Worth a visit any time of the year, summer and fall are when Toronto, Ontario, Canada, really shows its stuff. Festivals, concerts, and special events can be found almost any day of the week and cater to a number of different tastes and audiences and can fit any budget.
During the summer months, Toronto staple Summerlicious has both locals and tourists alike queuing for prix fixe meals at some of the city’s hottest restaurants. (The beat the winter blahs, Winterlicious is the equivalent in January and February). Patrons can dine on a three course lunch or dinner set menu for a fraction of the price- usually between $15 and $45 plus beverages, tax and tip per person. At regular price, these same menu items are almost double the cost, making even the most exclusive restaurants affordable.
Other culinary events in the city include Taste of the Danforth in August which sees Toronto’s Greek Town transformed into a pedestrian walkway with concerts, wine tastings, and some of the most delicious Greek food this side of Athens. Delectable souvlaki is best pared with a cold beer: the Toronto Festival of Beer hits historic Fort York on the same weekend as Taste of the Danforth, but be cautioned that tickets sell out weeks in advance to this major event for beer-lovers.
Festivals and Celebrations
Mega-watt parties Pride Week and Caribana come to town on select dates in June and July/August. Parades takeover the downtown streets and the city becomes a playground for partiers no matter your sexuality, gender, or nationality. Both feature many free events and activities ranging from performances, live music, arts and crafts, and other attractions that last through the night. Each event has activities that are family-friendly and those that are for the more mature, as well as something for the party animals.
The Canadian National Exhibition (or simply The Ex to locals) comes to town for the last two weeks in August and boasts an impressive midway, game booths, horse shows, food, and exhibitors featuring everything from plants to handicrafts from around the world. Entrance includes access to the grounds, shows, and activities, while wrist bands which include unlimited access to the midway rides can also be purchased at the gate.
Luminato and Buskerfest celebrate the arts in Toronto with street performers and ticketed events focusing on everything from theatre and dance, to music and magic. Throughout the summer, Toronto’s Distillery District sees local artists selling their wares from handicrafts to fresh fruits and vegetables, as the area holds several art fairs on weekends, as well as historical tours on foot or by motorized Segway scooters.
The city is home to some top-notch theatre, and museums such as the Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Ontario Science Centre, and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Nuit Blanche in the fall is a free all-night art festival which lasts from sundown to sunrise at various locations around the downtown core. Free maps are provided and public transportation runs all night to shuttle passengers between art displays.
The biggest festival to hit Toronto is the Toronto International Film Festival. One of the most accessible festivals, film fans can easily get tickets for movies in advance or on the day-of the screening. It is entirely possible to score a ticket to the film’s first showing at the festival and wind up sitting next to a big Hollywood star as the cast and director of the films sit among the regular ticket-holders and often stick around for a question and answer session with the audience at the end of the film.
A welcoming and safe city, Toronto can be a great trip any time of the year.
Dates of festivals are subject to change and often weather permitting.