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Check out North America’s first museum of Islamic art

(Image: Gary Otte)

(Image: Gary Otte)

It’s rare that Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau meet in a place where they aren’t the most important people in the room. But on September 12, at the opening ceremony for North America’s first museum of Islamic art, the spotlight was on the Aga Khan, the museum’s namesake and the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims. A Swiss-born multimillionaire philanthropist, Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan IV funded the new $300-million, 6.8-hectare complex that houses the museum and neighbouring Ismaili Centre. Surrounded by an expansive garden, the building—an ultra-modern structure infused with designs from traditional Islamic architecture—houses a permanent collection of more than 1,000 portraits, textiles, miniatures, texts, instruments and other Islamic artifacts representing a wide range of styles, eras and regions. “In Search of the Artist,” a collection of signed paintings and drawings, and “The Garden of Ideas,” an exhibition of contemporary art from Pakistan, will also be on display when the museum opens its doors to the public on Sept. 18. How did all of this end up in Toronto? An honorary Canadian citizen, the Aga Khan thinks the city is a hub of tolerance and mutual understanding. Prove him right by making the trip to Eglinton East and Don Mills. (For those who swear they never go north of Bloor, the museum won’t be the only new thing to see.)

Thurs. Sept. 18. $15–$20. Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., agakhanmuseum.org.

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Celebrate Indie88’s (Rickroll-free) first birthday

Dan Mangan. (Image: Jonathan Taggart)

Dan Mangan. (Image: Jonathan Taggart)

If it seems hard to believe that Indie88 is only a year old, that’s probably because, in a sense, it’s not. It has been ages since Toronto was first promised a democratically programmed indie-rock station, two years since Indie88 took over Ryerson University’s old campus radio frequency, and 13 months since the station soft-launched with a week-long Rickroll. But it was, in fact, last September when Indie88 aptly kicked things off with Arcade Fire’s “Ready to Start.” To anyone who has happened to tune in to 88.1 FM since then, it should come as no surprise that the station is recruiting some serious Canadian talent for its first-birthday bash. Local pop siren Lowell and art-rockers The Darcys—both long hailed as Toronto’s next big things—will make way for headliner Dan Mangan, the humble Vancouver folk singer-songwriter whose every album has won critical acclaim. Like any good gig, the show is already sold out, but a few extra tickets are floating around, and Indie88 is even giving a few away to winners of its call-in contests. You’ll want to be there, of course, when Mangan premieres his highly anticipated new single.

Sat., Sept. 13. $8.81. Opera House, 735 Queen St. E., 416-466-0313, indie88.com.

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Relive Toronto’s long-lost, much-loved ALL CAPS! Island Festival

Weaves. (Image: Brendan George Kokomo)

Weaves. (Image: Brendan George Kokomo)

Late last summer, Toronto was witness to a tragically beautiful moment. The sparklers had faded, inimitable Halifax emcee Rich Aucoin had packed up his rainbow parachute, and the last ferry had left Toronto Islands for the night. After five years of running on a shoestring budget and a DIY attitude, the ALL CAPS! Island Festival was officially gone for good. “I don’t know how ALL CAPS! will be remembered,” organizer Ryan McLaren said at the time. “I just hope that it is remembered.” This weekend should help. The folks at Wavelength, the local indie event producer that co-presented the fest alongside Artscape, is resurrecting the spirit of the beloved weekend getaway for a free, one-day island concert. The line-up includes fuzzed-out four-piece Weaves, Polaris-long-listed instrumental rockers Fresh Snow, indie-electro duo Most People and a top-secret headlining act. Hop on a ferry and indulge those end-of-summer feels.

Sun., Sept. 7. 4 p.m. FREE. Artscape Gibraltar Point, 443 Lakeshore Ave., 416-392-1030, wavelengthtoronto.com.

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Pay homage—er, Homerage—to a cartoon classic at a Simpsons-themed art show

(Image: Joren Cull)

(Image: Joren Cull)

Ever wanted to taste Tomacco, marvel at a stone etching of the Stonecutters logo or get a good ol’ Glove Slap to the face? Here’s your chance. Later this week, Kensington Market gallery Videofag will host Homer’s Odyssey, a four-day Simpsons-themed art show curated by local editor, artist and poet Lindsay Cahill. Ever since she started watching the show as a kid in the early ’90s, Cahill has had the idea in her back pocket. “I’ve always known the creative potential The Simpsons offered artists and fans, and I felt like there was a growing need for an official Toronto homage to this edgy animated masterpiece,” she told us. It took her about two decades, but she’s finally making good on her vision. The show will feature 22 artists’ works. We’re not sure if any of the brilliant ideas we mentioned above will make the cut, but expect to see a Simpson-ized version of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, a knitted recreation of a scene from the first-ever Itchy and Scratchy Show, an exact replica of the gummy Venus de Milo, and a performance from a rapper named Lil Zimpson. Just think of all the things that rhyme with “D’oh!”

Sept. 4–7. Videofag, 187 Augusta Ave., 647-238-3047, facebook.com.

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Wander Bloor and Yonge streets without dodging traffic

(Image: Gil Penalosa)

(Image: Gil Penalosa)

Don’t be discouraged by the event’s critics: it turns out there’s more to Open Streets TO than just the streets it closes. While Rob Ford was quick to carp about congestion after the event’s inaugural run two weeks ago (road closures for the Indy, meanwhile, are apparently cool with the mayor), the rest of Toronto seemed to enjoy the Sunday morning outing, which saw pedestrians, bikers, joggers and performers take over stretches of Yonge and Bloor streets for four hours. Open Streets is back for a second instalment this weekend, and local shops will again be open for business. Swing by Holt Renfrew in Yorkville for free coffee and donut samples, take in some live music outside the Royal Conservatory of Music, or just wander through spontaneous yoga classes, hula-hoop stations and public art installations while basking in the rare chance to walk and bike down Yonge without being run over.

Sunday, Aug. 31, 8 a.m. to noon. FREE. Yonge Street between Bloor and Queen; Bloor Street between Spadina and Parliament, 647-206-9815, openstreetsto.org.

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See Arcade Fire and Constantines on the same stage

(Image: ღ ℂℏ℟ḯʂ ღ/Flickr)

(Image: ღ ℂℏ℟ḯʂ ღ/Flickr)

It’s been a good few years for Arcade Fire. When The Suburbs snagged Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2011, hardly anyone outside select indie-rock circles had even heard of the Montreal outfit (remember the “Who Is Arcade Fire!?” Tumblr?). The band has since provided the soundtrack for a Spike Jonze movie, topped the Billboard charts and even insisted upon fancy dress at arena concerts in support of its latest album, Reflektor. This weekend, head to the Amphitheatre for the tour’s penultimate show and second stop in Toronto. It’s sure to feature papier-mâché imposters and plenty of disco-fied dance rock. The recently reunited Constantines, local indie legends for whom Arcade Fire regularly opened once upon a time, will be playing first, so don’t be that person who shows up two hours late. Tickets are currently sold out, but are available on the resale market.

Friday, Aug. 29. $45–$90. Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, 909 Lakeshore Blvd. W., 416-260-5600, canadianamphitheatre.net.

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Let Robyn and Röyksopp teach you what a dance show should sound like

(Image: Kacper Kasprzyk)

(Image: Kacper Kasprzyk)

No need to dance on your own anymore, Robyn fans. The Swedish siren is making a rare visit to Toronto, this time alongside Norwegian electro duo Röyksopp, who are like Daft Punk, but Scandinavian. Following a few one-off collaborations (listen to a sample track right here), the two acts formally joined forces for Do It Again, the most critically celebrated 35 minutes of dance music this side of Random Access Memories. The tour to support the mini-album—a trio of synth-laced, club-ready bangers bookended by a pair of atmospheric 10-minute art-pop masterpieces—will see both acts take the stage separately before playing the new material together, so expect to hear some Robyn hits (“Call Your Girlfriend,” “With Every Heartbeat”) thrown into the mix. Also on the docket at Echo Beach: lasers, extreme outfits and over-the-top stage designs.

Aug. 25. $66. Echo Beach, 909 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-260-5700, ticketmaster.com.

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Discover your song of the summer at Alvvays’s album-release show

(Image: Gavin Keen)

(Image: Gavin Keen)

Attention anyone still searching for this year’s song of the summer (no, we’re not settling for Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”): local indie-pop five-piece Alvvays is bringing an album’s worth of contenders to the Horseshoe Tavern this week. Fans and critics have long been drooling in anticipation of the outfit’s self-titled debut, which was finally released in July. Its tunes deliver exactly the kind of beachy vibes our humid city needs right now. Crowned by the deadpan voice and sharp lyrics of frontwoman Molly Rankin (of The Rankin Family fame), the band’s nostalgic lo-fi sound calls to mind a jangling ’60s California-pop aesthetic while remaining entirely of-the-moment. Thursday’s show is sold out, but, as usual, there are ways (vvays?) to score last-minute tickets.

Aug. 14. $11.50. Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., 416-598-4226, horseshoetavern.com.

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Watch Jaws at Sail-In Cinema’s drive-in for boats

(Image: Norm Betts for the Toronto Port Authority)

(Image: Norm Betts for the Toronto Port Authority)

Let’s face it: drive-in movies have been on their way out since the 1950s. Luckily, movie lovers looking to fill the void can find a similarly gasoline-scented film experience at Sail-In Cinema. For the fourth year, the festival is inviting cinephiles with sea legs (and enough dough to afford a boat) to drop anchor next to Corus Quay, where the Toronto Port Authority will mount a four-storey-tall, two-sided screen on a massive barge. There’s also plenty of room for landlubber attendees at Sugar Beach (you know, the one that Rob Ford thinks the city built while he was in rehab); they’ll just need to reserve a free ticket on the event’s website if they hope to catch one of the sundown screenings. With Jaws on the three-night bill—alongside Jurassic Park and E.T.—it might be best to watch from the safety of the shore, regardless.

Aug. 14–16. FREE. Sugar Beach, 25 Dockside Dr., 416-863-2000, sailincinema.com.

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At SummerWorks, head straight for the dark, sealed freight container

Sugith Varughese, Lara Arabian, Adriano Sobretodo Jr. and Constantine Karzis in The Container. (Images: Lauren Posloski)

Sugith Varughese, Lara Arabian, Adriano Sobretodo Jr. and Constantine Karzis in The Container. (Images: Lauren Posloski)

The SummerWorks festival has a lot of theatre, local buzz bands and live art to offer, but it’s a tad intimidating for the cultural layperson. Anyone scanning the schedule for that one memorable experience should avoid the traditional venues and try The Container. The production’s technical simplicity—a small cast performs for an audience of about two dozen in a dark, sealed freight container—leaves plenty of room for narrative depth. The script, written by U.K. playwright Clare Bayley, explores the lives of five illegal immigrants as they share their stories, ration their resources and anticipate their clandestine arrival in England. During its 2007 premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the play won over audiences and even garnered the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Canada’s contentious immigration policies should make it no less relevant over here.

Aug. 7–17. $15. The Theatre Centre Backlot, 1115 Queen St. W., 416-538-0988, summerworks.ca.

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Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of August 1–4

Drake performs at OVO Fest 2013. (Image: Sonia Recchia/Getty)

Drake performs at OVO Fest 2013. (Image: Sonia Recchia/Getty)


In this Civic Holiday edition of The Weekender, two giant music festivals, a nice walk and three other things to do in Toronto this weekend.

PARADE

Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade
Formerly known as Caribana, the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade has an awkward name now, but it’s otherwise the same as it ever was: massive, loud, crowded and (weather permitting) deathly hot. Anyone willing to brave the discomforts associated with the event will be rewarded, though. The flamboyant costumes and elaborate floats are unlike anything else Toronto’s festival season has to offer, and the excitement of the largely Caribbean crowd is contagious. Aug. 2. FREE, or $20 for a bleacher seat. Exhibition Place and Lake Shore Blvd., torontocaribbeancarnival.com

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Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of July 25–27

Bosk's coconut-tapioca pearls with passion fruit, lime and pineapple is one of dozens of dishes on offer at this weekend's Taste of Toronto. (Image: Renée Suen)

Bosk’s coconut-tapioca pearls with passion fruit, lime and pineapple is one of dozens of dishes on offer at this weekend’s Taste of Toronto. (Image: Renée Suen)

In this edition of The Weekender, a food festival, a frisbee championship and three other things to do in Toronto this weekend.

FOOD

Taste of Toronto
The international Taste Festival franchise pitches camp in Toronto this weekend for four days of high-class face-stuffing. Some of the best restaurants in the city are participating. Guests can look forward to crab-and-prawn rolls from THR & Co, Atlantic salmon from Splendido and spicy shrimp from Khao San Road, among plenty of other offerings. Until July 27. Admission $30–$100, food extra. Fort York, 250 Fort York Blvd. tasteoftoronto.com

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Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of July 18–20

The Beaches Jazz Festival returns this weekend. (Image: Chris Brooker/Flickr)

The Beaches Jazz Festival returns this weekend. (Image: Chris Brooker/Flickr)

In this edition of The Weekender, a jazz festival, a block party with free (or, freeish) beer and three other things to do in Toronto this weekend.

MUSIC

Beaches Jazz Festival (FREE!)
The Beach has a reputation as an entertainment backwater, where residents sacrifice downtown delights (trendy restaurants, live music) in favour of nice houses and lake views. The Beaches Jazz Festival, which returns this year for its 26th edition, proves that the east end can, in fact, be pretty exciting when it wants to be. Ten days of music kick off on Friday with free concerts by acts like KC Roberts and Jay Douglas. Visitors will also have a huge assortment of food trucks to pick from. Remember to bring lawn chairs; seating is al fresco and first-come-first-served. Until July 27. Admission FREE. Various locations, beachesjazz.com

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Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of July 11–13

Canadian Stage's Titus Andronicus. (Image: David Hou)

Canadian Stage’s Titus Andronicus. (Image: David Hou)

In this edition of The Weekender, a night market, outdoor theatre and three other things to do in Toronto this weekend.

FOOD

Night it Up (FREE!)
Going north of Steeles isn’t always easy (if you don’t live there, that is), but fans of Asian street food may want to make the effort this weekend when Night it Up returns to the Markham Civic Centre. As live musical performances happen in the background, vendors will be serving up treats in a traditional Hong Kong–style night-market setting. Newbies can sample relatively tame snacks like fried quail eggs, but fearless eaters may want to take the rare opportunity to try some stinky tofu—which, if possible, is even more foul-smelling than it sounds. The event’s proceeds will benefit Unity Charity. July 11–13. Admission FREE. Markham Civic Centre, 101 Town Centre Blvd., nightitup.com

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The World-Class Toronto Summer Guide: 14 things that are worth sticking around for

The World-Class Toronto Summer Guide: 14 things worth sticking around for

Click to view gallery (Image: Katrin Ray Shumakov/Getty)

What’s one of the best things to do in Toronto this summer? If you can, get out of Toronto. See the world. Find another city’s heat and construction and transit problems to keep you occupied—preferably a city that’s got a globally recognized art gallery or museum or horse race or something. Of course, if you find yourself stuck in the city all season, that’s okay: there’s a lot going on here that, if you squint your eyes and hold your nose (and sometimes, even if you don’t do either) could actually be comparable to all the world-class things you’d find elsewhere. You want art? We’ve got some! Ancient Chinese artifacts? You know it. Exotic fish? Sure, that too. We’re not suggesting you tear up your plane tickets or anything. But we do think that this summer, Toronto might just be able to compete with the big boys. Here, a brief guide to just some of what’s exceptional in this city—and how it stacks up against other big-ticket events around the world.

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