A massive party at the ROM, a Prince Edward County getaway and six other things to do this New Year’s Eve
Toronto has a New Year’s bash for every taste, with a slew of soirées, concerts and even midnight sprints. Here, the coolest ways to ring in 2017
The Dude Fest
Parties are all well and good, but the best way to spend New Year’s Eve is on a couch, blissfully wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe. For NYE layabouts, the Hot Docs cinema will be screening The Big Lebowski, the ultimate malingerer’s manifesto. The price of admission buys you popcorn, free access to the (temporary) in-house bowling alley and Kahlúa-soaked cocktails from the White Russian Express Bar. Terry cloth and unwashed hair are encouraged. $21. Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.
The Improv Showdown
Bad Dog Theatre’s improv tournament is the closest you’ll get to a rowdy sporting match on New Year’s Eve. The event pits two veteran improv teams against each other in a cutthroat battle for comedic supremacy—and the audience gets to determine the winner. After the victors are crowned, the teams call a truce, the dance party starts, and guests toast 2017 with flutes of champagne. $30–$35. Bad Dog Theatre.
The Indie Bash
For a Toronto-bred band, Elliott Brood is deeply steeped in Americana, delivering the kind of roots rock you’d expect to find in a Coen brothers movie—all strummy banjos, ragged vocals and vigorous foot stomping. This year, they’re holding a moody New Year’s Eve jamboree at Lee’s Palace, joined by bluegrassy boot shakers Union Duke. $17.50–$25. Lee’s Palace.
The Klezmer Revue
The Lemon Bucket Orkestra doesn’t hold concerts—it throws parties. At every show, members of the self-described Balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-funk supergroup leap off the stage, maraud through the aisles and blare raucous Eastern European tunes through their sousaphones and flugelhorns. Their New Year’s bash will also feature a set from the Soul Motivators, a stylistic stew of hip hop, soul and psychedelia. There will be a massive singalong when the clock strikes 12—guests can download lyrics from the band’s website in advance. $25–$35. The Opera House.
The Late-Night Sprint
For hard-core keeners who want to get an early start on their January fitness resolutions, the Midnite Run begins at the stroke and takes them on a five-kilometre route through Liberty Village. Runners get a $30 swag bag with a tuque or mittens, beer and champagne. Slackers can skip the run and join the after-party, with cocktails, snacks, a DJ and dancing. $85–$95 for run; $45–$55 for party only. Liberty Market Galleria.
The Museum Takeover
For the first time ever, the ROM will be opening its doors on New Year’s Eve to host a chic soirée (cocktail attire required). Guests can groove to vintage soul from the St. Royals in one room and dance to tunes by the DJ duo Sweet Touch Foundation in another. The best reason to go? Tickets include admission to the shimmering Chihuly exhibit, featuring room upon room of gargantuan hand-blown glass sculptures—a surreal sight best enjoyed with a champagne cocktail. Royal Ontario Museum.
The P.E.C. Circus
The Drake Devonshire in Prince Edward County—a magical destination in and of itself—will transform into a sparkling New Year’s night circus, with glitter on the walls and parasols decorating the dining room. Among the enticements: a tarot reader, circus performers, a DJ spinning Motown records and vintage circus footage projected on the walls. Guests also get a three-course prix fixe dinner from Drake chef Michael Portigal, featuring locally sourced ingredients and wine pairings. $75–$125. Drake Devonshire Inn.
The Highbrow Soirée
The fanciest New Year’s fête in town involves voluminous ball gowns, tuxedo tailcoats and a 64-piece orchestra. Bravissimo! is a symphonic spectacular featuring selections from the world’s most beloved operatic classics. This year’s program includes Cosí fan tutte, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Pagliacci and Tosca. The list of performers is an all-star Italian slate: soprano Donata D’Annunzio Lombardi, mezzo Diletta Rizzo Marin, tenor Leonardo Caimi and baritone Lucio Gallo. $55–$145. Roy Thomson Hall.