February in Toronto is not only chilly—but also really exciting this year! Hit the city and be sure not to miss gems like the TIFF Next Wave Festival, the Wavelength Festival, and Black History Month events. And of course, don’t forget to surprise your loved ones on Valentine’s Day (which is so obvious that it didn’t even make it to the top ten list). Check out these February tips!
1. Toronto Sportsmen’s Show (February 7 to 10)
This popular hunting, fishing, and outdoor event will open its doors at Exhibition Place in the Direct Energy Centre during the second week of February. The biggest outdoor show in Canada, it will explore the best of all the things connected to outdoor life. More than 450 exhibitors will present their gear for camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, canoeing, travelling, and boating to thousands of visitors. Outdoor enthusiasts can also look forward to the Pro Plan All Stars Dog Show, the birds of prey show, and the adventure zone, where everyone can try climbing the indoor cliff or taking a raft ride.
2. Lady Gaga (February 8)
Lady Gaga returns to Toronto with her spectacular Born This Way Ball show to support her most recent album, Born This Way. The tour has five major themed acts, including political and social issues like discrimination and government control and Lady Gaga’s prominent topic, self-love. The tour has been a success around the world before hitting North America, including in many European cities. Lady Starlight and French electronic artist Madeon are opening the show as supporting acts. Tickets for the concert range from $65.75 to $191.25 and the concert will be held at the Air Canada Centre.
3. Patti Smith: Camera Solo (February 9 to May 19)
The Art Gallery of Ontario presents Smith’s first solo installation in Canada featuring photography, film, and object art. Even though we all know Patti Smith as the influential punk rock star associated with the Chelsea Hotel ara, her artistic potential is not confined to music. Her recent autobiographical book, Just Kids, on her life with Robert Mapplethorpe hit the bestsellers’ lists and shortly afterwards Camera Solo, with more than seventy photographs (mostly stills without flash that Smith calls ‘pure photography’), a short film, Equation Daumal, and a multimedia installation followed. Admission to the exhibition varies from $11.00 to $19.50.
4. Black History Month Storytime (February 9)
Black History Month
The Malvern Branch of the Toronto Public Library joined in Black History Month events and presents Black History Month Family Storytime — a program consisting of stories, songs, and poems about the Caribbean and Africa for children and local classes. There is no admission fee and anyone is welcome to pop in. The idea of Black History Month as a time for celebration of heroic people, history, and culture is more than 85 years old and is observed in Canada, the U.S., and the United Kingdom.
5. Off-Mirvish Series – Clybourne Park (February 12 to March 3)
The Panasonic Theatre introduces a production of Bruce Norris’ 2011 play Clybourne Park, written as a response to Lorraine Hansberry’s classic drama A Raisin in the Sun. The play has already earned critical recognition and won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. The play begins with a white family selling their house to a black family (the Youngers from Raisin) in a middle-class neighbourhood in 1959 Chicago. Afterwards, the storyline jumps forward to 2009 to reveal that the neighbourhood has been gentrified. Audrey Dwyer, Michael Healey, and Sterling Jarvis star in the production directed by Joel Greenberg.
6. Wavelength Music Festival (February 14 to 17)
The Wavelength Festival celebrates its 13th year in style; Canadian indie bands scattered around the city will include such names as Doldrums, Do Make Say Think, Evening Hymns, and Cadence Weapon. This longest-running and certainly among the most influential events focusing on underground and alternative music in Toronto has been showcasing fresh, honest music and helped to kick off the careers of many now-acclaimed bands since its start in 2000 (the list of former performers includes The Constantines, Great Lake Swimmers, Broken Social Scene, and the Hidden Cameras). Ticket prices and usually between $10 and $15.
7. Toronto Winterfolk Festival (February 14 to 17)
Winterfolk is a free family festival (with some paid stages) that celebrates blues, folk, and roots styles and does its best to bring them closer to all Torontonians. This year, more than 200 artists are scheduled to perform on five stages over the four days of the festival. Visitors can look forward to seeing such names as Maneli Jamal, David Joyce, Honouring Our Own with Brent Titcomb, and Noah Zacharin. All concerts take place indoors, under one roof in the Delta Chelsea Hotel. At the moment the festival is looking for volunteers, so if you’re a folk lover, don’t hesitate to join in the project.
8. TIFF Next Wave Festival (February 15 to February 17)
After the great succes of the inaugural year of the TIFF Next Wave Festival, young film-lovers can look forward the 2013 edition (the date of the festival was moved from May to February this year.) TIFF Next Wave aims at teens aged 14 to 18 and tries to showcase the best cinema that handles issues dear to youths in an innovative and artistic way.
To achieve a strong response and get closer to the young audience in Toronto, a dozen teen film geeks and film-makers of the future have spent their afternoon watching the wide choice of films for the festival. Afterwards, it was basically up to them to set up a program that would appeal to their peers and promote intelligent and thoughtful art cinema. This year, more than 20 films of various genres from around the world will be screened at the festival, always followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers or interesting guests. Some of the most anticipated films include Fame High, the Breakfast Club, and Bushido Sixteen.
The TIFF Next Wave also features lots of special events. For example, teams from across the GTA will compete in a Set Design Challenge under the professional guidance of experts from the film industry. The Battle of Scores at the opening ceremony will kick off the festival with a competition of six high school bands from around the city performing their own scores of an original short film. Festival organizers also try to reach out to underprivileged youth and bring film screenings and film-craft workshops to selected schools and communities around the GTA.
9. Children’s Own Media Museum (February 17 to 18)
Children’s Own Media Museum is a unique mobile media museum that turns kids into creators and teachers alike and helps them discover the global village we live in. Kids are encouraged to choose any media they want (drawing, photography, computer art, or simple installations) to express themselves. Their finished works will be hung on the wall and later become part of a travelling exhibit showcasing children’s media art. Everyone is welcome to join the event at the Harbourfront Centre for free, as the Children’s Media Museum is part of the larger Harbourfront Festival.
10. Bloor-Yorkville Icefest (February 23 to 24)
The seventh annual Bloor-Yorkville Icefest is about to celebrate the freezing winter in Toronto. Come out with your family to see a stunning “Winter Wilderness Exhibit” that will feature an ice log cabin inhabited by a northern Lumberjack splitting wood, totem poles, and animals of the Canadian wilderness including raccoons, jack rabbits, and moose — all carved from ice! More than 35,000 pounds of ice blocks were used to create the scenery by top ice-carving artists. Festival visitors can also experience ice carving demonstrations and watch an on-street skating show by the Glisse on Ice group. Food and drinks onsite are provided by local venues.