The best festivals in Toronto this summer

Spend summer 2018 checking out all the festivals taking over our streets, parks, theatres and more


Do it all at Dundas West Fest

The popularity of Dundas West can’t be contained. This free street festival now spans 12 city blocks across two days. Chill on 40 licensed patios between sampling food trucks, browsing more than 200 area vendors, dancing samba and rocking out to live music from local bands. In addition to the hood’s historical and omnipresent Portuguese fare, this year’s street food takes inspiration from Brazil, Colombia and New Orleans. The party continues long after sunset, with live music at both the Garrison and Bambi’s.

June 1-2 on Dundas West between Ossington and Lansdowne. Free. dundaswestfest.ca

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Let your queer flag fly at Pride Weekend

Pride organizers are asking revellers to wear black to mourn the victims of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur. But while the parade will be toned down, Pride Toronto has upped their music game by booking queer pop star Kehlani and R&B icon Brandy as headliners. The early lineup also includes some choice underground names, like DJ/producer Elysia Crampton, who headlines Catalyst, the Indigenous music stage, and Tennessee rapper BbyMutha, who performs at Sweat: Yes Yes Y’All’s Block Party. Pride events will be happening all month leading up  to the big weekend, including Buddies in Bad Times’ Queer Pride Festival and the 519’s Green Space Festival.

June 22-24, various venues and prices. pridetoronto.com

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Get cultured at Afrofest

In celebration of its 30th birthday, North America’s largest free African festival is expanding from two days to 10 and taking its act across Ontario. Events will be held in Ottawa, London, Ajax, Kitchener and Hamilton, leading up to local festivities at Woodbine Park, featuring a bustling African marketplace, music from international and up-and-coming artists and an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the highest number of djembe drummers playing simultaneously.

July 7-8 at Woodbine Park (1695 Queen East). Free. afrofest.ca

Jam out at Rastafest

Rastafest has crisscrossed not only the city but also the globe in its rich, 20-year-long history. The reggae music and arts festival has touched down in Ottawa, Montreal and Jamaica as well as York University, Harbourfront and Jane Finch Mall. Its mission of showcasing Rastafarian heritage and culture is still going strong. The family-friendly festival features Nyabinghi drumming, music from national and international reggae artists, a health and wellness community fair, arts and crafts marketplace and more.

August 18 at Toronto Plaza Hotel parking lot (1677 Wilson). Free. rastafest.com

Share a roti at Tamil Fest

In just four years, Tamil Fest has racked up a few notables. It’s the largest street festival celebrating Tamil culture outside of the Indian subcontinent, and it drew Prime Minister Justin Trudeau out last year where he gushed about the Kothu roti. With over 20 food vendors, there will be a wide array of Tamil cuisine to keep you fed while taking in modern and traditional street performers, interactive exhibits and midway rides.

August 25-26 on Markham Road, from McNicoll to Passmore. Free. tamilfest.ca

Get more Hot Summer Guide 2018 here!

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