Urban Planner: January 1, 2010
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Urban Planner: January 1, 2010

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 all of its details—as well as images, if you’ve got any—to [email protected]

Fearless souls brave the icy waters of Lake Ontario at the annual New Year’s Day dip. Photo courtesy of the Polar Bear Club.

FUNDRAISER: New Year’s Eve hangover cure or just pure insanity? Join the league of the brave (or just watch in awe from the frozen beach) at this year’s Polar Bear Dip (“of the Decade”). Now in its fifth year, the icy event raises money for the Toronto branch of Habitat for Humanity, whose goal is to help out families trying to escape sub-standard, poverty-level housing. At the west end of Toronto’s beachfront, participants storm into the frigid waters of Lake Ontario, their bone-chilling cries greeted by the cheers (and jeers) of onlookers. Sunnyside Park; registration at 11:30 a.m., dip at noon sharp; participants must raise minimum of $20 in pledges (go online for forms and more information).
MUSIC: Two tributes to the music of Vienna take place today. The first is the annual “Music from Old Vienna” concert presented by the Musicians in Ordinary, and comprises alternative Strauss waltzes and polkas. Soprano Hallie Fishel sings an all new repertoire from eighteenth-century Vienna, alongside partner John Edwards on the orbo (bass lute). Joining the pair are Christopher Verrette, on violin, and Sara Anne Churchill, on harpsichord. Heliconian Hall (35 Hazelton Avenue), 2 p.m. (note: second show added this year on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.), $20 regular, $15 seniors and students. Your other opportunity to ring in the new decade with some old-school Viennese music is at Roy Thompson Hall (60 Simcoe Street). This concert features a talented cast of European artists, with the Strauss Symphony of Canada, performing popular waltzes, polkas, and operetta excerpts in true Viennese splendour. 2:30 p.m., $55-$135.
VARIOUS: Many don’t realize how much is actually open on New Year’s Day for families, couples, and friends to enjoy together. Some of Toronto’s great attractions remaining open on the first day of 2010 include the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto Zoo, CN Tower, ROM, AGO, and Casa Loma. And if you’re more actively inclined, consider going skating at Harbourfront‘s Natrel Pond or at Nathan Phillips Square. All of the city’s other outdoor rinks are also open today, starting at 10 a.m. Visit the various websites above for opening hours and cost of attractions.
OUTDOORS: The Leslie Street Spit (not officially a spit but fondly referred to as such by Torontonians) is a five-kilometre-long manmade headland, extending from the city’s east end in a roughly southwesterly direction into Lake Ontario. Every year, hikers gather to walk the spit on New Year’s Day—a lovely way to start the year and remind ourselves that winter in our city can be as beautiful as it is harsh. Organized by the Toronto Bruce Trail Club, today’s hike is around twelve kilometres total (though drop-outs are fine if you can’t make it all the way). Be sure to wear good hiking shoes and leave your dog at home, as this event is for humans only. Meet at the gate to the spit (Leslie Street at Unwin Avenue) at 12:30 p.m. (hike starts right at 1 p.m.), FREE.