What to Do in Toronto in Summer

Summer events & festivals heat up Toronto

Centre Island in Toronto

TripSavvy / Kristjan Veski 

Toronto is a big, bustling, multicultural city where on any given weekend - especially in the summer - From smaller scale, special interest happenings to big, splashy festivals with thousands in attendance, Toronto summers are full of fun, food and sun. 

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Toronto Islands

Centre Island in Toronto

TripSavvy / Kristjan Veski

Toronto Islands are an archipelago off the shores of downtown Toronto.

A ferry makes regular crossings stopping at Centre Island, Ward's Island and Hanlan's Point.

The most popular island to visit is Centre Island, which comprises 600 acres of parkland and is home to Centreville Amusement Park, Franklin Children's Garden - inspired by the children's storybook - loads of green space, bicycle paths, eateries and more.

Ward's Island has a small, lovely sandy beach and swimming area, unique residential, car-free neighbourhoods and a couple of restaurants.

Hanlan's Point is mostly known for its nudist beach. 

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Caribana (July / August)

Peter Mintz / Getty Images

Caribana is a big, bold, colourful two-week festival celebrating Caribbean music, cuisine, and culture. Introduced in the late 60s, Caribana is one of the largest festivals of its kind in North America and a huge international draw. Few styles of music are more sunny and uplifting than the Calypso, Reggae, Steel Pan beats that pulse across Toronto during Caribana.

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Harbourfront Centre

Harbourfront Centre in Toronto

TripSavvy / Kristjan Veski

The Toronto Harbourfront Centre offers a variety of cultural activities along the shores of Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto. Outdoors, you can stroll the boardwalk on Harbourfront's 10-acre site, take a boat tour, or relax in one of the parks. Inside, take in a lecture or show, shop or dine.

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Hike or Bike

Photo © City of Toronto

Toronto offers plenty of opportunity to escape the city with its wide array of green space for hiking, biking and exploring. 

With five watersheds and an extensive network of natural trails, you can find yourself crossing paths with deer, skipping rocks or smelling wildflowers within minutes of downtown.

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Luminato (June)

Photo © Luminato Festival

Introduced with great fanfare in 2007, Luminato is on the cerebral side of festivals; it is a unique 10-day global multi-arts festival that celebrates creativity and brings together the city of Toronto through performance, visual art, music, theatre, dance, magic and more.

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Canada's Wonderland

Photo © Jane McLean

Located about a 45 min drive outside of downtown Toronto, Canada's Wonderland is Canada's premier theme park and home to the most roller coasters in one location outside of the U.S. The park is open from May to October and offers a loaded schedule of concerts, events and educational programs during this time.

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Summerlicious (July)

Photo © Preston Schlebusch / Getty Images

Summerlicious is your chance to sample some of Toronto's best restaurants at reasonable prices. 

Twice a year - once in winter and once in summer - restaurants across the city offer a special set menu at lunch and dinner at reasonable prices. The most popular restaurants book up fast. 

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The Beach

Alan Marsh / Getty Images

Formerly known as "The Beaches," the Beach is an east-end Toronto neighbourhood that boasts a long stretch of waterfront. Come down for the day to hang out at the beach, stroll the boardwalk or shop or dine at one of the many fine, trendy establishments.

Each July, the Beach turns its main Queen Street strip into multiple stages for the Beaches International Jazz Festival.

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The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)

Photo © The EX

The CNE takes place in late August and winds up the first Monday of September. This long-running event is one of the largest annual fairs in North America and features roller coasters, amusement rides, games, concerts, special events.

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Toronto Jazz Festival (late June / early July)

Photo © Darren Hopes / Getty Images

Since 1987, big names in jazz arrive in Toronto to groove at venues across the city. The festival offers Mainstage, Lunchtime and Afterwork series of concerts. More than 400 performances with over 2000 musicians performing at approximately 50 locations around Toronto.

Most of the the Toronto Jazz Festival performances take place at indoor venues; however, Nathan Philips Square has an impressive outdoor 1,200 seat venue that hosts many free concerts during the festival. 

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