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© Gregory White / Wikimedia Commons
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A Guide to Canada's Fall & Winter Festivals In 2013

Picture of Rebecca Jagoe
Updated: 9 February 2017
Some of the leading festivals in Canada are held in the autumn and winter, from the world renowned TIFF to the newly launched Capture Photographic Festival in Vancouver. Whether you’re a visitor or a native, discover some of the country’s finest cultural picks coming up in 2013.

Art | AGO Exhibitions Programme: Ai Weiwei and David Bowie

Toronto: 17 August – 27 November

The upcoming programme for the Art Gallery of Ontario features two landmark touring exhibitions: Ai Weiwei: According to What? (August 17th – October 27th) and David Bowie is (September 25th – November 27th). Organised in conjunction with the Mori Art Museum of Tokyo, AGO is the only Canadian stop-off for the Ai Weiwei show as it travels North America, for the first time providing North American audiences with in-depth exposure to the artworks of this legendary creative. An exhibition that encompasses photography, video, installation and sculpture, the show demonstrates how this prolific artist has contributed to debates on freedom of expression and human rights, producing works that are simultaneously complex in effect and direct in their political stance. AGO is the first stop for the American tour of David Bowie is, allowing Canadian audiences the chance to see what all the hype has been about in this landmark exhibition that saw record audience numbers at its debut in London’s V&A Museum.

Learn more about the AGO Exhibitions Programme


Film | Toronto International Film Festival

5 – 15 September 2013

One of the most important film festivals in the world, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is now a cornerstone of global cinema, matched only by Cannes in terms of scale, audience numbers and prestige. Over 300 films from more than 60 countries are screened each year across 11 days, starting the first Thursday after Labour day and taking place in a number of venues across the city. With screenings open to the public, TIFF is a non-juried festival, so awards are People’s Choice based on the highest ratings voted by audience members. Showing everything from arthouse and experimental film to gala presentations attracting leading movie stars, a number of high profile titles have premiered at the festival, such as I Am Love, Silver Linings Playbook and Argo, and TIFF is a key player in generating ‘Oscar buzz’. TIFF attracts both industry insiders and avid movie fans in their droves, each year drawn to the eclectic programme and the chance to catch the leading film titles of the future.

Learn more about TIFF


Literature | Word on the Street

Various locations across Canada: September

A national celebration of literacy and reading that rolls out for one day in Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto and Halifax, Word on the Street is an event that takes place on various dates throughout September. The event is both a promotion and celebration of some of the finest names in Canadian literature and provides a platform for the names of the future to showcase their work and be exposed to wider audiences. The Toronto Word on the Street, on the 22nd September, features a host of events and authors across several stages in Queen’s Park. The Bestsellers Stage, the flagship venue, hosts the leading lights of Canadian contemporary writing; Nothing But the Truth gives audiences the chance to see some of the top names in contemporary non-fiction, and Vibrant Voices of Ontario features some of the most dynamic voices from across the district. Further, audiences can participate in hourly, genre-based interactive sessions in the This is Not Shakespeare Stage, and writing workshops for budding creatives are run throughout the day.

Learn more about Word on the Street


Theatre | Vancouver Fringe Festival

5 – 15 September

Vancouver Fringe packs a lot into 11 days, this year boasting over 600 performances by 89 artists. The selection technique for the mainstage performers is anything but exclusive, as names are drawn out of a hat, allowing all performers the chance to gain exposure to a wider audience. Additionally, there are a number of site-specific performances taking place across Granville Island throughout the event, providing audiences with an alternative theatre experience. The Fringe kicks off with Fringe-For-All, a fast-paced preview event where all performers have two minutes to provide a taster of their shows. When the festival has finished, Pick of the Fringe stages a shortlist of the best performances, as voted for by audiences, from the 18th to the 29th of September.

Learn more about Vancouver Fringe Festival



Art | David Cronenberg: Transformation (MOCCA)

Toronto: 5 September

The legendary filmmaker David Cronenberg gained his reputation in the 1980s for disturbing films such as Videodrome, exploring his fascination with biological horror and the merging of humans and media. Inspired by writers such as Ballard and Burroughs, the impact of his cinematic vision has influenced a number of contemporary artists both in subject and in form. For this event MOCCA brings together six artists from Canada and beyond who have been inspired by Cronenberg and his interests in their upcoming show David Cronenberg: Transformation, featuring new work from Candice Breitz, James Coupe, Marcel Dzama, Jeremy Shaw, Jamie Shovlin and Laurel Woodcock, commissioned by Toronto International Film Festival to tie in with their event. With so many artists remaining fascinated by the boundaries between identity and digital technologies, this artistic tribute to the visionary filmmaker is a must-see exhibition.

Learn more about David Cronenberg: Transformation


Film | Vancouver International Film Festival

26 September – 11 October

VIFF is one of the largest film festivals across North America, each year screening over 340 films. With a strong initiative on nurturing home grown talent, the festival places emphasis on cinema produced in Canada, with over 100 titles from leading auteurs and emerging talent alike shown each year: one of the largest showcases of Canadian talent in the world. However, as its name suggests, the event still places cultural diversity at its fore, and its programme is also notable for showing the largest selection of East Asian cinema outside of that region. Documentary and nonfiction are also a fundamental component in the lineup each year. Despite the impressive roster of films shown, VIFF remains a friendly and accessible event, that maintains its key aim as a festival ‘designed for the benefit of people who love films and people who make them.’

Learn more about VIFF


Art | Capture Photography Festival

Vancouver: 1 October – 15 November

Photoconceptualism is an movement that has firm roots in the contemporary art scene of Vancouver, so this year the festival Capture is launching in celebration of national and international photographic and lens-based art. For six weeks across the city, a number of private and public galleries will host exhibitions showcasing photography as an art form. For those keen to get involved, talks, tours and workshops are being organised by the festival, and all along the Canada Line, the programme ‘Capture in Transit’ showcases works selected as part of a nationwide competition, at stops from Waterfront to the YVR-Airport Station. Providing a platform for emerging talent, and demonstrating the wealth of established artists already working in and around the city, Capture is sure to be a unique festival not to be missed.

Learn more about Capture


Art | Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

Toronto: October 5th 6.51pm to sunrise

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is a landmark event that takes place on one night only from 6.51pm to sunrise. On the 5th of October, 110 contemporary art projects across the city, from curated exhibitions to independent projects, will be open for free to audiences to explore in the after hours, transforming the city into a nocturnal artistic haven. This year, the legendary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be creating the centrepiece for the event: a new edition of his Forever Bicycles sculpture, to be shown at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. The success of Nuit Blanche is as much due to its audience as to the contributions of the many artists involved; last year the estimated attendance was around 1 million visitors, creating an exciting and dynamic atmosphere for this unique event.

Learn more about Scotiabank Nuit Blanche


Literature | The Vancouver Writers Fest

22 – 27 October

The Vancouver Writers Fest is one of the leading literary events in the country, attracting a wealth of authors, poets and novelists from across the globe to Granville Island each year. Since its inauguration 25 years ago, the festival has attracted such names as Margaret Atwood, John Irving, Andrea Levy, David Mitchell, Michael Ondaatje and Alice Monro, transforming Vancouver into a literary oasis for six days every year in October. Events and readings cater to audiences of all ages and readerships, from poetry aficionados to reluctant readers.

Learn more about The Vancouver Writers Fest



Art | Art Toronto Fair

Toronto: 25 – 28 October

Founded in 2000, Art Toronto is the only contemporary fine art fair of its kind in Canada, showcasing the leading galleries and contemporary artists from across the country. Toronto is a multicultural haven boasting 125 galleries, making it the ideal location to host Canada’s equivalent of Frieze Art Fair. Each year the fair attracts professionals, collectors and gallerists from across the country, along with a keen audience of art enthusiasts. The show is supplemented by a strong programme of talks, panel discussions and tours that are open to all attendees. Further, the Trust the Experts tours take place daily, offering a chance to receiver insider knowledge from art professionals, and an invaluable opportunity for both expert and novice collectors alike.

Learn more about Art Toronto


By Rebecca Jagoe