Roots, blues and folk fans can get a taste of the city's best artists when the WinterFolk Blues And Roots Festival takes over six Broadview and Danforth neighbourhood venues - Allen's , Dora Keogh , the Black Swan , the Old Nick , Stanley's and the Willow - February 4 to 6. Included among the dozens of performers and workshop participants are Jack de Keyzer , Russell Leon and Madviolet . Day pass $20, weekend $40, at Ticketmaster (416-870-8000) or the clubs. www.winterfolk.com.
Be a tourist in your own town
Don't underestimate the beauty of a dirty weekend in a Toronto hotel room, especially when the WinterCity festival is offering special packages at the Toronto Marriott Eaton Centre to make it easy on the wallet. The festival, running January 28 to February 10, features free concerts and special outdoor events, discounts on popular T.O. attractions - including the Science Centre and the Toronto Zoo - and tasty Winterlicious , special three-course prix fixe lunches from $10 to $20 or dinners from $20 to $30 at 120 of the city's best restaurants. www. toronto.ca/special_events.
Starting with Boxing Month and continuing until the full-priced spring stock is in, winter sales reward us with more slashing than a horror flick. And at what better time? After the bank-draining holidays, S.A.D.-ness and shit weather, never mind sombre layered ensembles, throwing us a price-reduced bone is just what the retail therapist ordered.
Snow is beautiful, so surrender to it. Enjoy the odd, childlike satisfaction of hearing your boots crunch in the snow and seeing your weight leave its momentary imprint upon the earth. And there's nothing like flying down one of T.O.'s hills, whether you're on a toboggan or just a cardboard box. Check NOW's winter index for hill tips.
Or if you're into something on the slower side, the Humber Arboretum Nature Centre hosts a snowshoeing event February 5. $7, under 12 $5, family $20. And you don't have to drop a ton o' dough on equipment before you go. Snowshoes are provided. To reserve, call 416-675-5009 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrate the Lunar New Year - ushering in the year of the rooster - February 4 to 6 with food and performances of all kinds at the Automotive Building, Exhibition Place. $10, stu/srs $8.50. www.torontocelebrates.com/05/festival/
Get booked up
Winter is prime reading time, and this year's crop of new releases promises to keep you planted in your chair. High on the list is Catherine Gildiner 's (Too Close To The Falls) first novel, Seduction (Knopf), about a woman who can't remember why she killed her husband. Gildiner makes a number of personal appearances this season, including a reading at Harbourfront February 2. Check out Noreena Hertz 's The Debt Threat (HarperCollins), a fierce attack on First World debt policy that's sure to get the attention of economics geeks and fair trade activists. Ian McEwan , following up his awesome Atonement with Saturday (Knopf), plans to read with Camilla Gibb in April. And look for zinester and new NOW film columnist Hal Niedzviecki 's The Program (Random House), about an advertising guru whose son goes missing.
It may not be exactly green out there - seasonally or any other way - but you still have a chance to while away the winter penetrating the mysteries of building an eco economy. In a 10-week course hosted by the Toronto and York Region Labour Council (15 Gervais), you can become a student of soft energy, urban design, sustainable food and more. School's in on Thursday, January 27, from 7 to 10 pm, to March 31. $150. 416-537-6532 ext 2220, www.greeneconomics.net/cour2005. htm.
And the Oscar goes to...
Will Oscar smile on a small road movie featuring loser guys on a wine-tasting bender or usher Clint Eastwood up the aisle once again? Find out February 27, when the stars shine on Academy Awards night. We're looking for Jennifer Garner to get all the fashion kudos on the red carpet yet again.
One good fashion trend
While fashion cycles can be as fickle as, well, fashionistas, we're ecstatic when the wheel of fortune lands on a seasonal trend we can actually use - hello, jeans tucked into boots. I know - formerly filed under gross. Enjoy those salt-free hems while ya can.
Get out the popcorn - some heavy-duty box sets of DVDs are streeting this winter. Watch for the Martin Scorsese Film Collection , including special editions of New York, New York and Raging Bull , on DVD stands February 8. If SCTV: Volume 3 is anywhere near as hilarious as Volumes 1 and 2, it's a must-have. It's out March 1, the same day fans of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn will be looking to snap up special editions of Bringing Up Baby and The Philadelphia Story .
Celebrate black history
Toronto honours black history in February when we celebrate African Heritage Month . The first annual Mpenzi: Black Women's International Film And Video Festival screens at the National Film Board February 11. $10, adv $8. Look for new works by Michele Clarke , Tamika Miller and more. http://mpenzifilmfestival.tripod.com/. The centrepiece of Black History Month is the Kuumba Festival at Harbourfront Centre , February 3 to 13. Crossing disciplines and sensibilities, Kuumba - which means creativity in Swahili - features spoken word, DJs, a film slate and special events for kids. Most events are free. www.harbourfrontcentre.com/kuumba/.
Feel hot in the cold
What better way to heat up the house than with some serious sexual action? Whether you're into romance or, well, anything else, Valentine's Day triggers events for all desires. Consider the Bloor Cinema 's sex-curious Love & Lust Film Festival , February 9 to 14, featuring classics that pushed the sex envelope and a competition for new sex-positive works. www. loveandlustfilmfestival. com.
Or if you're looking for Valentine's Day prezzies, the Sandra Ainsley Gallery in the Distillery District (55 Mill) is bringing in Thomas Mann - not the novelist, silly, the New Orleans metal artist specializing in heart-shaped jewellery - for a trunk show February 12, noon to 5 pm. 416-214-9490.
And don't forget NOW's Love & Sex Issue , featuring all your steamy responses to NOW's sex survey, on the street February 10.
Discover Chicago in Toronto
Groundbreaking feminist icon Judy Chicago hits town with a new show of erotic art on view at the O'Connor Gallery (97 Maitland, 416-921-7149) February 3 to March 5, and a book to go with it, both bent on making images of female desire more visible. She'll be onstage, part of Pages' This Is Not A Reading Series , February 5 at the Al Green Theatre in the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, 750 Spadina. $5 at Pages (256 Queen West, 416-598-1447) and the JCC.
We can hear the winter-haters already: "The best thing about winter is that spring comes right after." Get your first whiff at the Toronto International Bicycle Show , March 4 to 6 at Exhibition Place's National Trade Centre . $12, child/srs $8. www.bicycleshowtoronto. com.