A Beyoncé appreciation night, an Elton John farewell tour, and six other things to do in Toronto this week
A Beyoncé appreciation night
1Cultural critics and highly educated Beyhive members get in formation for a panel discussion on the many personas of Queen B. Over the years, she’s styled herself as a twerking single lady, a bat-swinging jilted wife, a fertility goddess, a black-power icon and, most recently, the hard-driving mastermind behind her historic Homecoming concerts. They’re all in the spotlight during In Respect to Beyoncé, a deep dive that promises to celebrate and deconstruct the fiercest pop-cultural force of the millennium. October 21, Toronto Reference Library.
A long farewell
2Elton John has spent more than half a century on the road, so we forgive him for turning in his sparkly sunnies. Before the Rocket Man fully retires in 2020, though, he’s playing out the rest of his 300-show, five-continent-spanning Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, tickling Toronto’s ivories with plenty of fan favourites (hold us closer, Tiny Dancer). Ever the gentleman, John bumped his original dates to accommodate the Raptors’ home opener. October 23 and 24, Scotiabank Arena.
Videos on demand
3Hito Steyerl, a German art star obsessed with digital technology, layers real-life video footage with game imagery, and factual documents with fictional ones, creating brain-bending short films. She’s known for her satirical humour and wry commentary on such global issues as women’s rights and political corruption. And for This Is the Future, her Toronto installation—and first solo exhibition in Canada—she’s working with Parkdalian community members to adorn the gallery with plants from the neighbourhood’s community garden. October 24 to February 23, the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Writers on writing
4Each fall, writers and readers from all over the world descend on the city for 11 days of literary chatter at the Toronto International Festival of Authors, but to celebrate TIFA’s 40th anniversary, the organizers are leaning hard into homegrown talent. Maureen Jennings brings the thrills, Linwood Barclay the chills, and a local poetry slam serves up linguistic skills that’ll be better than this rhyme—we promise. Emma Donoghue and David Chariandy are slated to do readings, and there will be a tribute to novelist Wayson Choy, who died this spring. October 24 to November 3, Harbourfront Centre.
The ultimate familygram opportunity
5Dr. Seuss probably never imagined Square One would top the list of all the Places You’ll Go. His colourful cartoon world comes to life in the form of a 15,000-square-foot maze filled with truffula trees, thousands of balloons and pink clover fields designed, the organizers say, to make children “shriek with joy.” Together, the rooms at the Dr. Seuss Experience are an interactive bibliography of his most wondrous books: The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat and Oh, the Places You’ll Go. If you’re lucky, you might even hear a Who. October 26, Square One Shopping Centre.
6Empty Bowls is part food festival, part artsy rendezvous and part charitable gala, so basically, everyone in your friend group should be satisfied. Happening at the Gardiner Museum, this is the spot to put an end to rumbling tummies—both yours and the bellies of those in need. Here’s how it works: folks who show up get a handcrafted bowl, which they can take home after, made lovingly by potters and guilds across the city (there are over 400 to choose from). Then they fill it up with their choice of soup cooked by much-loved Toronto chefs. (Terroni’s Giovanna Alonzi and Hogtown Smoke’s Sean Simon will be whipping up batches of creamy, aromatic concoctions, for example.) This year’s charity is Anishnawbe Health Toronto, a native centre whose focus is on enriching lives through culture and healing. October 24, Gardiner Museum.
7Impulse is an interactive exhibit at Harbourfront Centre that adds musical notes and a funky neon glow to the city’s dark and chilly late-fall vibe. City dwellers over the age of 12 can play like a kid again, without judgmental stares. The musical, light-up seesaws are a great excuse to get outside with your bestie and relive the glory days of your childhood. (No double bouncing and no hogging, there are only 15.) The installation originated in Montreal as a way to cheer people up during the harsh 2015-2016 winter, an idea that has since spread to Toronto. October 25 to November 12, Harbourfront Centre.
A haunted inn
8If you’re looking to get into the Halloween spirit, there are few things creepier than learning about funeral traditions at the burial site of a large Victorian family. Montgomery’s Inn used to be run by a pair of Irish immigrants who survived the famous famine of the 1800s. Not to raise the hairs on your neck, but it’s also the place where five of their offspring died during childhood. Over the course of this terrifying event, visitors will experience a throwback to that era in the inn’s old sitting room, staged for family mourning. Sadists in the group will especially love eerie ghost stories and a nighttime visit to the resting place of Thomas Montgomery’s family. Afterwards, baked goods are on offer… if you can stomach them. October 24 to 27, Montgomery’s Inn.