It's hard not to picture yourself lounging on a beach blanket or lying in the grass when you think of free concerts. Summer is the perfect time for that, sure. But even in the dead of frigid winter, there are free musical options aplenty.
If you really want to embrace the cold (and all the snow and ice that come with it this year), DJ Skate Nights every Friday night are giving the Harbourfront rink a solid edge over the classic downtown elegance of Nathan Phillips Square. Why? Legit DJs (like DJ Dalia and DJ Numeric) spin hip-hop and dance tunes that keep you warmer than hot cocoa or, ahem, specialty coffees.
If you're the indoor winter type (we can't blame you - it's February already), no-cover monthly showcases like Dave Bookman's Horseshoe staple, Bookie's New Music Night (the first Tuesday of every month), become even more appealing in the darker months. Luring acts from across the country and internationally, it's no amateur hour. The Tuesday (February 4) edition alone brings California glam-metallers Dirty Penny and Toronto indie-rock four-piece the Bright Skies.
One-off performances also pepper the season: local all-female punk trio the Beverleys play a Sonic Boom in-store on February 8, while Michael Occhipinti & Shine On pay tribute to a beloved Beatle in The Universe Of John Lennon on February 19 at the Four Seasons Centre. And, aside from four paid gigs, Winterfolk Blues & Roots Festival brings (almost) 150 free shows to five stages on the Danforth from February 14 to 16.
Of course, in February we celebrate our rich, complicated, beautiful black history with city-wide events. Check out Njacko Backo & Kalimba Kalimba at the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Sunday (February 2) or calypso-loving Eucalyptus at Hirut Fine Ethiopian Cuisine the same day (and on all of the other Sundays in February).