The Cavalcade of Lights, a Gordon Lightfoot concert series and six other things to do this week
A massive sing-along and fireworks display at City Hall
For the 50th year, Toronto will ring in the holiday season with the Cavalcade of Lights, a tree-lighting ceremony featuring a spectacular fireworks display at Nathan Phillips Square. This year, the annual ritual includes a sing-along to John Lennon’s “Imagine” led by Choir! Choir! Choir! (check out their renditions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Prince’s “When Doves Cry”), a set by husband-wife blues duo Whitehorse, and a skating party with DJ General Eclectic. Saturday, November 26. Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W., toronto.ca.
Gordon Lightfoot’s tireless holiday concert series
It’s trickier than ever to define the Canadian identity, but there’s still one singer-songwriter whose very name might as well have a maple leaf growing out of it. Days after celebrating his 78th birthday, Gordon Lightfoot will headline his annual four-night run at Massey Hall, with “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “If You Could Read My Mind” among the lineup of AM radio classics. While Lightfoot’s once-honeyed voice has taken a beating over the years, his unmistakable vocal presence has acquired a distinguished, tattered character. Wednesday, November 23 to Saturday, November 26. $32–$119. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., masseyhall.com.
12 Trees, the Gardiner’s gorgeous Christmas exhibition
Artists and designers reimagine the traditional Christmas tree in the annual Gardiner Museum fundraiser, curated this year by internationally renowned artist and environmental activist David Buckland. The theme is “Good for the Earth,” with artists creating tree installations from a combination of recycled and sustainable materials, like recycled water bottles, and books and scripts from the Stratford Festival. To Sunday, January 8. Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park, gardinermuseum.ca.
Halo-halo from the other side
This Tuesday, the team behind the Ethnic Aisle blog will examine what happens when a so-called “ethnic food”—in this case, Filipino cuisine—goes mainstream. Journalist Jef Catapang leads a panel discussion featuring, among others, Nicole Cajucom, the executive director for Kapisanan Centre. And, of course, there will be snacks: North York’s Casa Manila and Queen West’s Lamesa will be serving lumpia, chicken adobo, pancit and halo-halo. $55. Tuesday, November 22. Super Wonder Gallery, 876 Bloor St. W., universe.com.
The National Ballet’s sorrowful, stunning Onegin
The National Ballet of Canada serves up a four-hanky sobfest with this nuanced, potent narrative ballet. Inspired by Alexander Pushkin’s novel Eugene Onegin and featuring the music of Tchaikovsky, the story follows a Russian aristocrat who rebuffs an adoring albeit naïve girl and then encounters her again years later. This production delivers a blend of delicious melodrama and striking psychological realism. Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27. From $39. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., national.ballet.ca.
An ode to the beer label
It’s what’s inside the beer bottle that counts—but the actual bottles can be pretty great, too. Attendees at this Friday’s Art of Craft Beer event can bid on super-cool prints that celebrate beer labels. Reps from Great Lakes, Bandit, Sawdust City and Collective Arts breweries will all be on hand, and proceeds will benefit Sketch, a Toronto-based not-for-profit that engages street youth through art. $25–$30 (includes two beer tickets and one limited-edition print). Friday, November 25. Super Wonder Gallery, 876 Bloor St. W., universe.com.
TomorrowLove, a play that changes with every performance
In her 2014 drama, Vitals, playwright Rosamund Small outfitted multiple rooms of a house to trace an EMS worker’s most horrific experiences. In Outside the March’s TomorrowLove, she returns to that site-specific approach, staging 15 distinct but interconnected mini-plays about modern love in the rooms of a former funeral home. Each of the roles is gender-fluid—the actors hold a lottery before every show to find out which character they’ll play that night. $40. To Sunday, December 18. The Aorta, 733 Mount Pleasant Rd., outsidethemarch.ca.
A performance of Dvořák’s iconic Cello Concerto
At first, Dvořák had little interest in writing this work, but when the Czech composer finally put his mind to it he turned out what is probably the most popular orchestral piece for that most warm-hearted of instruments. Chinese cellist Jian Wang plumbs the depths of this iconic piece under the direction of conductor Long Yu, who also leads the TSO in a reading of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony. Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, November 27. $34–$148. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., masseyhall.com.