The best events in Toronto and online this weekend: October 23-25


A photo from Casa Loma Halloween 2020 events weekend toronto october 23
Liberty Entertainment Group

NOW editors pick the best weekend in-person, drive-in and virtual events happening in Toronto and beyond for the weekend of October 23.


Casa Loma Halloween

The Toronto landmark is switching things up to keep Halloween alive during the pandemic. Starting this weekend, the castle is launching family-friendly self-guided tours of elaborate Halloween sets. This year it’s all about ambience – not actors in costumes jumping out at you. The tours will open during the day and are included with general admission.

October 23-November 1. 9:30 am-10 pm. $20-$30.

Just For Laughs Comedy Night In Canada 

A couple of weeks after their two-day virtual Just For Laughs Festival, the comedy institution presents two live comedy shows that you can enjoy in the comfort of your car. SiriusXM Top Comic winner Adam Christie hosts a show that includes Dave Merheje, Sophie Buddle and Toronto comics Arthur Simeon and Kyle Brownrigg.

October 24 at 7 and 9:45 pm. $96.55-$187.40. Cityview Drive-In

Virtual (literary)

Toronto International Festival Of Authors

The city’s biggest literary event is going virtual – and free. The fest’s 200 events will also be viewable around the globe. Events include a panel on the opioid crisis, a hip-hop and spoken word performance by Harlem’s The Last Poets and an interactive podcast on Indigenous storytelling. Other authors on the bill include Desmond Cole, Billy-Ray Belcourt, d’bi.young anitafrika, Anne Michaels, Lindwood Barclay and Khaled Hosseini. NOW’s Susan G. cole hosts a conversation with Frances Itani and Cordelia Strube on November 1.

To November 1.

Virtual Canzine 2020

Broken Pencil’s annual zine fest is hitting the web. This year, the event’s250-plus vendors will be spread out across “18 lands of Canzine World, including fantastical places such as Librarian’s Lagoon, Punks Path, Sci-Fi Shore, and Riot Grrrl River.” There will also be workshops, tours, readings and socials.

October 24-26. Free.

A photo of Billie Eilish
Kenneth Cappello

Virtual (music)

Planet Fabulon’s Level Up

This online party/game is definitely one of the more inventive virtual events we’ve seen since the pandemic began. Billed as an “online game, a concert, an art show, a piece of theatre, and a dance party all wrapped into one,” Planet Fabulon will send audiences on nightly choose-your-own-adventure-like quests through five levels of DJs, live musical acts and other performers in sets inspired by 8-bit video games. Of course, since Halloween is coming up virtual attendees are encouraged to dress up before logging on to Zoom.

October 23-31. $15-$45, all ages.

PUP’s This Stream Sucks Ass

Before it (maybe) becomes condos, the upstairs music venue at Sneaky Dee’s will get a (maybe) last hurrah from local pop-punk heroes, PUP. The virtual concert performance of their new EP This Place Sucks Ass, part of a new slate of new-and-improved livestreams. Most from the comfort of your own living room.

October 23 at 9 pm. $16.38.

Billie Eilish’s Where Do We Go? The Livestream

One of the world’s biggest (and most lucrative) pop stars gets in on the livestream game with her first virtual concert. Coming to you live from Los Angeles, the recent Grammy winner will perform in a reconfigured version of the set from her postponed Where Do We Go? tour. The show promises to use XR technology, which blurs physical elements with 3D-rendered environments. So we’re expecting something next-level in terms of virtual concert visuals. Ticket buyers can stream the show for 24 hours afterward on demand.

October 24. Pre-show 5 pm, show 6 pm. $30.

The 519 Virtual Gala

The 519 Community Centre is going virtual with its annual gala this year. Though the community and donors that surround the Church Street LGBTQ2S community centre and charity won’t be able to gather in person, going online has allowed them to put together an eye-catching roster of performers and gala guests. Catch music by k.d. lang, Patti LuPone, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Carole Pope and more, plus appearances by Jann Arden, Kim Cattrall and the biggest name of all, Elton John. Full lineup info here.

October 25 at 7:30 pm. PWYC or $150-$25,000. Tickets here.

Dancing At Dusk: A Moment With Pina Bausch's The Rite Of Spring

Virtual (stage)

Dancing At Dusk: A Moment With Pina Bausch’s The Rite Of Spring 

In mid-March in Senegal, 38 dancers from 14 African countries were wrapping up their final rehearsals of Bausch’s famous 1975 work and about to embark on a world tour. Then the globe shut down. But the troupe decided to perform the work one last time, and filmmaker Florian Heinzen-Ziob was there to capture it. Canadian Stage and Harbourfront Centre offer exclusive access to this Canadian premiere film, which will be preceded by a  pre-show documentary about Bausch’s masterpiece, and followed by interviews with two artists close to the production.

$15. Link available through October 28.

The Canadian Musical Theatre Project Festival of New Musicals 

The CMTP has been the birthing place of many fine Canadian musicals, including, of course, Come From Away, the longest running Canadian musical in Broadway history. This year’s trio of shows  – Almost A Full Moon, Burden Of Proof and Living The Dream (which gets a live reading) – features some big talents behind the scenes, including Dora Award-winning playwrights Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman and Nick Green, composers Scott Christian, Anika Johnson and Barb Johnston and singer/songwriter Hawksley Workman. Plus, since the super talented Sheridan College students are in the shows, you get to see the next generation of musical theatre stars.

Online until October 25.

Backstage Tea

Angelwalk Theatre debuts its new variety talk show about musical theatre this week. Hosts Alene Degian and Danny Sylvan chat with two guests who “spill the tea” about the industry, perform and take part in fun quizzes. The lineup for the next nine weeks is a who’s who of the business, and includes Thom Allison, Steffi DiDomenicantonio, Bruce Dow, Gabi Epstein, Ali Momen, Vanessa Sears, Ryan Hinds and more. The inaugural guests are Jeff Madden (Come From ‘Away, Jersey Boys) and Elena Juatco (Les Misérables, CTV’s JANN). Each talk debuts on Tuesday and is up until the following Monday.

Through October 26.

An Avery Saltzman Cabaret

Saltzman, artistic director of the Harold Green Jewish Theatre, is one of the country’s finest character actors and a long list of national and international musical theatre credits. He’s a warm and funny cabaret performer, which he’ll get to show in this live night of story and song.

$35 (per household). October 25 at 7:30 pm. 

A photo from the movie Monkey Beach

Film festivals

Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Though its fall edition was originally announced for theatres, the TJFF has reconsidered and is now setting up a second online wave. Check out an interview with Shiva Baby director Emma Seligman here and our top five festival picks hereTo November 1.

ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival

Canada’s largest celebration of Indigenous storytelling offers works from 153 Indigenous artists in 23 languages from 13 countries and 97 Indigenous nations, including Canadian director Laura Todd’s adaptation of Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach and Michelle Latimer’s TIFF prizewinner Inconvenient Indian. To October 25.

aluCine Latin Film + Media Arts Festival

The festival’s 20th edition will offer three free online programs of shorts focusing on themes of “migration in cinema” and “Latin women in cinema,” as well as four nights of ticketed screenings at the Paradise Theatre October 28-31. To November 5.




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