It's a whole new year, and I give you the new monthly edition of What's Up Toronto. January is usually a slow month with most people wanting to stay home after the holidays and avoid the cold as much as possible. But Toronto is the kind of city that gives you plenty of fun activities to coax you away from your fireplace even if it is 20 below. Here are my top-five picks for making the most of January.
Canada's Top Ten Film Festival (Jan 2-11)
The TIFF Lightbox is celebrating 2014 by showcasing the 10 best Canadian feature films of the past year. Selected by a panel of Canadian filmmakers, these movies may have flown under your radar when they were first released, but you haven't missed your chance to see them on the big screen. This year's festival line-up includes Maps to the Stars, a satire of the film industry; the documentary Sol about high suicide rates in Arctic communities; and the Cannes Special Jury prize winner Mommy directed by a 25 year old from Québec. The festival will also feature Canada's best short films by both professional and student filmmakers. Pay special attention to the schedule because many of the film's directors will be present at certain screenings. For more details click here.
Next Stage Theatre Festival (Jan 7-18)
The Next Stage Theatre Festival is Toronto's winter indie theatre festival curated and juried by the Toronto Fringe. Ten shows by some of Toronto's best Fringe artists are performed in repertory over twelve days and one performance of each show will be followed by a Talk-Back with the artists at The Hoxton Bar. Whether you're a fan of contemporary dance, sketch comedy, or musical tragedies, there's something for everyone at the Next Stage Festival. For more details click here.
Come Up To My Room (Jan 16-25)
For the annual Come Up To My Room, the Gladstone Hotel invites visual artists and designers to turn the hotel's four floors into a contemporary art gallery. Featuring work by over twenty artists, Come Up To My Room is more than just an exhibit. This year's show will feature nights of musical entertainment, opening and closing receptions, and a talk on the relationship between self-taught artists and trained professionals in the current design industry. For more details click here.
The Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival (Jan 31)
The end of January will bring you Toronto's outdoor winter craft beer festival right downtown at Roundhouse Park. This festival showcases nothing but beers from Ontario craft breweries to support local and independent small businesses. In attendance, expect to see Muskoka Brewery, Great Lakes Brewery, Steam Whistle, Beau's Brewing, Black Oak Brewing, Oast House Brewers and more. And if all that beer makes you hungry you can grab at bite at one of the four food trucks onsite. Be sure to head down early because the first 500 guests will get a Roundhouse Beer Fest toque. For more details click here.
Owen Pallett at Lee's Palace (Jan 31)
It's been a great year for Canadian musician Owen Pallett. Known for his collaborations with bands like Arcade Fire, Beirut, and Stars, Pallet has also established a successful solo career. You may be more familiar with him under the name Final Fantasy which he recorded under until 2010. Having since abandoned all stage names, Pallett is still on the rise. His latest solo album, In Conflict, was shortlisted for the 2014 Polaris Prize and was named both a "pop treasure" and a "stirring personal work of art" by Rolling Stone writer Ned Raggett. Now on tour, the end of January will bring him to Toronto for two shows at Lee's Palace on January 31. At 2:00pm fans of all ages can see him take the stage, and the 19+ crowd can catch him later that night at 9:00pm.The afternoon show will be opened by Foxes in Fiction and the evening performance will begin with Jennifer Castle. For more details click here.