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The Best Art Events of 2013

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Arts-related happenings in 2013 had a variety of show stoppers for revellers to experience. We shout out the highlights, and why they made the list.

In the "multi -disciplinary festival that wowed at all", the Summerworks Performance Festival featured everything from one on one performances, a live art & music series, and a performance bar to name a few. One could have taken a week off and be thrilled with all that was offered. Who could forget the "travelling adventure show" led by indie sensation The Wooden Sky when each song was performed at a new venue after the audience walked along with the band on each leg of this journey. Unreal. This festival seems like an "insider's sanctuary" so the hope is the movement will continue to grow. A must attend in August 2014.

Local darlings Arts & Crafts brought us Field Trip, a 10th year anniversary experience featuring a reunion of Broken Social Scene as well as a special performance from Feist. The beauty of the day was how welcoming it was to all. Hipsters, families with kids, and locals were present from day to night. Food experiences set a new bar. The hope is this is an annual.

In true transformative form, Live Nation led a team that brought global sensation Mumford and Sons touring extravaganza Gentlemen of the Road to Simcoe, Ontario. The reviews of the genuine and positive vibe felt between Simcoe locals and festival goers seemed never ending. Many hope that this type of experience (which included food pop-ups, camping, after show gatherings and local charities benefiting) could be new template for the summer festival circuit.

In the "c'mon, we are in a library?" surprise and delight category, the Toronto Public Library Foundation's New Collection group wowed attendees at their Hush Hush fete engaging a younger literary fan to support a "strong urban library system". The movement has garnished momentum and we look forward to the return of this event and having this as an annual.

Opera Idol, anyone? Kudos to Alexander Neef, Trinity Jackman and the team that made COC's Centre Stage a reality. The setting? The home of the COC was the stage for the "next" Canadian opera stars as they showed the world the abundance of talent they have. Things look bright. Giving performers a chance like this is something to applaud. This is one not to miss next year.

The second annual DX Intersection was a much hyped, and did not disappoint. Design Exchange, Canada's Design Museum, played host to honour 2013 Game Changer Award winners, Byron and Dexter Peart of WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie as attendees immersed themselves within the world known as DX Intersection : Market. Look & feel? Every corner of the museum celebrated the best markets from around the globe. Great mix of programming inspiring all senses mixed with design innovations. A real eclectic group of partners made this event wow guests. Collaboration wins again. A good preamble to some interesting stuff to watch for in 2014 from Design Exchange.

Canada's film hero David Cronenberg has his first major exhibition currently at the TIFF Bell Light Box. David Cronenberg: Evolution is a one of a kind experience that goes deep into the mind of this film genius. Well curated by TIFF Director & CEO Piers Handling and Artistic Director Noah Cowan, the exhibition features 300 original artifacts. Attention to detail is the big draw here, and you never know what you may find in drawers you are allowed to open. Great for the whole family to uber film fans. Runs until January 19. A big reco not to miss.

The creative minds at La Carnita brought their three loves together this summer again for one night. They call it Dos. Their goal? Fuse food, music and art in a more epic fashion than they did for Uno, their first major event in 2012. Their method? Search the globe and in the end, they landed representation from countries like Spain, South Africa, China, England, & the US. Next year? They promise more food, more music, more art. Our friendly suggestion? What about a feature act like Mexican wrestling, and maybe the creation of let's call it "La Carnita Servicio a La Mesa" (table/bottle service)? Think folks would be into it and would pay the premium price.

Visual art wow. Harley Valentine continued his development as an artist & innovator with his takeover of the Campbell House grounds this summer with a show called Barbarians. A sight to see for sure and led to much chatter. He followed that with a show called Portal at the Alison Milne Gallery. Valentine's work is versatile, impactful and one of a kind. He is an artist to watch.

Stratford Festival's hot ticket this season? Bus service. According to The Grid , "The Stratford Direct (Toronto to Stratford) was a roaring success, transporting some 15,000 people this past season--more than half of them first-time festival-goers." Cost: $20 return. Smart move. Also a highlight was The Forum, a one of a kind programming "add on" experience which allowed audiences to go deeper. It was incredibly well-curated and was a great companion to the plays presented. The hope is that it will return annually.

Honourable mentions? Naughty by Nature's set at the Artbound: The Party, how many folks were owning the dance floor on a Tuesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel 1st anniversary party, the eclectic guest list and conversation at the Toronto Life Most Influential soiree, and the 55 hour soap opera marathon at Impulse Festival.

All in all, 2013 was the year of "multiple experiences within an experience". Attendees of all types seem to be craving this, so we will see what 2014 brings us. We will be there searching the trends for you.