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Weekend Planner: December 21-22, 2013

In this Weekend Planner: festive craftiness, a carnival of beer, and Santa-approved zines.

  • Art: Now that school is out, keeping young hands and minds occupied is key. Thanks to the crafty people at Harbourfront Centre, the whole family can get creative together at the Holiday Decoration Workshop. Increase your home’s festive decor by learning how to make centrepieces, wreaths, and reindeer ornaments. Harbourfront Centre, York Quay Centre, Miss Lou’s Room (235 Queens Quay West), Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m., FREE. Details
  • Food: Tallboys knows that not many people will turn down good food and drink—which is why its first ever Christmas Craft Beer Carnival is almost guaranteed to be a hit. Guests will be able to sample seasonal recipes from local breweries such as Junction Craft Brewing, Mill Street Brewery, and Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery while chowing down on delicious Tallboys tacos. Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) (720 Bathurst Street), Saturday at 12 p.m., FREE admission, $10 for a sampling cup and 2 drink tickets. Tickets $1 each. Details
  • Books: Still searching for last-minute gifts? Fear not, Santa’s Choice Zine Fair makes it easy to find unique, handmade items. Pick up some independent literature for the bookworm on your list from a variety of zines, comics, and small press companies—or stock up on jewellery, clothing, and other crafts from local artists and designers. Xpace Cultural Centre (303 Lansdowne Avenue), Saturday at 12 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Markets: Winter might make us want to hibernate and rely solely on the stock of food in the freezer, but don’t let it! Come out to Steam Whistle’s Winter Farmer’s Market to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and organic meats—all the while supporting local farmers. It’s worth venturing out into the cold, don’t you think? Steam Whistle Brewing (255 Bremner Boulevard), Sunday at 10 a.m., FREE. 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

  • Theatre: Since its humble beginnings in the back room of Toronto’s Tranzac club back in 2003, Evil Dead The Musical has steadily risen in infamy as a ridiculously fun, tongue-in-cheek, gore-soaked musical experience. From those earliest shows, the musical has gone on to make an off-broadway debut, to win and be nominated for several Dora awards, and to play in dozens of cities around the world, from Montreal and Vancouver to Tokyo and Madrid. It was high time that the show make a triumphant homecoming to a stage in Toronto, and it finally has, at the Randolph Theatre. The Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St.), all day, $19.99–$79.95. 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), Friday at 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), Thursday at 7 p.m., Adult (non-member) $12. Details
  • History: Get into the spirit of the season with the help of Christmas in the Park at Colborne Lodge. The public is invited to tour the High Park founders’ home, which has been dressed up in festive Victorian decor. Era-appropriate foods and drinks will be provided to conjure the atmosphere of a 19th-century Christmas. Colborne Lodge, High Park (11 Colborne Lodge Drive), Saturday at 12 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m., $7.08 adults, $4.42 seniors/children. Details
  • Performing Arts: So the kids are out of school—now what? Escape holiday cabin fever by taking the family to see Disney On Ice: Princesses & Heroes. Watch good prevail over evil as Ariel, Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Rapunzel, Jasmine, and Aurora fall in love, get their wishes, and defeat their tormentors with the help of some studly princes. Rogers Centre (1 Blue Jays Way), Saturday at 12 p.m.,4 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m.,4 p.m., $36.75-$102.65. 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), Saturday at 1:30 p.m.,7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m., $35–$130. Details
  • Theatre: Once upon a time, there was a film called Once. It was made for dirt cheap in 2006 by writer and director John Carney, shot in 17 days, and starred two unprofessional actors. Fast-forward seven years, and those stars—Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová—are Oscar winners, the movie has grossed almost US$9.5 million, and a Broadway musical based on the story walked away from the 2012 Tonys with eight awards, including Best Musical.

    Now Toronto gets to take part in Once‘s Cinderella story, as the touring production continues its run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until early 2014, rounding out Mirvish’s holiday offerings: Aladdin for the kids, Les Misérables for an outing with your parents, and for a romantic night at the theatre with your folk-music-loving significant other, this simple story of two broken-hearted Dubliners who find a connection through music. Royal Alexandra Theatre (260 King Street West), Saturday at 2 p.m.,8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., $35–$200. Details

  • Theatre: Normally, there’s nothing funny about being broke, unemployed, and turning 33. But when this sob story is set to music and acted out by foul-mouthed puppets, you get the wildly popular Avenue Q. Follow Princeton, a recent college grad, as he learns a lot about life after moving to NYC with big aspirations and empty pockets. Please note that while this play might seem a lot like Sesame Street, it is absolutely not for children. (Unless you really feel like answering a ton of awkward questions about sex, porn, and drinking on the way home). Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue), Saturday at 2 p.m.,8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m., $49-$59. Details
  • Dance: Ensure that visions of sugarplum fairies will be dancing in your head this holiday season by grabbing tickets to the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker. Choreographed by James Kudelka, this dreamy story set in Imperial Russia has everything from snow queens to fight scenes, with rich costuming, a live orchestra, and compelling performances from some of the best in ballet. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen Street West), Saturday at 2 p.m.,7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.,5:30 p.m., $25-$244. 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), Saturday at 2 p.m.,7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.,6 p.m., $39-$59. 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), Saturday at 5 p.m.,8 p.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m., $12.50–$32. Details

  • History: Enjoy Christmas by Lamplight this year, courtesy of Black Creek Pioneer Village. Travel back to the Victorian era and delight in the food, dance, decor, and music of the times. Since it wouldn’t really be Christmas without Santa Claus, the jolly old man himself will also be on site for photo opportunities. Please note that reservations are required. Call 416-667-6284 to book your tickets. Black Creek Pioneer Village (1000 Murray Ross Parkway), Saturday at 6 p.m., $24.95-$34.95 plus HST. 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), Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.,6 p.m., $34-$97. Details
  • Comedy: You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding. Second City (51 Mercer Street), Saturday at 7:30 p.m.,10 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m., $24–$29. Details
  • Theatre: What happens when your common household plant develops a taste for blood? Well, naturally it turns into a feisty, R&B-singing beast vying for global domination. Or at least that’s what happens in the cult classic sci-fi spoof, Little Shop of Horrors. Check out this off-Broadway hit at the Lower Ossington Theatre during its three week run. Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington Avenue), Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m., $59. Details
  • Outdoors: It’s time to lace up! Harbourfront Centre has brought back its weekly DJ Skate Nights at Natrel Rink, overlooking the lake. Make the best of winter, and get your skate on to the sounds of some of Toronto’s premiere DJs and party-makers, like Skratch Bastid (Dec 14), Cherry Bomb (Feb 1), and DJ Starting from Scratch (Feb 22). Natrel Rink, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), Saturday at 8 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Theatre: The final offering in the Storefront Theatre’s 2013 season, Special Constables is a send-up of Hollywood action thrillers like Heat and Lethal Weapon, set almost entirely on the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway and streetcar system. Its team of mismatched and idiosyncratic transit cops is led by Constable Jameson (Tim Walker), an obsessive investigator with peculiarly heightened senses of taste and hearing. Or rather, the team was led by Jameson; a hinted-at disaster on Jameson’s watch has led to the disbanding of the TTC’s constables, a move that has transformed the transit system into a “lawless wasteland.” The Storefront Theatre (955 Bloor Street West), Saturday at 8 p.m., PWYC–$20. Details
  • Music: Few things signal the arrival of Christmas better than Handel’s Messiah. Revel in this timeless oratorio, performed by the united talents of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Led by Christopher Warren-Green, each night includes spotlight performances by internationally renowned soloists—Klara Ek, Lawrence Zazzo, John Tessier, and John Relyea. Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street), Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m., $33-$109. Details
  • Theatre: The Spur-Of-The-Moment Shakespeare Collective has spent the past five months performing scenes by the Bard for people in hospitals across the GTA, and to close out its “season” (and fundraise to cover some of the costs of its philanthropic efforts), it’s doing two rare public performances this Friday and Saturday in a finale showcase. The ensemble will be telling stories of how people have responded to their efforts over the past year—and presenting some select scenes from their canon, of course. The Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester Street), Saturday at 8 p.m., $10–$20. Details

Happening soon:

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.