Summer in Toronto means the chance to watch movies and listen to music outdoors, often for free. And there’s really no other way to be entertained than while relaxing in the sun or under the stars depending on what the case may be. And doing so is a summer staple in the city with lots of opportunities to watch and listen in a variety of settings, from Yonge-Dundas Square to Harbourfront. If you’re looking for some free (or low cost) summer fun here are five ways to see music outdoors this summer and five places to catch outdoor movies in Toronto.
Live on the patio
Listen to free concerts on the Roy Thompson Hall patio all summer starting Friday June 17 and running to September 2 on Thursdays and Fridays. Music is at 6:30 and 8 p.m. and the eclectic selection includes everything from reggae and salsa, to vintage rock, blues and swing. If you’re hungry, you can buy something to eat courtesy of Barque.
Play the Parks
Play in the Parks is happening at Trinity Park, College Park Courtyard, McGill Granby Parkette and Mackenzie House all summer from June 22 through to September 22. The free concert series within the Downtown Yonge area kicks off June 22 at Trinity Square Park with a performance by the Massey Hall Band from 5 to 7 p.m. Following that, music curated by curated by Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall will happen during lunch hour, after work and on weekends depending on the venue. The full schedule features 28 performances showcasing the diversity of music in Toronto
Make your way to Yonge-Dundas Square this summer on Fridays from June 24 through to September 2 for Indie Fridays, a free concert series showcasing some of Canada’s indie music talent. It’s a great way to support local talent as well as to learn about new music. Some of this year’s lineup includes AA Wallace (July 8), Radio Radio (July 22), Ben Caplan (August 5) and Pierre Kwenders (August 26) to name a few.
Summer Music in the Park
The Village of Yorkville Park, located at Bellair St. and Cumberland St., is where you’ll find Summer Music in the Park, a series of free outdoor music events happening throughout the summer through to September 10. Live performances will take place Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Music styles range from jazz to Latin to Celtic/American so there should be something to suit every music taste.
The Edwards Summer Music Series: Gardens of Song
This free summer music series will be held in the courtyard adjacent to the historic barn in Edwards Gardens on Thursdays at 7 p.m. June 28 through August 25. One of the best spots to catch one of the 10 performance is from the Toronto Botanical Garden’s Garden Café patio where you can also enjoy a drink or something to eat. The café will be serving chicken and bison burgers alongside grilled veggies from 5 p.m. until close as well as wine from a rotating selection of wineries from the TCB farmer’s market.
If you’re not on the café patio, it's a good idea to bring a chair from home.
Free Flicks at Harbourfront
Harbourfront will once again be home to a series of free movies this summer. Catch a movie every Wednesday night from June 22 to August 31 beginning with Mean Girls. Other free flicks include Strange Brew (June 29), The Visitor (July 6), A Little Princess (July 13), The Grand Seduction (July 20), The Mighty Quinn (July 27), The Last Dragon (August 3), The Good Lie (August 10), Chef (August 17), Sense and Sensibility (August 24) and it will be audience choice on the 31, a choice between Gravity, Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech.
Christie Pits Film Festival
Bring a blanket and some snacks and head down to Christie Pits Park for a series of outdoor movies happening Sundays at sunset June 26 to August 28. The event is PWYC with a suggested donation of $10. The nine evening series is called Stranded in Christie Pits! and starts with Gravity on June 26. Each feature film is preceded by a short film (or in the case of Gravity a music video) that that helps set the tone for the main event or falls under a similar theme. Other films range from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet to 2015 Oscar nominated foreign language film Mustang.
In addition to music, you can also get your outdoor summer movie fix at Yonge-Dundas Square, which will once again be showing a series of free movies Tuesday evenings beginning with Bridesmaids on June 28. This year’s crop of movies, that start at dusk, are all comedies. Other funny flicks on the schedule include Tommy Boy (August 23), Wayne’s World (August 9) and Coming to America (July 5).
One of the more unique ways to catch an outdoor summer movie in the city is via Sail-In Cinema. Toronto’s largest outdoor theatre event happens August 18 to 20 at Sugar Beach and also happens to be the world’s first two-sided floating movie experience. Movies are shown on a double-sided screen which is set up on a barge in the harbour meaning you can watch from land – or from a boat. Just note that if you plan on boating in, space is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.
Movies in St James Park
There are three movies being screened at St James Park this summer on the last Thursday of each Month (June, July and August). This year’s free movie series begins with Kinky Boots on June 30, which will kick off with a free drag show from 8 to 9 p.m. Check out Disney Pixar’s Inside Out on July 28 from 9 to 11 p.m. and A Hard Day’s Night August 25, which will start with a concert by the Rattles from 8 to 9 p.m.