As our city continues to open at a steady and cautious pace we’re noticing a number of creative and inspiring places are doubling down on giving us more opportunities to go virtual with incredible events or physically get outside of our four walls. I don’t know about you but I’m starting to feel the need to go beyond the 3 km daily walks with my dog. So, what can we do now? It is a great opportunity to explore places that you’ve been meaning to get to. Think of it as a gift of time. So, check each establishment’s pandemic visiting guidelines and grab your face mask! Do something a little different at your leisure this month!
Gardiner Museum: After a successful re-opening, the Museum will continue to offer free admission to the public every Saturday and Sunday through to the end of August. Visitors can explore the permanent collections, including pottery that represents 47 cultures; a world-renowned collection of porcelain from Europe, China and Japan; and contemporary works by Canadian and international artists. The special exhibition RAW continues featuring large-scale installations by Cassils, Magdolene Dykstra, Azza El El Siddique and Linda Swanson which is a must-see. Take part in the family clay activities on the outdoor plaza every weekend. The Museum’s restaurant, CLAY, is open with an airy rooftop outdoor terrace ideal for summer meals.
Toronto Caribbean Carnival: Our favourite summer jump up festival goes virtual and activities are already underway. Join in and listen to conversations, performances and special events online with artists and community leaders. Learn from costume creators, make up artists, fitness and wellness experts. Even junior revellers can discover more about the rich history and culture. Then on August 1, hit the virtual Carnival road for the 53rd annual celebration. The Virtual Road starts at 9:00 AM EST in Australia, then head to Europe, Japan, the Caribbean, the United States and finally crossing the stage in Toronto! The public is invited to listen or watch the show that will be streaming on all their social media channels. If you want to participate, you can also register to be on camera as part of the Zoom party, but costumes are mandatory if you want to show yourself on Zoom! There will be prizes for costumes.
Ghosts of the Royal Alex Online Series: This new online six-part biweekly series told through story and song explores the spirit life of Canada’s most famous haunted theatre, The Royal Alexandra here in Toronto. If you believe in ghosts you’ll love the stories of those who have decided to make this place their spiritual home. No, this isn’t a musical in the traditional sense but it’s a fascinating way to explore the deepest secrets of this historical space. Every second week, Meanwhile, Mirvish Production’s e-magazine, will publish a new chapter of the serialized story that takes place backstage. Each chapter will be available also as a podcast. The story is set in 1957, a pivotal moment in the history of the Royal Alex and Toronto theatre. The concept, and characters, were created by John Karastamatis and shaped by the story’s readers. At the end of each new chapter, readers are asked for suggestions for what should happen next. If an idea is used, the reader (or ghostwriter) will receive a credit and a $100 Mirvish gift card. The podcast can be found at mirvish.com and is read by David Mucci (Cyrano de Bergerac, Les Miserables, Buddy, Man of La Mancha, Crazy for You, Mamma Mia!). The six-song cycle is by Ron Jacobson, the current general manager of the Royal Alex, and acclaimed composer and songwriter.
John Cleese International Live Stream: Monty Python alum and comedy legend John Cleese will appear in front of a global audience for his first international live stream to share his thoughts during a hilarious and insightful show Why There is No Hope. He believes the world is plagued by people “who not only don’t know what they’re talking about, they don’t know that they don’t know what they’re talking about!” The show will actually take place at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Sunday, August 2nd at 3 pm EDT. Hey, we all need a laugh, right about now. Tickets here.
Yorkville Murals Festival: Returning for a second edition on August 27 to 30 with a full agenda of artistic initiatives that will brighten up the end of summer. Festival presenter romeo’s gin partners to bring The Art of Gin to the festival by teaming up with 9 talented Toronto bartenders to create liquid interpretations of the murals that are found on the walls of 99 Yorkville Avenue courtyard. Check out the amazing artwork by Mr. Brainwash, Ola Volo, Brian Lanier, Ben Johnston and many others.
Mixologist Nishanthan Nepulongoda (Sofia Yorkville) was inspired by Ben Johnston’s mural OK. His cocktail ‘The Mediterranean Sea’ reflects the message of hope. Both creations shares a positive message! That is, everything will be A-OK!
Bloor Yorkville Fleur de Villes: From August 5 to 9th visit the area to smell the flowers featuring unique floral pop-up installations by some of Toronto’s top florists in partnership with the Bloor-Yorkville BIA. Drop by Yorkville Village Oval where you will discover ‘Fleur de Villes Chien’ celebrating our furry friends. Info and installation locations can be found here.
Chopsticks + Forks Foodie Tours: The popular on-foot foodie tour company is up and running again only with smaller groups to accommodate physical distancing guidelines. Great way to explore and get a taste of the city’s biggest food lover neighbourhoods including Kensington Market. Ideal for a small family buy-out for a great few hours of history and food samples galore. Check our review here.
Drive-In Movie Theatres: Yes, Drive-in movies are experiencing a resurgence and we’re all in! CityView Drive-In is located at 20 Polson Pier in the Port Land’s area. This venue will also host concerts, film festivals, and other special events. You can read more about it here.
The City of Toronto’s DriveInTO: (CityView Drive-In and Ontario Place) offering free screenings in partnership with a variety of Film Festivals including The Reel Asian Film Festival, Hot Docs, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Reel World Film Festival, TIFF, and Regent Park Film Festival. View the schedules here.
If you’re interested in getting outside of the city core planning check out what’s playing at the Newmarket Drive, Sunset Barie Drive-In, Starlight Drive-In, Stoney Creek Drive-In, and Oakville Drive-In.
Ministry of Mundane Mysteries: PLAYDATE: Kids bored but you’re not quite ready to venture too far? Outside the March, Theatre Direct and TO Live have created a remote theatre experience and from what we’ve experienced with immersive theatre in the past couple of years…your kids are in for a treat! The Mundane Mysteries PLAYDATE includes a week’s worth of daily creative enrichment activities developed by the Theatre company which will keep kids occupied with structured activity for about an hour each day. How it works? You’re asked to pick a time slot for when your child gets the call every day for 6 days and to identify a mundane mystery they need solved (e.g. how the refrigerator ice machine broke). Then, a ‘Ministry agent’ (ahem, actor) calls every day for 10 minutes each time with questions, leads in an attempt to solve your mystery. It’s an improvised experience based on conversation. Each day’s activity will see kids make their own Inspector Tradecraft Kit, complete with disguises and a craftmade notebook with secret compartments. Throughout the week, there will be codes and ciphers, maps, and more. Older detectives will have more storytelling and escape room-style puzzle-solving where younger kids will include more crafts, colouring and building. Because it’s phone-based, your child can participate anywhere (hey cottagers, we’re looking at you!). The events run from August 10 to September 4. This theatre experience (for adults) has been a huge success and has been extended several times with great media attention across Canada as well as in the New York Times. More info and tickets here.
Public Art Installation Tour: The weather is on our side this month and with all this open space it’s a good time to hop on your bikes and seek out a few of the art installations along your way. Make your bucket-list and learn more here. Favourites include the lower Don River, Harbourfront, Yorkville and surrounding University of Toronto areas.
Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) announced an exclusive virtual behind-the-scenes panel with Canadian writer and director Kris Pearn for the Netflix Original animated feature film The Willoughbys based on the novel by Lois Lowry. The virtual panel discussion will be held on Thursday, August 6th at 7:00 PM. It will include a discussion on the film’s creative process with never-before-seen art and exclusive storyboards. The Willoughbys is available now for streaming only on Netflix. Film synopsis: Convinced they’d be better off raising themselves, the Willoughby children hatch a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation. The siblings then embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family. Starring Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara, Terry Crews, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski and Ricky Gervais.
Kris Pearn is an Annie Award-nominated artist who began making cartoons for both film and television after graduating from Sheridan College (Toronto). He notably worked on Open Season, Surf’s Up, Arthur Christmas, Shaun the Sheep, Pirates: Band of Misfits, and Home to name a few. He was the Head of Story for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and co-directed Cloudy Two: Rise of the Leftovers. He has illustrated several books including Edward The Tree Climbing Dog, Project Superhero, and Tales of Spiffing.
Register for free tickets here: bit.ly/TAAFIxTheWilloughbys
Moniker Team Building Virtual Escape Rooms & Experiences: (For the corporate worker bees) If you’re dreaming about travelling the world but reality is holding you back, this sounds like a fun way to escape the daily routine especially if you’re in a work-from-home scenario. Moniker, an award-winning corporate trip planning agency known for its bucket-list-worthy experiences like ‘Amazing Race’ style adventures in Thailand, is launching a custom series of immersive virtual events. Expertly orchestrated via Zoom and executed by professional actors and all activities are designed for a seamless virtual experience. A great for a fun team-building activity that can include up to 200 participants. Several customizable scenarios are available to cater to the company’s needs. A few theme examples: lunar disaster set in virtual space, murder mystery happy hour, a 1980s themed murder mystery set at a wedding, Shark Tank meet Family Feud -style pitch competition, or even an escape room style adventure set in a mansion.