1. SUMMERLICIOUS 2011
We always get a little overwhelmed when Summerlicious time rolls around. One hundred and fifty of the city’s restos are participating in this annual prix fixe fest and we know there’s no way we can eat at every one, but we always feel like we should try. This year, we narrowed the list down to the best 63 picks and then deferred to an expert and made reservations based on our expert foodie Chris Nuttall-Smith’s list of 11 sure things. You could do much worse. July 8 to 24. toronto.ca/summerlicious.
2. HUGH JACKMAN LIVE IN CONCERT
Hot Aussie Hugh Jackman, probably best known for his turn as surly mutant Wolverine in various X-Men movies, is also quite the stage performer, in case you didn’t know (we did, mostly because we kind of love him and know these kinds of things). Also, he hosted the Oscars a few years ago and sang a fair bit. During this limited-engagement concert at the Princess of Wales, Jackman (with an 18-piece backing orchestra) shares stories about his life thus far via his favourite musical numbers. Could be cheesy, but we’re still checking it out. July 5—17. $25–$130. The Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com.
3. SUMMER STAR PARTY (FREE!)
Work or not, we’re now firmly ensconced in summer vacation. For some (kids, that is) the glow of that first, school-free week has worn off, which means for some (parents this time) the plaintive whines of boredom are already beginning. The solution? Tire the little dears out with this way-past-their-bedtimes party. High-powered telescopes for high-powered stargazing form the main attraction; games, an
IMAX screening of A Trip to the Moon and an audience-appropriate talk from U of T astronomer Michael Reid are also in the lineup. July 8. Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd., 416-696-1000, ontariosciencecentre.ca.
4. TORONTO FRINGE THEATRE FESTIVAL
For the next 11 days it’s all theatre, all the time thanks to the city’s annual Fringe Festival. Unjuried, selected by lottery and taking place at venues across the city, the lineup is 145 plays strong and runs the gamut from family-friendly to drama to comedy to musical to weird. Our must-sees include A Depper Kind of Love, a fan’s ode to Captain Jack Sparrow himself; The Soaps, a live improv soap opera set backstage at the fictional Shaw-ford Festival; and Awake, a “funeral for those who have died at the hand of gang violence” that features dancehall, hip hop and a script based on interviews with gang members, cops and mothers who have lost children to violence. June 30 to July 11. $10, pass $40–$90. Various locations, 416-966-1062, fringetoronto.com.
5. HONDA INDY
Loud, sort of smelly and probably horrible for the environment though it may be, the Indy is a summertime must in the city. The main draw is obviously the fast cars, but there’s plenty of other stuff (concerts, exhibits, activities for the kids, the all-important eats) to make it fun for non-autophiles. July 8–10. $30–$423. Exhibition Place, 190 Princes Blvd., hondaindytoronto.com.
6. AFROFEST (FREE!)
We were a little worried about Afrofest for a while there, but thanks to Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, all is well and things are proceeding as normal—for this year at least. Though this long-running cultural fest will probably have to find a new home in 2012, we’re looking forward to catching performances by Thomas Mapfumo (nicknamed the Lion of Zimbabwe, he’s apparently considered the Bob Dylan and the Bob Marley of southern Africa) and Fela Kuti protégé Femi Abosede at Queen’s Park this weekend, just like we always have. July 9 and 10. Queen’s Park, 416-469-5336, musicafrica.org.
7. CORAZÓN DE MÉXICO (FREE!)
Try as it might, Mexico can have a hard time casting off its spring break/narcoterrorist image. This weekend-long cultural festival should help in that regard. Take in relics of modern Mexico, whether it’s Day of the Dead papier-mâché sculptures by the renowned Linares family, a marionette show, a Lucha Libre film series or performances by musicians both traditional and cutting edge (think: Celso Piña, the self-professed “accordion rebel”). Also, there’s a foodie workshop featuring Francisco Alejandri of Agave y Aguacate and tequila tasting. July 8–10. Harbourfront Centre, 231 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.
8. FELLINI: SPECTACULAR OBSESSIONS
Iconic filmmaker Federico Fellini is the subject of the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s latest exhibition. Known for Oscar-winning films like La Dolce Vita, 8½ and Amarcord—not to mention introducing the world to concepts like the paparazzi and modern celebrity—Fellini’s influence is examined via photographs, original drawings, cartoons, movie posters and more. There’s also an accompanying screening series, where contemporary filmmakers pair a Fellini film with one that is “inspired by, rhymes [with] or contrasts with the Maestro’s unique vision.” This weekend, Isabella Rossellini pairs La Strada with Chaplin’s final American film, Limelight. Exhibit to September 18. $12. Screenings to August 28. $12.50–$20. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net.
(Images: Fellini, TIFF; Indy, Cobby17 from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool; Jackman, Mirvish)