The best things to do in Toronto on Victoria Day long weekend

Our picks for the best things to do in Toronto on the 2021 Victoria Day long weekend include Canadian Music Week, Images Festival, Glastonbury and Dwayne Gretzky’s 99 Songs Telethon.

Get vaccinated!

With the Ontario’s reopening plan now pegged to vaccination rates, the province is basically incentivizing everyone to get vaxxed so life can gradually return. Toronto has made 19,000 new appointments available at the six city-run mass immunization clinics over the Victoria Day long weekend. Across all nine city clinics, Toronto has a capacity to vaccinate 56,160 people. As of Thursday afternoon, total appointments for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday are 73 per cent booked, meaning more than 15,115 appointments are still available. All adults in Ontario age 18 and up are now eligible to book online. Go here and click “book a vaccine.”

Get outside

Outdoor recreational amenities are reopening at 12:01 am on May 22 and public health officials are encouraging people to get active outdoors – while taking some safety precautions. Golf, soccer, tennis, skate parks, batting cages and basketball courts will be allowed again (see the full list here), but the province’s COVID-19 science advisors are telling people to wear masks when playing closer contact sports like doubles tennis and basketball. Outdoor gathering limits have also been expanded to five people, but people from different households are asked to keep two metres distance.

Images Festival

The annual celebration of experimental and avant-garde film and video is just as virtual, and just as free as it was last year. The festival is running to a schedule, with programs playing in real time; if you miss a window, that’s it. Our picks include the shorts program made, remade, unmade (May 21, 8:30 pm), which includes the striking Homeric vision of Diana Vidrascu’s Silence Of The Sirens and Shambhavi Kaul’s hypnotic, depopulated Mount Song; and techniques of observation (May 25, 8 pm), a selection of politically loaded pieces. And don’t miss Will Kwan’s If All You Have Is A Hammer, Everything Looks Like A Nail (May 24, 1 pm), a video triptych full of quietly pointed observations about race and class in Toronto.

To May 26. Free.

Canadian Music Week

If you’re someone in the music industry and you have a CMW pass, there are plenty of virtual panels for you to attend on everything from documentaries to music publishing. You can also use it to check out No Tickets At The Door, a touching new documentary on the Toronto music scene during COVID. If you don’t have a pass, the music festival side is all free this year – head here to see who’s playing.

Until May 21.

Dancing Phil’s Musical Bingo: Boy Bands Vs Girl Groups Edition

Is it a virtual club? A games night? A trivia night? A nostalgia trip? Toronto DJ Dancing Phil rolls all the virtual event staples into one with his musical bingo night. This edition is themed around boy bands and girl groups, from The Ronnettes to Boyz II Men and Little Mix. If you miss the club but aren’t into totally sold on virtual clubbing, this event will hold you over until your two-dose dreams become a reality.

May 21. 9:30 pm. $10.


The outdoor exercise program will see parts of Lake Shore East (eastbound lanes between Leslie and Woodbine) and Lake Shore West (eastbound lanes between Windermere and Stadium) close again this weekend to vehicle traffic so cyclists, runners and pedestrians can take over. New this weekend: Roads in High Park will close to vehicles for all three days from Friday at 11 pm to Tuesday until 7 am. And the multi-use trail along Bayview between Mill and Rosedale Valley will stay in place everyday through April 2022.

May 22 at 6 am to May 23 at 9 pm. Free.

Tom Skinner, Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke from the band Smile

Glastonbury Presents: Live At Worthy Farm

One of the world’s largest music fests was cancelled due to coronavirus for a second year, so organizers in the UK are going global with a five-hour livestream. The concert is being shot locations that should be familiar to past attendees for the British fest – like the Stone Circle and Pyramid Field – and the lineup includes Coldplay, Damon Albarn, George Ezra, HAIM, IDLES, Jorja Smith, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka, Roisin Murphy, Wolf Alice and DJ Honey Dijon. PJ Harvey and Jarvis Cocker will also pop by to drop some spoken word on virtual viewers. A late edition to the lineup is Smile, a new band featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood and jazz drummer Tom Skinner (pictured). The group will make their debut during the livestream.

May 22. 7 pm. $27.50 USD.

QueerCab: Imagined Futures

“Drag robot” Nora Vision hosts the third and final installment in Buddies’ showcase for emerging queer artists. The events has been themed around past, present and future. This edition will feature futuristic artistic visions spanning aerial work to drag and music. The lineup includes stage artist Yolanda Bonnell, musician Daniel Sarah Karasik, movement artist Simon Mazziotti, drag artist Huck King Filarious, aerialist Jordana Greenblatt and more.

May 22. 7:30 pm. Free.

Dwayne Gretzky’s 99 Songs Telethon

Toronto’s busiest cover band are finally paying tribute to their namesake and playing a marathon 99 songs this long weekend. They have a huge repertoire that runs from Alanis to Bruce to Carly Rae, so playing for around eight hours is no sweat. They’ll play themed sets, welcome guests and take votes on what to cover. The free YouTube benefit show will be styled like an old-school telethon and it will be hosted by comedian Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll. Proceeds will go to Community Food Centres Canada.

May 23. 4 pm. Free.

Beams: Ego Death

Local folk rock band Beams, director Samuel Scott and Wavelength created this hybrid of documentary and concert film that captures the music scene during COVID – and especially its empty venues. Watch them play throughout the city’s quiet spaces and question culture in a city that’s pushing out artists.

On demand until May 24. $5.


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