About now we get the coldest, snowiest weeks of the year. I want to hide. I want to stay indoors until April. I want to be a bear or a chipmunk so I can hibernate until winter goes away.
For a human in Toronto, though, there are better strategies!
#1 – Acknowledge the cold
Wear a wool hat and scarf. Your blood circulates up your neck, close to the skin, and around your head: keep those areas insulated.
Move with energy. Using muscles generates heat. (Shivering is just little muscle twitches – your body’s own way of getting some movement heat going.) Walking faster is walking warmer.
#2 – Find reasons to be moving
“Go for a walk” doesn’t motivate me; I need a destination to pull me out. It has to be free, or I’ll use the cost as an excuse not to go. So here are worthy, free things to do, almost all in the city core. “Just do it.” “You can do it.” “It’ll be fun.” My sister says things like that – and she’s right.
Part I, in this post, is not about walking miles in the snow! (That’s Part II, next post.) This is just trips tosomething indoors. Move the body, feed the mind = win over winter.
Part I – Small steps – go out to go in
Exceptional one-off events
- Toronto New Music Festival, Jan 12-21 – 10 days of free music, 7:30pm
- Vogue dance workshop with Twysted (age 14-25) 4-7pm Weds, Jan 15 to March 4
- Meridian Hall contemporary-dance classes, Thursday 6pm Jan 23, 30
- January movement classes, Kaeja d’Dance, MNJCC, 1pm Weds, Jan 22, 29, Feb 5
- DesignTO, Jan 17-26 – On the schedule, at the left, you can choose neighbourhood and interests – e.g., urban design, furniture design, graphic design…. Most exhibits are free.
- Photography exhibit – Root cellars of Newfoundland. Jan 20-24. This basic structure often lasts longer than the house. Other work by the artist, also relating to harsh conditions.
- Toronto Light Festival, Jan 17 – March 1, sundown to 9/10pm, Distillery District. I didn’t know “light artist” was a profession, but in 2019 specialists from Turkey, Austria, Sweden, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, and Israel joined Canadian artists to light up the night.
- Mackenzie House/DesignTO workshop, 10am-2pm Jan 18. Plant a garden pocket for your household in a vertical garden, then explore Mackenzie House free. (Toronto’s first Mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, was a fiery figure.)
- African drumming workshop, 2pm Feb 1
- Harbourfront’s 25th Kuumba, celebrating Black History Month, Feb 1-29. About half the items are free – mostly the exhibits. Just go, see something.
Museums: Major museums have free evenings. Go with a curious mind, there are marvels here. Most are on the Bloor subway, easy to get to. The Aga Khan Museum is farther, but so amazing it’s worth the long trip. The Allan Gardens Conservatory is my favourite destination in February: just hop on the Carlton car and walk into a warm climate to lift your spirits.
Free times (or PWYC where noted)
*PWYC means pay-what-you-can – it’s OK if that’s $1 or $0, you are truly welcome
- Toronto Public Library programs — all the time
- Allan Gardens Conservatory — all the time
- ROM — 5:30-8:30pm, third Tuesday of the month
- AGO — Wednesdays 6-9pm (25 or younger = always free)
- Aga Khan Museum — Wednesdays 4-8pm
- Gardiner Museum — Wednesdays 4-9pm
- Textile Museum — PWYC Wednesdays 5-8pm
- Bata Shoe Museum — PWYC Thursdays 5-8pm
- Museum of Contemporary Art — Fridays 5-9pm and last Sunday of the month
If those times don’t work for you, or if you want to visit the Ontario Science Centre, Toronto Zoo, or the Toronto History Museums, get a free-entry MAP pass from the library.
Two to travel west for:
- Etobicoke Civic Centre Art Gallery. Bus from Kipling or Islington Station to remarkable free exhibitions. March: Eagle’s journey, March: artists of the Albanian diaspora.
- Assembly Hall, Sam Smith Park, Etobicoke. 501 Long Branch streetcar, or 44 Kipling South bus from Kipling Station to a community-driven venue. Art exhibits are free & interesting.
Music – listen free
- Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, high-quality concerts, 12 noon, Tuesday-Thursday
- Meridian Hall Xenia concerts, weekday, one or more each month
Dance – move free
- Greek dance for adults (you don’t have to be Greek), alternate Sundays 2-4pm
- English country dance, Ralph Thornton Centre (Queen & Broadview), Fridays 6:30-9
- AGO art-interested seniors social — 1-4pm, second Friday of the month
- Meridian Hall yoga — noon, Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) gives free workshops on topics like basic knot tying, winter camping, introduction to snowshoeing, and winter bike commuting. Go learn something – you don’t have to do it.