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    Christmas is just days away and events in Toronto today look to celebrate early with a big beer festival. You can skate until your heart's content at another edition of DJ Skate Night and some festive films to get you good and ready for the holidays.

    Events you might want to check out:

    12 Beers of Christmas (December 22 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    Grab your signature ugly sweater and a brewski, ale or sour and drink to all the things that make the holidays so special at this annual beer festival.
    Black Christmas (December 22 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    All the Christmas cheer of any classic combined with all the cheer of a horror thriller makes up director Bob Clark's Toronto-shot Black Christmas.
    DJ Skate Nights (December 22 @ Natrel Rink)
    Dance, twist, slide and shimmy it out on the ice to all the hottest funk, hip-hop, R&B and house courtesy of 1 LOVE T.O.'s DJ Dlux.
    It's a Wonderful Life (December 22 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    The Frank Capra Christmas classic that tells the story of an angle ring to earn his wings is screening for free today. Don't forget to bring a donation!
    Etsy Street Team Christmas Marketplace (December 22 @ Church of St. Stephen in-the-Fields)
    There's still time to shop local this holiday as Etsy makers from across the city gather for a day of handmade goodies, snacks and lots more.
    Neighborhood Holiday Party (December 22 @ The Great Hall)
    West Queen West is celebrating the holiday with a big party featuring drinks, food, music and makers form the Trinity Bellwoods Flea.
    Prophecy (December 22 @ Round)
    Post-goth, electro, industrial and random, obscure beats are on at this dance party with special guest San Francisco's DJ Zazou on deck.
    School Damage (December 22 @ Bovine Sex Club)
    Toronto's own punk rockers are screaming it out and ready to party with a night of tunes on the eve of their Hello Cruel World album release.
    Princemas Dance Party (December 22 @ Sneaky Dee's)
    It's a Purple Christmas with all the best Prince tracks playing at this dance party, plus old school hits, misses, rare mixes, remixes and more.
    Die Hard (December 22 @ Revue Cinema)
    The third and final Drunken Cinema screening of Die Hard is on with a night of drinking games set to each time someone references McClane being a cop.

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    It's officially winter and with it comes plenty of opportunities to skate, slide, race, ski and sustain minor frostbite. If you're looking for a day of epic winter fun, look no further than the Fire & Ice Festival.

    Bracebridge, Ontario is gearing up for a day of campfires, ice sculptures and lots and lots of tubing, right now the main street and through the middle of town.

    Manitoba Street is set to be covered with repurposed snow brought in from over fifty trucks for a day to make way for a tubing extravaganza that's only part of the festival.

     Visitors can trek up and down the makeshift snowhill while a road hockey tournament, birds of prey demonstrations, traditional carnival activities, food and drinks all take place on the sidelines.

    Tickets for the festival are only $5 for a whole lot of fun going down on January 26.

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    New cheap eats in Parkdale have upped the ante in this neighbourhood known for its deals on meals. To this day this is still a great area to fill up on a dime, especially if you know where to look (and even moreso if momos are your fave food).

    Here are my picks for the top new cheap eats in Parkdale.

    Garleek Kitchen

    This place fuses Nepalese, Tibetan, Sri Lankan and Indian cuisines, serving chow mein, chili beef, momos and thali for cheap.

    Souvlaki Kalamaki

    Greek lunches for less can be found at this spot, including gyros, zucchini or potato nachos, skewers and salads.

    Yak Cafe

    Breakfasts, momos and bento boxes of Tibetan and Indian cuisine are served here.

    Tiny Cafe

    This place is true to its name, a little yellow building newly serving coffee, butter tea and momos for cash only.

    Tashi Delek

    Yet another spot for Tibetan and Nepalese food, this place serving momos, chow mein and lassi is named for a traditional Tibetan greeting.

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    The discount shop, previously a fixture on city streets and in shopping centres, has slowly been replaced by big box retailers like Walmart and the less diverse offerings of Dollarama.

    If you rewind to the 1980s, Toronto was spoiled for choice when it came to these stores. You had Towers, BiWay, Bargain Harolds, Zellers, and K-Mart in addition to Ed Mirvish's palace of kitsch at Bloor and Bathurst.

    towers discount store toronto

    The once mighty Towers was eventually absorbed by Zellers. Photo via the Toronto Public Library.

    I always hated being dragged on shopping trips to such stores as a kid, though the regularity of the experience has left these visits imprinted on my brain.

    honest eds

    The iconic Honest Ed's sign being removed in May 2017. Photo by Jesse Milns.

    In fact, there was a measure of embarrassment in shopping at a store like BiWay for me. It was a symbol that my family didn't have a whole lot of money and couldn't afford to buy all of my clothing at Eaton's.

    I still recall refusing to wear the orange tab Levis jeans I was bought at BiWay when I was around eight or nine years old. I knew that most of my friends at school had red tabs, and I considered it a great injustice to be saddled with this cheaper model.

    But, of course, my mother shopped at BiWay because it was an intelligent thing to do. Money was tight, and discount shops were plentiful enough that you could easily rely on them as a source for the types of products that you were guaranteed to pay more for at the supermarket or other higher end department stores.

    And so a generation of Torontonians basically grew up shopping at these stores during a time when the city was a more overtly working class place.

    bargain harolds

    Bargain Harolds flyer via Jamie Bradburn.

    Make no mistake, these were popular and busy places in fierce competition with one another. While people tended to shop most often at the store closest to them, these businesses engaged in one hell of a weekly flyer war, undercutting each other on highly useful items that could lure customers from one shop to another.

    There were also memorable television campaigns, but I tend to think that the real battlefield was on paper.

    gerrad square

    Gerrard Square was once home to both a Zellers and a Biway. Photo via the Toronto Public Library.

    There was also plenty of crossover between the retailers over the years. Toronto's Towers locations became the now-defunct Zeller's in 1990, while Bargain Harolds was eventually sold to K-Mart.

    The legacy of the discount shop in Toronto was wonderfully easy to trace for a brief moment when Target operated in Canada, which had acquired many of the retail spaces used by Zellers.

    The trend has been to go bigger and bigger, leaving midsize shops like BiWay and Bargain Harolds a thing of the past (though BiWay is coming back next year).

    It's not that Toronto doesn't still need cheap places to shop; the city does. What has changed is the scale of the stores and Canadian presence in the market.

    A few decades ago, discount shops were largely homegrown, whereas today this segment of the retail market is dominated by American corporations.

    zellers toronto

    Zellers was once a major contender in the discount retail game. Photo by Patrick Matte.

    BiWay bit the dust in 2001, but an attempted expansion to the the US in the mid 1990s sowed the seeds of the company's demise. Bargain Harolds was sold to K-Mart in 1985, and continued on well at first, but the parent company eventually sold its Canadian properties to Zellers in 1998.

    After snatching up both Towers and Bargain Harolds, Zellers itself bid goodbye in 2012, paving the way for Target's failed entry into Canada.

    "Nostalgia has nothing to do with aesthetics—it’s not even connected to happy memories," writes the French writer Michel Houllebecq. "We feel nostalgia for a place simply because we’ve lived there; whether we’ve lived well or badly scarcely matters. The past is always beautiful."

    This observation might offer some insight into why places like the discount shops of Toronto's past evoke such strong feelings in those of us who spent significant time within them.

    They represent where and how we lived.

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    Toronto clubs for bottle service are fun, high-energy, and perfect for a night out on the town. Most of the time, it's perfectly appropriate (even desirable) to buy your booze like any other regular club-goer, but there are certain occasions when you just need to treat yourself. 

    Here are my picks for the top clubs for bottle service in Toronto.

    The Fifth Social Club

    Tucked away at Richmond & Duncan is where you'll find this sprawling club. In order to reserve a booth on Friday or Saturday for 5 to 10 people a two bottle minimum is required, 11 to 15 people is three and 20+ is four. Bottle prices begin at $225. 

    Cake Nightclub

    Found in the Entertainment District, this nightclub arguably has the cheapest bottle service in the city. To get bottle service on Fridays you just have to order 1 bottle and on Saturdays you just have to order two. Regular bottles are $125 including tax and tip. 

    The Citizen

    Bottle service at this King West restaurant and nightclub is available on Friday and Saturdays. With a reservation, they are able to include a limited amount of complimentary entries. There's a $550 minimum spend which gets two bottles and 10 complementary guests. 

    Early Mercy

    Found across the street from The Citizen, the former Grand & Toy has 11 tables available for bottle service. That number doubles come summer time when the patio is open. A two bottle minimum purchase is required for bottle service, and bottles start as low as $220. 


    The re-incarnation of Sound Academy on Polson Pier is the city's largest nightclub. There's over 60 tables available to reserve on any given Saturday. They also have tables available during ticketed events. The minimum spend for a bottle service on Saturday starts at $480 and $750 for concerts and shows.


    This popular nightclub can be found along West Queen West. Bottle service is available on Friday and Saturdays between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Reservations start at $500 plus gratuity.

    The Libertine

    The underground lounge on Dundas West has five booths available for bottle service along with the option to secure a bottle at the bar top. They are open Thursday through Saturday and require a minimum purchase of two bottles. Bottles start at $230. 

    Lost and Found

    The underground King West club has 16 booths available for bottle service reservations on Monday and Thursday through Saturday. They require a minimum $750 spend plus gratuity. More on special occasions.


    Bottle service is available on both floors of this King West spot but the real party is on the second floor. The upstairs is open Thursday through Saturday. The minimum spend varies from $500 to $1000 depending on the day and party size.


    Bottle service is available Wednesday through Saturday at this King West spot. For weeknights there is a $550 minimum spend (+ tip). On Friday there's a $750 minimum spend (+ tip), and Saturday $1500 minimum spend (+ tip). There's always dress code in effect too.


    The Yorkville spot is much more than a comic book themed restaurant. It comes alive at night and is a hot spot for celebrity appearances. To secure bottle service on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday prepare to purchase a minimum of two bottles.


    The nightclub on King West does bottle service four nights a week. On Tuesday and Friday there is a two bottle minimum while Saturday and Sunday boasts a three bottle minimum. Prices vary from $210 to $1600 on bottles.


    This West Queen West bar does bottle service on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They do 3 bottle minimum. Prices vary on the bottles and there's a 20% gratuity.

    The Everleigh

    The King West club offers bottle service on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and long weekend Sundays. Bottle service packages start as low as $530 which includes six VIP entries, two premium bottles, private table, unlimited mixers and two hangover capsules. 

    Cube Nightclub

    The sprawling nightclub tucked away on Queen West offers bottle service packages starting as low as $660. This Premium Status package include two premium bottles, one house champagne and five covers. 

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    You don't have to drive eight hours north of Toronto to experience the surreal wonders winter delivers to Ontario each year. As amazing as Lake Superior's ice caves are, there are incredible cold weather destinations within a reasonable drive of the city that make for amazing day trips and weekend getaways.

    Here are some surreal wonders near Toronto to explore this winter.

    Tiffany Falls

    Is there a more adventurous and surreal-looking winter adventure than ice climbing? There aren't many places to try this activity out safely in Southern Ontario, but Tiffany Falls is one of the incredible exceptions to the rule. One Axe Pursuits organizes climbing sessions at the falls.

    Kearney / Sand Lake Ice Caves

    Ice caves are probably the most alluring natural wonder to explore during the winter time, but there are few within reasonable driving distance of Toronto. Snowmobilers know that the Sand Lake ice caves are an exception. You can also snowshoe in, but it's quite a hike.

    Torrance Barrens

    There's no better place to go hunting for the Northern Lights than the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve near Gravenhurst. It's a magical place during celestial events, but it's also incredible in the midst of winter even on a "normal" night, when the sky is filled with more stars than you can imagine.

    Dundas Peak and Spencer Gorge

    If you want to take in the spectacular beauty of frozen waterfalls without the pressure to climb them, head to the Spencer Gorge area. There are numerous snow covered vistas to behold, but it's the frozen beauty of Webster's and Tews Falls that's most amazing.

    Scenic Caves Adventures

    As far as epic snowshoe trails go, it would be hard to beat the one that snakes around Scenic Caves Adventures near Collingwood. There are about 10 kilometres of trails in the area that'll take you across the soaring 420 foot suspension bridge (the view after a fresh snowfall is sublime) and up to the highest point on the Niagara Escarpment.

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    Toronto of the 1890s was a place where the skyline was dominated by churches, and dense construction took up what would now be considered only a small portion of the downtown core.

    But, it was also beautiful place. Along with the construction of buildings like the Flatiron (Gooderham Building), the Ontario Legislature (Queen's Park) and the Armouries (sadly gone), the expression "city within a park" resonates with particular force when looking at these images.

    What was Toronto of the 1890s like? Well, the tallest building was the Beard Building at seven storeys, the Distillery District was just that, public transit might involve the use of horses and E.J. Lennox was the resident star-chitect.

    Here's what it all looked like.


    Confederation Life Building

    Confederation Life Building

    Toronto 1890s

    Jarvis Collegiate

    Toronto 1890s

    Knox College

    Toronto 1890s

    University College, U of T post fire

    Toronto 1890s

    Victoria Row

    Toronto 1890s

    Yonge North of Queen


    Toronto 1890s

    Horticultural Gardens

    Toronto 1890s

    Single track, double deck car

    Toronto 1890s

    Snow sweeper


    E.J. Lennox

    E. J. Lennox

    York Club Toronto

    Gooderham House (now York Club)

    Toronto 1890s

    Laying tracks for electric cars


    Old Union Station

    Old Union Station

    Toronto 1890s

    Toronto Railway Company (a predecessor to the TTC)


    Toronto 1890s

    The Esplanade

    Toronto 1890s

    Map of the city


    Toronto 1890s

    Queen's Park

    Toronto 1890s

    Toronto Bay

    Toronto 1890s

    Toronto City Hall (early in the decade)

    Toronto 1890s

    Yonge Street


    Toronto 1890s

    Gooderham and Worts (Distillery District)

    Toronto 1890s

    Metropolitan Methodist Church

    Toronto 1890s

    Queen approaching Dufferin

    Toronto 1890s

    Single Truck car at Broadview and Danforth

    Toronto 1890s

    University Avenue


    Toronto 1890s

    College Street

    Toronto 1890s

    Looking south from Queen's Park

    Toronto 1890s

    Yonge Street


    Toronto 1890s

    North Parkdale CPR Station

    Toronto 1890s

    Proposal for Victoria Square


    Toronto 1890s

    Cyclist passing City Hall

    Toronto 1890s

    Don Jail

    Toronto 1890s

    Knox College

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    Bars and pubs on the Danforth run the gamut from beer bars to comedy clubs, cocktail lounges to old-fashioned public houses that have been around for ages. No matter what you like to wet your whistle with, odds are you’ll find it on this eastern Toronto strip.

    Here are my picks for the top bars and pubs on the Danforth.

    Only Cafe

    With one of the widest craft beer selections in the city, it’s coffee and laptops by day, booze and live music by night at this hangout between Pape and Greenwood.

    The Wren

    Sandwich and burger specials are on the menu here, and go great with the craft beer and laid-back atmosphere found at this restobar near Greenwood.

    Sauce on the Danforth

    A 20s-era-themed lounge with live music, this bar close to Greenwood has a top-shelf liquor selection and is open until last call every night of the week.


    One of Toronto’s oldest pubs, there’s a jukebox, willow-filled back patio, menu of wings and burgers, and excellent whisky selection at this place close to Broadview.

    Shore Leave

    The local tiki bar for this area of town, over-the-top cocktails and mocktails are the way to celebrate at this spot between Coxwell and Woodbine.

    Local 1794

    Between Coxwell and Woodbine, this place brings a touch of sophistication to the usual neighbourhood pub.

    Dora Keogh

    Known as one of the city’s best Irish pubs, this place near Broadview has been open for over 20 years and has regular live Irish music several nights a week.

    Auld Spot

    Marked by a pig on the sign outside, oysters, poutine, nachos and burgers found at this pub at Chester make great snacks to accompany or precede a night of drinking.


    Near Woodbine, this place does brunch, dinner and hosts live music. There's always a good selection of craft beer on tap.

    Social Capital

    There’s comedy and improv every night of the week at this active club near Broadview, making it the perfect place to test out your funny bone as a performer or get in a few laughs and beers—without breaking the bank.

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    Real estate in Toronto is tricky right now: both sales and listings are down, but home prices have risen since last month. A starting budget of $600,000 is more than $100K below the average price of properties these days, unless you're on the market for a potential fixer-upper. 

    Here's what a $600,000 home in Toronto looks like vs. other cities.

    Toronto - $600,000 CAD

    This brick home in Scarborough sits on a cul-de-sac right next to Morningside Park, but it's certainly no sight to behold. There's only one bathroom to its three bedrooms, but its proximity to the highways off Morningside are a big plus.

    real estate toronto

    Ottawa - $599,988 CAD

    This cute blue heritage home in a rural suburb of Ottawa is currently home to three tenants, including a couple of businesses. Evidently its proximity to the main street of Rideau Valley Drive is a big plus for anyone looking to take over this property.

    real estate toronto

    St. John's - $599,900 CAD

    This massive three-bedroom property sits on half an acre of land and includes its own walking trail that leads to Pippy Park, the biggest provincially-managed urban park in the country. Plus it comes wiht a claw tub, heated double garage, and a music room.

    real estate toronto

    Calgary - $600,000 CAD

    Built just five years ago, this four-bedroom home basically looks brand new. It's located in the residential Montgommery neighbourhood, not far from Bow River, and comes equipped with state of the art everything, from its five-piece bathroom to speakers around the house.

    real estate torontoCote-Saint-Luc, Quebec - $589,000 CAD

    According to its listing, this four-bedroom home "will need some TLC". To be fair, it was built in 1957, this is the firs time its been in the market since then. You may want to get rid of the ultra-retro mix of tiled and old wood floors, or just give the grout a good revamp.

    real estate toronto

    Chicago, Illinois - $598,513 CAD

    Retaining its unique exterior (it was built in 1929), this three-bedroom home has been completely revamped with a new roof, new countertops, and a bathroom with heated floors. Despite its homely face, this property's interior is nothing short of pristine.

    real estate torontoDes Moines, Washington - $598,513 CAD

    This two-bedroom was completely renovated this year to include new quartz countertops, carpets, and a fresh coat of paint. Living here means being part of the tightly-knit Huntington Park community, a neighbourhood reserved for people 55 years-old and over.

    real estate torontoAtlanta, Georgia - $598,510 CAD

    You'll get tons of light in this cozy family home with four bedrooms. The backyard is professionally fenced and landscaped, and even includes a koi pond and night light. It's located in LaVista Park, a northeastern neighbourhood not far from midtown Atlanta.

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    The best eyeglasses in Toronto keep your eyesight sharp and your eyewear game even sharper. From affordable shops to purveyors of luxury glasses, you’ll find frames of all shapes and sizes to fit your face shape and your budget.

    Here are where to find the best eyeglasses in Toronto.

    9 - Squint Eyewear

    Amassing brands from all over the world, this store offers a curated mix of international frames for the discerning types. Find names like Barton Perreira, Cartier, and Chrome Hearts at Squint’s locations at Yonge and Eglinton, and inside Bayview Village.
    7 - Opticianado

    Vintage frames are what’s hot at this store in the Junction. You’re sure to find something super rare from their collection of deadstock, never-been-worn specs. The store carries contemporary styles too.
    11 - Glass Monocle

    Head to the Annex for an unmatched spectacle purchasing experience. While prices are definitely up there, there's a great selection of bold eyewear and high-end glasses, plus the pro salespeople will be more than happy to help you out.
    3 - Warby Parker Toronto

    Shop a wide variety of classic styles for cheap at inexpensive prices. You’ll find tons of frames at locations on West Queen West and Yorkdale that cost well below average, starting at around $150.
    6 - BonLook

    Yet another hot value brand to hit the spectacle scene, this company from Montreal has stores at nearly every major mall in the city. Their prices are clear cut: $145 for thin lenses, with costs capping at $395 for fancy rimless frames with anti-fatigue lenses.
    4 - Spectacle

    This store has been providing designer and vintage spectacles for over a decade. With locations on Lawrence, West Queen West and the Distillery District, they’ve provided frames for celebs like Rachel McAdams and Pharrell.
    5 - Ollie Quinn

    This Seattle-based company now has four stores around the city selling an assortment of hip and affordable frames. They have cool and casual styles for men and women; find them on Queen West, Leslieville, Ossington, and at Yonge and Eg.
    8 - Optic Zone

    This tiny store near King and Jarvis has a reputation for helping customers find the ultimate frame for their face. If you’re the finicky type, Joe Singh and his team are sure to set you up with a pair of glasses that feel like they were made just for you.
    10 - Eye Studio

    This Mount Pleasant frames store has an intimate feel, which is good if you’re looking for one-on-one service with glasses pro Dennis Lim. And while it may be small, don’t underestimate its stock: Eye Studio carries a good collection of high-quality frames.

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    It's an exciting Sunday in the city as events in Toronto have the Christmas Market, Holiday Fair in the Square and Bentway Opening Weekend wrapping up. There's also a Home Alone Quote-Along and a big party thrown by the one and only Fashion Santa.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Skate Party (December 23 @ Ontario Place)
    Ontario Place is getting lit today with a skating party beside the big Christmas tree featuring DJs Shane Mackinnon spinning the best beats to skate to.
    Home Alone Quote-Along (December 23 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    All the filthy animals are coming out for this Christmas quote-along to this holiday favourite featuring a perpetually stunned MaCaulay Culkin.
    Fashion Santa’s Not So Silent Night (December 23 @ 192 Adelaide St W)
    Fashion Santa is back for the holidays, but not at Yorkdale. This time he's throwing huge bash of his own with tunes, drinks, a fashion show and more.
    Slam Dunk Alternative Comedy Showcase (December 23 @ Comedy Bar)
    Alternative, experimental and just different comedy is on with stand-up from local comedians and laughs worth of Game 6 Michael Jordan.
    What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (December 23 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    Maybe the holidays are about bitter sibling rivalry, degradation and broken relationships? If so, this classic film is for you.
    Holidaze (December 23 @ Love Child Social House)
    A day of beats is on at Love Child with a day party to recall summer vibes featuring beats from Toronto's top DJs, drinks, a raffle and festive cheer.
    Rose Beef (December 23 - January 6 @ Glad Day Bookshop)
    It's the second edition of the Golden Girls-themed dinner party with a curated comfort food menu, screenings of various episodes and a bit of drag.
    Toronto Christmas Market (November 15 - December 23 @ The Distillery District)
    It's the last day to take in the sights and sounds of a traditional Christmas Market in the heart of the city with lots of goodies to be had.
    Holiday Fair In Nathan Phillips Square (December 1-23 @ Nathan Phillips Square)
    There's still one day left to check out the holiday celebration happening in the heart of downtown with skating, rides, food, drinks and a market.
    The Bentway Skate Trail Opening Weekend (December 21-23 @ The Bentway)
    Today marks the last of The Bentway's opening weekend celebrations with another day of skating, cozy fires, blankets, drinks and more.

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    Free events in Toronto this week might get a little nippy as The Bentway hosts a Polar Bear skate on its newly opened figure-eight trail. Elsewhere, DJ Skate Nights is back with a night of soulful tunes and the Aga Khan is screening highlights from this year's exhibitions. 

    Events you might want to check out:

    First N Third Pop-Up Party (December 27 @ Knxwlove Gallery)
    A night of local talent is on at this PWYC/$5 party that recreates a speak-easy environment with performers, DJs and vendors inside the gallery.
    Aga Khan Museum Lights Up the Dark (December 27-30 @ Aga Khan Museum)
    The Aga Khan is lighting it up with a retrospective from this year's exhibitions being projected on to the side of its walls on its beautiful grounds.
    DJ Skate Nights (December 29 @ Natrel Rink)
    Back again is this big skating party by the waterfront with a night of R&B and soul-infused music courtesy of Soul Kitchen's DJ Lissa Monet.
    The Bentway Polar Bear Skate (December 30 @ The Bentway)
    Swim trucks, bikinis, underwear and whatever else is welcome at the inaugural Polar Bear Skate at the newly opened Bentway skate trail.
    !Viva la Rev! (December 30 @ La Revolucion)
    The laughs are on in the Junction at this PWYC comedy show featuring local comedians looking to wrap up the year with a night of good cheer.

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    Holiday lights season is always the prettiest time of the year. Toronto explodes with festive displays across the city, from public squares to residential streets. Some of the biggest events, however, are found outside the city in towns across the province.

    These days there are dozens of incredible holiday lights festivals within a couple hours of Toronto, but the one that started the trend is the Simcoe Christmas Panorama, which was founded all the way back in 1958. This year, it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

    Dubbed the River of Lights, the festival now involves thousands of lights and over 60 displays spread across the town's downtown parks beside the Lynn River. It doesn't get much more scenic than this.

    A good way to to think of the Simcoe Christmas Panorama is as a Santa Claus parade in suspended animation—because to a great degree, that's what it is.

    The festival was born when parade floats were abandoned in Wellington Park after a rained out event. The following year, organizers decided to take the rest of the floats and install them in the park for the town to enjoy over the entire festive season.

    A full tour of the displays lasts about 45 minutes. For those who really want to dial up the festive charm, there are also horse-drawn trolley tours on weekends throughout December.

    The opening night event for the Panorama this year took place on December 1 at 6 p.m. The lights are now turned on each day between 5:30 and 11 p.m. The festival concludes on January 6, 2019.

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    There are plenty of restaurants open on Christmas Day in Markham and Scarborough. These areas of the city do brisk business on December 25, bustling with patrons eager to eat dim sum, butter chicken and much more.

    Here are my picks for the top restaurants open Christmas Day in Markham and Scarborough.

    Ding Tai Fung Shanghai Dim Sum

    This Markham spot boasts some of the best dumplings in Toronto thanks in large part to their soup-filled dumplings, which you'll be able to dig into starting at 10:30 a.m. 

    Gasa Restaurant

    This popular cheap eats spot serves up Sri Lankan eats in a strip mall until midnight.

    QJD Peking Duck Restaurant

    This is the place to go for peking duck in Toronto and the GTA. They'll be open for regular hours come Christmas Day.

    Yin Ji Chang Fen

    This tiny unassuming restaurant is actually part of a large Chinese chain from Guangzhou. They'll be open for business serving up their specialty rice rolls from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Mabu Generation

    If you're over eating leftovers from your festive Christmas Eve dinner, opt to visit this Taiwanese joint for hot pot, cheese pork ribs, and epic raindrop cakes. They'll be open until 1:30 a.m.


    If you're looking for freshly made Japanese rice bowls this is the spot. Lucky enough, they'll be open from 11 a.m. to midnight on the holiday Tuesday.

    Green Tea Restaurant

    From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. you'll be able to stuff your face with classic Zhejiang-style dishes at this restaurant located at First Markham Place.

    Dagu Rice Noodle

    Not only does this popular Chinese chain restaurant have a location near Bay and Dundas, but they've also set up shop in Markham. Slurp hot bowls of broth with copious amounts of rice noodles on December 25.

    XiangZi Hot Pot

    Warm up on Christmas Day with some hot pot. The restaurant located in a sprawling plaza in Markham will be open for regular hours.

    Wutai Vegetarian Restaurant

    Vegetarians rejoice! You can get your fill of Chinese food on December 25 courtesy of this bustling restaurant on Woodbine Ave.

    Gourmet Malaysia

    This Scarborough restaurant is considered by many purists to be the epicentre of Malaysian food in the GTA. They'll be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Christmas Day so you'll be able indulge in appetizer platters, Mee Goreng, Singapore Laksa and much more.


    Asian eats aren't the only thing to chow down on December 25. Toronto's destination for a taste of Kerala will be open to serve from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

    Canbe Foods

    The popular takeout spot for South Asian and Sri Lankan eats is open 365 days a year. On December 25 they'll be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    Coconut Seasons

    The hot pot restaurant that's soup base uses a combination of coconut and chicken will be open for regular hours 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

    Chawk Bazar

    If you're looking for a brunch spot on Christmas Day look no further. Starting at 10 a.m. the you'll be able to get a fill of their desi brunch.

    La Sani Grill

    You'll find this spot tucked away in a strip mall, quietly serving some of the city's best butter chicken along with other Indian and Pakistani favourites. They are open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

    Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

    If you're looking for jaw dropping platters of king crab and lobster, look no further than this Scarborough institution. They'll put your mother's massive turkey dinner to shame.

    Bawarchi Biryanis

    The popular Indian chain restaurant known for their rice dishes will be keeping it's doors open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

    Perfect Chinese Restaurant

    You can satisfying cravings for Chinese food 24-hours a day at this Scarborough spot. December 25 will be no exception.


    The  strip mall takeout spot serving up some of the city’s best Sri Lankan and Indian food for cheap will be open for regular hours.

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    Skating trails and natural ice rinks are some of the top winter adventure destinations in Ontario. Fortunately for Toronto residents, there are plenty within a reasonable drive of the city. From frozen canals to wooded trails, ice skating has never been more fun.

    Here my picks for ice skating destinations to visit this winter near Toronto.

    Arrowhead Provincial Park

    The most popular ice skating trail in the province is about a two and half hour drive from Toronto, so a good candidate for a weekend getaway. The trail generally opens during the first week of January once it's completely frozen. Admission to the park is $17 per car. Arrive early!

    MacGregor Point Provincial Park

    Although this one gets less attention than Arrowhead, it's equally stunning. This 400-metre skating oval is located just off the coast of Lake Huron where you can rent a yurt and take part in the other winter activities they offer for the ultimate winter getaway.

    Island Lake Conservation Area Skating

    There are multiple options for skating here, including a 1-km trail on the main lake and a pond turned into a rink for a game of hockey or a skate. After an hour and a half drive, you can be on beautiful skating trail free from all of your worries—except for finding your next hot chocolate.

    Valens Lake

    Conservation Hamilton creates a fantastic skating spot on the lake, which will feature both a rink and a loop cut through the snow banks. This is pond skating at its finest, and just a short drive from Toronto.

    Trent Canal

    Skating under the Peterborough Lift Lock along the Trent-Severn Waterway is a spectacular experience. Sometimes you'll even see impromptu games of shinny break out. In a typical winter, ice conditions are safe for skating in early to mid January. Look for the green flag.

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    Bars open on Christmas Eve in Toronto offer the perfect escape after a family filled dinner. Or, if you don't celebrate the holiday, they'll let you drink and party your night away as if it was a weekend night.

    Here's a round-up of bars open on Christmas Eve in Toronto this year.

    Miracle on Queen Street

    Toronto's Christmas-themed pop-up bar located just steps away from Osgoode station will be keeping the holiday spirit going by opening its doors from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

    The Emmet Ray

    Sip on whisky at this Little Italy bar, which is known for being open 365 days of the year. No exceptions.


    Hit up this Koreatown tavern and grab a pint this Monday because they're open from 5 p.m. until last call.

    The Drake Hotel

    The West Queen West hotel is open for the holidays. You can stop by for dinner on Christmas Eve and stay to party into the wee hours of the morning. They're also open Christmas Day.

    El Furniture Warehouse

    Get your fill of cheap eats and drinks at this bar on Bloor Street. Their other locations Queen Street Warehouse, Yonge Street Warehouse and The Dime will also be open regular hours. 

    The Painted Lady

    Expect to party the night away at this Ossington bar, as they'll be hosting a wild Xmas Eve Party. There's going to be lots of singing and dancing.

    Get Well

    The Dundas West bar is open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so head on over for evening of video games and great drinks. 


    Head to this Yorkville institution to munch on pub grub and to down a few pints in honour of the holiday season. If you can't make it out the on Christmas Eve, they'll also be open Christmas Day. 

    Swan Dive

    If you're looking for something to do after your festive feast, make your way to this dive bar on Dundas West. They'll be open from 5 p.m.

    Louis Cifer Brew Works

    This Danforth brewery will be open on Monday, and it'll be screening the best holiday movies, like Home Alone, for the duration of the day.

    The Dock Ellis

    Dundas West will be filled with bars open come December 24. This one located at Dundas and Dovercourt will be no exception, with their doors staying open from noon to midnight. 

    The Grand Trunk

    If you find yourself in Parkdale for the holidays, stop by this watering hole, which will be open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


    The popular spot in Bloorcourt will be open on Monday from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. so you'll be able to sip on brews and cocktails all night long.

    Bovine Sex Club

    This bar on Queen West is open regular hours over the holidays, so head here for their Open Mic Mondays.


    The swanky rooftop pool, patio and bar on King West will be hosting a special party dubbed Noel, come Monday. The event is ticketed so be prepare to dish out $40 to get in.

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  • 12/23/18--05:41: The Best Tea in Toronto
  • The best tea in Toronto will soothe you, energize you, and possibly even heal you when you’re feeling icky. Head to these discerning merchants for the best tea blends, made from leaves imported from around the globe.

    Here’s the best tea in Toronto.

    3 - David's Tea

    It’s one of the biggest tea chains in Canada, and for good reason. This Montreal-based brand was one of the first mainstream boutiques in the city to offer an almost endless number of loose leaf blends when it first opened in 2008, and now it’s basically a household name.
    4 - House of Tea

    This tea shop in Rosedale has been offering loose leaf teas since 1997. You can’t just order a cup of hot tea here, but you can customize your own blend of tea to take home or purchase one of their many tins of rare blends and ornate teapots.
    5 - Tealish

    This homegrown brand has expanded exponentially since it first opened in 2005. With its flagship store on Roncy, Tealish has grown to offer numerous collections of tea blends, wholesaling to more than a few businesses around the city.
    6 - Tsaa Tea Shop

    There’s more than 125 loose leaf teas from around the world at this shop on the Danforth, and they’re all organic. Choose from their stock of black, green, oolong, or rooibos teas to take home or to drink in their relaxing cafe.
    7 - Tao Tea Leaf

    Tao Wu is a certified Tea Sommelier, and his tea shop in Rosedale has a reputation for offering the best high-quality leaves. As the store behind the Toronto Tea Festival, Tao also holds tea meetups, and focuses on Chinese teas with over 180 unique blends.
    8 - Pippins Tea Company

    With a physical store that's as quaint as its name, this tea shop in the Beaches carries a good number of loose leaf blends as well as tea bags of some classic Irish brands like Barry’s Tea and Bewley’s. You might also walk away with a classy teapot or creamer.
    9 - Say Tea

    Possibly the oldest store on this list, Say Tea is an indie purveyor in the Bloor West Village that’s been selling leaves since 1980. There’s over 200 types of tea offered here, from single estate teas to special blends which you can buy by weight.
    10 - Plentea

    This modern, airy spot in Parkdale offers two floors for customers to enjoy their tea. Don’t expect your cup to come with a tea bag: every batch of leaves is strained using a type of teaspresso machine. Just customize your blend and enjoy.
    11 - Hestia

    This tea shop in the TD Centre is a Montreal-based brand, but it’s brought its collection of organic tea to the Financial District with a sleek tea bar. Find classics like chai and Moroccan mint alongside all-natural matcha drinks.

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    Food trends in Toronto this year were aplenty, ranging from jiggly Japanese pancakes to burgers covered in real gold. Now that 2019 is around the corner, we can spot some of the hottest food fads that had people lining up in 2018.

    Here are my picks for the top food trends in Toronto this year.

    Japanese soufflé pancakes

    Fluffy Japanese-style pancakes were a-jiggling all around town in 2018 with the arrival of a handful of restaurants specializing in soufflé stacks. Those who bothered to brave the lineups at Fuwa Fuwa and Hanabusa made sure to Instagram their visit too.

    Gold-covered food

    From cheesecake to ice cream to the CNE's ridiculously expensive gilded burger, the over-the-top trend of covering things in 24K leaf sheets was the hottest gimmick this summer. The crazy part is that gold doesn't even taste like anything—but it sure is shiny. 

    Taiyaki ice cream

    There was a time few people really knew what taiyaki was. Now that the year is over, it's pretty likely you've seen these fish-shaped, soft serve-stuffed waffle cones more than once on IG, with location tags at stores like Sukoi and Taiyaki NYC

    Nashville hot chicken

    Spicy, crunchy birds fried Nashville style made its way into the spotlight this year with the arrival of Chica's Nashville Hot Chicken and the counter Five Points for a hot, fry-heavy, white bread affair. 

    Cotton candy

    From the gargantuan cotton candy at Mr. Chu to the pillowy soft clouds topping the ice cream at Milkcow, businesses found all sorts of ways to make spun sugar fetch again. The people behind YOSH! even served up ice cream cotton candy burritos to combat the heat wave this summer.

    Artisanal bubble tea

    Boba has never been fancier than it is now. Cafes like Tika and Yang Teashop go all out with refined brewing processes, brown sugar is huge at Incha, and Hey Sugar makes its own healthy tapioca. And of course Labothery lets you customize everything to a T (pun intended).

    Breakable desserts

    A few new spots in the city are making you work for your sweets with desserts that can be cracked open with a spoon. The epic Huevo Malo had people running to Mira, but the strawberry pavlova from Byblos Uptown and the Bannoffee Jewel from DaanGo are just as pretty.

    Sour beers

    Move over pilsners and IPAs: fruity sour beer has steadily become the preferred brew of beer-makers across the city. It's reached an all time high, and new craft breweries like Black Lab and People's Pint hit the ground running with some solid sours right off the bat. 

    Colour-changing drinks

    Ethereal beverages that changed colours had people mystified all summer. The secret ingredient: butterfly pea, a flower from Southeast Asia that changes colour with a splash of lemon. It showed up at Jimmy's Coffee and food markets courtesy of vendors like NAM WAN

    Vegan stuff

    From Vegandale's attempted (read: unsuccessful) takeover of Parkdale to A&W's Beyond Meat burger (a surprising hit), animal product-free dining has been the hottest topic this year. At this point, there's no shortage of new vegan restaurants to try in Toronto.

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    New Korean restaurants in Toronto definitely know how to fry up some chicken—but that's not all they do. Traditional Korean mains and banchan get a modern twist at some of these new arrivals in the city. 

    Here are my picks for the top new Korean restaurants in Toronto.

    Chicken in the Kitchen

    Located right in the heart of Koreatown North, cheesy fried chicken and beer go hand-in-hand. The epic Cheese Volcano Chicken is a must-try: this platter comes with a mountain of fried chicken with a bread bowl filled with gooey cheese.

    Hawk & Chick

    This cute takeout restaurant on Dundas West specializes in hefty lunch boxes. Filled to the brim with purple rice and items like karaage, bulgogi, and kimchi, you're guaranteed a well-rounded meal of Korean classics here.


    Little plates of Korean ingredients with an international twist are served at this Dundas West restaurant. Dishes like bulgogi and ssam feel less like a home cooked affair here and more like a special night out. 


    This gastropub in the Annex is a casual yet modern spot for date night friendly Korean eats. Try dishes like a deconstructed crispy bossam, or the most impressive dish: a samgyupsal platter that combines fries with pork belly for a creamy poutine-like dish. 

    32 Chicken St.

    Korean fried chicken might be the new Louisiana-style fry in Toronto. This Little Italy restaurant offers deliciously crunchy, Korean fried chicken combos served with fries and coleslaw à la Popeyes, but with the option of ingredients like coconut flakes or soy. 

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    This week, Toronto is all about two things: holidays, and avoiding holidays. Kick off the week of festivities (or family drama) with some films, indulge in some comedy and games, and finish it off with a little burlesque. Anyway, how's your sex life?

    Events you might want to check out:

    The Matzoball (December 24 @ The Met)
    From across the US to here in Toronto, The Matzoball transforms The MET into a Tel Aviv night club with music that slaps, visuals that bang, and multiple DJs cranking out top Israeli and party bangers.
    DJ Nora Noise (December 25 @ Swan Dive)
    Blow off all your pent-up Christmas steam with DJ beats and drink specials designed to get you tipsier than your uncle who just found out what Snapchat is.
    What's in the Box 2018 (December 26-30 @ The Drake Hotel)
    The Drake Underground’s annual five day music festival has something for everyone with live shows, house parties, and building wide takeovers.
    Interstellar (December 26-30 @ Cinesphere)
    Watch Matthew McConaughey enter a black hole in IMAX! The hit 2014 film takes on a new dimension when it's playing at the Cinesphere.
    Holiday Boozy Bingo (December 27 @ Nightowl)
    Embrace holiday togetherness with a fun game of bingo or at least holiday materialism with tons of prizes to be won at this free edition of Boozy Bingo.
    The Square (December 27 @ Lillian H. Smith library)
    Take a break from mindless holiday eating and feed your brain with the 2017 Palme d'or winner, a satirical drama about the place of the art world in contemporary society.
    Light Up the Dark (December 27-30 @ Aga Khan Museum)
    Aga Khan's gorgeous exterior comes to life with 3-D projections from their past year of museum programming.
    Tinder Tales (December 27 @ The Rec Room)
    This edition of the as-seen-at-Just for Laughs comedy show features the best comedians, storytellers, and performers of 2018 sharing their most hilarious & awkward dating stories to compete for a $500 Grand Prize.
    Pajama Jam! (December 28 @ Glad Day Bookshop (Church))
    Go clubbing in your comfies as you jam out with drag icons Pearle Harbour and Gay Jesus.
    Disasterfest 2018 (December 28 @ Bad Dog Comedy Theatre)
    The weirdest of the weird of alt-comedy, DisasterFEST is a night of strange and fantastic experimental comedy featuring Toronto's best comedians.
    The Room (December 29 @ Imagine Cinemas Carlton)
    Get your spoons ready for the big screen showing of this cult classic that will be sure to tear you apart.
    DJ Skate Nights (December 29 @ Natrel Rink)
    Sharpen your skates and soften your soul as you groove along to some classic soul music on the Harbourfront.
    Royal Shakespeare Company Live (December 29 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    See the Royal Shakespeare Company take on one of Shakespeare’s most modern and debated works, Troilus and Cressida, in an original production with a satirical futuristic twist, broadcast in cinemas from Shakespeare's home town.
    Blitzkrieg Cabaret (December 29 @ The Dakota Tavern)
    More than just the Threepenny Opera, an evening of music by German-American composer Kurt Weill is everything from From gritty German cabaret songs to opera to yes, glorious Broadway tunes.
    Burlesque at Cherry Cola's (December 30 @ Cherry Cola's)
    Cap off your 2018 transgressions with the Sinner's Soiree featuring a fresh lineup of gorgeous burlesque entertainers, drag and variety acts.

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