Cursed with harsh, long winters, Torontonians know how to savour and relish every bit of warm weather they can get. As the heat finally ramps up in mid-June, here’s a list of the 20 hottest upcoming festivals to enjoy in the rest of summer (in chronological order)!
LuminaTO – June 14 to 23
If you’re into the arts, then this 10-day arts celebration across the city is right up your alley. Don’t forget to check out the giant disco ball that’s hanging in the middle of David Pecaut Square.
Toronto Jazz Festival – June 20 to 29
There’s nothing quite like jazz, the one genre that is so historically tied to the boisterous atmosphere of speak-easies (and of course, bootlegging!). Whether you prefer smoother sounds or more upbeat vibes, the annual TD Jazz Fest has it all.
Pride Week – June 21 to 30
Does this one even need an explanation? It’s basically a HUGE, WEEK-LONG PARTY that ends with a MASSIVE PARADE down Church Street!! If you don’t know where to start, then head to the intersection of Church and Wellesley Streets as this is often designated as the center of “The Village.”
Toronto Ribfest – June 28 to July 1
Smoky, tangy, sweet, saucy, fall-off-the-bone, tender, finger-licking good ribs (plus other carnivore favourites). Are you drooling yet? For all you meat lovers out there, this is Toronto’s summer carnivore heaven.
Digital Dreams – June 29 – 30
If you didn’t make it to Ultra in Miami back in March, then Digital Dreams is your next best bet. What better way to celebrate Canada Day weekend than enjoying 2 DAYS of music by some of the world’s biggest house DJs?
Summerlicious – July 5 to 21
For two weeks, 150 of Toronto’s restaurants, both high end and casual, offer 3-course prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at a bargain value. Lunches are $15 or $20 and dinners are $25, $35 or $45. If you’ve been dying to dine at that high-end restaurant but could never bring yourself to spend the money, now’s the time to do it! However, you will have to be persistent in calling as some restaurants book out within the first day or two. AMEX cardholders get front-of-the-line privileges – this means they can make reservations two days in advance of the public on June 18 and 19. Regular reservations begin on June 20. Good luck, fellow foodies!
Tasty Thursdays – July 11 to August 29
Check out food vendors, farmer’s markets and so on in Nathan Phillips Square (City Hall) every Thursday from mid-July through the end of August!
Honda Indy – July 12 to 14
Once a year, the roads at Exhibition Place get turned into racetracks and you can hear the race cars around the city even if you are nowhere near the tracks. Check out the Honda Indy if you have a need for speed.
DOS – July 19
The popular Mexican joint, La Carnita, is back with its second annual food/arts/music party at Evergreen Brickworks and this year it’s bigger and better than ever!!! Why, you ask? Because not only will it be serving its own delicious tacos, but BIG STAR from CHICAGO will also be there!!! This will be the ultimate party in your mouth, foh realz.
Waterfront Night Market – July 19 to 21
Despite the recent up-rise of street food, this type of super casual dining has actually been around for a long time in the form of night markets which are especially popular in Asia. If you’ve never been to one in Asia, then this is your chance to experience locally. Hosted by Canada’s most popular Asian grocery chain T&T, you can expect a large variety of mouth-watering Asian snacks such as fish balls, rice cakes, bubble tea, etc.
Toronto Festival of Beer – July 26
Beer drinkers, enthusiasts, brewers and vendors unite!! Come to discover new flavours, savour familiar hops, and have a grand ol’ time with a glass.
Caribana – August 3
This Caribbean festival has been known to create a lot of traffic along the major highway that passes through downtown Toronto because there are SO MANY BABES JUST SHAKIN’ IT LIKE A POLAROID PICTURE (true story). In all seriousness though, this is actually one of the world’s biggest Caribana festivals and people fly in from other countries to participate.
VELD – August 3 to 4
INK Entertainment presents the second-annual VELD Music Festival, featuring more than 30 internationally-acclaimed acts, including Kaskade, Dead Mau 5, Steve Angello, Dada Life and Steve Aoki. Over two days at Toronto’s Downsview Park, fans of the electronic sound can enjoy more than 30 EDM acts.
OVO – August 4 to 5
Founded by Drake, Toronto’s billboard sensation, this festival has grown to be something bigger than we ever expected with Stevie Wonder appearing as a surprise guest two years ago. Wonder who we can expect to see this year?
Taste of the Danforth – August 9 to 11
This is one of the most popular ethnic food festivals in the city and there is one particular reason why….MESSINI AUTEHNTIC GYROS!!! Juicy meat, thick garlicky tzaziki sauce, tomatoes and onions topped with French fries, all wrapped in a hefty pita. To die for!!! Of course there are other scrumptious goodies to be devoured but just know that if there is a line somewhere, there is always a reason why. And that reason is probably worth finding out.
Canadian National Exhibition – August 16 to September 2
A tradition for many Canadians, the CNE (aka The Ex) is a must-do for locals and tourists alike. Equipped with carnival-style rides, games, a 24-hour casino and a massive indoor food court with some of the most ridiculous carnival foods you can ever imagine (like thisKrispy Kreme Burger
from 2011), there is definitely something for everyone here.
Sail-In Cinema – August 15 to 17
This is hands down one of the coolest summer events ever – a floating screen is set up in the lake so that you can anchor your boat and watch a movie for free!! If you don’t have a boat, not to worry – you can watch the movie for free too but you’ll have to sit on the ground. Still though, it’s free!
Buskerfest – August 22 to 25
This year, Buskerfest has moved to the Yonge/Dundas area from its usual St. Lawrence neighbourhood. Expect to see street performers of all kinds, food vendors and who knows what else! A great activity for families, friends and couples alike.
Hot & Spicy Food Festival – August 30 to September 27
If you like a bit (or a LOT) of kick in your food, then this is the place for you to stimulate and shock your taste buds! Make sure you bring tissue to blow your nose and wipe that sweat off your forehead.
Toronto International Film Festival – September 5 to 15
Commonly referred to as TIFF, this is one of the world’s most coveted film festivals with all of the biggest A-listers in attendance. This is the best time for celebrity sightings in Toronto, and maybe do some stalking, if you’re into that!
Many Oscar-winning films have screened at TIFF so if you are a film buff, you probably have already mapped out all of your movies. Tickets can be purchased in packages or in singles. If you’re lucky, you might just get to sit a few seats away from your dream guy or girl.