Spring can't be far off
Those who just can't bear the sub-zero temps can always take solace in the fact that spring's not far off. Proof? The Toronto International Bicycle Show, featuring a BMX racing course, trials demonstrations, a freestyle competition, kids cycling zone and bicycle giveaways. March 2 to 4 at the Direct Energy Centre , Exhibition Place. $8-$29, under 5 free. www.bicycleshowtoronto.com.
Disney On Ice (but not cryogenically preserved)
The 100th anniversary show kicks in with choreographed skating, costumes and songs featuring characters from Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. plus Mickey and Minnie. March 8 to 11, 11 am, 3 and 7 pm at the Rogers Centre (1 Blue Jays Way). $15-$80. www.disneyonice.com.
St. Paddy's Day
The beer runs green, and T.O. shows some serious commitment to the bar experience come March 17. Consult NOW's Night Life Guide, out March 8, for tips on what's up at the watering holes.
Coronation Street at the Crooked Star
A semi-essential part of urban living, the beloved Sunday brunch gets an added bonus at Dundas and Ossington's Crooked Star (202 Ossington, 416-536-7271), where diners are treated to a week's worth of Coronation Street episodes -- which will either make you an instant fan of the show or get you drinking waaaayy too early on a Sunday.
High tea toity
Ahh, is there anything quite as nice as taking afternoon tea at the proper time in respectable company in a room full of luxury, charm and elegance? We think not, so please don't assume that tea is merely a warm drink; it's a wonderful social function marked by delightful banter, witty anecdotes, finger sandwiches, sherry and many a fragrant bevvie, served twice daily at the Windsor Arms (18 St. Thomas, reservations 416-971-9666). Marvellous, dahling, marvellous.
Take a dip
Not just for cooling off during the dog days of summer, recreational swimming and lessons happen year-round at most indoor pools, including east-end favourite the Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre (870 Queen East) and the west-end Trinity Recreation Centre (155 Crawford). www.toronto.ca/parks.
Break a sweat while you break a face
Snowballs not ballsy enough for ya? Try smacking the crap outta your workout partner - and getting smacked back - at the Toronto Kickboxing & Muay Thai Academy (610 Queen West, 416-998-3674, www. tkmt. ca), the largest kickboxing club in the downtown. Classes from beginners to advanced, plus childrens classes.
As accurate as a Magic 8 Ball
Feel better about your future with a trip to the ESP Psychic Expo, featuring lectures and demos by astrologers, clairvoyants, numerologists, palmists and more. March 9 to 11 at the International Centre (6900 Airport).$10, stu/srs $8, under 12 free. 905-677-6131, www.esp888. com.
Party like it's 4706!
Celebrate the Lunar New Year . It's the Year of the Pig! T.O. boasts the second-biggest celebration of this holiday in the world. This year the multicultural fete features acrobatics, stunts, music and martial arts performances. February 16 to 18 in the Automotive Building (Exhibition Place). $10, seniors (65 and over) and youths (12 to 18) $8, under 12 free. And don't forget to check out NOW's Dim Sum Special, out February 15, for great eating ideas.
Robbie Burns Day
Toast the birthday of the Scottish bard at a scotch-tasting evening Friday (January 19), 8 pm. On the day itself (Sunday, January 21, 8 pm), the haggis is piped out to live music. Mackenzie House (80 Bond, 416-392-6915).
Get a hit of O2
Breathe in some oxygen and warmth from the fabulously green tropical plants at Allan Gardens (Jarvis and Carlton, 416-392-7288).
Find a good fire
T.O.'s bar scene has lots of places to bask in the glow of a roaring fire. Try the Drake Hotels (1150 Queen West, 416-531-5042) huge walk-in fireplace in the main lounge, or head up to the second floor of Café Nervosa (75 Yorkville, 416-961-4642), where they love to throw a log on. The Raq n Waq (739 Queen West, 416-504-9120) pool hall has three hearths, and the many-tiered Courthouse (57 Adelaide East, 416-214-9379) has several dating back to the 1850s. If fireside dining is your thing, Auberge du Pommier (4150 Yonge, 416-222-2220) has a huge wood-burner.
Black History Month
Harbourfront Centres Black History Month celebration offers music, dance, theatre, readings, films, comedy, storytelling, forums, workshops celebrity chefs, kids' cooking classes and more. And most events are free. February 9 to 11. 235 Queens Quay West. 416-973-4000, www.harbourfrontcentre.com.
Freedom! Bob Marley Birthday Tribute
The Daily Bread Food Bank fundraiser features performances by the Irie Band , Donna Makeda , Black Child , King Selah , I-Sax and others at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), February 3, 9 pm. $10 or $6 w/ food donation.
When the saints go marching in
Crassly over-commercialized? Sure. And if you're without a special someone to deflect the pitying stares of the committed, it's like a cold day on the dark side of Venus. On the up side, you won't have to shell out 90 bucks for roses that wilt before the 15th. Either way, screw the Hallmark moments and raise a glass to saints Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, the second- and third-century priests who died on this date just so other single people could wish they were also dead.
Kissing for couples
Warm up for Valentine's Day at a workshop exploring the world of kisses and learn the French, the slide, the butterfly and more. February 1, 7 to 9:30 pm. $35, at Good for Her (175 Harbord, www.goodforher.com; register at 416-588-0900).
1, 2, cha-cha-cha
Beat the monotony of your typical winter workout and arrange for private pole-dancing lessons (sorry, fellas, ladies only) in a fun, no-pressure environment ( sexystagetteparty.com ), or refine your spicy side with salsa and merengue lessons at any number of studios around town ( www.torontodance.ca ).
Food for the mood
Explore the use of food, perfume, coded messages, sensual rituals and chocolate in creating the mood for love. February 9. 7-9 pm. $20, online $18. Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Pk. 416-586-8000, www.rom.on.ca.
Winterlicious serves up some tasty dining deals, and one of the sweetest bargains is the Toronto Fashion Incubators annual Guilty Pleasures brunch at the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen West) on Saturday, February 3. Guests get to nibble and browse clothing and accessories by 15 designers from the TFI's stable. If you're still working off holiday figgy pudding but still crave a shop, you can browse the designer racks brunch-free between 2 and 6 pm. www.fashionincubator.com.
Interior Design Show
Idle winter weekends spent staring at the ceiling are made for inspiring redecorating dreams. If you're thinking chintz, we're sure the Brick (20 Ashtonbee, 416-701-0800, and others) is holding its eternal price-chop extravaganza, but if your humble abode needs something a little more style-savvy, the Interior Design Show (www.interiordesignshow.com) at the Direct Energy Centre (Exhibition Place) runs February 22 to 25. Don't miss Offspring 07 , where upstart local firms Croma Design, Anacleto Design, Donald Chong Studio and Fullscale + Partners convert 400-square-foot spaces into smart living installations.
Credit Toronto designers' sense of sustainable style and frugal raw material budgets for their love of slicing and dicing old argyle pullovers and fleece hoodies and patchworking new sweaters, scarves and mitts to cozy us through winter. A snowed-in Saturday might prompt you to DIY a new cardigan from some old woollies, but before you cut up your best cashmere, we suggest you check out what pros like Preloved (613 Queen West, 416-504-8704) and Susan Harris Design (135 Tecumseth, 416-703-8537) have left over from their fall collections.
Or be fashion senseless
Winter is the great leveller. Everyone looks equally unglamorous, no matter how much they paid for their parkas and boots.
There's entertainment to be found in watching those who refuse to dress for anything but their runway best.
Winter is the time to dive into a book, and fortunately, Harbourfront's stellar reading series heats up the season with another impressive lineup.
Start with a cool triple bill Wednesday, February 7, featuring Vikram Chandra , newcomer Neil Smith and edgy fave Colm T-ib'n , who hits town in support of his new release, Mothers And Sons. Rising star Heather O'Neill reads from her 2006 hit, Lullabies For Little Criminals, alongside Scott Gardiner and Shaena Lambert February 21. And Barbara Gowdy does an onstage interview to coincide with the launch of her highly anticipated novel, Helpless, on March 7. All at the Brigantine Room (235 Queens Quay West), 7:30 pm. $8, free for members and students with valid ID. www.readings.org.
Our fave This Is Not A Reading Series event this season happens February 14, when Christopher Moore (You Suck) and stand-up ace Maggie Cassella team up for an Anti-Valentine's Day bash at the Chelsea Room (923 Dundas West), 7:30 to 10 pm (doors 7 pm), free. www.pagesbooks. ca.
It's Spider, man
Author Charles "Spider" Jones reads from Out Of Darkness: The Spider Jones Story as part of Black History Month events at York Woods Library (1785 Finch West, 416-395-5980) February 7 at 2 pm. Free.
Kama Reading Series holds a medical-themed fundraising evening for World Literacy Canada with readings by Colin Lee , Vincent Lam and Margaret Atwood . March 7, 7 pm (cocktails at 6:30 pm), at the Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen's Park, 416-977-0008, www.worldlit.ca). $45.
Chris Bosh is leading the Raps to their most promising season in years. And the Sprite Zone is the rowdiest section in the ACC (40 Bay, 416-870-8000; online tickets at www.nba.com/raptors).
The hardscrabble Toronto Rock play at the Air Canada Centre (40 Bay, 416-596-3075; online tickets at www.torontorock.com), and lacrosse is - sorry, hockey freaks - Canada's national sport.
Hang out near the gutter
Toronto's got some sweet bowling alleys to strike away those winter blues without having to spare too much dough. Check out Bowlerama 's locations (www.bowlerama.com) or O'Connor Bowl (1401 O'Connor, 416-755-1231).
Watch the Leafs come close, again
Maybe this year, just maybe, the Marleafs will pull it off. Air Canada Centre . $25 and up. 416-870-8000. Online tickets at www.torontomapleleafs. com.