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Saturday, October 31, 2015

The top 5 free events in Toronto: November 2-8 2015

free events torontoThe top free events in Toronto will have you celebrating the Day of the Dead a little later than usual. The Harbourfront Centre is hosting a 2-day event where you'll find everything from a mariachi band to Mexican folk art. If you can't wait until the weekend, there are a few live shows to tide you over 'til then.

Here's what to do if your waiting for a paycheque.

The St. Royals (November 2)
The Drake Lounge is being taken over by The St. Royals this Monday for some quality live motown, funk, and soul music. If you can't make it out to the show, the venue will be hosting The Digs on Thursday evening for another cost-free concert.

Crankbox (November 2)
On Monday, Crankbox and Morality Players will take the stage at the Horseshoe Tavern for a free show. If you can't make it out on Monday, the venue also hosts Dave Bookman's Nu Music Night every Tuesday, which is also free.

CBC's Because News (November 5)
On Thursday, head to the CBC Broadcasting Centre to catch a live taping of Because News. This week's host Gavin Crawford will be joined by Kids in the Hall star Scott Thompson. You can reserve your spot in the audience here.

Day of the Dead Festival (November 7-8)
The Harbourfront Centre will celebrate Day of the Dead this Saturday and Sunday. Bringing Mexican traditions to Toronto, there will be performances by Mariachi Los Gallos, calavera decorating, displays of Mexican folk art and more.

Adult Colouring-In (November 8)
Spend your Sunday embracing your inner child. The Gladstone Melody Bar is providing all the supplies, so that you can colour to your heart's content. If you've got a a few extra bucks - and don't care about colouring within the lines - grab a cocktail to make the experience more enjoyable.

Have a free event you'd like to plug? Submit it to our Toronto events calendar using this form.

Photo by Shayne Gray in the blogTO Flickr pool.

by Alice Prendergast via blogTO

New wolf-themed bar has cheap drinks and great vibe

wolf like meThis new bar is named after a Tv on the Radio song, giving it indie cred (which is fitting, since it's across from the Exclaim! magazine office). With well-priced craft beers and boozy cocktails - not to mention arcade games and a vinyl library - this place is my idea of an ideal drinking hole.

Read my profile of Wolf Like Me in the bars section.

by Christina Cheung via blogTO

The top 10 stores for picture frames in Toronto

picture framesBuying picture frames in Toronto is an easy task - if you know where to go. Whether you're framing your best snaps of brunch or your bff's art project, these spots will ensure you're equipped with selection and originality - not to mention many options for a stylish new gallery wall.

Here are my picks for the top places to buy picture frames in Toronto.

See also: The Best Custom and Picture Framing Stores in Toronto

If you're looking to frame anything from your latest 24x36 painting to your most recent bachelor's degree, DeSerres is the place. Known for being a haven for artists, you'll certainly find whatever style you're looking for - whether it's canvas frames, floating picture frames, or even a simple gallery frame - in any size.

If your apartment is calling for simplistic, modern frames to start your inevitable gallery wall or host your 4x6 photos, CB2 is your spot. With clean yet elegant gold, white, and black frames (plus some select coloured ones), you'll be sure to find a frame to suit your style, in a variety of sizes.

Elte Market
With prices ranging from $9.99 for a simple easel trim frame to a $97.50 for an oxidized bronze frame emulating foliage in the woods, Elte Market comes well equipped with a variety of options, whether you're looking for a unique gift or something to jazz up your desk at work.

From frames clad with baby paraphernalia or "I <3 Mom/Gran/Pops/Dad, et al" to elegant Kate Spade frames, Indigo has curated an interesting selection (in a good way) for all. Their gallery collection is categorized by colour; black wood, white wood, and silver leaf, to easily figure out how you want your gallery wall to look.

West Elm
West Elm has a good selection to those looking for a modern frame with a unique twist, whether it's on the desk or hung on the wall. Their gallery frames come in weathered wood, polished brass, polished nickel, gold leaf, or mirror, boasting the most selection in terms of colour choices, and also available to purchase in sets of 3 or 4.

If you haven't been inside a Michaels since you moved to Toronto from the suburbs, remind yourself of the possibilities at their new store at Richmond and John. This spot is well armed with a great selection - from traditional documentation frames to collage frames - and certainly won't break your budget.

Umbra Store
Arguably the gladiator of picture frame brands, Umbra's flagship store on John has you covered; they even have a frame for your old t-shirt (t-shirt size not specified). Umbra's unique selection of alternative frames - from photo trees to hanging photo chains - is perfect for your d├ęcor, and for gifts.

Whether you love or hate getting lost in Ikea, we'd be lying to you if it didn't make the cut. With an extensive selection just before checkout - including square sizes for your insta pics and diverse sizes and colours - you're bound to find that perfect modern frame, without the modern price tag.

This is the place to go if you're looking for a quality frame, without the price tag. HomeSense is a better choice for those without a clear style in mind, as each store has a rotating selection with a variety of styles and colours.

Kitchen Stuff Plus
From arguably cute photo-memo frames (think silver puppy doubling as paperweight and memo holder) to digital frames rotating your favourite pics, Kitchen Stuff Plus has you covered. Come here if you're looking for a standard collage frame with "Family" written in the middle, saving you the hassle of curating your own gallery wall.

What did I miss? Add your suggestions for top places to buy picture frames in Toronto in the comments.

by Meghan Jeffery via blogTO

The top 10 events in Toronto for November 2015

november events torontoThe top events in Toronto for November will fill your schedule with everything from music festivals to art shows. You can also begin to shamelessly embrace the holiday season, as markets begin to pop up around the city.

Here are my picks for the top events in Toronto this November.

Warhol at TIFF (October 30-January 26)
Discover more than 800 pieces of artwork and memorabilia as well as short films and episodes from Warhol's television series at this just opened exhibition. Don't miss BOOMBOX on November 5 - this is the day the entire TIFF Bell Lightbox building will be taken over by Toronto artists with work inspired by Warhol.

TWiMFeST (November 4-8)
Kick off the November by spending the first week attending TWiMFeST shows. The indie music fest is spread across the city, with shows at venues like Horseshoe Tavern, Cameron House, and Gladstone Hotel. Check out the full lineup on the official web site.

Stretch and Bobbitto Screening and After Party (November 5)
This famous radio duo will make their first joint appearance in Toronto to premiere their film, Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives. The night will kick off with a screening of the film, followed by a short Q&A. Once you've seen the movie, head to Tattoo for the after party, where hip hop, funk and breakbeats will be spun by the duo.

Art Attack (November 5)
Check out the city's craziest annual auction on November 5, run by Buddies in Bad Times, and featuring works from 30 of the country's top contemporary artists. If you have some extra cash, buy a ticket for the pre-party - there will be interactive art installations, food by Parts & Labour, plus you'll have access to the auction.

Reel Asian Film Festival (November 5-15)
Canada's largest pan-Asian film festival returns to Toronto for its 19th year on November 5. The festival screens local and international features and shorts that focus on different aspects of the Asia diaspora. At the fest you'll be able to catch Driving With Selvi, Siti, and many more. Of course, there are plenty of other film fests to catch this month as well.

Canadian Beatbox Championship (November 6)
The country's finest vocal percussionists will throw down in Toronto the first weekend of November. Lee's Palace will host the event and a world class judging panel will be on the scene to determine the best beatboxer in the nation. You can get your tickets here.

Urban Collective Pop-Up Market (November 8)
Start your holiday shopping early at the Pre-Holiday Pop-Up Market by Toronto Urban Collective. The event will feature goods from local artists, craft-makers, photographers, designers, and more. There will also be DJs on the scene, so feel free to get your dance on mid-shop.

Taste of Iceland (November 12-15)
Get to know the art, music, food, and culture of Iceland. This event will feature Icelandic menus at Luma, a live show by Reykjavik Calling at Adelaide Hall, and much more. On the final day, you can catch the Icelandic Film Festival, showcasing three shorts and one full-length documentary.

Long Winter (November 13)
The Great Hall plays host to this ongoing inter-­arts festival. Feed on snacks from Craig's Cookies and Steambox Dumplings while listening to tunes from local talent like Calvin Love and SAHARA. Art by Maylee Todd, a live talk show and a 3 on 3 sport called INVISIBALL are also part of the package, $10 or PWYC.

One of a Kind Show (November 26-December 6)
If you're on the prowl for unique gifts, The One Of A Kind Show at the Enercare Centre will be right up your alley. At the end of the month, shoppers will flock to the event venue, looking for hidden treasures that will outdo friends and family this holiday season. Two bonuses: the event supports independent businesses, and you can probably snag a sample or two at the food booths.

What did I miss? Let us know what us know what events you're most looking forward to this November in the comments.

With contributions by Amy Grief. Photo of Art Attack via Facebook.

by Alice Prendergast via blogTO

Toronto Halloween Party Guide 2015

halloween parties torontoHalloween party options in Toronto for 2015 give you plenty of excuses to don your Walking Dead gear or other creative costume. With everything from a massive party at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to warehouse parties, you'll have every excuse to rock your favourite costume. Stick to the age old rule of not taking candy (or drinks) from strangers and you'll have a good time.

Here's our guide to Halloween parties in Toronto for 2015.


Halloween Massacre | Metro Toronto Convention Centre | October 31 | 9 p.m. | $20
The Halloween Massacre has moved from last year's location (Roy Thompson Hall) to the much larger Metro Toronto Convention Centre, making room for thousands more party guests. DJs will be providing the soundtrack for the evening, playing mash ups, top 40, R&B and hip-hop.

Monster's Ball | Ontario Science Centre | October 31 | 9 p.m. | $60
Skip heading to a nightclub on Hallow's Eve and opt for something a little more interesting. One of the biggest parties in town this year is the Monster's Ball at the Ontario Science Centre. The event will boast three separate rooms, each with a distinct sound, from top 40 mash ups to latin pop.

Ghost Hole VII | The Jam Factory | October 31 | 8 p.m.
If you want to do more on Halloween than throw back shots and perfect your Thriller dance moves, The Jam Factory is where to be. The haunted art house will bring performers, installations and art works to the Riverside location for a night of paranormal entertainment.

6th Annual Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air 90's Halloween | 99 Sudbury | October 31 | 10 p.m. | $30
Suit up in your finest fluorescent track suit and get ready to party like the Fresh Prince himself. 99 Sudbury will be hosting the 6th instalment of the iconic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Halloween bash. Expect to find the masses perfecting the Carlton to old school '90s hits.

R.I.P. Roaring Halloween Craft Beer Kegger | Artscape Youngplace | October 31 | 8 p.m. | $50
Not a fan of mystery punch with faux eyeballs bobbing around in it? Craft beer junkies can spend the evening indulging in brews from Longslice Brewery, Kensington Brewing Company, Black Oak Brewery, and Woodhouse Brewing Co.

Hotnuts Halloqween with Poisonous Relationship | The Garrison | October 31 | 10:30 p.m. | $10
If you like to go all out with your Halloween costume, the Hotnuts party is your best bet. This event is all spectacle and is known for hosting the most outrageously outfitted partygoers in the city. This year's theme is Nightmare on Sesame Street, so expect to see your childhood terrors come to life.

Freakout! | The Phoenix | October 31 | 10 p.m. | $36.66
The Phoenix is the destination for music lovers this year. They will be hosting their annual Halloween rave, with Black Sun Empire, Ed Rush & Optical, FuntCase, Loadstar and more performing. At this kind of event you can throw on any old costume; the music will take centre stage no matter what you're wearing.

Church Street Halloween Party | Church Street | October 31 | 6:30 p.m. | Free
The city's biggest Halloween extravaganza is back for another year, taking over Church Street for a night of ghoulish festivities. With the street closed from Alexander to Gloucester, there's plenty of partying to be done. If you don't have the funds to dip into every bar on the block, the street is just as lively (if not more).


Did we miss a noteworthy ghoulish throwdown? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Bahman in the blogTO Flickr pool.

by Alice Prendergast via blogTO

The Best Halloween Costume Stores in Toronto

halloween costumes torontoThe best halloween costume stores in Toronto have a gaping, infected wound or intensely constricting corset waiting for you when you walk in the door. These stores boast ideas as much as costume options, and usually come with staff that are eager to help you craft your Halloween vision.

Here are the best Halloween costume stores in Toronto.

by Robyn Urback via blogTO

Friday, October 30, 2015

The top 13 film festivals in Toronto this November

november film festivals torontoToronto has more than a few film festivals on tap for November, so movie buffs are in luck. You'll find festivals that cater to specific genres and some that offer a little bit of everything. These events may not be star spangled like TIFF, but that doesn't mean they're not worth checking out.

Here are my picks for the top November film festivals in Toronto.

Air Canada enRoute Film Festival (November 4)
The Air Canada enRoute Film Festival will bring Canadian short films to the Yonge-Dundas Cineplex Cinemas for a one day event. If you want a say in what will play, vote online now - the top voted films will be screened at the fest.

International Diaspora Film Festival (November 6-8)
The three-day fest will include works from both established and emerging filmmakers that focus on migration, immigration, and cultural diversity. This year's lineup includes The President, The Paradise Suite, Fifi Howls from Happiness, and more.

Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival (November 6-14)
The Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival returns to the TIFF Bell Lightbox for its 23rd edition. Over the course of nine days, the fest will show almost 40 short and feature films that delve into the facts and mythologies surrounding mental illness and addiction. There will also a a multi-media installation exhibition, if you prefer galleries over theatres (or want to take on both).

Reel Asian Film Festival (November 5-15)
Canada's largest pan-Asian film festival is returning to Toronto for its 19th year on November 5th. The festival screens local and international features and shorts that focus on different aspects of the Asia diaspora. At the fest you'll be able to catch Driving With Selvi, Siti, and many more.

Toronto International Short Film Festival (November 11-13)
If you prefer shorts over feature films, you're in luck this month. The Toronto International Short Film Festival will be taking over Carlton Cinemas for a three-day stint. The fest will feature 67 films from 13 countries. You can check out the full schedule here.

Toronto Polish Film Festival (November 11-15)
Revue Cinema will be hosting the 7th edition of Toronto Polish Film Festival mid November. The event will showcase documentaries, shorts, and feature films by Polish filmmakers. The lineup includes Ben's at Home, Grain of Truth, and Jurek. Check out what else the fest has to offer here.

Syria Film Festival (November 13-15)
The Syrian Film Festival highlights the voices and experiences of Syrians, bringing awareness to the struggles faced by refugees. Head to the AGO to see eight features and shorts over the course of the three-day festival. Aside from films, the festival will also include a photo exhibit about the conflict.

European Union Film Festival (November 14-28)
Experience 28 films from 28 counties at the European Union Film Festival. The lineup includes The Enemy Within, Body, and Sworn Virgin. General Admission is free to all films.

Icelandic Film Festival (November 15)
The Icelandic Film Festival is much shorter than the others on this list, but that doesn't mean it's not worth attending. The single-day festival showcases three shorts and one full-length documentary. If you want to attend more Icelandic-themed events, there are a few more this November.

Pomegranate Film Festival (November 15-22)
Head to the Pomegranate Film Festival, kicking off November 15th, to catch some Armenian flicks. This year's event will feature everything from animated films to dramatic features. The lineup includes Straw Dolls, Our Atlantis, and many more.

Regent Park Film Festival (November 18-21)
The Daniels Spectrum will be taken over by the Regent Park Film Festival, starting on the 18th. At the event, you'll see local and international independent flicks that relate to our inner-city communities. Peppered between the films are a few workshops and discussions. See the detailed schedule here.

Reel Awareness Festival (November 19-22)
If you prefer documentaries over dramas, the Reel Awareness Festival will be right up your alley. The movies screened at this event focus on human rights issues around the globe, and aim to educate audiences and foster change. You can check out the schedule here.

Blood in the Snow Film Festival (November 27-29)
If you didn't get enough thrills and chills at Toronto After Dark, head to the Blood in the Snow Film Festival at the end of the month. The event flaunts a roster of contemporary Canadian horror shorts and feature films that will curb your craving for all things frightful. You can see this year's full line-up here.

What did I miss? Add some more November film events to the comments.

Lead still from Driving with Selvi

by Alice Prendergast via blogTO

Real time map gives bird's eye view of TTC service

real time ttc mapEver since the TTC made its GPS data available for open source developers, there's been a host of transit apps and real-time maps that have help to reduce the amount of waiting that riders have to do for buses and streetcars. Many of these plot arrival times and show where exactly one's next vehicle is on the streets of Toronto.

This new map is a bit different in that it offers something of an overview of service conditions in general along a given route you want to take. Using multiple layers on a basic Google map, the TTC Skycam plots out the existing position of buses and streetcars, their position (animated) position over the last 30 minutes, and the relative speed at which they've moved over that same period.

In other words, what this site does particularly well that differs from next vehicle predictors is it gives the rider a sense of possible delays ahead of time and allows him or her to select an alternate route (or at least awareness of how much extra time a trip might make). If there's a downside, it's that the map doesn't yet cover all the TTC surface routes (it's a work in progress).

Creator Daniel Tripp has made an explainer video, which I've embedded below. Perhaps this will help in making your commute just a little less painful.

by Derek Flack via blogTO

Toronto taxis get cheaper starting on Sunday

toronto taxiIf you decide to head out this Halloweekend, you'll likely have a frightening time hailing a cab. And if you decide to use Uber, you'll probably face steep surge prices, leaving you with a nightmare of a bill. Don't despair though because Toronto's dropping taxi base fares by $1 starting this Sunday, November 1.

Remember last month's marathon, six hour Uber-related debate in city council? The one where councillors decided to consider regulating the car-sharing service? Along with drafting a report on a possible regulations, the city also voted to reduce base taxi fares from $4.25 to $3.25. It's all in the spirit of making the taxi industry more competitive, notes Global News today.

According to Global, the city will also hand out 100 new taxicab licences to those on the waiting list.

"Toronto should have a competitive taxicab industry that serves both the public and drivers well. That's why I supported Council's decision to reduce the minimum fare paid by the public by $1," said Mayor John Tory in a statement released today.

"This will make moving around the city more affordable for the public, and it will help the traditional taxicab industry compete."

What do you think? Will this help Toronto taxis compete with Uber?

Photo by Anthony Whittingham on Flickr

by Amy Grief via blogTO