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The Weekender: The Toronto Christmas Market, Molly Johnson and six other events on our to-do list

The Toronto Christmas Market returns to the Distillery District this weekend

1. LOWE’S TORONTO CHRISTMAS MARKET (FREE!)
Each year, the Distillery District gets a makeover and transforms into a traditional European Christmas marketplace. Family-friendly programming includes daily sing-alongs with Santa’s elves and storytelling, although adults may be more drawn to the tables of local handmade gifts and the beer and mulled wine gardens. Measha Brueggergosman officially kicks things off on Friday with a selection of Christmas classics. November 30–December 16. Distillery District, 416-364-1177, torontochristmasmarket.com

2. MOLLY JOHNSON AND FRIENDS
Molly Johnson’s sultry and just-raspy voice evokes the dives and smoky jazz bars of eras past. At this Massey Hall appearance, she’ll be singing selections from her latest album, The Molly Johnson Songbook, a compilation of some of her most-loved songs, and sharing the stage with Elizabeth Shepherd and Denzal Sinclaire as well as the Regent Park Children’s Choir. Proceeds from CD sales go to the Regent Park School of Music, the choir’s home base. November 30. $19.50–$59.50. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com

3. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Powerhouse collaborators Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks join forces once again to bring a one-man show to the stage, following successes such as Here Lies Henry and House. MacIvor’s deeply autobiographical play, a remount of a 2010 production, takes the audience on a journey through several harrowing storylines about addiction and divorce, spinning itself into a grim fairy tale that’s begging for a happy ending. December 1–9. $25. Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., 416-504-9971, necessaryangel.com

4. SOULFUL MESSIAH
If you’re not ready for visions of sugar plum fairies just yet, spend an evening listening to Handel’s yuletide music performed with an R&B twist at Ballet Creole’s Soulful Messiah. Former Stomp dancer David Cox joins the troupe to combine ballet with Afro-Caribbean, jazz, tap and modern dance in this production, which has been a staple of the season since 2002. November 30­–December 2. $20–$45. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com

5. AMANDA MARTINEZ WITH SPECIAL GUEST JAVIER LIMÓN
With a Mexican father and a South African mother, Toronto’s Amanda Martinez blends her musical roots to create a Latin-jazz sound unlike any other, imbued with elements borrowed from flamenco and Afro-Cuban jazz. At this Koerner Hall date, Martinez will be performing songs from her upcoming album Manaña, and shares the stage with Grammy Award-winning producer Javier Limón, who’ll be providing backup on the guitar (it’s also the latter’s Toronto debut). December 1. $30–$84.50. Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor St. W., 416-408-0208, rcmusic.ca

6. ROM FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE
Earlier this year, the ROM launched its Friday Night Live series, and proved that partying among rare artifacts was a surprisingly fun (and actually viable) way to spend an evening. The museum closes its doors to the public early and transforms its main floor exhibits—such as the giant T-Rex skeleton—into a gigantic dance club, complete with bars and food stations scattered around the various collections. As a kick-off to the holiday season, the theme for this last FNL of the year is Light. It features acts like Runt (a.k.a. Alex Currie), a graffiti artist who’ll be transforming his works into a multimedia light show, local band Cai.ro and singer-songwriter Lily Frost. November 30. $15. Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8000, rom.ca

7. CANADIAN PACIFIC HOLIDAY TRAIN (FREE!)
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train makes a stop in Toronto this weekend during its three-week trek across Canada to British Columbia. Decorated to the nines with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, the CP train turns into a stage at each stop and the audience is treated to performances by Doc Walker, Miss Emily and the Brothers Dube. Although the performance is free, at each stop the train solicits items like pasta sauce, canned vegetables and baby formula for donation to food banks across the country. December 1. Lambton Yard, 750 Runnymede Rd., cpr.ca

8. MIRACLE ON MERCER STREET
This family-friendly Second City puppet show, first performed in 2010, is threatening to become a Toronto holiday staple. Four performers, each wielding one puppet per arm, act out both human and puppet parts, Avenue Q–style, in this wry fairy tale about a 13-year-old girl visiting a thinly veiled Toronto known as “Hollydale.” She arrives during a citywide squabble about how to decorate the town’s Christmas tree while representing all cultures in the most PC fashion (the mayor in question just wants to chop the whole thing down). December 1—January 1. $14. The Second City, 51 Mercer St., 416-343-0011, secondcity.com