A banjo-infused Mumford and Sons show, a Steven Spielberg film festival and six other things to see, hear and do in Toronto this week
A banjo-infused Mumford and Sons show
1After Mumford and Sons invited Jordan Peterson to their London studio, a photo of the band posing with him started making its rounds online, eclipsing buzz around their new album and causing a wave of outrage on Twitter. Now, they’re trying to shift the focus back to music with a world tour. Onstage, they take an anything-goes approach, jumping from crowd-surfing to intimate a capella covers. Long-time fans will also be relieved to hear that the banjo is making a reappearance for a set list that includes a balance of old and new. Monday, December 17 and Tuesday, December 18. $82–$156. Scotiabank Arena.
A night of illusion with the Champions of Magic
2Illusionists, escape artists and a master mind reader pull off the seemingly impossible on stage, from levitation to a recreation of Houdini’s water-torture cell, where the magician famously escaped a sealed glass tank while hanging upside down from ankle restraints. A hit in London’s West End, Champions of Magic features five top-notch magicians performing original tricks and stunts. Expect the showmanship of Gob Bluth with the talent of David Blaine. Wednesday, December 19 to Sunday, January 6. $74.95–89.95. Bluma Appel Theatre.
A Spotify bingo dance party
3Regardless of whether you spent the year streaming underground acid jazz or listening to Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry” on repeat, all types of music lovers are invited to Spotify’s Wrapped Bingo. The party, hosted by comedians Eddy King and Aisha Brown, puts a musical, interactive twist on the classic game, where attendees receive personalized cards based on their most listened to music. Also on the agenda: prizes, surprise guests, and music from DJs Nana Zen and Jayemkayem. Wednesday, December 19. Free with RSVP. AirShip37.
A Steven Spielberg extravaganza
4Close Encounters: The Cinema of Steven Spielberg brings some of the legendary auteur’s most essential films to the Lightbox. The lineup includes rarely screened works like 1974’s The Sugarland Express, cult classics like Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan, and a generous sample of movies Spielberg has produced, like Gremlins, Poltergeist, and The Goonies. Friday, December 21 to Thursday, January 10. $14. TIFF Bell Lightbox.
A Handel singalong
5Amateur choristers get their chance to let loose at this annual mass sing-along, backed by the Tafelmusik orchestra. It has its share of laughs, thanks to a stand-in Herr Handel on the podium (a.k.a. music director Ivars Taurins costumed in a white powdered wig and 18th-century glad rags). Saturday, December 22. $49. Roy Thompson Hall.
A skate trail in the city
6Tessa and Scott wannabes have one more rink to practice on. Toronto’s skate trail opens under the Gardiner Expressway for its second season, with skating lessons, food and hot drinks, and a cozy winter village filled with blankets and outdoor fire pits. Opening weekend Friday, December 21 to Sunday, December 23. Free. The Bentway, Fort York Blvd.
A night with Born Ruffians
7For their new record, the Toronto group Born Ruffians wanted to incorporate influences from bands they used to listen to on their parents’ turntables when they were kids, like Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers and the Beatles. The result is an album with the same youthful vigour of their early work, layered with emotional tracks inspired by the death of David Bowie and the cancer diagnosis of frontman Luke Lalonde’s father. After some time apart, drummer Steve Hamelin re-joins the band for the concert. Thursday, December 20. $9–$24.50. Danforth Music Hall.
A look at the ancient world
8The Toronto Reference Library is displaying their incredible collection of miniature maps and atlases, and the TPL’s rare maps curator will be on hand for an interactive session to talk about what people thought the world looked like 200 years ago. Wednesday, December 19. Free. Toronto Reference Library.