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Five things to do this weekend in Toronto: Feb. 1 to 2

The Chinatown BIA is throwing a New Year’s party that will be attended by Er Shun, the Toronto Zoo’s mascot.

Coldest Day of the Year Ride

Remember Bruce Cockburn's cold-night song, in which rhymes were made about a Toronto street at a glance, watching bikers dance and wishing for the South of France? The tune was warming. In that spirit, Cycle Toronto is sponsoring a group two-wheeled ride on Saturday that culminates in a gathering that involves hot chocolate and a campfire set up next to a skating rink. For those without their own wheels, BIXI bikes will be made available. Feb. 1, 12:15 p.m. Free. Begins at Queen's Park (at Hoskin Avenue) and ends at Dufferin Grove Park. (If the event is cancelled because of dangerous road conditions, an announcement will be made at

Gary Taxali: Shanti Town

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The work of Gary Taxali pops up here and there anyhow, so a pop-up exhibition makes perfect sense. Waddington's Auction House presents 41 works by the India-born, Toronto-based illustrator, whose peppy pieces – seen in Rolling Stone, the Whitney Museum of American Art and an Aimee Mann album cover – are for sale, with prices that range from $1,500 to $15,000. Mr. Taxali drops in for an artist talk on Saturday, 1 to 2 p.m. To Feb. 9 (weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; weekends, noon to 5 p.m.). Free. Waddington's, 275 King St. E.,

This Clement World

Neil Young warns of ecological catastrophes in his way, and the unusual performer Cynthia Hopkins does the same in hers. The decidedly quirkier Ms. Hopkins offers her show This Clement World, a musical piece that poetically but urgently addresses what science believers know as a global climate crisis. Part documentary film, part outlandish fiction and part avant-folk orchestral songs, the production was inspired by a three-week Arctic expedition. To Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m. $25 to $30. Great Hall Black Box Theatre, 1087 Queen St. W., 416-538-0988 or

Chinese New Year

Zodiac-based zaniness happens when the Chinese community rings in the new year this weekend. And while we mean no offence to the Year of the Horse, some of us demand the panda. With that in mind, the Chinatown BIA is throwing a party that not only includes martial arts demonstrations, lion dances, and opera and dance performances, but also a visit from the Toronto Zoo's giant black-and-white bear mascot. Festivities happen at Chinatown Centre and Dragon City Mall, while the actual bamboo-eating Er Shun and Da Mao chill at the zoo. Feb. 1 and 2, noon to 5 p.m. Free. Chinatown,

A Masked Ball (Ballo in Maschera)

Because Verdi's passionate opera was loosely based on King Gustavo, who was assassinated at a masked ball in Stockholm, censors deemed the touchy libretto a no-go, until the story was recast to happen in colonial America. More recently, productions of Ballo restore the original Swedish setting. For this Canadian Opera Company staging, however, the story takes place in the American south of the 1960s, with its humid undertones of political tensions and sweaty strong-arming. Canada's super soprano Adrianne Pieczonka stars. Feb. 2 to 22. $24 to $332. Four Seasons Centre, 145 Queen St. W., 416-363-8231 or

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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