♦ It’s the most wonderful time of the year! From strolling through the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District to gazing at the ornate window displays at the Eaton Centre to ice skating next to the Holiday Fair at Nathan Phillips Square, there are plenty of seasonal activities to enjoy in the city as the countdown to the new year begins. Those who aren’t too busy doing last-minute shopping for gifts may want to try for last-minute tickets to mainstay holiday performances like The Nutcracker at the National Ballet of Canada or A Christmas Carol at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, or head down to Roy Thomson Hall to sing along to timeless tunes performed by the Etobicoke School of the Arts Chorus, backed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Canadian Brass.
♦ It’s often been said that Christmas Day is the busiest day for movie theatres across the country — with just about every other entertainment and shopping destination shuttered for the day, friends and families flock to the nearest cinema to pass the time. Capitalizing on this extra-busy day at the movies is the timely theatrical release of Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game, starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner. Based on the memoirs of Molly Bloom, a fallen olympic skier who went on to run the world’s most elite, high-stakes poker league, Molly’s Game began shooting in Toronto back in November of 2016 with casting by Robin D. Cook and received shining reviews after its world premiere at TIFF. Looks like it will be worth the wait!
♦ For those who would rather stay in and spend Christmas day in the comfort of their own living rooms, just about every holiday film and TV special can be found airing on cable or on your digital streaming platform of choice. Bet you didn’t know these three classic Christmas flicks from different decades were filmed in the Greater Toronto Area!
Black Christmas (1974) This ‘70s scare-fest may not conjure up the same warm, fuzzy feelings as its glittery counterparts, but it is widely considered a holiday classic in its own right. Pay close attention for Toronto locales like Grenadier Pond and the University of Toronto’s Hart House building, which haven’t changed much over the decades.
A Christmas Story (1983) Arguably one of the most perennial Christmas movies of all time, the story of young Ralphie and his coveted Red Ryder BB Gun is full of memorable hijinks and quotes that cross everyone’s minds come Christmastime. Many of this timeless movie’s scenes were filmed in St. Catharine’s and at Toronto landmarks like the Cherry Street bridge.
The Santa Clause (1994) Who didn’t love Tim Allen in the ’90s? The first instalment of this family-friendly Christmas caper trilogy is full of familiar GTA backdrops like the Toronto Zoo, Runnymede Healthcare Centre and Hillcrest Park.
♦ If your favourite holiday tradition happens to involve a super-sized bucket of popcorn and the company of your nearest and dearest — and you’ve already seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi three times — be sure to catch these special Christmas movie screenings in and around the city this weekend:
The Holiday – Friday, December 22 (8:30 pm) at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
A Christmas Story – Saturday, December 23 (4:00 pm) & Sunday, December 24 (1:00 pm) at The Film House
Scrooged – Saturday, December 23 (5:00 pm) at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Die Hard quote-along screening – Saturday, December 23 (8:30 pm) at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
White Christmas & Black Christmas double feature – Saturday, December 23 (5:00 pm, 8:00 pm) at The Royal Cinema
It’s a Wonderful Life – Sunday, December 24 (7:00 pm) & Monday, December 25 (4:00 pm) at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas