What to see and do in Toronto & virtually this November 2020

November has always been that month of taking deep breaths before diving into the holiday season. It’s a month of remembrance and grounding ahead ahead of December’s frenzy. Even during pandemic times we are finding ways to honour and cherish. We’re also finding more ways to keep inspired and creative. Here are some special events are happening in November that you can safely experience some virtually and some in person.

REMEMBRANCE WEEK: November 5 to 11. The City of Toronto has confirmed that there will be no public gatherings this year for Remembrance Day. However, this year’s commemorations will happen virtually. Updates and information will be provided on the City of Toronto’s website and social media channels. The Royal Canadian Legion also offers ways on how to pay respect and help support Canadian Veterans online. On their site they’ve also included activities for kids as well.

DAY OF THE DEAD 2020 Harbourfront Centre (virtual presentation): November 1 to 8. Toronto’s longest-running Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) celebration is back for its 17th season at Harbourfront Centre. This co-production with Mexico Now Festival, Mexico City’s Museo Universitario del Chopo, and New York University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. This non-traditional presentation of the Festival expands on a contemporary artistic vision focused on Indigeneity, resilience and the environment. Experience conversation, multi-disciplinary programming, cooking demonstrations, family friendly arts & crafts, and commissioned works by Canadian, U.S. and Mexican artists.

photo credit: Harbourfront Centre

TRANSFORMATIONS PROJECT hosted by the National Arts Centre of Canada: a new thought-provoking series or original shot works produced by some of Canada’s most innovative performing artists is now available free of charge to audiences across the country. The national Transformations project will be an ongoing series of commissions from some of Canada’s most acclaimed live performance companies. 22 original online works hosted by the National Arts Centre include song, dance poetry, and story, inspired by pressing social justice issues like Univeral Basic Income, CERB, racial justice, #BLM, the climate emergency, access to mental health services and more.

ONE OF A KIND SHOW: the semi-annual artisan show goes online this holiday season with extended dates (8 weeks!) offering a chance to shop and support over 700 Canadian small businesses. In addition to nabbing thoughtful gifts, the organizers are offering maker-lead DIY workshops, behind the scenes studio tours and curated gift guides all online. A new series “The Journey of Craft” features The Great Canadain Baking Show’s Colin Asuncion on the history and future of craft, new episodes will be released over the duration of the Show and will feature different makers discussing the mediums they work in. Runs through to December 20.

November Toronto
Artist Creations Li. Photo by Sonya D.

THE ROYAL AGRICULTURAL WINTER FAIR VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE: November 10 to 14. The annual and much loved event returns for its 98 year but virtual only for this year. All virtual events will be free and will offer live content as well as “on demand”. Canadians of all ages will have the opportunity to view the best in Canadian food, agriculture, and equestrian content right at home and also in classrooms. #VirtualRAWF will host traditional experiences virtually along side fresh new content adapted for today’s digital world. Virtual visitors will also be able to shop online from the many Canadian food vendors. Register in advance.

UNCOVERED: NOTES FROM THE HEART: November 11-December 6. Featuring Divine Brown, Bruce Dow, Sara Farb, Hailey Gillis, Raha Javanfar, Stewart Adam McKensy, Andrew Penner, and Jackie Richardson. The Musical Stage Company announced the line up of performers for the first-ever digital edition of their annual UNCOVERED concert event. Traditionally spotlighting iconic songs with creative arrangements by music director Raza Jacobs showcased at Koerner Hall. The multi-night series goes digital and will be up-close and personal audio and visual presentation into the world of leading Canadian artists.

DARKNESS AND DECADENCE: November 12. From Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue (BAND Gallery) presents portraits of well known local Jamaican dance hall queens, exploring the push back against notions of respectability rooted in colonial values, from Jamaican-born artist Krystal Ball. The ‘Darkness and Decadence’ exhibition opens on November 12 with a virtual event, followed by an artist talk with Krystal Ball on November 21.

SHORTS THAT ARE NOT PANTS FILM FESTIVAL: November 13 to 22. Returning for its third edition, this film festival will be presented virtually making its programme of short films and filmmaker Q&As available across Canada for the first time. 74 films from 24 countries are on the schedule. For the first time, the programme will be made up of a blend of new works and festival award winners and will be organized into ten themed blocks.

Felt Love by filmmakers Arlene Bongco, Angeline Vu

BLINDNESS: Princess of Wales Theatre. Begins November 17. The international premiere of the Donmar Warehouse (London) production of BLINDNESS, a socially distanced sound installation will be the first Mirvish theatre event since Toronto’s shut down. Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, for which he won both the Tony and Olivier awards for best play) has adapted Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel BLINDNESS as a sound installation directed by Walter Meierjohann with immersive binaural sound design by Ben and Max Ringham.  Juliet Stevenson voices the Storyteller/Doctor’s wife in this gripping story of the rise and, ultimately, profoundly hopeful end of an unimaginable global pandemic. As the lights change at a major crossroads in a city in the heart of Europe a car grinds to a halt. Its driver can drive no more. Suddenly, without warning or cause, he has gone blind. Within hours it is clear that this is a blindness like no other. This blindness is infectious. Within days an epidemic of blindness has spread through the city.  The government tries to quarantine the contagion by herding the newly blind people into an empty asylum. But their attempts are futile. The city is in panic.

Blindness. Photo by Helen Maybanks / provided by Mirvish Productions

THE ESSENTIALS: The Bentway travels beyond the Gardiner Expressway this fall with The Essentials, a series of art projects along the Waterfront reflecting on what we as a community collectively value as “essential” during this period of change, recovery and rebuilding. The free series launched in September and each month will feature Toronto artists. From November 18 to 21 (6 pm to 9 pm nightly), artist Winnie Truong will present her work at Canada Post’s South-Central Letter Processing Plant (on Eastern just south of Greenwood). The Essentials is organized in partnership with the Waterfront BIA and is part of the City of Toronto’s BigArtTO, a city-wide temporary public art initiative that aims to encourage residents to get outside and explore their local neighbourhoods while adhering to COVID-19 health and safety concerns. The BigArtTO event schedule is available online:

INDIGENOUS FASHION WEEK TORONTO: November 26 to 29. Celebrate Indigenous fashion and culture in this four-day online festival. Explore cinematically produced fashion films featuring 19 designers a virtual art exhibition pop up market, and panel series.

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR Exhibition: Royal Ontario Museum.  November 21, 2020 to May 2, 2021. The winners of the world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition will be on display along with nearly 100 more finalists. Presented y the Natural History Museum in London, England, the ROM is the exclusive Canadian venue for WPY 2020, and it’s North American debut venue. The awe-inspiring photos are from the world’s best nature photographers both professional and amateur. Photographers also range from youth to adults. Included in the exhibition of the world’s best nature photographs is The Perfect Catch by Hannah Vijayan (Oakville, Ontario) which was recognized as “Highly Commended” in the Youth Photographer category for 15 to 17-year-old category.

The Perfect Catch by Hannah Vijayan. Photo provided by the Royal Ontario Museum

AFIWI GROOVE SCHOOL’S ROOTS & REVIVAL SERIES: Durham region’s popular groove school now offers a new series of free virtual workshops for Black youth to reconnect with their roots and identity through the power of African dance and drumming. Known for their inspiring teaching and dynamic live performances, Afiwi Roots and Revival showcases the very best of Afiwi’s training, music, tradition and entertainment across a variety of African Diasporic dance genres. The drumming program is steeped in a deep repertoire of Djembe mastery directly from Burkino Faso, Western Africa. Each workshop is 45 minutes and offered for two age groups. Registration on site. The drumming program, which will be provided concurrently, happen in person and online. These will be in the format of traditional drumming circles, and take place at various locations throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Accessible via live stream, the drumming program is fully available to the general public and does not require advanced registration. The series is in partnership with community organizations and the Canadian Red Cross. Also included in this programming is the Roots & Revival: Groove Queen’s Edition, a partnership with Me to Moi Health. Curated by and for women this special “virtual groove” honours the power of sisterhood through experiential learning, sharing and healing over the course of seven weeks. Participants can join empowering conversations about resilience, the power of self-care, trauma awareness, and more

TORONTO ANNUAL SANTA CLAUS PARADE: Traditionally this parade happens mid-November and is considered the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season for many. While the parade won’t take place in the streets of Toronto this year it doesn’t mean we can’t still feel all the magic and wonder. The Santa Claus parade will be presented as a television special this year with floats, musical guests, marching bands, and hopefully the upside-down clowns — of course, Mrs. & Mr. Claus will be there too! Date for the airing is set for December 5th at 7 pm on CTV.

Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.: the exciting exhibition that’s been touring the world will make its Canadian debut at Yorkdale Shopping Centre for a limited engagement. With ongoing COVID regulations, no confirmed date has been set at this time but we hear it’s very VERY soon. We’ll keep an eye for all Marvel fans in the city. You can also sign up for updates at the official site.

*please check with individual venues and events for updates on covid-19 related guidelines.



About Sonya Davidson 935 Articles
Covering events, openings and all the deliciousness in Toronto.