The best things to do in Toronto this weekend: October 15-17

Including Denis Villeneuve at Lightbox, Planet In Focus and the Black Lagoon pop-up


NOW critics pick the best events happening in Toronto (and online) for the weekend of October 15.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

The 15th annual horror, sci-fi and action movie festival is happening online and IRL this year, but the films will also be streamable across Canada.

To October 17. Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond West). torontoafterdark.com

Planet In Focus International Environmental Film Festival

The eco-centric film fest goes hybrid with online screenings and two in-person events at Stackt Market (28 Bathurst), including a closing-night livestream of Nadine Pequenza’s The Last of The Right Whales.

To October 22. $10-$35. planetinfocus.org

Black Lagoon

The Halloween-themed pop-up bar serves up themed over-the-top cocktails and “immersive” decor. There’s a $20 cover on weekends and nights with live shows – for patrons who are not in costume.

To October 31. 866 Bloor West. 5 pm-2 am. blacklagoonpopup.com

The Music Gallery’s X Avant Festival

The festival of new and experimental music is back with a hybrid format this year subtitled You In Mind. The first X Avant from new artistic director Sanjeet Takhar, the festival aims to rethink the “all are welcome here” mentality of community into a more active form of engagement. Events include Listen, a spoken word collaboration with RISE, plus a spotlight on Bonjay’s Alanna Stuart, an eight-hour drone day called Process and an Indigenous dance class called Embody. 

October 14-17. 918 Bathurst and online. $10-$15 per event. musicgallery.org

The Uncanny Vision Of Denis Villeneuve

Ahead of Dune’s release next week, TIFF Cinematheque is doing a mini-retrospective on the Quebec director that kicks off with a screening of the sci-fi movie Arrival.

October 15-23. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West). tiff.net

The four members of the band Vypers

Vypers hit the Garrison stage on October 15-16.

Vypers at the Garrison

After a successful reopening with Cadence Weapon, the Garrison is resuming its ALIVE relaunch series with a two-night stand from Toronto garage rockers Vypers. Brenda opens night one and Cloudage opens night two. You’ll have trouble staying in your seats.

October 15-16. The Garrison (1197 Dundas West). $5 each night. showclix.com

Venus Fest

Last year, Venus Fest took the challenge of virtual festivals and created something new and unique – a series of original one-off videos pairing musical and visual artists. The feminist-focused festival is doing it again, but this time you can also go see them in an immersive gallery installation. The lineup includes artists like Polaris Prize-winning rapper Haviah Mighty paired with artist Roya DelSol and singer/songwriter Charlotte Cornfield with Julia Hendrickson, plus Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, Eve Parker Finley and more. 

October 16-30. The Plumb (1655 Dufferin). Free-$25. And on the happin.app October 22 & 23. venusfest.net

Night Of The Living Drag

Only a few tickets left for the zombie-themed RuPaul’s Drag Race show starring season 13 stars Gottmik, Rose and Kandy Muse, among other fan favourites.

October 16. Meridian Hall (1 Front East). $55-$85. ticketmaster.ca.

Dumpster Racoon Cinema: A Nightmare On Elm Street 2

The trash classics screening series returns with “the gayest horror movie ever made,” a drag show and video pre-show.

October 16. Revue Cinema. 9:30 pm. eventbrite.ca

Finding Home: A Salmon Journey Up The Humber River

Alex Simpson and Morgan Johnson’ comedic show for young audiences follows two salmon best friends as they journey upstream of the Humber River. Blind Date’s Rebecca Northan directs.

October 16-17. 21 Old Mill. 10 am and 2 pm. Donations accepted. theatredirect.ca

Follies In Concert

Stephen Sondheim’s 1971 show about the reunion of Ziegfeld follies-type showgirls at a theatre that’s about to be demolished is considered one of the best musicals of all time. Director Richard Ouzounian has assembled an all-star Canadian cast for this gala concert version, including Cynthia Dale, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Eric McCormack and Marcus Nance.

October 16-17. Koerner Hall (273 Bloor West). From $99. rcmusic.com

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The best Halloween 2021 events in and around Toronto

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