.” Whether it actually did is debatable, but the curators of “The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection 1910–1918” use that year to start their exhibition of works from a tumultuous decade of innovation in European fine art. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), all day, $16.50–$25 (includes general admission). Details
- Film: The rare retrospective to get a victory lap soon after its first run, TIFF’s recent spotlight on the eighteen acclaimed films from Japan’s much-admired animation studio gets a second lease on life with Spirited Away: The Films of Studio Ghibli. A major hit with families when it showed at TIFF Bell Lightbox last spring, the retrospective returns with some key modifications, including a couple of prized screenings of 1988’s Grave of the Fireflies, which was unavailable for the last round. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 7 p.m., Adult (non-member) $12. Details
- Theatre: Proving that Bible stories can be pretty entertaining, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns to the stage in Toronto for a short three-week run. This Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, with lyrics by Tim Rice, is based on the story of Joseph of Canaan’s “coat of many colours.” Debuted in the mid-70s, this is the first Lloyd Webber-Rice opera to ever be performed in public. Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue), 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., $39-$59. Details
- Theatre: You know what they say—things are better, down where it’s wetter. Keeping that in mind, why not escape the cold, and enter the underwater world of The Little Mermaid. Straying from the sugar-coated Disney version, Ross Petty’s production draws on Hans Christian Andersen’s story, tying in humour to make this family program both relevant and entertaining. Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge Street), 2 p.m., $34-$97. Details
- Theatre: Every revolution needs a leader. And though the movement to bring the classic 1980s musical Les Miserables back to Toronto is markedly different than the quest for political accountability and social equality, it has its hero just the same. After Wednesday night’s official opening performance at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the audience likely would have followed London-based, Richmond Hill-raised performer Ramin Karimloo (as the story’s golden-hearted protagonist, Jean Valjean) anywhere he would lead. Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King Street West), 7:30 p.m., $35–$130. Details
Theatre: There’s always a slight buzz in a theatre lobby minutes before a performance is to begin. But the atmosphere at Theatre Columbus’s annual outdoor play is like no other: there’s the anticipation of a new production, of course, but that’s heightened by the slightly intimidating, slightly insane prospect of watching that new production entirely outside.
For the last two years, Theatre Columbus has performed Martha Ross’s delightful comedic adaptation of the nativity story, The Story, throughout the grounds of the Evergreen Brick Works. This year, director Jennifer Brewin (who first got her feet freezing with Theatre Caravan’s beloved sleigh-drawn show in Vancouver) commissioned a script from up-and-comer Haley McGee, who played the part of Mary in The Story. Weather the Weather is her take on a Swedish folk tale that follows Daga (Amy Lee) and her brother Diwrnod (Kawa Ada) as they try to find their way back home after being uprooted by a wicked winter storm created by the sinister Igora (Lisa Karen Cox), a troll who controls the weather from atop a mountain. Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Avenue), 8 p.m., $12.50–$32. Details
- Music: The Drake Hotel is all about the number five this holiday season. To fill the gap between Christmas and New Year’s, it has put together What’s in the Box, a mini music festival. For five nights in a row, you can pay just five dollars and see five great bands. Nautiluss (Dec 26), Solids (Dec 27), Doomsquad (Dec 28), Kevin McPhee (Dec 29), and Rich Aucoin (Dec 30) make up only a small chunk of this stellar bill. Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $5. Details
Performing Arts: The Garrison is combining tunes, laughs, and charity this holiday season with its Boxing Day Special Festival. For five straight days, it’ll be presenting music from artists like BA Johnston and Rioting Reverb, as well as comedy from Troy Stark, Chris Locke, and many more. All proceeds will support the Parkdale Food Bank.
The Garrison (1197 Dundas Street West), 9 p.m., $5, or 3 non-perishable food items. Details
Urban Planner is Torontoist‘s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email us with all the details (including images, if you’ve got any), ideally at least a week in advance.