Goya and Gillray: Humour that Bites
What Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart know, the Spanish artist Francisco Goya y Lucientes and his British counterpart James Gillray knew in the 18th century. At a turbulent time in world history, Mr. Goya (with dark, chilling imagery) and Mr. Gillray (with colourful caricatures) used satire as a weapon against societal and political wickedness. To April 15 (closed Jan. 2) . $16.50 to $25 . Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648.
Let the nineties house-music legend and Chicago transplant provide you with the last things you hear in 2011. Dec. 31, 9 p.m . $30 to $40. Wrongbar, 1279 Queen St. W., 416-516-8677.
Rattlesnake Choir, with New Country Rehab
Eclectic country music, in which idiosyncrasies are inspired, not mannered. Jan. 5, 9 p.m . $10 . The Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., 416-598-4753.
Salute to Vienna
Goodbye 2011; hello, Vienna. A waltzy wake-up from the night before stirs with polkas, operetta pieces and costumed dancers doing it to 3/4 time. Jan. 1, 2:30 p.m. $60 to $145. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-872-4255.
Toronto Operetta Theatre
There is Austro (in the form of sleek waltzes) and there is Hungarian (represented by Magyar melodies). The Gypsy Princess, Emmerich Kalman’s 1915 ode to a hyphenated empire, is a civilized, tuneful nostalgia for simpler days. Dec. 31, Jan. 4, 6, 7 (8 p.m.) and Jan. 8 (2 p.m.) . $66 to $95. Jane Mallet Theatre, 27 Front St. W., 416-366-7723.
Musicians in Ordinary
Soprano Hallie Fishel, lutenist John Edwards, violinists Edwin Huizinga and Christopher Verrette, and harpsichordist Lysiane Boulva present baroque music from Italy and elsewhere in Europe – an elegant and subtle start to 2012. Jan. 1 (2 p.m.) and Jan. 2 (8 p.m.) . $20 to $25. Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave., 416-535-9956.
2 Pianos 4 Hands
The math, the smarts and the laughs add up in a two-handed play (written and performed by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt) about a pair of piano prodigies. To Jan. 5 , $49 to $69. Panasonic Theatre, 651 Yonge St., 416-872-1212.
Okay, we’ve had enough of Baby it’s Cold Outside – it’s time to Let the Sun Shine In. A counterculture musical salutes the age of Aquarius. Dec. 31, 2 and 8 p.m. $59 to $130 . Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W., 416-872-1212.
Next Stage Festival
A sort of frigid Fringe offers plays with much promise, including Hypnogogic Logic, a tongue-twisting comedy about the giddy world of dreams from the funny troupe Uncalled For. Jan. 4 to 15 . $10 to $15 . Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., 416-966-1062.
Theatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck found the Cirque de Soleil’s touring production to be moody in concept but with circus acts that mesmerize and a overall production that blends art and athleticism at every enjoyable turn. Jan. 4 to 8 , $26.75 - $96.75 . General Motors Centre, Oshawa, Ont., 877-436-8811 .
The National Ballet of Canada: The Nutcracker
Dolls comes to life and imaginations run wonderfully wild in James Kudelka’s opulent version of the wintry ballet classic. Dec. 31 (1 p.m. ) and Jan. 3 (1 and 5:30 p.m. ). $38 to $133.50 . Four Seasons Centre, 145 Queen St. W., 416-345-9595.
Polar Bear Dip
Does the money raised by this frosty plunge into Lake Ontario go to Habitat for Humanity? Do polar bears dip in the icy water? Say yes to this annual skin-shocking event. Jan. 1, noon. $20 (minimum pledge) . Sunnyside Beach , torontopolarbear.com.
Courage Polar Bear Dip
You don’t have to take the plunge to enjoy the festivities surrounding this mass excited rush into the water. Music and costume contests add to a grin-and-bear-it event that supports fresh water projects in developing countries. Jan. 1, 2 p.m . $25 (registration fee ). Coronation Park, Oakville,. polarbeardip.ca.
An African Election
Described in the New York Times as a “fleet-footed, engagingly volatile documentary,” Jarreth Merz’s An African Election follows the dynamic, highly spirited presidential race in Ghana, a developing democracy struggling to legitimize itself to its more stable contemporaries. For the Hot Docs series, the director participates in Q&A sessions after each screening. Jan. 4, 6:30 and 9:15 p.m., $14. TIFF Bell Lightbox. 350 King St. W., hotdocs.ca .
Mayor's New Year's Day Levee
Get a load of the rotunda when Mayor Rob Ford and city councillors meet their citizens under the dome at City Hall. Jan. 2 , 2 to 4 p.m. City Hall Rotunda, 100 Queen St. W., toronto.ca.
Blues at midnight come at all hours from this one-man band. Expect a suitcase to be thumped as a bass drum, a guitar to be struck at severely, vocals to be yelled dog-like and neck-hairs to be raised. Jan. 5 , 9 p.m . Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635 .
Paint Your Own Mona Lisa Portrait
Call us old-fashioned, but we prefer the cryptic smirk of the original to the keyboard emoticon the kids might be tempted to plant on Mona Lisa’s face. Portrait painters aged eight and up are encouraged to discover their inner Da Vinci for a hands-on activity, in conjunction with the Leonardo da Vinci's Workshop exhibition. Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 , 1 p.m . $13 to $25 . Ontario Science Centre 770 Don Mills Rd., 416-696-1000 .
Puppetmongers’ Bed & Breakfast To Jan. 1. Tarragon Extra Space, 416-531-1827.
Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic To Jan. 1. Rogers Centre, 855-985-5000.
American Idiot To Jan. 15. Toronto Centre For the Arts, 416-644-3665.
Mary Poppins To Jan. 8. Princess of Wales, 416-872-1212.
Wizard of Oz To Jan. 6. Elgin Theatre, 855-599-9090.
The Blue Dragon Jan. 10 to Feb. 19. Royal Alexandra Theatre, 416-872-1212.
Canadian Opera Company’s Tosca Jan. 21 to Feb. 25, 2012. Four Seasons Centre, 416-363-8231.
Canadian Opera Company’s Love from Afar i.
Black Keys March 14, 2012 . Air Canada Centre, 855-985-5000.
Foster The People June 19. Downsview Park’s Meadow Site, 855-985-5000.
Coldplay July 23 and 24. Air Canada Centre, 855-985-5000.