The best virtual holiday events in Toronto

Even though live concerts, plays and musicals are cancelled, there are plenty of festive livestreams this season


Our critics pick the best Toronto holiday events that are livestreaming on a platform near you this festive season.

Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce… Pandemic!

The fabulous playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, performance artist, director and producer presents a live virtual vaudeville show with a full band, available to stream until January. Presented by Buddies in Bad Times and TO Live.

December 12, 7 pm (followed by after-party hosted by Ryan G. Hinds), then available to stream until January 2. tolive.com/holidaysauce

The Nutcracker on screen

For many families, attending the National Ballet’s annual production of the lavish Tchaikovsky ballet has become a tradition. Well, it doesn’t have to stop, since James Kudelka’s enchanting show was captured on screen in 2008 and can now be streamed on the Cineplex site (or seen in theatres, where COVID-19 restrictions allow) through January 2.

To January 2, $29.99 to stream, store.cineplex.com, or $12.95-$14.95 to watch in theatres (cineplex.com)

Photo by Karolina Kuras

Arianna Barillas, Jack Bertinshaw and Matthew Skradski deliver all-ages fun in onscreen National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker.

A Very Chris-terical Christmas Cabaret

The yuletide just wouldn’t be gay without Chris Tsujiuchi’s annual holiday cabaret, in which the delightful musician – and his merry guests – sing up a storm, tell stories and basically melt our quarantined hearts with their talent. This year’s guests include Adam Proulx, Ben Foran, Eric Haynes, Natasha Buckeridge, Robin Claxton and Tsuj’s Asian Riffin Trio colleagues, Colin Asuncion and Kevin Wong.

To January 1, $20-$50, christsujiuchi.com/cabaret

Born Ruffians’ Shondi Festoon

Indie rock veterans Born Ruffians’ annual made-up holiday is going online for its third year. All the tried and true Shondi traditions – “drinking hot beer, dressing as your best friend, decorating your house with Shondi flowers, being good so that the Shondi Clown doesn’t come for you!” – will make their way to your living room. It’ll be the finest – and only – Festoon you attend this year.

December 11 at 9 pm. $15. noonchorus.com/born-ruffians

Arts & Crafts’ Home For The Holidays

Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts put out a holiday album last week and they’ll follow it with their first-ever livestream concert. Expect performances from Kevin Drew, Dan Mangan, Chris Murphy of Sloan, Reuben and the Dark, Zeus and some promised surprises.

December 13 at 3 pm. $12. sidedooraccess.com

Messiah/Complex

The innovative opera company Against the Grain Theatre reimagines Handel’s holiday oratorio in partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for this unique 70-minute filmed performance. The soloists include Jully Black, Jonathon Adams, Rihab Chaieb, Elliot Madore and Miriam Khalil, and along with the choir members they represent every province and territory in the country. They’re all conducted by the Canadian Opera Company’s Johannes Debus.

Live watch party on December 13, 8 pm, then on-demand until December 26. Free (need to register). atgtheatre.com

A Christmas Carol live reunion

Theatregoers missing Soulpepper’s lovely production of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, adapted by Michael Shamata will want to watch this special reunion show, where the cast shares excerpts, memories and behind-the-scenes stories, all in a way to support the Fred Victor Regent Park food programs.

December 17 at 7 pm, soulpepper.ca/carol

Canada In Unison

Unison Benevolent Fund, which provides relief to music industry professionals in times of crisis, has had an unexpectedly busy year. The community gives back with this virtual concert and fundraiser. Performances by: Iskwe + Tom Wilson, Jim Cuddy, July Talk, Matthew Good, Mother Mother, Neon Dreams, Ruth B., Sam Roberts Band, Sarah Harmer, Scott Helman, Tim Hicks, the Glorious Sons, Tom Jackson and more.

December 17 at 8 pm. $30. Tickets here.

Queer Songbook Orchestra presents Roasted Chestnuts

The local ensemble, who recently put out a new collaboration with Bonjay, are “maintaining our commitment to providing a space for queers to gather during the holiday season.” The concert, in support of Black Women in Motion, will be a mix of previously filmed full ensemble performances and newly recorded remote contributions. Expect lots of special guests.

December 17 at 8 pm. $15 single, $30 group. queersongbook.com

Sing-a-long Messiah On Screen

Hallelujah! Now’s the time to impress (or maybe annoy?) your neighbours by taking part in this free sing-a-long version of excerpts from Handel’s Messiah, captured from a Tafelmusik concert in Koerner Hall in 2010 and conducted by Ivors Taurins.

December 17 at 7 pm to December 26, 11:59 pm, free on YouTube (sign up for Tafelmusik’s newsletter) at tafelmusik.org

Andy Kim Christmas

Sugar Sugar writer Andy Kim’s famous annual holiday concert, like so many other Toronto shows, is going remote this year. It’s not a livestream concert though. it’s actually on TV! Tune into City and Citytv.com to watch performances by Barenaked Ladies, Broken Social Scene, Buffy Sainte-Marie, City and Colour, Glass Tiger & Roch Voisine, Jully Black, Ron Sexsmith, Sam Roberts, Sarah McLachlan, Serena Ryder and William Prince. They’ll be playing live from the El Mocambo. You can also donate to Crew Nation, CAMH Gifts of Light and Food Banks Canada here.

December 19 at 8 pm on City and at Citytv.com.

There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays

Beloved producer Ross Petty isn’t letting the pandemic stop his annual holiday panto, which goes virtual this year and features a cast of musical theatre stars (Dan Chameroy, AJ Bridel, Eddie Glen, Sara-Jeanne Hosie and homegrown America’s Got Talent breakout star Roberta Battaglia), plus a script by Matt Murray. The show’s proceeds go to Kids Help Phone.

December 19-20, $35 per household, rosspetty.com

@nowtoronto

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