The best things to do on the August civic holiday weekend in Toronto

Including Terra Lumina, Toronto Outdoor Picture Show, Illusionarium and Carnival

NOW critics pick the best in-person and virtual things to do in Toronto on the August 2021 civic holiday long weekend, including Carnival, a night walk at the Zoo, outdoor movies, outdoor live music and more.

Terra Lumina: An Enchanted Night Walk Into A Bright Future

The illuminated night walk at the Toronto Zoo reopens 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.

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

Toronto Caribbean Carnival

Carnival weekend arrives in a transitional time – massive festivals are still prohibited but party-sized gatherings can happen with distancing. The Grand Parade and King and Queen show are off, but virtual celebrations, food fests, patio socials, outdoor fetes and boat cruises are very much on. Check out our Carnival event picks here.

To August 1. Various venues.

Toronto Outdoor Picture Show & Friends

The popular outdoor movie program series kicks off this weekend with a 25th anniversary screening of the Robin Williams comedy The Birdcage on July 31, followed by Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding on August 1 and Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart on August 2.

July 31-September 5. Fort York National Historic Site. Gates at 7 pm, screening at sundown. Free (tickets required).

Ontario Place Summer Live Music Festival

The gradual return of live music continues this weekend. Ontario Place is teaming with the Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Fest and SING! The Toronto Vocal Arts Festival to stage four concerts per week that will also stream online. You can pull up solo to a Muskoka chair or a table with friends. Fridays are Francophone nights and Saturdays are curated by Indigenous artists Elaine Bomberry and Ian Terry.

To September 6. Ontario Place East Island (955 Lake Shore West).

Jamie Allan’s Illusionarium

After delaying its opening because of the pandemic, this immersive, in-person magic experience full of 3D projections, holograms, vintage magic exhibitions and live illusionists finally gets to enchant physically distanced viewers.

Limited run from July 29. 1 Yonge. $99 per couple. VIP options available.


Steven Gallagher and Anton Lipovetsky’s musical set during Toronto’s famous 2003 blackout continues its live run at the High Park Amphitheatre. See related story here.

To August 15. $49.


Just For Laughs

The famous Montreal festival is offering live and digital comedy all weekend, including a Live In LA show hosted by Toronto-born Sabrina Jalees (July 29), a panel featuring Variety’s 10 to Watch (July 29), a Live In Montreal show hosted by Jon Dore (July 30) and a Comedy Night In Canada show hosted by Ali Hassan (July 30).

To July 30. Free.

Out of town

Endless Summer Series at Burl’s Creek

If you’re ready for a big outdoor music festival, Burl’s Creek Event Grounds is unleashing a weekend of classic rock tribute acts that features Absolute Journey, the Practically Hip, Simply Queen, Hells Bells and more.

240 8 Line South Oro Station. July 30-August 1. All ages. $21.99 and up.

Play On!

Stratford’s outdoor season continues with this cabaret of songs inspired by Shakespeare, curated by Robert Markus, Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis. A talented cast sings songs made famous by everyone from Taylor Swift and Madonna to Elton John and Prince.

To August 15. $75.


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