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Christmas wonderland: Toronto lights up for the holiday season this weekend

Patricia D’Cunha and Patrick Luciani | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 2015

The spirit of the Christmas season is all around us, whether we want to believe it or not.

Aside from the aesthetics of lights and decorations, shoppers scurrying to get their gifts, planning the family feast and going to parties, people across the GTA are reaching out to those in need and spreading Christmas cheer wherever they go.

Torontonians will be bringing their holiday spirit to the annual Cavalcade of lights this weekend. You can expect plenty of merriment and positive vibes as the city celebrates the season.

There are also two Santa Claus parades, with one of them taking place under the stars.


Cavalcade of Lights
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! This Saturday it will begin to look a lot like Christmas as the city lights up its official tree at Nathan Phillips Square.

The 60-foot Christmas tree, which is decorated with 700 ornaments and 3,810 metres of LED lights, illuminates the city’s 49th annual Cavalcade of Lights celebration.

File photo of the Cavalcade of Lights in Toronto.
File photo of the Cavalcade of Lights in Toronto.

Surrounded by the glow of 525,000 lights, revellers can skate to their heart’s content while singing along to Let it Go, listen to and watch live music, and get dazzled by a fireworks show.

Some of the live musical performances include Juno Award-winning country artist Crystal Shawanda, Sloan, the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and Sean Jones. The party starts at 6 p.m. with the tree lighting at 7:15 a.m. Click here for the schedule.

Santa Under the Stars Parade
Santa Claus will be back in the GTA on Saturday for a parade being held in his honour. This time, his sleigh will be guided by the bright stars in the sky.

The parade, which starts at 6 p.m. in Aurora, is the largest one in York Region with 30,000 people attending last year.

As with any event, there are road closures to contend with. Click here for a list.

Whole Life Expo
If you are looking to quell stress and boost your energy (who isn’t?), head over to the Whole Life Expo – Canada’s largest exhibition of natural health, alternative medicine, and green living.

More than 275 exhibitors will be on-hand to showcase their natural health products and services. Those who attend can also get expert advice on making the best health choices.

The event runs from Friday to Sunday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Ticket prices are $10-15.

Markham Santa
Don’t worry, Santa Claus has not forgotten about Markham. So mark your calendar: he’s on his way to your town on Saturday afternoon.

The 43rd annual Markham Santa Claus Parade starts at 11 a.m. at Highway 7 and Markham Road, where it will march north to the Markham Museum.

St. Nick at the Markham Santa Claus Parade. Photo via markhamsantaclausparade.com.
St. Nick at the Markham Santa Claus Parade. Photo via markhamsantaclausparade.com.

To make room for Santa’s sleigh and his entourage, there are road closures: Highway 7 will be closed from Markham Road to Wooten Way at 8 a.m. Markham Road will close from Highway 7 to Bur Oak Avenue starting at 9 a.m.

Spectacle of Lights
Toronto’s waterfront gets transformed into a Christmas wonderland on Saturday, with four illuminated installations lighting up the night sky.

The displays, which use 39,250 energy efficient bulbs, include a spiral tree at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, a fire truck and snowflake motif at the Fire Hall, animated music notes, harps and a canopy at the Toronto Music Garden, and a tall ship on the Amsterdam Bridge at Harbourfront Centre.

The Tall Ship on the Amsterdam Bridge at Harbourfront Centre decorated with lights. Photo via blog.waterfrontoronto.ca.
The Tall Ship on the Amsterdam Bridge at Harbourfront Centre decorated with lights. Photo via blog.waterfrontoronto.ca.

The displays will be up until Jan. 1, 2016.

The waterfront will also be taking part in the national “Shop the Neighbourhood” event. On Saturday, local businesses will be offering exclusive event deals to help raise awareness of the importance they play in communities.

One of a Kind Show
If you’re looking for a one of a kind Christmas gift for that special someone, then this event is a must-see.

Aimed at providing a unique shopping experience for the best in handmade gifts, the One of Kind Show features a collection of finds from photographer Caitlin Cornenberg, stylist Tiffany Pratt, chef Corey Vitiello and business owner Hana James. It also features DIY workshops, seminars, fashion shows and a wreath competition.

People shopping at the One of a Kind Christmas Show. Photo via facebook.com/oneofakindtoronto.
People shopping at the One of a Kind Christmas Show. Photo via facebook.com/oneofakindtoronto.

The show, which runs until Dec. 6 at Exhibition Place’s Enercare Centre, is open weekdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

They’re still adorable: Toronto Zoo releases new video of baby pandas

Diana Pereira | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 2015


The Toronto Zoo has released adorable new videos of its growing panda cubs.

Click here for a mobile-friendly link to the video.

Officials say the fluffy babies have been moved to a larger incubator.

Their mother Er Shun continues to be a great mom and is spending one-on-one time with each cub.

However, officials say it’s still a critical time for the babies, and they’ll have to stay in the maternity den and not in public view.

How to simplify your holiday wrapping

Cityline | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2015


Love holiday shopping but dread the wrapping part? Chatelaine‘s design expert Samantha Pynn helps us make gift wrapping easy!

Before you get started, Samantha says you need to have 5 key things to make a simple yet elegant wrapped gift:

  1. Neutral wrapping paper
  2. Ribbon
  3. Tags
  4. Stamp
  5. Accessories

Got your essentials? Now watch Samantha’s video below for all of her wrapping tips!

Markham man proposes 35,000 feet in the air on Air Canada flight

News staff | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2015


Allen Froese reached out to the president of Air Canada to help him perform a song on a flight from Toronto to Brazil.

Once everyone was on board and settled into their seats, Froese walked hand and hand with a guitar through the plane.

The flight attendant announced over the speaker, “may I have your attention for a few moments we have a special presentation that is going to happen right now.”

And the entire proposal was captured on video:

VICE: Eagles of Death Metal recall moments of Paris attack

Vice | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2015


The Eagles of Death Metal want to be the first ones who sing at the Bataclan when it re-opens.

VICE spoke to the band about the tragic events that took place on November 13, 2015 when terrorists attacked multiple locations in Paris. On that Friday night, three gunmen entered the venue and open fired killing dozens and injuring hundreds.

“I cannot wait to get back to Paris, I cannot wait to play,” said band co-founder Jesse Hughes to VICE founder Shane Smith. “I want to be the first band to play in the Bataclan when it opens back up.

“I was there when it went silent for a minute,” he said.

The group was separated when the gunshots broke out and each one explained what they saw and heard that night.

“I recognized what it was. We went into the corner of the stage, we weren’t sure if they were targeting us or what was going on,” said guitarist Eden Galindo.

VICE founder Shane Smith sat down with Eagles of Death Metal for an exclusive interview. The full interview is now available on VICE.com

“I see the pops go off, the lights flashing … and I just have to make the decision whether I want to run or do I want to just go into this room and hope for the best,” said Matt McJunkins.

“The gunfire got closer; it went on for 10-15 minutes … it would stop and there was a sense of relief and then it would start up again,” said McJunkins.

Drummer Julian Dorio said “the gunpowder hit my nose.”

“I opened up the hallway door and that is when I saw the shooter,” said Hughes. “He turned on me, brought his gun down and his barrel hit the door frame.”

8 things to do now to make the holidays easier

Alexandra Gater | posted Wednesday, Nov 25th, 2015


1. Stock up on wrapping supplies now. Avoid the Christmas Eve scramble where you inevitably realize you don’t have enough tape or wrapping paper by stocking up on these five items. You’ll be able to create endless gift-wrapping combinations, without the drama. Designate one easy-to-reach space for all of your holiday supplies to instantly make you feel more organized.

Buy your wrapping paper now and make your life easier come Christmas crunch time. (Photo, Roberto Caruso.)

2. Prepare your pantry. Make sure your cupboards are stocked with Food Director Claire Tansey’s instant-party pantry essentials: olives, almonds, dates and crackers.

Claire Tansey instant party pantry essentials

3. Buy hostess gifts in multiples. Make your life easier and buy several hostess gifts at once. Look for sets of pretty notebooks or delicious bags of holiday crackers — these can be opened, wrapped and distributed to more than one host. Buy sets that have variety to keep your gift-giving personal.

Studio Oh! Set of 3 notebooks, $12, Indigo.

4. Load up your bar cart. Ensure your bar cart is filled with the essentials before you start hosting. Learn how to stock your bar for under $200 here.

Bar cart, $419, West Elm.

5 easy ways to take your holiday table from Thanksgiving to Christmas

5. Replenish your supply of candles, cocktail napkins and matches. Stock up before the holiday madness sets to avoid running out of essentials mid dinner party. Tip: Keep batteries on hand so people can use their electronic gifts right away.

6. Make lists. We could write an essay about lists, mostly because they are life savers! Keep a separate list going for different tasks: Food to buy for your dinner party; gifts to buy family; gifts to buy hostesses. Having your to-dos down on paper means you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything (or anyone!).

Save yourself last-minute stress by getting a jump-start on planning.

9 ways to be the best holiday dinner guest ever

7. If you’re hosting, plan your meal now. From the appetizers to dessert, it will take a weight off your shoulders if you know what you’re serving. Make a shopping list closer to the date so you’re not scrambling last minute (see number 6!).

Thanksgiving to Christmas table Cedar1

8. Dig out your tableware. Take the dreaded journey into your attic or basement and get out your holiday napkins, tablecloths and cutlery. Doing this in advance gives you time to see what you still need.

Christmas tableware napkin

Internship opportunity at Breakfast Television – Winter 2015

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2015


Passionate about breaking news, lifestyle content, social media, and producing creative and engaging stories for television and online?

Breakfast Television is a three-and-a-half hour LIVE television news and lifestyle production and is looking for full-time production and digital interns for its Winter 2015 term (January through April). The successful applicant must be studying a relevant program, and the internship must be part of their school curriculum.

We’re looking for an individual who’s bright, creative, and energetic, with a passion for news- and lifestyle-themed content, plus the ability to hunt down the latest trends before they go viral! Knowledge of video production and editing would be considered a strong asset.

The position is a full-time, five-day-a-week program, running from 6 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday in our downtown Toronto studios.

Should you fulfill the requirements and wish to apply for the position, please forward your resume and cover letter, along with your placement officer’s name and contact info, to:

Please include ‘Internship‘ in the subject line.

Alternately, send a hard copy to:

City – Rogers Broadcasting Ltd.
Breakfast Television Internship Program
33 Dundas Street East
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1B8

If we are interested in following up with you, we will be in touch to set up an interview.

Join us at the 10th-annual Spirit of the Season BT Christmas Party!

Winston Sih | posted Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2015


It’s been a tradition for the past decade… Spirit of the Season is back for its 10th anniversary, and you’re invited!

The morning of Friday, Dec. 18 is the BT Christmas Party and we will be broadcasting live from the lobby of the Sheraton Centre (across from Nathan Phillips Square). The morning is in support of Daily Bread Food Bank.


There’s a special rate from Dec. 10th through Dec. 30th – you will want to book a stay for the night of Dec. 17 and make your way to the hotel lobby in the morning!

  • Festively priced and starting from $139 per night
  • Book by calling 1 (866) 716–8101 and mentioning code “BTXMAS” or online
  • Click for more details: bit.ly/Sheraton-BT

Stay at the hotel with $20 from every guest room going to Daily Bread . It’s a great rate and giving back to Daily Bread – perfect for holiday shopping – hotel connected via PATH to The Eaton Centre, so leave your boots and coats in your guest room.  It’s also a great rate for festive events, boxing day bargains. And of course, stay overnight on Thursday, Dec. 17 so you can join us for the Spirit of the Season BT Christmas Party!

Black Friday frenzy spreads to Toronto

Diana Pereira | posted Friday, Nov 27th, 2015


Black Friday fever has spread north of the U.S. border to Toronto, with bargain hunters spending their waking hours lining up for deals.

At the Eaton Centre, shoppers lined up outside H&M not starting on Friday — starting but 9 p.m. on Thursday. Seriously.

Those waiting for doors to open told CityNews they were there for special giveaways up for grabs for the first people in line.

Early Friday morning about a dozen people were lined up outside the Footlocker near Eaton Centre on Yonge Street, south of Dundas Street, looking to get their hands on some new Air Jordans. (We didn’t know that was still a thing.)

Once a traditional American phenomenon, landing on the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving, Black Friday is now being embraced by retailers here in Canada.

The flyers are loaded with discounts on our side of the border.

Canadian Tire is promoting sales on everything from Christmas trees to pots and pans. The price of a robotic vacuum is slashed by more than $200. And there’s a treadmill that’s marked down by more than $700. If books are more your thing, Indigo has some for up to 70 per cent off and you can save $30 on a Kobo.

Go wild. And if you’re wondering, we’re bookish kind of people and are accepting gifts.

RCMP looking for two ‘suspicious’ men seen near Rogers Centre

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2015


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be holding a news conference Thursday to discuss a suspicious incident they say happened in August near the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Investigators are asking for help identifying two men they say were “exhibiting suspicious behaviour” on the John Street bridge at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 31.

The Toronto Blue Jays were hosting a game that day against the Cleveland Indians.

Police say a passerby saw the two men and reported the incident via a suspicious incident report (SIR) to the RCMP’s National Critical Infrastructure Team.

Police are releasing few details but have indicated the investigation could be related to national security.

The SIR is a system that is used to collect information on suspicious incidents that may be related to national security, police said in a release.

The man on the left is described as having brown skin, 20-30 years old and with a medium build. He was wearing a green and white striped shirt with a red trim, blue jeans, blue Adidas shoes with yellow laces, and a watch. He was also carrying a backpack and sunglasses.

The man on the right is described as having brown skin, 20-30 years old and with a medium build. He was wearing a blue and yellow striped shirt with some purple stripes, dark blue jeans, blue Puma shoes with yellow laces and a watch. His sunglasses were hanging on his shirt buttons.

Anyone with information is being asked to call the RCMP at 1-800-387-0020, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800- 222-TIPS (8477).

Ontario to allow use of medical marijuana in public places

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2015


Instead of popping two aspirins, you can now light up a joint at work – if you have a medical marijuana prescription.

Medical marijuana users with a doctor’s prescription are exempt from the laws that prohibit cigarette smoking and e-cigarette vaping in most public places in Ontario, Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dipika Damerla, explained on Wednesday.

“The law allows for an exemption because someone needs it for a medical purpose … It’s about negotiating. It’s about balancing the rights,” she said.

But Damerla said the legislation that allows for the exemption also permits business owners and employers to “override the exemption.”

“As an employer and a restaurant owner, you can say that there is no vaping, no smoking of medical marijuana,” she said.

CityNews has learned that the exemption doesn’t apply to establishes with liquor licences.

There was some confusion over whether the exemption applied only to vaping, and not smoking, but Damerla made it clear that both are permitted with a doctor’s approval.

“They are consistent with each other,” she said.

Patrick Brown, Ontario PC Leader, expressed concerns that the new provincial rules would contradict with respective municipal guidelines.

“The conversation they should have is with municipalities to make sure that the provincial regulations are in line with what municipalities have already established,” he said. “And in some cases they have their own regulations that prohibit smoking in places like parks.”

When asked about concerns that marijuana could be smoked in the presence of children, Brown said he didn’t think there was going to be “an overwhelming amount of people in Ontario running out to parks to have their medical marijuana.”

Toronto Public Health, which has taken a hard stance on cigarette smoking, and has called for e-cigarette and hookah bans, refused to comment when reached by CityNews.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said her party would take a hard look at the rules surrounding medical marijuana smoking and vaping.

“We know that Health Canada has issued some warnings about exposure of young people to the smoke and vapor of medical marijuana and that’s something we have to keep in mind,” she said.

When asked how she would react if someone lit up a joint while she was enjoying dinner, she quipped, “I’ll probably eat more.”

Medical marijuana advocates applauded the exemptions.

In a release, Jonathan Zaid, Founder and Executive Director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) stated: “This is another important milestone in the recognition of the legitimacy of the use of cannabis as a medicine. Ontario has taken a huge step forward by exempting medical cannabis patients and their use of vaporizers.”

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