Winter is finally over and with warm weather comes festival season. Summer is festival central in Toronto, with celebrations and street parties covering everything from jazz and classical music, to food, beer and cider. Suffice to say, it won’t be hard to find something fun to do in the city that suits your interests. If you’re looking for something to do in the form of some summer festivities, here are 12 of the coolest summer festivals to look forward to in Toronto.
Redpath Waterfront Festival
Toronto’s waterfront is already a great place to be in the summertime, but it’s also home to the three-day Redpath Waterfront Festival that makes the area an even more worthwhile destination. Taking place July 1-3, the theme of this year’s festival is one celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. You can expect live music, food and drinks, entertainment and more – all with a fantastic view of the waterfront. In addition, you can check out the sail-in of the Royal Canadian Navy’s 440-foot frigate and snap pictures of the world’s largest rubber duck.
Big on Bloor
This neighbourhood arts and culture festival takes over Bloor Street between Dufferin and Lansdowne to celebrate local arts, culture and community in a popular street party that has drawn up to 100,000 people. Whether you live in the area or not, Big on Bloor is a great way to shop and eat local, find out what’s going on in a vibrant Toronto community and spend some time listening to live music and eating great food. This year, the fun takes place July 22-23.
Taste of Toronto
Food, drinks, cooking demos and entertainment – what more do you need on a summer day? Foodies and food-lovers alike descend on Garrison Common for Taste of Toronto to sample taster size signature dishes created by some of the best restaurants in Toronto and watch some of the city’s best chefs show off their skills in live cooking demos. Come hungry – there’s lots to eat, as well as over 60 food and drink exhibitors to shop (many of whom offer samples). Taste of Toronto takes place June 15-18 at Garrison Common at Fort York.
Toronto Summer Music Festival
If classical is your go-to music of choice, Toronto Summer Music Festival (TSMF) is the place for you. This year, in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, TSMF will be showcasing the music of Canada and highlighting the best of the nation’s many world-renowned classical performers. This year’s festival, running July 15 to August 5, also includes a one-week residency by Canadian violinist James Ehnes.
Toronto’s Festival of Beer
Beer fans rejoice – summer is the season for beer in Toronto and one of the biggest and best places to celebrate your love of a cold one is via Toronto’s Festival of Beer. Beer, food and live music courtesy of Sloan, Method Man & Redman and Alan Doyle takes place July 28-30 and tickets for the Saturday (July 29 this year) usually sell out pretty quickly. As for the main event – the beer – you can look forward to sampling well over 300 beers from around the world.
Annex Family Festival
Also happing along Bloor Street this summer is the annual Annex Family Festival, this one between Bathurst and Spadina on Sunday, July 11. The family-friendly street festival is a fun community event, featuring games, live entertainment, local vendors and food and drinks courtesy of area restaurants.
Toronto Jazz Festival
One of North America’s premier jazz festivals is back this summer and jazz fans can look forward to over 10 days of more than 1,500 musicians performing all across the city. The festival takes place June 29 to July 2 at various venues, including Danforth Music Hall, Jazz Bistro, Sony Centre and the Phoenix Concert Theatre. Some of this year’s must-see headliners include Mavis Staples, Joss Stone, Gregory Porter and Aretha Franklin.
This year marks the 14th year for Pedestrian Sundays in Toronto’s lively and eclectic Kensington Market. The ongoing festival takes place throughout the late spring into fall on Sunday May 28th, June 25th, July 30th, August 27th, September 24th and October 29th. This is your chance to celebrate one of Toronto’s most vibrant and beloved neighbourhoods, wherein streets are closed off to cars and there’s plenty of action in the form of street performers, music, food and fun.
Toronto Food Truck Festival
Food trucks are a large part of what many people love about warmer weather and mobile eateries get their own festival in Toronto August 5-7 at sprawling Woodbine Park. The full line-up of food trucks has yet to be released (check the website closer to the date), but you can expect to have access to some of the best food trucks from in and around Toronto – so bring you appetite.
What’s summer without a massive music festival? While there’s plenty to choose from in and around Toronto, one of the best is Wayhome, happening July July 28-30 at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte. Music, arts, culture and food collide for three days of laid-back fun and entertainment. This year’s stacked lineup includes Imagine Dragons, The Shins, Foster the People, Frank Ocean, Vance Joy, Dashboard Confessional and Tegan and Sara among many other amazing acts.
Toronto Cider Festival
It’s not just beer fans who get a festival dedicated to their beverage of choice. If cider is more your speed, you can head to the Toronto Cider Festival this summer on August 28, location still to be determined. In addition to having the chance to sample over 60 different ciders, you can also expect live entertainment courtesy of a few Canadian bands and lots of food to enjoy alongside your icy-cold samples of cider.
Festival of India
You don’t need to hop on a flight to Mumbai to feel like you’re visiting the subcontinent. You can experience the sights, sounds and flavours of India right in Toronto with a visit to the city’s annual Festival of India, happening July 15-16. The fun begins with a parade down Yonge Street, starting at Bloor and continuing south to Queens Quay. Then the festivities move to Centre Island where there will be music and dance performances, traditional face painting, cultural exhibits, a large South Asian bazaar and a massive outdoor yoga festival.