The (Long) Weekender: Smoke’s poutine-eating contest, Conan O’Brien’s show and six other things to do this May 24
1. HARBOURKIDS CIRCUS (FREE!)
Rather than allowing the house to become a three-ring circus with everyone home for the long weekend, head down to the Harbourfront Centre, where the Toronto International Circus Festival shares space with big top–themed activities. Highlights include pint-sized acrobats, stilt walkers and aerialists from the Canadian National Youth Circus, two pyrotechnic shows and a workshop where kids can try out circus equipment. May 22 to 24. Harbourfront Centre, 231 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.
2. TAYLOR SWIFT
Sometime in the past year or so, Taylor Swift was probably crowned reigning princess of country-cool. We say probably because really, who can keep up with Swift’s plethora of awards? Grammys, American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards… It’s totally possible her trophy cupboard contains a crown or two. Let’s be honest: girlfriend is on a roll these days. Even Kanye can’t keep her down. May 21 and 22. $35–$89.50. Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.
3. STITCH: AN A CAPPELLA OPERA
In our minds, the sewing machine is a small appliance that isn’t exactly fraught with meaning. Not so, says this indie opera by librettist Anna Chatterton and composer Juliet Palmer. Since its invention, it’s been a means of both empowerment and exploitation for women. Accompanied by only the sounds of three sewing machines, vocalists Christine Duncan, Patricia O’Callaghan and Neema Bickersteth give the audience some insight into life in a garment factory and a voice to the women who work there. To May 30. $20. The Theatre Centre, 1087 Queen St. W., Ste. 100, 416-538-0988, theatrecentre.org.
4. SMOKE’S POUTINERIE WORLD POUTINE-EATING CHAMPIONSHIP (FREE!)
For the first time ever, poutine eating—the most Canadian of sports, really—will join the official ranks of competitive eating with this contest, sanctioned by Major League Eating. The glutton who can scarf down the most poutine in 10 minutes will be the proud holder of a brand new world record. But competition is stiff; contenders include Pat “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, the number three–ranked Major League Eater in the world and holder of 20 competitive eating records. May 22. Smoke’s Poutinerie Mobile Truck, BMO Field, 170 Princes’ Blvd., smokespoutinerie.com/championship.
5. OUTDOOR PAINTBALL
Some people like to enjoy the warmer weather by taking a nice walk and maybe feeding some ducks. Others like to shoot brightly hued balls of paint at one another. Who’s to say which is more fun, really? For those in the paintball camp, Defcon Paintball’s outdoor field has officially opened for the season. May 22. $30–$70. Downsview Park, 75 Carl Hall Rd., defconpaintball.ca.
6. FOUND FOOTAGE FESTIVAL
Hosted by festival curators Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, this is not your usual film fest. The lineup consists entirely of videos found at garage sales, thrift stores and sometimes even dumpsters–the epitome of the “one man’s trash” ethos. We’re looking forward to seeing the program of horrible Saturday morning cartoons and the footage of a heavy metal music festival from 1985. May 23. $15. Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 416-513-2331, foundfootagefest.com.
7. THE FIRST ANNUAL QUEEN VICTORIA LOOK-ALIKE COMPETITION (FREE!)
Celebrate the late Queen V.’s 191st birthday with this ever-so-respectful (and totally tongue-in-cheek) contest. Potential queens will be tested on their poise, skill, royal knowledge and, of course, resemblance to Her Highness by a panel of judges: Shinan Govani, Bruce Bell (the hotel’s resident historian) and Christopher Herd (the hotel’s resident author). Celeb chef Bob Blumer hosts. RSVP required. May 24. Imperial Foyer and Library Bar, Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front St. W., 416-368-2511, victoriaspirits.com.
8. CONAN O’BRIEN
The Toronto chapter of Team Coco will be out in full force for this weekend’s show at Massey Hall, the latest stop on his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television tour. Expect plenty of Leno jokes and, if his Twitter profile picture is anything to go by, a monkey and that luxurious red beard. May 22. $44.50–$89.50. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com.