1. AN INDIGO CHRISTMAS… KWANZAA LITANIES
The first performance in the Nathaniel Dett Chorale’s three-show season at Glenn Gould Studio is a gorgeous, Santa-free celebration of the holiday season. We can’t decide what we’re more excited to hear: The Ballad of the Brown King (a nine-movement epic set to text by poet Langston Hughes), the Nguzo Saba Suite (an exploration of the seven principles of Kwanzaa) or Adolphus Hailstork’s A Kwanzaa Litany. Dec. 18. $39.50. Glenn Gould Studio, CBC Building, 250 Front St. W., 416-340-0550, nathanieldettchorale.org.
2. DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL
When we heard this musical version of Dr. Seuss’ classic was going to be narrated by Max the Dog and would feature eight new songs written just for the show, we were a little nervous. Why mess with our beloved childhood stories? But we hear that although there’s not enough Boris Karloff (who voiced the Grinch in the original 1966 TV special), it’s worth the price of admission. Dec. 17 to Jan. 2, 2011. $25–$74. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., 416-872-2262, sonycentre.ca.
3. BLANKET FORT: FESTIVUS
Forget the rainy and mild days of last weekend (where do you think we live, Vancouver?). This weekend’s forecast calls for below-zero temperatures, snow and an abundance of slush. Hence, it’s perfectly reasonable to spend the next three days burrowed under a pile of blankets. Enter this annual “art-based slumber party,” with lots of blanket forts, art installations and snacks from Newmindspace and Matt Sims. Bring PJs. Dec. 17. $15 in advance. Twist Gallery, 1100 Queen St. W., 2nd flr., blanketfest.com.
4. THE SECOND CITY’S MIRACLE ON MERCER ST.
The Second City says its family-friendly holiday show, which doesn’t skimp on the puppets, music or comedy, is best for kids aged five to 12, but we think it’s more accurate to say the show is best for the parents of those five- to 12-year-olds, who must be mighty tired of the usual earnest, cavity-inducing holiday fare. To Jan. 2. $12, family pack $40. The Second City, 51 Mercer St., 416-343-0011, secondcity.com.
5. A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Soulpepper’s take on this classic Christmas tale is definitely this weekend’s top event for traditionalists. Yes, the source material itself is legendary—adaptations abound, from the serious (Thea Musgrave wrote an opera version in the early ’70s) to the silly (Barbie, the Muppets, Mickey Mouse). But Soulpepper’s production and stars (John Jarvis, Joseph Ziegler and Oliver Dennis) are quickly becoming one of our fave special-to-Toronto traditions. To Dec. 30. $29–$70. Young Centre for the Performing Arts., 55 Mill St., Bldg. 49, 416-866-8666, youngcentre.ca.
With one week left before Christmas, holiday madness is just about everywhere. Take a breather from all the wassailing and carolling and, oh yeah, shopping with a trip to the Science Centre to check out this awesome exhibit, which is on loan from Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Go on a virtual dive from a whale’s point of view, hear first-hand accounts from conservationists, scientists and whale riders, and feel really, really small by standing next to an 18-metre-long skeleton. To March 11, 2011. $20. Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd., 416-696-1000, ontariosciencecentre.ca.
7. TORONTO’S BIGGEST MESSIAH
Toronto always has multiple Messiah options. There are trad takes on the oratorio, and even a sing-along version. We’re the go-big-or-go-home type, though, so we’ll be checking out this one. Every year, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir team up to perform the holiday classic, and they always have a new conductor take the reins. This year, it’s Sir Andrew Davis, and his take on the piece is gleefully unorthodox—there’s a marimba. To Dec. 21. $38–$107. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-872-4255, roythomson.com.
8. BUSKERTAINMENT (FREE!)
No one who knows us (or who read event #3) will be surprised to hear this, but we’ll say it anyway: we aren’t exactly winter people. That said, even we are considering braving the sub-zero temperatures to check out this weekly festival of buskers. Stilt walkers, mimes, illusionists and tons of other street performers do their thing every afternoon this weekend in the Downtown Yonge ’hood. Proceeds benefit Raise the Roof. Dec. 17 to 19. Yonge St. between Richmond and Grosvenor, wintermagic.ca.