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The Weekender: Toronto Jazz Festival, Top Gun! The Musical and six other items on our to-do list

The Weekender: Toronto Jazz Festival, Top Gun! The Musical and six other items on our to-do list

1. TORONTO JAZZ FESTIVAL At the risk of sounding a little cliché, this annual music fest is definitely in the “something for everyone” category. With upward of a thousand musicians playing hundreds of shows over the next 10 days, we are supremely confident that you’ll find at least one show you’ll want to attend, even if you’re not that into jazz. This weekend, be sure to catch soul singer Janelle Monae (Friday), Vancouver indie rocker Destroyer (Saturday), jazz pianist Hiromi and New Dutch Swing ensemble Ig Henneman Sextet (both Sunday). Later in the week, Natalie Cole, Ziggy Marley and Esperanza Spalding—the surprise Best New Artist winner at the 2011 Grammys—perform. June 22 to July 1. Various locations, torontojazz.com.

2. TASTE OF ASIA FESTIVAL 2012 Sure, it’s uptown (way uptown, as in beside Pacific Mall), but this foodie festival is so huge, it’s totally worth the trip. Think 150-plus vendors, two full days of eating (with breaks, obviously), tens of thousands of visitors, live music, cultural performances and art. If all of that isn’t enough for you, there’s also an auto show! But the eats are definitely the stars of the show, so check out the Korean rice-eating contest during the opening ceremonies, followed by munchies from across Asia, including Korean bi bim bap, Taiwanese stinky tofu, Malaysian murtabak (a pancake-like snack stuffed with minced lamb) and many types of noodles. June 23 and 24. Admission is free. Kennedy Rd. and Steeles Ave. E., tasteofasiastreetfestival.ca

3. TOP GUN! THE MUSICAL We’ll be first in line to check out the 10th-anniversary remount of this “satirical and silly” musical adaptation of Tom Cruise’s late-’80s masterpiece Top Gun. Partly because it is a satirical and silly musical adaptation, and partly because we can’t resist the oh-so-meta conceit of the show—a struggling writer tries to adapt the action flick into a musical while his cast constantly bickers, and the producer, an ex-Navy Seal, isn’t as trustworthy as the money guy should be. To June 29. $35. Lower Ossington Theatre, 100A Ossington Ave., 416-915-6747, lowerossingtontheatre.com.

4. DANCE IN THE GARDEN WITH MM2 Modern dance company MM2 teams up with the Toronto Botanical Garden for this outdoor program, which features a new work called Conversations and some improv. Following the performance, dance critic Deirdre Kelly moderates a conversation about dance. June 23. $10. Toronto Botanical Garden, 777 Lawrence Ave. E., 416-397-1341, torontobotanicalgarden.ca.

5. ULTIMATE DINOSAURS: GIANTS FROM GONDWANA Millions of years ago, the world was a very different place. Present-day Africa, Madagascar and South America were all joined together, forming a huge land mass called Gondwana. That prehistoric super-continent was home to super-sized dinosaurs, like the Giganotosaurus (naturally), Carnotaurus and Futalognkosaurus, a 110-foot-long fellow who only just fits under the ROM’s roof. This very cool interactive exhibit features fossilized examples of each of those big guys, plus augmented reality content. From June 23. $25. Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8000, rom.on.ca/dinos.

6. FIRST PEOPLES CINEMA: 1500 NATIONS, ONE TRADITION First Nations filmmakers from across the world, including Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia, are the focus of one of TIFF’s retrospectives. In addition to the film program, there’s an art exhibit, talks and concerts. On Friday, see (or re-see) director Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat: The Fast Runnerthe first feature ever made entirely in Inuktitut, and the winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes. The filmmaker’s followup, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, is also screening this weekend. To August 11. $12. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net.

6. FRANCO-FETE (FREE!) We don’t always get to put those hours and hours of elementary school French classes to use—aside from that one time we looked up all the episodes of Telefrancais on YouTube. That’s enough to qualify us as francophiles, right? Good, because there’s no way we’re missing this globally focused cultural festival. Live music from francophone communities around the world is featured heavily on the lineup, but there are also language lessons specifically tailored to make partying easier no matter where you are—as long as they speak French there—and a dance party with Swedish-Congolese singer Mohombi and his self-described “Afro-Viking” tunes. June 22 to 24. Admission is free. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 516-644-1575, franco-fete.ca.

8. ROGER WATERS: THE WALL LIVE If there’s anyone who is qualified to put on an epic concert consisting only of songs from Pink Floyd’s iconic album The Wall, it’s former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters. The first time it was performed was at a 1990 concert in Berlin, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but this version has been seriously amped up. Expect pyrotechnics, a light show and every song from The Wall (played in order). June 23. $35-$250. Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca.

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(Image: Cryolophosaurus, Julius Csotonyi)

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