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Best Historic Venues in Toronto

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Declared a national historic site in 1982, this structure represents the last stacked Edwardian theater in the world, meaning one theater on top of the other. It was built in 1913 as the first of the Loews vaudeville theatre chain. Located downstairs, the 1,500-seat Elgin Theatre makes for a lavish gathering with royal boxes and charming gilded plaster details. The upstairs 1,000-seat Winter Garden features trompe-l'oeil paintings of pastoral scenes and a spectacular fireproof garden hanging from the roof. Catch some of the most awaited theater productions at this spectacular venue.

Ideally situated opposite the Eaton Centre, the Ed Mirvish Theatre is billed as Toronto's finest vaudeville house in the 1920s. The façade has changed along with the players that take to its stage. Now, after being a comic theater house, motion picture palace and a contemporary cinema, it has been returned to the look that first made it famous.

Given to Toronto by the Massey family in the late 1800s, the Massey Hall and the building was declared a heritage site in the 1970s. Today, it hosts more than 100 events annually, ranging from jazz, classical, folk and rock music to international dance. Comedy and theater troupes as well as opera choirs have performed here to appreciative audiences. Ticket prices vary, depending on seat and performance so call ahead for details for more.

Young Centre For The Performing Arts nourishes and promotes art in a big way in Toronto. Their repertoire is vast and includes poetry recitals, readings, stand-up shows, classical and contemporary concerts, ballet, opera and even visual arts. If you reach before showtime, stop by their in-house cafe bar which serves up very palatable refreshments and drinks. Besides theatrical productions, the theater can also be rental out for private events and corporate conferences.

This grand theater house, Royal Alexandra Theatre, is worth seeing for its architecture and opulence as well as for the entertainment. Built in 1907 and pulled out of the demolition doldrums by Ed Mirvish, the Royal Alex, as locals call it; exudes old-fashioned charm while providing a state-of-the-art theatrical experience. Be seated by a waist-coated usher, sink into the lush red-velvet chairs and see everything from famous Broadway to local talent.

One of the city's original live music venues and where Canadian singing legend Stompin' Tom got his first break, this tavern is still the place to see the bands that put the word 'road' in roadhouse. From cowboy to punk, rock 'n' roll to grunge, the musical back room has heard it all. The sound system at Horseshoe Tavern is high decibel and, Tuesday nights, local radio station-The Edge hosts a New Music series of sounds from the street.

The Opera House attracts some of the best music performers in the city. It is worth the trip to check out who's playing at a venue where bands go out of their way to perform. The place has an underground feel with a sound reminiscent of catacombs, but the environment has a charge in the air that boosts any concert. No food is offered, but the bar is fully stocked with all your rock-and-roll needs. Ticket prices vary.

If you're looking for a big, dark, loud, squeezed-in-to-capacity music venue, yet still want that intimate club-like atmosphere, then this twin-level space is for you. Because of its size, the Lee's Palace & The Dance Cave club attracts some of the better known alternative music names on the circuit. These include Moxy Fruvous, DJ Trevor, DJ Shannon and more. Shows for all-ages are put on during the day. Timings vary for both levels so call ahead for details.

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