The return of the Distillery Christmas Market, a night with The Tallest Man on Earth and six other things to see, hear and do in Toronto this week
A festive market in the Distillery District
1No Toronto neighbourhood does Christmas quite like the Distillery District, which transforms into a wintry Dickensian fairyland every December. The annual Toronto Christmas Market features the usual setup of locally made crafts, Christmas lights, carollers and hot apple cider. This year’s market will also host over 400 performances from singers, brass bands and dancers, with special guest appearances from some of Santa’s elves. Thursday, November 15 to December 23. $6 weekends, free weekdays. Distillery Historic District.
A night with a smooth-voiced Swede
2The Swedish crooner Kristian Matsson—better known as the Tallest Man on Earth—can captivate audiences with nothing more than his acoustic guitar. Earlier this year, he released a new five-part series, When the Bird Sees the Solid Ground, in monthly instalments, accompanied by videos that explained how he wrote the songs. By bringing fans inside his creative process, Matsson built a special intimacy with his listeners—a quality that carries over to his on-stage performances. His shows are always heavy on breezy favourites, but he has also been known to tackle an unexpected cover or two from pop stars like Natasha Bedingfield and Adele. Thursday, November 15. $35–$40. Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
A night with Canada’s favourite spaceman
3Last year, Chris Hadfield hosted Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer to sing a Leonard Cohen tribute, and welcomed a team of cyborgs on stage to transform colour into sound. This year’s genre-bending variety show features equally brilliant people and ideas, including British writer and comedian Robin Ince and Canadian synthwave band Tupper Ware Remix Party. Thursday, November 15. $15–$105. Roy Thomson Hall.
A hometown show from the king of comedy
4Russell Peters’ politically incorrect sensibility, paired with his perspective as a second-generation Canadian, turned him into a global comedic icon. Over the past decade, he became the first comedian to get a Netflix stand-up special, broke a comedy ticket sales record in the U.K. and hosted the largest stand-up show Australia has ever seen. His Deported world tour kicked off earlier this year in Perth, and now he’s touching down in Canada for a hometown performance. While the tour’s title suggests his routine will be squarely aimed at you-know-who, fans can still expect the self-effacing anecdotes and off-colour humour that the king of comfort-food comedy is known for. Thursday, November 15. $61–$134. Scotiabank Arena.
A concert with a cause
5The fifth annual Dream Serenade brings together some of Canada’s most popular musicians for a benefit concert to raise funds for children with developmental and physical disabilities. This year’s lineup includes Toronto’s own City and Colour, the Barenaked Ladies, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Owen Pallett, Hayden, Weaves and iskwē. Saturday, November 17. $25–$125. Roy Thomson Hall.
A zany small-town comedy
6The Shaw Festival had a sleeper hit last year with its exquisite staging of Middletown, American playwright Will Eno’s quirky, drama-fuelled comedy. A wry spin on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the play is set in a backwater burg where the mundane and the momentous go hand in hand. As the typical interact in unexpected ways, a friendship develops between a pregnant housewife and the plumber hired to fix her sink. Crow’s Theatre partnered with Shaw for the Toronto show, which features the original cast from the Canadian premiere. Opens Monday, November 12. $30–$55. Streetcar Crowsnest.
A cinematic glimpse into modern Iran
7Iran’s film industry began garnering praise in the ’90s for its fascinating blend of poetry and gritty realism. There’s always a small sampling of Iranian film at Toronto’s International Film Festival, but TIFF also believes that the country’s cinema warrants a festival of its own. Now in its third year, the three-day CineIran festival includes in-person appearances from some of Iran’s biggest names, including actor Farhad Aslani, who presents this year’s opening film, Columbus. Friday, November 16 to Sunday, November 18. $11–$19. TIFF Bell Lightbox, Art Gallery of Ontario.
A culinary conversation with Michael W. Twitty
8Michael W. Twitty, culinary historian and author of the James Beard award–winning cookbook The Cooking Gene, will speak with Globe and Mail columnist Denise Balkissoon about what it means to cook from a place of heritage, identity and belonging—which in Twitty’s case, means the American South. Chef Suzanne Barr (of the much-missed Saturday Dinette) will be providing canapés, one of which is included in the ticket price. Proceeds go to support Community Food Centres Canada. Wednesday, November 14. $25. Revival Bar.