For your best summer yet, don't miss these 60 hot-ticket events this season
The days of summer are long, but the months pass by quickly. To help you plan your best summer yet, we’ve found 60 of the top seasonal events in Toronto – food festivals, outdoor concerts, movies in the park and even the total solar eclipse. What are you waiting for? Slap on that sunscreen and get outside.
Feeling tired and jaded about Toronto? See the city with fresh eyes and maybe even try something new at these one-of-a-kind outdoor events.
An all-ages arts and crafts station at the Laneway Crawl.
In 2016, the Laneway Project launched a summer Laneway Crawl series that transformed different alleyways in Toronto neighbourhoods into lively community spaces over weekends. They’re returning with even more laneway crawls scheduled, the first of which takes place June 24 in Seaton Village’s Karma Lane. Enjoy live music, performances, food and drink, graffiti artists, children’s activities and more at these free, all-ages daytime events. Check the Laneway Project website for a full schedule.
June-September at various venues, free, thelanewayproject.ca/crawl2017
Tucked in behind the Eaton Centre and the Bell Trinity Building, encircled by maples and announced by a limestone arch, the Toronto Public Labyrinth is one the city’s best-kept secrets – not to mention a great place to watch people get lost in their thoughts. Modelled after a medieval maze, the labyrinth has invited wanderers to contemplate chaotic times since 2000, first as a grass labyrinth and since 2005 a paved stone maze. Dozens of labyrinths have sprung up across the city since thanks to the efforts of the Toronto Labyrinth Network, including at High Park, which hosts this year’s summer solstice celebration. Unlike in Greek mythology, you won’t find any monsters hiding at the centre, except maybe those inside your head, in which case you’ve come to the right place.
1 Trinity Square, Summer solstice celebration June 21 at High Park Labyrinth, free, labyrinthnetwork.ca
Bells On Danforth – June 24
The battle over bike lanes on Bloor is not quite over. City council still has to give the one-year pilot project launched last August the official green light. But cycling activists are already turning their sights to the next missing link in Toronto’s bike plan: the Danforth. The sixth annual Bells On Danforth, the pedal-powered parade to install bike lanes through Greektown and into Scarborough, takes its velo revolution east.
June 24 at 10:30 am from Prince Edward Viaduct Park (across from Castle Frank station), free, bellsondanforth.ca
The first Canadian team to play in the Rugby Football League (RFL for those of us in the know), Toronto Wolfpack is enjoying a much-deserved moment. The team is literally the personification of It’s Raining Men! The upcoming match against York City Knights (runners-up in the 2016 UK League 1 Cup) is a must-see, being touted as the David vs Goliath of RFL matches. Don some black and white Wolfpack gear and head to Lamport Stadium and cheer on our boys.
July 1 at Lamport Stadium (1155 King West), $18, torontowolfpack.com
Okay, so when the total solar eclipse happens on August 21, Torontonians will only see part of it. But it’ll still be awesome – and imagine the photos coming our way from prime total solar eclipse spots like Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where the maximum point will occur (at 6:20 pm) and last for almost three minutes. In Toronto, expect things to start going dark just after 1 pm and return to normal just before 4 pm. It’s the first total eclipse visible from all of the U.S. since 1979.
August 21, everywhere, free, timeanddate.com
Toronto is a city of festivals. These multi-day events take over our streets, parks, theatres and convention halls showcasing how diverse the city truly is.
Los Angeles is turning its Pride parade in 2017 into a resistance march. Blame Donald Trump. Blame political apathy stateside. Closer to home in Toronto, it’s also been a tumultuous year for LGBTQ politics at Pride Toronto, since 2016’s Black Lives Matter-Toronto takeover and Pride’s banning of official Toronto police participation in the parade. No floats. No cops in uniform. No weapons. With the election earlier this year of a new board as well as the hiring of new executive director Olivia Nuamah, Pride, if nothing else, has shown itself to be a resilient organization. All of which gives participation in this year’s month-long celebrations including concerts, panel discussions, community events and multiple parades a renewed sense of political purpose and edge.
June 1-25 at various venues, pridetoronto.com
Either we’ve changed or neighbourhood festivals have become a lot cooler in the last few years. Take Dundas West Fest, which now happens every June and features great bands and eats cooked up by high-quality local restaurants. Celebrate the best of the neighbourhood, from Nova Era’s classic Portuguese custard tarts to some of the city’s best vintage stores, like Penny Arcade and CHOSEN.
June 3 on Dundas West from Ossington to Lansdowne, free, dundaswestfest.ca
Afrofest is one of the largest celebrations of African music and culture in Ontario, happening for the 29th year this summer. In honour of its many years of bringing eclectic music, art, fashion, food and fun to the city, this year’s festivites organized by Music Africa features a series of events ahead of the festival’s marquee two-day celebration at Woodbine Park. From its African Music Conference and soft launch, to an exclusive pre-Afrofest event – it’ll be bigger than ever.
June 8-July 9 at various venues, prices vary July 8-9, free, afrofest.ca
When it was unveiled in 2008, Douglas Coupland’s commemoration to the War of 1812 at the foot of Fleet and Bathurst, had one glaring historical omission – lack of Native representation. When American troops laid siege to Fort York during the War of 1812, Shawnee, Dakota, Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi, Winnebago, Menominee, Wyandot and Iroquois warriors fought alongside the British to hold off the American invasion. Truth is, remembering First Nations history is not our strong suit. In 2017, Canada 150 sesquicentennial celebrations make righting those wrongs all the more important. To mark National Aboriginal Day this year, Fort York and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation present a showcase of Métis and Indigenous culture that will take centre stage alongside the annual Indigenous Arts Festival. Spend the day outdoors enjoying traditional and contemporary music, educational programming, storytelling, dance, theatre and food by Indigenous artists and creators.
June 21-25 at Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York), free, toronto.ca/canada150
Standing at just over six storeys tall, this replica of Dutch public artist Florentijn Hofman‘s original work gained infamy when China blocked the search terms “big yellow duck” in 2013. As part of Canada 150 celebrations, Mama Duck will bathe in the Harbourfront portion of Lake Ontario over Canada Day weekend during the Redpath Waterfront Festival. Along with snapping pics for Instagram, festival visitors can sample delicious eats like tacos, churros and ice-cream while shopping for handmade jewellery, soaps and textiles at the artisan market. Stop by the stage to cheer on Rhythm of the Nation, an interactive dance and musical show featuring DJ Creeasian and Pierre Trudel, and Canuck it up whilst watching a lumberjack competition that includes logrolling, tree climbing, chainsaw carving and axe throwing. Bring on the red, white and plaid.
July 1-3 at HTO Park (339 Queens Quay West) and Sherbourne Common (61 Dockside), free, towaterfrontfest.com
From Drake’s OVO Festival to the mas band competition (where participants compete for title of King and Queen), Canada’s largest annual festival of Caribbean culture, food, music and beauty attracts more than a million people to Toronto every year. Toronto Caribbean Carnival, in its 50th this year, has come a long way since its inception in 1967, when it was a one-day event. It has since grown from a pan-Caribbean to pan-Black event incorporating different communities and music. The annual parade along Lake Shore is still the highlight, but organizers have added a number of parties, boat cruises and live concerts to help get your drink and dance on.
July 11-August 5, carnival weekend Aug 3-5, at various venues, free and ticketed events, torontocaribbeancarnival.com
Arguably Jamaica’s most popular export after reggae and beef patties, jerk and its flavourful fieriness has a special place in the hearts of Torontonians. Just ask Drake’s accent. Each year, lovers of the island’s most popular cuisine gather to gorge, push personal Scoville limits and celebrate the titular jerk, but also experience a wide range of Caribbean cuisines. In addition to food, there’s a three-day music festival with headliners Brian McKnight (Back At One topped Jamaican charts for an extremely long time) and Maxi Priest. Fun for the whole family.
August 10-13 at Centennial Park (256 Centennial Park), jerkfestival.ca
We doubt the celeb chef will be appearing at the first Canadian edition of his music-and-food fest camp out, The Big Feastival. But you know who will be? Weezer, Ben Harper, OK Go, Basia Bulat, De La Soul, Wintersleep and Dragonette, to name a few. On the food side, there’s a pretty impressive lineup of personalities, including Chuck Hughes, Piano Piano’s Victor Barry, Antler’s Michael Hunter, the Drake’s Alexandra Feswick and Amy Rosen of Rosen’s Cinnamon Buns. Kids get in free, with entertainment for young ‘ins including Fred Penner (though who are we kidding – we’d want to catch his set, too).
August 18-20 at Burl’s Creek (Oro-Medonte), $45-$435, thebigfeastival.com
Very few festivals can stick it to the man and forgo corporate sponsorship. FIGMENT is a community-oriented participatory art festival that brings diverse voices together to create something very special for one day only. If you’ve ever wanted to mount an installation or participate in another artist’s public work, this is the fest for you. Forget the red tape of other art festivals – this one celebrates going rogue in work that is by and for the people.
August 19 at Dufferin Grove Park (875 Dufferin Park), free, toronto.figmentproject.org
This is the little festival that could. Since its humble inception over two decades ago, the event has been shuttled from venue to venue, but Rastafest now has a permanent home at Black Creek Pioneer Village. An inclusive family affair, the cultural festival exposes attendees to all things Rastafari. From Nyabinghi drumming and music to Ital foods (salt-free and organic), the weekend is an explosive expression of one of Jamaica’s most misunderstood sects.
August 19-20 at Black Creek Pioneer Village (7060 Jane), $20, stu/srs $10, kids under 12 free, rastafest.com
Hit up festivals to find big names from the restaurant scene, or reacquaint yourself with some neighbourhood gems.
The Stop’s Night Market has quickly become the must-have foodie ticket. Over two nights, chefs from over 40 restaurants and bars including Oyster Boy, DaiLo, Baro, Soi Thai, Fat Pasha, Branca, Kanpai Snack Bar, Pizzeria Libretto and the Drake Commissary gather in an outdoor space to support The Stop Community Food Centre’s programs. This year it’s all happening on Sterling Road. Be there – the FOMO you’ll stir up amongst your social media followers is so worth the price of admission.
June 13-14 at 181 Sterling, $100, nightmarket.thestop.org
Savour Toronto hosts a bunch of local food tours worth investigating, like the Best Of The West, which takes you along Dundas West and Ossington, or Le Tour De Cafe, a coffee appreciation tour. But since Kensington appears to be going through yet another phase of development, why not dive into the flavours of this gem of a neighbourhood with co-founders Suzanne Urpecz and Neil Egan, nibbling all along the way?
June-August in Kensington Market, $65, savourtoronto.com
In addition to the food, performances and community celebrations at Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market over the summer, Trashed & Wasted adds to the fun with a flea market and craft beer garden on select weekends. Launched by Brock Shepherd, the founder of Kensington Brewing Company, the pop-up event encourages waste reduction through recycling and reusing garbage. Earlier this year, Trashed & Wasted began hosting a culinary event at Wynchwood Barns, where participating restaurants were encouraged to cook dishes from typically discarded ingredients. The event also served spirits made from whey left over from cheese making and beer brewed from stale bread. At Pedestrian Sundays, Trashed & Wasted focuses on local artisans’ upcycled goods, including refurbished furniture and clothing. A themed beer garden showcases lesser-known breweries: one Sunday features a selection of out-of-town breweries that aren’t represented in Toronto another, hopefully with the launch of Kensington Brewing Company‘s brew house and tap room, hyper-local breweries. In September, as a nod to Oktoberfest, the beer garden has a Germanic feel. Find Trashed & Wasted behind El Gordo Fine Foods starting June 25.
June-September at El Gordo Fine Foods (214 Augusta), free, facebook.com/trashedandwasted
If Toronto Beer Week seems a little too far away – the eighth annual event is slated for mid-September – quench your thirst with some hoppy brews at these craft beer festivals happening throughout the summer. Up first is the Toronto Craft Beer Festival, a showcase of dozens of local crafter brews, taking over Ontario Place on June 23 and 24. Now in its second year, the event offers samples from Ace Hill, Beau’s, Left Field, Side Launch and more, as well as food from Chef’s BBQ and Those Pizza Guys. From July 28 to 30, head to Exhibition Place for three days of tasting at Toronto’s Festival of Beer. Presented by the Beer Store, the event includes suds samples and live music by Sloan, Method Man, Redman, Alan Doyle and others. The Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival takes over Roundhouse Park just outside Steam Whistle Brewing from August 11 to 13. Try products by over two dozen craft brewers and nosh from a lineup of food trucks. After all, what’s better than sunshine, beer and street food?
Toronto Craft Beer Festival, June 23-24 at Ontario Place (955 Lake Shore West), $10-$55
Toronto’s Festival of Beer, July 28-30at Exhibition Place (100 Princes’ Blvd), $42.50-$95
Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival, August 11-13 at Roundhouse Park (255 Bremner), $25-$30
Since 2014, the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies has been bringing together craft-beer-loving women, non-binary people and trans folks at one sold-out event after another. Though flooding has drowned their plans for the first-ever Island Lady Beer Fest, the show will go on as planned on the mainland. At afternoon and evening sessions at the newly-rechristened Off-The-Island Lady Beer Festival, visitors can sample their way through a lineup of guest brews, hit up food stalls and browse wares from local vendors.
July 8 at Henderson Brewery (128A Sterling), $35-$75, ladiesdrinkbeer.com
Famously dry for decades, the Junction is now a hotbed of craft beer activity and excellent restaurants. Enjoy the west-end neighbourhood’s new identity as a drinking and culinary destination at the Junction Night Market on July 22. Organized by the Junction Farmers Market, the free festival takes over Pacific just north of Dundas West from 7 to 11 pm, with local food, beer and cider for $5 each. Proceeds go to local food security programs.
July 22, Pacific Avenue, free, junctionmarket.ca/night-market
A glut of vendors, chefs and food producers showcasing the many facets of India’s rich culinary tradition will be taking over Nathan Phillips Square in August. Though the full lineup is still being put together, organizers promise a wide range of available eats, rounded out by cooking demonstrations, live music and cultural performances.
August 5 at Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen West), free, schoolofflavours.com
Ingredient lists aren’t required on alcoholic beverages, so the third-annual Vegan Food and Drink Festival is a sanctuary where vegans can roam free and wash down vegan wings and poutine and not worry about animal-derived products in their drinks ruining their buzz.
August 19 at Fort York Garrison Common (100 Garrison), $10 early bird, vegandrinkfest.com/toronto
Craft beer is over, people! Now booze aficionados are getting ultra-nerdy about hard cider, the gluten-free beer alternative that’s equally refreshing during these hot months. Refine your palate and sample from 60+ taps filled with flavours from more than 20 cider brewers worldwide. Don’t miss the live music, contests and fierce cider competition.
August 26 at Sherbourne Common at Sugar Beach (61 Dockside), $30-$60, torontociderfestival.com
Conceptual wigs, a conceptual obstacle course, Sailor Moon cosplay and nerd embroidery – our lifestyle events would also make really great challenges on a reality competition show.
Toronto’s maker community is large and diverse, with people of all ages who do woodworking, 3D printing and everything in between at maker spaces across the city. To celebrate their creative work and encourage others to join in, the community organizes Maker Festival Toronto, a month-long event from July 6 to August 6 filled with workshops, demos and parties and more, where makers show off their best projects. Sign up for day-long a list of courses to learn podcasting, pottery, laser-cutting, jewellery-making, robotics, coding and other topics. “This community is made up of people being genuinely interested in something and then following through – building it or tinkering or talking to a friend about it or making some weird art project,” says Ceda Verbakel, the creative director of Maker Festival and director of culture at STEAMLabs. “It’s one kind of breeding ground for human flourishing.”
June 6-August 6 at various venues, prices vary, makerfestival.ca
Toronto doesn’t have enough wig-centric events, which is why wearable art, fantasy wig and headpiece runway “extravaganza” Wiggle is one of the summer’s more intriguing events. Created by Montreal-based performer Michael Venus, the show just marked 20 years in Vancouver and has taken place in Montreal for the past two years. Wiggle is part of queer art and performance festival Nuit Rose.
June 16 at the 519 Church Street Community Centre and adjacent Barbara Hall Park, pwyc, nuitrose.ca
Toronto’s biannual queer craft fair gets a sizable upgrade this summer. Pink Market takes over two floors of the Gladstone Hotel on June 18 during Pride Month. Shop from 50 vendors and queer creators of crafts, fashion, art and books, including Book Nerd Embroidery, Felt Melons, Queer Supply and Rancid Yogurt. Admission is pay-what-you-can, and the market is open to all ages.
June 18 at Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen West), pwyc, pinkmarkettoronto.com
If you love fighting evil by moonlight and winning love by daylight as much as the next Sailor Moon fan, then head to the Ontario Science Centre on June 24. Back for a third year, the Toronto Sailor Moon Celebration offers a cosplay contest, video games, the chance to pick up the latest merch, as well as panels and presentations with Sailor Moon voice-over actors and famous cosplayers. Don’t miss Jennifer Cihi with SeraSymphony in a live Sailor Moon musical tribute, and of course, wear your favourite anime or manga character costume to the festivities.
June 24 at Ontario Science Centre (770 Don Mills), $30, adv $25 + $7.50-$20 concert ticket, sailormooncelebration.com
Get your Bunz off the internet. At the massively popular bartering community/app’s quarterly flea market, you can negotiate trades on the spot. Bring stuff to trade with the assembled lineup of awesome local artists and vendors (they’ll also accept cash), or put your stuff up for grabs in the open-trades area. It’s a dizzying but uniquely exhilarating flea market experience – guaranteed you’ll walk away with stuff you didn’t even know you wanted.
July 4 at Gladstone Hotel(1214 Queen West), free, facebook.com/thebunzflea
Is your denim jacket looking a little naked? Do you not have your minimum 30 pieces of flair? The Pin + Patch Show, a brand-new local market, promises to be a wardrobe-decorating one-stop shop, with local designers Queenie’s Cards and Sparkle Collective curating a scintillating lineup of artists and vendors.
July 29 at Narwhal Art Projects (2104 Dundas West), free, pinandpatchshow.com
Do you get off on things like obstacle courses and getting dirty outdoors? You may want to bring the family to The Color Run, an American (which explains the spelling) recreational course that tours the continent each summer. This year’s event is a 5-kilometre “Dream Tour,” on which runners navigate a foggy tunnel, a foam area and colourful powders reminiscent of India’s Hindu springtime Holi festival. Finishers are greeted by giant unicorns and receive a medal.
August 12 at Woodbine Entertainment (555 Rexdale), $34.99-$39.99, ca.thecolorrun.com
The sounds of summer in Toronto include tons of vintage and future soul, chart-topping rappers, local-focused festivals and a few potentially last-chance performances.
A Tribe Called Red play Field Trip, June 3-4.
Whether or not you like the title, Hug Of Thunder by Broken Social Scene is one of the most anticipated albums of the year. And you can hear it a month earlier than everybody else when they headline the Arts & Crafts takeover this week at Fort York Garrison Common. Besides seeing the collective in all their sprawling glory (the June 3 show is part of their first full U.S. tour since 2011), you can also catch sets by our glorious recent cover girl Feist, Thundercat, Phoenix, A Tribe Called Red and many others.
June 3-4 at Fort York Garrison Common (250 Fort York), $80-$200, fieldtriplife.com
Summer 17 couldn’t be better for R&B fans. A range of artists spanning generations, styles and influences have concerts scheduled, beginning with newcomer Kehlani on Sunday (June 4) at Rebel, continuing with acclaimed Los Angeles trio King at Yonge-Dundas Square as part of Pride on June 25 and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin at Sony Centre on July 1.
Versatile powerhouse Jill Scott hits Massey Hall on July 18, electronic-pop weirdo Dawn Richard performs at the Drake on July 15, 90s stalwart Brandy makes her second appearance in town this year as part of Throw Back Fest at Echo Beach on July 30, and none other than the elusive chanteuse herself, Mariah Carey, rounds out summer at the Air Canada Centre on August 24.
Prices vary, torontojazz.com
Princess Nokia, born Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, is one of the freshest, most empowered rapper/singers in hip-hop and R&B. The New York City musician balances assertiveness and fun in her music, aims for her shows to be safe spaces for marginalized folx and has a DIY approach to the biz that means she’s calling the shots. She played Toronto as recently as February, but with her fan base growing daily, this June show will likely be rammed.
June 9 at the Velvet Underground (508 Queen West), $21, ticketweb.ca
Warehouse parties tend to be surreptitious affairs, but Manifesto is taking over one following its signature event (with Majid Jordan and The Internet at Echo Beach) on June 10. The hip-hop festival’s popular High Power dance party – featuring DJs Vashtie Kola, Nino Brown and Dre Ngozi spinning dancehall, soca, hip-hop, Afrobeat and more – is the concert’s official after-party.
June 10 at 500 Keele, $10, mnfsto.com
She made one of the best pop albums of 2016, but Carly Rae Jepsen hasn’t really delivered a proper live performance of the catchy 80s-inspired tracks to her Toronto fans (aside from a very brief opening set supporting Hedley at the ACC last spring). It will be rewarding to finally see these masterful songs get their due – and be reimagined and arranged by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, too.
June 17 at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe), $27-$89, tso.ca
Queer dance parties in Toronto are generally known for dance, pop and hip-hop, but Steers & Queers has been holding it down for the country fans for 10 years. To mark the milestone, the event is taking over the Great Hall on Pride weekend with Night Of 1000 Dollys, aka “the biggest Dolly Parton party this town has ever seen.” Dolly drag is obviously encouraged.
June 22 at the Great Hall (1087 Queen West), $15-$20, fb.com/SnQparty
Fans go, er, bananas for Gorillaz. Especially when the Damon Albarn-led virtual reality project makes a surprise return after seven years away. Fifth album Humanz was released to much acclaim at the end of April, and the accompanying tour features Albarn, co-creator Jamie Hewlett‘s characters, and surprise guests who might include Danny Brown, Mavis Staples, Popcaan, Kelela, Jehnny Beth, D.R.A.M. or the many other album contributors.
July 10 at the Air Canada Centre (40 Bay), $53.75-$103.75, ticketmaster.ca
Despite having an ardent Toronto fan base that can rap along to the deepest of deep cuts, a proper full-length headlining Kendrick Lamar concert has somehow eluded the city for four years. That changes when the hip-hop heavyweight brings his DAMN. tour to the ACC.
July 25 and August 23 at Air Canada Centre (40 Bay), $49.50-$149.50, ticketmaster.ca
Blondie are proving that you can still rock pretty hard in your 70s. Their recent album, Pollinator, relies heavily on guest songwriters (Charli XCX, Sia, Dave Sitek, Johnny Marr, Dev Hynes), but the NYC new wave-punk band, Debbie Harry in particular, still sound as charismatic and confident as ever. With Harry now 71, Clem Burke 61 and Chris Stein 67, this might be your final chance to hear Heart Of Glass and Dreaming by the real deal. Also doesn’t hurt to have Garbage on the bill.
July 26 at the Sony Centre (1 Front East), $50.50-$138.50, ticketmaster.ca
Camp Wavelength gives us the warm fuzzies. How could it not, happening during sweltering August? But its Island locale catches cool breezes, its interactive group activities are the cutest, and its music programming – Dilly Dally, Jessy Lanza, Ice Cream, Un Blonde, Witch Prophet, the Luyas – pumps up the Canadian scene while also sending non-local headliners – Deerhoof! – across the water on the ferry. Plus, where else can you camp within city limits?
August 18-20 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (443 Lakeshore, Toronto Island), $64.99-$529.99, wavelengthmusic.ca
When case/lang/veirs came through the Danforth Music Hall last year, we were overcome with gratitude every time k.d. lang opened her mouth to sing. The power, the control, the sensitivity, the playfulness, the joy. It’ll all be on display at the Sony Centre, where she’ll celebrate the 25th anniversary of her breakthrough album, Ingenue. Expect some covers by Canada’s greatest songwriters, too. It’s a show fans won’t want to miss.
August 30 at the Sony Centre (1 Front East), $42.89-$122.89, ticketmaster.ca
Don’t think the stage season ends in the summer. A lot of shows simply move outdoors or happen at festivals like Luminato, Fringe and SummerWorks.
This year’s Luminato lineup doesn’t feature as many starry names as past editions have, but it should still provide the kind of entertainment you don’t see all the time. The fest opener, Tributaries, for instance, is a four-part celebration of Indigenous culture in which over 60 artists pay tribute to the resilience of Indigenous women and the power of land and water. Other highlights include the reappearance of The Famous Spiegeltent, where performers like Stew and Heidi Rodewald, Jean-Michel Blais and Wolf Saga take to the stage. Marching band aficionados will want to see En Avant, Marche!, a multi-genre piece showing how marching bands bring communities together. And King Arthur’s Night brings together Marcus Youssef and James Long, creators of the successful touring show Winners & Losers, with Niall McNeil, an artist who lives with Down syndrome, with original music by Veda Hille, co-writer of the current hit Onegin.
June 14-25 at various venues, various prices and free events, luminatofestival.com
Chris Gethard is a comedy genius, but you probably don’t recognize his name. He’s worked as a writer and producer on a lot of TV shows and films, and he hosts the addictive podcast Beautiful/Anonymous, in which he takes random calls from complete strangers. His show Career Suicide, which played JFL42 a couple of years ago and earned the No. 1 spot on NOW’s Top 10 comedy shows, completed a hugely successful off-Broadway run this year and was recently made into an HBO special. This summer he tapes a live version of his podcast for one night only at the Royal. Trust me, you’ll love it.
June 8 at the Royal (608 College), $25-$30, empirecomedy.net
In the last 12 years, the bickering clown sibling duo played by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee have cracked us up about puberty, corporate culture and even cooking. Their last show, Of Mice And Morro And Jasp, was funny but also dug deep into serious social issues. Now, after travelling to New York City and Las Vegas to study circus and spectacle, the duo mount their biggest and most ambitious show yet, Morro & Jasp In Stupefaction. For the first time, they’re joined by guests – including Anand Rajaram, Elliott Loran and Sefton Jackson – as well as some surprises. M&J will be big, but expect them to keep the same soulfulness that characterizes their shows.
June 14-24 at Streetcar Crowsnest (345 Carlaw), $20-$40, crowstheatre.com
Sure, this is another jukebox musical manufactured to lure those boomer bucks. But King is a genuine talent – you know her songs, whatever your age – and her story, from selling songs as a teen to her troubled relationship with husband/fellow songwriter Gerry Goffin, is inspiring. Canada’s own Chilina Kennedy, who starred in the Tony Award-winning show on Broadway for over a year, plays King. Don’t wait until “It’s Too Late” and tickets are sold out.
June 25-September 3 at Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria), $50-$180, mirvish.com
Now in its 35th year, Canadian Stage’s Shakespeare in the Park has become Canada’s longest-running outdoor theatre festival. It’s presenting new takes on King Lear (reimagined from a feminist perspective) and Twelfth Night. If it’s your first time, here are a few cautionary dos and don’ts. Don’t bring your pets (unless it’s a guide dog). And don’t bother driving. Public transit is faster, and besides, it’s a nice walk to the hill next to Grenadier Pond where the amphitheatre is located. Do bring a friend and blanket (no lawn chairs allowed) and something stiff (preferably in a wine skin) to drink. You may want to pack mosquito repellent if bugs aren’t your thing.
June 29-September 3 at High Park, pwyc, canadianstage.com
Now that the Fringe has moved from Mirvish village (cue sad face), the festival is establishing itself this summer at Scadding Court. Their rebranded program (now in colour!) looks different. They’ve added the Theatre Centre as a venue. But the same spirit of discovery and cheap and cheerful fun will prevail. Look for perennial Fringe faves Sex T-Rex, Peter N’ Chris (who are putting on a Christmas show in the summer), and Barbara Johnson, Suzy Wilde and Morro and Jasp director Byron Laviolette.
July 5-16 at various venues, $10-$15, fringetoronto.com
(Photo of Arj Barker by Rebecca Teague)
Probably best known as Dave on Flight Of The Conchords, Arj Barker is also one of the best stand-ups and storytellers around- which we’ll be able to see first-hand when he hits Comedy Bar to talk about Uber vs. taxis, TV spoilers and why his girlfriend convinced him to eat organic and gluten-free.
July 13-15 at Comedy Bar (945 Bloor West), $25, comedybar.ca
As an awards show host, Ricky Gervais gets away with a lot – sometimes to his career’s detriment. Now, the star of The Office, Extras and Derek is embarking on his first worldwide tour in seven years. His show is called Humanity, so obviously you can expect a lot of kind, empathetic observations. Not.
July 14-16 at Massey Hall (178 Victoria), $65.50-$79.50, ticketmaster.ca
The full lineup comes out mid-June, but the late-summer festival of new performances and music did release an intriguing teaser list of artists involved. Among those who have whet our appetites are: Audrey Dwyer, Bobby Del Rio, Cara Spooner, Christine Brubaker, Claire Burns, DA Hoskins, Donna Michelle St. Bernard, Ed Roy, Jajube Mandiela, Jordan Tannahill, Jason Maghanoy, Julia Lederer, William Ellis, Rock Plaza Central, Katie Sly and Shaista Latif. Check back soon for an in-depth look at this year’s festival.
August 3-13 at various venues, $tba, summerworks.ca
It wouldn’t be summer without al fresco dance festivals. There’s nothing like Porch View Dances, Kaeja d’Dance‘s walking-tour of Seaton Village, where local families work with professional choreographers to dance their stories. Audiences travel from house to house in a big group, ending up in a park for a big finale led by Karen Kaeja. In August, Dusk Dances brings dance to gorgeous Withrow Park. This year’s lineup includes works by Ofilio Sinbadinho, Sashar Zarif and Dana Gingras. Don’t miss the free YogaDance workshop. And while it’s not outdoors, the inaugural Dancemakers MiniFest promises some great shows by Andrea Spaziani, Amanda Acorn, Australia’s Antony Hamilton and, just back from the Venice Biennale where she won the Silver Lion for Innovation in Dance, Dana Michel.
Dancemakers MiniFest, June 13-24 at Dancemakers (15 Case Goods Lane) and the Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester), $12-$70
Porch View Dances, July 19-23,location TBA
Dusk Dances, August 7-13 at Withrow Park (725 Logan), pwyc
Summer isn’t summer without David Sedaris, Afro-futurism, Harry Potter, a deep dive into Canadian identity and a critical examination of lumbersexual fashion.
Humorist David Sedaris is one of the few authors whose voices you can hear in your head, thanks to his appearances on radio shows like This American Life and, well, the tone of his voice: deliberate, pointed and filled with wonderful jokes, many of them anecdotes from real-life experience or diary entries. Theft By Finding is a collection of those entries, selected from the diaries he’s kept faithfully for more than four decades, which have inspired many of his previously published essays.
June 2 at Indigo Bay and Bloor (55 Bloor West), free (book signing of Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 with proof of purchase from any Indigo, IndigoSpirit, Chapters or Coles), chapters.indigo.ca
This highly anticipated arts exhibit is back after a two-year hiatus with a new and improved cultural celebration. Founded in 2010 to spotlight Afro-Canadians in all areas of the arts, it’s celebrated for its special focus on Afro-Canadian fashion, design, music, fine arts and all things AfroChic. CBC’s Amanda Parris hosts the Met Gala-esque AfroFuturism-themed event on June 10. Bring your most avant-garde designs and forward thinking businesses to get a look into the future of culture, arts and business.
June 10 at Design Exchange(234 Bay), $30-$40. afrochic.ca
As a gallerist in 1980s Toronto, Ydessa Hendeles supported the careers of massive Canadian artists like Rodney Graham and Jeff Wall through Queen West’s Ydessa Gallery (now closed). In the 90s and early 2000s, her Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation on King showed off works from her personal collection by international sensations like Jeff Koons and On Kawara. Hendeles’s distinctive curatorial voice evolved and she become an artist in her own right, dividing her time between New York and Toronto since the foundation closed in 2012. We can’t wait to see what the legend has in store for her first retrospective at a public gallery.
June 24-September 4 at the Power Plant (231 Queens Quay West), free, thepowerplant.org
Touring the music of nerd-franchise juggernauts has become a bit of a cottage industry for symphony musicians as of late (see also: Legend Of Zelda Symphony Of The Goddesses and Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions). The latest to roll through town is Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone – In Concert, which features a full screening of the debut Potter film, accompanied live by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and a choir performing John Williams’s magical score. It’s the perfect kind of activity for Muggles of all ages, and of course, attending in costume is not only expected, but encouraged.
June 27-29, Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (1 Front East), $49-$99, sonycentre.ca
Collection of the artist, courtesy of Katzman Contemporary
Meryl McMaster’s Time’s Gravity, 2015
So far, Canada’s sesquicentennial year has felt like it’s been less about rah-rah nationalism (though that is definitely a thing) than an opportunity to take a sober look at our treatment of Indigenous people. The Art Gallery of Ontario is picking up on the latter theme as part of its exhibition Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood. It asks some of the country’s best emerging and established artists to rewrite and reclaim the official narrative of Canadian history. Where has Canada come from and where is it going? The exhibition features artwork by Robert Houle, Seth, Gu Xiong, Esmaa Mohamoud and Yu Gu, plus talks by Camille Turner, Camal Pirbhai and Barry Ace.
June 29-February 18, 2018, at the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas West), $11-$19.50, ago.net
Who killed Tom Thomson? The Canadian artist icon who inspired the Group of Seven has fascinated Canadians since he mysteriously went missing and then washed up on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park 100 years ago. Thanks to the wonders of social media, Thomson lives. A Twitter account (@TTLastSpring) dedicated to the last months before his death on July 8, 1917, follows the journal entries of his last spring. The official cause of death was drowning, but conspiracies abound surrounding the circumstances after the grave where his body supposedly lay was exhumed and the bones found were from an ancient Native burial ground. Experimental Canadian filmmaker and artist Joyce Wieland, who counted Thomson as an artistic inspiration, based her 1976 movie, The Far Shore, on his life and death. Now the works of the two come together in a Canada 150 exhibition at McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg. Entitled Passion Over Reason, a flip on Wieland’s Reason Over Passion, her quilt work inspired by prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s motto (which Margaret Trudeau famously tore apart in a fit of rage during an argument with her husband). The show promises “a critical approach to our fascination with Thomson and examines how today’s current culture of hipster or lumbersexual fashion, as well as cultivation of outsider creed, has confirmed what Wieland pointed to in the 1970s: Thomson is Canada.”
July 1-November 19 at McMichael Canadian Art Collection (10365 Islington, Kleinburg), $15-$18, mcmichael.com
Forget Netflix at home. Summer’s the time to either go see a big blockbuster in an air-conditioned theatre, or enjoy an old flick al fresco. Happily there are lots of options.
Open Roof Festival – 99 Sudbury
This year’s Yonge-Dundas Square City Cinema program spotlights Canadian actors and filmmakers, starting with the adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie in Strange Brew (June 27), mixing in classics like Bon Cop, Bad Cop (July 18) and The Blues Brothers (July 25) with more recent work like Whip It (July 11) and Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz (August 15). I still have no idea how they got to screen that in public.
On Wednesday nights, Harbourfront’s Free Flicks series (curated and introduced by NOW’s Norman Wilner) has thoughtful work like Kirsten Carthew’s The Sun At Midnight (June 28), Philippe Falardeau’s My Internship In Canada (August 2) and Amma Asante’s Belle (August 9) alongside crowd-pleasers like Air Bud (July 5), Wayne’s World (July 12) and Meatballs (July 19).
The St. Lawrence Market BIA has lined up three screenings in St. James Park: a Pride Week screening of Pride (June 22), The LEGO Batman Movie (July 27) and Grease (August 24).
The Aga Khan Museum hosts two Saturday-night outdoor screenings toward the end of the summer: George Miller’s CG penguin musical Happy Feet on August 12 and Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s beloved Singin’ In The Rain on August 26.
Christie Pits Film Festival‘s theme for this year’s Sunday-night screenings is Eyes On The Prize, films about “competition, camaraderie and the drive to win.” The festival opens June 25 with Harold Lloyd’s silent classic The Freshman, with a live musical score by the Holy Gasp. This series is free/pwyc, with a suggested donation of $10.
And speaking of paid outdoor series, the Open Roof Festival is back at 99 Sudbury with Tuesday-night double-bills of cinema and live music all summer long, launching June 27 with the Anne Hathaway-Jason Sudeikis monster mash Colossal. The full lineup has yet to be announced, but last year’s program included the Toronto premiere of Anna Rose Holmer’s brilliant The Fits, so we’re hoping things are equally ambitious for 2017.
City Cinema, June 27-August 15 at Yonge-Dundas Square (1 Dundas East), free, ydsquare.ca
Free Flicks, June 21-August 30 at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), free, harbourfrontcentre.com
St. James Park movies, June 22-August 24, (120 King East), free, oldtowntoronto.ca
Aga Khan Museum Outdoor screenings (77 Wynford), August 12-26, free, agakhanmuseum.org
Christie Pits Film Festival, June 25-August 20, (750 Bloor West), pwyc, christiepitsff.com
Open Roof Festival, June 27-August 29, $15, openrooffestival.com
Drunken Cinema has upped the ante on the movie-going experience. The organizer behind the movie drinking game series has come up with a brilliant way to combine a night out at the movies with a night out at the bar with friends. Every month, a screening of your favourite sleazy slasher or cult classic is accompanied by fun props, popcorn, prizes and, of course, booze – you can’t have a drinking game without it. Pick your poison at the bar or indulge in the night’s themed cocktail at the Steady Cafe & Bar. Be sure to book your spot – go solo and join a team of new friends or go with your pals. Reserve early, seating is limited and spots go quickly.
Monthly (upcoming dates: June 9 and July 8) at the Steady Cafe & Bar (1051 Bloor West), $5-$10, facebook.com/drunkencinemato
Music has always been an essential element of Edgar Wright‘s movies – Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End use their pop soundtracks to illustrate and comment on the stories, and of course Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is just wall-to-wall indie rock, even if one of those numbers is 13 seconds long. But with his new summer movie, Baby Driver, Wright reaches even further: the playlist and the narrative are inextricable, as Ansel Elgort‘s eponymous wheelman performs impossible stunts to the beats of Golden Earring, Beck and Queen – and a new track by Danger Mouse, Run the Jewels and Big Boi. How can this not be the soundtrack (and possibly movie) of the summer?
In theatres June 28.
If you enjoy spending summer days in the dark, TIFF Cinematheque puts a spotlight on the groundbreaking work of Ida Lupino, a Hollywood star in the 1940s and 50s who made the jump to directing and tackled themes like chronic illness and sexual assault. Given Nicole Kidman’s recent comments in Cannes about how women diretors continue to be underrepresented in Hollywood, this retrospective is particularly timely. Some of Lupino’s hard-to-find films – like Never Fear, Outrage, The Hitch-Hiker and The Bigamist – are part of the series Ida Lupino: Independent Woman, which also includes a selection of classics by other filmmakers in which she starred.
August 4-September 2, TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West), $10-$15. tiff.net/lupino
Fans of The Dark Tower books have been waiting a long, long time for the movie version. Stephen King has been talking about a possible adaptation since the first book was published in 1982, and 35 years later it’s finally here, directed by Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair). Matthew McConaughey seems like a good call for the sinister Man in Black, but Idris Elba is the perfect choice to play the book’s hero, gunslinger Roland Deschain. The role seems tailored to Elba’s intelligence, wit and off-the-charts charisma, and we cannot wait to see what he does with it.
Opens August 4.
Sitting in traffic on the 401 will be worth it for these left-of-centre, site-specific events that you can’t find anywhere in the GTA.
Wayhome, July 14 -16.
This lunar EDM celebration is a space where creatives in music, fashion, art, design and other like-minded people – no matter your industry, everyone is invited – can converge for a night of music, camping and artistic freedom. Held beachside in Lion’s Head on the Bruce Peninsula, the Full Moon Festival combines the positive vibes of Burning Man with the music of Coachella, and it’s a great way to change up your scenery without going too far from home. Grab your buds, rent a car and enjoy the scenic trek up to the sleepy town. Toss a couple of cans of Red Bull in your bag to help keep you awake for the all-night fest.
July 7-10 in Lion’s Head, Ontario, facebook.com/thefullmoonfestival
Hillside kept its word and moved to mid-July this year for the first time in its 33-year history.
Despite the family-friendly festival’s always excellent programming, like a collab between Buffy Sainte-Marie and the Sadies, attendance was down by 30 per cent in 2016 due in part to Wayhome, two hours away in Oro-Medonte on the same weekend. Here’s hoping the date change means tons of folks will flock to Guelph Lake see the Barr Brothers, Lowest of the Low, Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, Coeur de Pirate, Charlotte Day Wilson, Sarah Harmer, Rae Spoon, Weaves and many others.
Two weeks later, the much larger Wayhome opens its gates for three days of music – Solange, Frank Ocean, Tegan and Sara, Schoolboy Q, Jazz Cartier, Constantines, Tanya Tagaq, Noname, the Shins and Andy Shauf, to name a few – art installations, camping and food truck madness, all under the hot late-July sun. (Hopefully the water stations have been increased.)
Hillside takes place July 14-16 at the Guelph Lake Conservation Area (7743 Conservation Drive, Guelph), $57-$149
Wayhome takes place July 28-30 at Burl’s Creek (180 8th Line South, Oro-Medonte), $89.99-$599.99
Ever since seeing Cairo Time, we’ve romanticized train rides to a fault. So when we heard that the York Durham Heritage Railway Association has an escape room game, Terminus, we forgot all about The Lady Vanishes and succumbed to its Pavlovian air horn. With a hot meal and dessert served in a fine dining car, and a three-hour time frame in which to find the “ancient secret,” this is as close as you’ll get to playing Professor Robert Langdon. Is Da Vinci Code LARPing a thing yet?
June 10-July 22 at Uxbridge Train Station (19 Railway), $89, ydhr.ca/escape
firstname.lastname@example.org | @nowtoronto