Toronto comes alive in the summertime, with residents and tourists alike enjoying the high temperatures and the many events that make Canada’s largest city the best place to spend the season. Here’s your definitive guide to everything you need to know about warm-weather activities in Toronto, from must-see events to can’t-miss food festivals.
WHAT TO DO
Shakespeare in High Park
June 26 to September 1
You’ve got Shakespeare and you’ve got a gorgeous park with an outdoor stage — what more could you ask for? Every summer, the York University theater department teams up with Canadian Stage to put on two Shakespearean productions, one a tragedy and the other a comedy. This year, they’ll tackle Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew. There’s a $20 suggested donation for each adult and free admission for kids under 14. Bring your own blankets, food and beverages to complete your evening or purchase them onsite.
Toronto’s Pride Parade brings the city together to celebrate the LGBTQ community. It’s the capper to Pride Week, one of Toronto’s largest festivals. Watch numerous groups sporting vibrant, colorful costumes as they march down Yonge Street in support of equality.
The nation celebrates its birthday in true Canadian style — beer, a lot of red-and-white flags, music and a fireworks finale. The city has tons of events to check out, but be sure to head to Harbourfront for its annual festivities, catch the Canada Day parade or spend your day on the beach and watch an impressive fireworks show at night at Ashbridges Bay Park.
Canadian National Exhibition
August 16 to September 2
The annual CNE is a fair that has it all: food, games, shopping and concerts. Let the kids go on the rides and try your hand at a few games for prizes. Then visit the food building, where you’ll indulge in so-bad-they’re-good treats, like deep-fried Mars bars, deep-fried mac and cheese and taco in a bag. You can also spend your day shopping, perusing jewelry, furniture, clothing and more from all over the world in the International Pavilion.
The top attraction of Toronto’s yearly Caribana festival, the Caribbean Carnival Parade is the largest of its kind in North America. The daylong march features masquerade bands (more commonly called mas bands) wearing colorful costumes and playing steel drums as they make their way through a 2.8-mile route that goes down Lakeshore Boulevard West and ends at Lakeshore and Parkside Drive. Other Caribana attractions to mark on your calendar include the Carnival Summertime Barbecue (Eglinton Sqaure, July 25) and Beyond De Lime: 24 Hour Dusk to Dusk Event (Ontario Place, August 4), a Caribbean food festival with dance-inducing performances from reggae, soca and calypso artists.
WHAT TO EAT
July 5 to 21
Get a taste of Toronto’s food scene during Summerlicious. Restaurants all over the city offer prix fixe lunches that start at $15 and dinners that begin at $25, giving everyone a chance to try out some of the area’s finest dining. In past years, eateries such as Lee, Sassafraz and Jump provided impressive menus. This year, check out Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star spots, such as Canoe, Splendido and One Restaurant.
Toronto’s Festival of Beer
July 26 to 28
Beer Fest, as Torontonians like to call it, takes place at the Exhibition Place over three days and celebrates Canada’s history in the brewing industry. Of course, the highlight is the more than 200 worldwide brew brands, including Brooklyn Brewery, Carlsberg, Hogs Back and Moosehead. But beer lovers also can spend their weekend gleaning tips in the Grilling Tent or watching bands such as De La Soul and Spin Doctors on the main stage.
Taste of the Danforth
August 9 to 11
Experience the best in Greek fare at Taste of the Danforth. More than a million people flock to this Greektown festival each year for souvlaki, gyros and baklava from the city’s top Greek eateries, such as Avli Restaurant (try its dip trio and pita bread). And while food is the headliner, the fest also offers live performances from comedians, bands, dancers and orchestras, all of which celebrate Toronto’s diverse culture. You can even spend some time engaging in family-friendly activities like The Hunger Games Archery Experience, where you can test your skills with a bow and arrow. Or, head to the Sports Zone to visit the Toronto Maple Leafs’ mobile dressing room and take pictures with the Argonauts cheerleaders.
Photo Courtesy of Canadian National Exhibition