The best things to do in Toronto on Labour Day weekend

Including a virtual CN Tower light show, Electric Island, Paris Is Burning and a Caribbean art exhibition at the AGO

NOW critics pick the best things to do on the Labour Day long weekend (September 3-6) in Toronto.

Light of Hope

A virtual CN Tower light show created by animation studio AVA Animation & Visual Arts premieres online on September 2 at 8 pm and features a soundtrack by musicians Cris Derkson, LAL, DJ Shub, Kinnie Star, George Gao and more. In a press release, the city emphasizes this show is not happening in real life – just online. The idea was to create something hopeful for Toronto as summer ends, particularly as the fall is expected to be a challenging one in the fight against COVID-19, according to public health officials.

Fragments Of Epic Memory

A major exhibition devoted to Caribbean history and contemporary art has opened at the Art Gallery of Ontario, three years after the museum acquired a significant collection of historical photos from the region. In addition to a selection of photos from that collection, the show features a mix of contemporary and newly commissioned works by artists Ebony Patterson, Sir Frank Bowling, Rodell Warner, Sandra Brewster and Zak Ové. Read more here.

To February 21. 317 Dundas West.

Electric Island

This big electronic music party is back with a stacked lineup of DJs: Maceo Plex, Nathan Barato, Addy, Jamie Kidd, Karim Olen Ash, Young Teesh, Green Velvet and more. It’s no longer on the island, but it’s still outdoors on Ontario Place’s West Island so they can keep the name. 

September 4-5. Ontario Place West Island (955 Lake Shore West). $85 and up.

Is My Microphone On?

Jordan Tannahill’s bold new play about young people and the effects of climate change features a group of youths aged 12-17 who confront adults about the choices they’ve made and the future of the planet.

To September 19. High Park Amphitheatre (1873 Bloor West). 7:30 pm. $5-$50.

Wavelength x TOPS

Long-running Toronto music series Wavelength is back with its first in-person events of the pandemic, a team up with the Toronto Outdoor Picture Show. Tonight, they’ll be showing Dazed and Confused with a performance by Moscow Apartment. On Friday, there’s a screening of Brimstone & Glory with music by Cat and the Queen and Joyfultalk. Saturday pairs the landmark 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning with Desiire and Decoration Day. Finally, Sunday will be The Forty-Year-Old Version and Lolabunz.

To September 5. Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York). Free with reserved tickets.

La Bulle

CORPUS, Théâtre français de Toronto and Jamii present an outdoor solo performance by the classic dell’arte character of Pierrot, performed in a bubble tent.

To September 5. Berkeley Castle Courtyard (2 Berkeley). 8 pm (doors 7:30 pm). Free.

Serving Elizabeth

Marcia Johnson’s new play, set in two time periods and exploring colonialism, nationalism and artistic voice, officially opens at the Stratford Festival and runs to September 26.

To September 26. Tom Patterson Theatre Canopy (111 Lakeside, Stratford). $75.

Moon King’s Garden Party

Kensington Market bar/coffee shop Cafe Panemar has a beautiful, semi-hidden back patio, and its fruit-tree-lined space is now a spot for outdoor music. Local synthpop musician Daniel Benjamin (aka Moon King) is throwing this one, playing alongside Ensoul and Milch.

September 3. Cafe Pamenar (307 Augusta). 7 pm. $12.

The Best Of Showcase

John Mostyn hosts a stacked stand-up comedy showcase featuring Keith Pedro, Anna Menzies, Andrew Johnston, Alex Pavone and Allie Pearse.

September 4. Comedy Bar (945 Bloor West). 7 pm. $51.98 (for 2) or $23-$28 at door.

Virtual Labour Day Parade

The annual Labour Day Parade is not happening in real life this year, but the Canadian National Exhibition is hosting a virtual edition as part of its streaming platform CNE Connected.

September 6. Free.

People walk through illuminated trees as part of Terra Lumina at the Toronto Zoo.
Courtesy of Moment Factory

Terra Lumina’s initial run at the Toronto Zoo was cut short by the pandemic.

Last chance

This weekend is your last opportunity to catch the following shows.

Terra Lumina: An Enchanted Night Walk Into A Bright Future

The illuminated night walk at the Toronto Zoo reopened following two pandemic interruptions in the past year. The Zoo originally booked the experience, which features futuristic projections and a conservation narrative, pre-COVID but with outdoor activities de rigeur this summer, the timing couldn’t be better. It wraps up on Sunday.

To September 5. Toronto Zoo (2000 Meadowvale). Tours start after sunset (approximately 9 pm). $25-$30.

Elias Sime: Tightrope

The Ethiopian artist repurposes salvages circuits, keyboards and other technological detritus to create vibrant tableaus. Twenty-eight of Sime’s woven and layered pieces are display at the ROM through this weekend, amounting to a decade’s worth of work. Sime’s art toes the line – or hesitantly walks the tightrope – teetering between the rampant technological advancement of our modern age and its detrimental impact on our environment.

To September 5. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen’s Park).


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