Summer street festivals in Toronto are packed with incredible local street food and entertainment, and it just wouldn't be summer in the city without them. Lots of cities claim their summer programming has something for everyone but in Toronto, it's actually true. Whether you've got a fetish for fabulous floats or a love for food on a stick, you will be covered by Toronto's s festivals.
Here are my picks for the top street festivals in Toronto this summer.
Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market
A festival much-hated by many Kensington residents, but much-loved by everybody else, this event closes the streets of Kensington Market off to traffic, leaving them open to music, art, dancing, drum circles, and buskers. The street festivals fall on the last Sunday of each month, from noon until 7 p.m. Those Sundays are: June 29, July 27, and August 31.
This year's festival, from June 20 to 22, will feature a wine and beer garden at Sugar Beach, and closures along Queens Quay between Sherbourne and Spadina, featuring entertainment of various sorts. There is an aquatic dog show (nope not joking) and various other watery sport demonstrations.
World Pride 2014
Toronto's pride festival is so wonderful that this year, we get to host World Pride. It runs from June 20 to 29, and will, as its title suggests, be the world's largest celebration of our LGBTQ++ folk. The festival culminates in the Pride Parade and street festival. It's a massive street party that will close down streets from June 27 to 29, with the parade on June 29 beginning at 1 p.m.
The Junction Summer Solstice Festival
This witchy festival in the Junction celebrates the longest day of the year. June 21, Dundas St. W. closes to traffic and opens up to pedestrians from Quebec to Indian Grove. DIY culture, art and music will all be celebrated in the lovely west end hood, and it's complete with a ferris wheel this year. The festival runs from day to night.
Fusion of Taste
The Albion Rd. and Islington Ave. intersection in Etobicoke will be transformed into a street festival June 28, with the streets coming alive between noon and 10:30 p.m. Over 100 artists will perform, and the food on offer will mirror the diverse cultural fabric of the neighbourhood.
Taste of Asia Festival
If you're looking to take part in an Asian cultural festival, this one is a can't-miss. June 28 and 29, Kennedy Rd. between Steeles Ave. and Gorvette Rd. in Markham will include multicultural performances, 150 street vendors, and is likely to attract over 100,000 visitors, if last year's numbers are any indication. Taste of Asia also includes such fun as a bibimbap eating competition and basketball games in the streets.
Taste of Lawrence Festival
The Taste of Lawrence is a three-day food and cultural fest in Scarborough. It showcases different foods from a number of different cultures. There will also be midway rides and live music, as well as dancing in the streets and fun for kids. The Taste of Lawrence runs from July 4 to 6.
Franco-Fete is an opportunity for Toronto's French-speaking people to get together and share their cultures, and teach others about them, too. The festival, at Yonge-Dundas Square, will be on July 5 and 6 this year, and its focus is on French music. More programming will be unveiled as the dates draw closer.
Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto (aka, Caribana)
The launch of the nearly month-long carnival is on July 8, but the main events don't take place until later in the month, and the legendary parade, in its 46th year, is on August 2. It's the largest celebration of Caribbean culture in North America, and a fun, high-energy way to explore new cuisine, music and art. And partying.
Salsa on St. Clair
Salsa on St. Clair is probably one of the festivals most fraught with steamy summer possibilities. This year, it's a week long with events across the city, from July 12 to 20. The street festival, which is obviously along St. Clair, is the weekend of the 19 and 20.
BIG on Bloor
BIG on Bloor closes the street off to cars between Lansdowne and Dufferin. Last year, the festival, one of Toronto's newer ones, drew about 80,000 visitors. This year, it will be on July 19 and 20, and it will feature 200 local arts and crafts vendors, alongside arts and entertainment showcases.
On Dundas St. between Spadina and Beverley, and on Huron St. between D.Arcy and Dundas, Chinese culture will festoon the streets from July 19 to 20. One of Toronto's handful of Chinatowns, this neighbourhood is always alive with Chinese culture, but with this festival, the sheer volume of street foods on offer is astounding. You can also catch a dragon winding its way through the area, with lion dances at night. Last year, the festival attracted about 150,000 people, and organizers expect more of the same for 2014.
Beaches Jazz Festival
From July 24 to 26, the Beaches International Jazz Festival street fest closes down Queen St. E., starting at Woodbine. It will feature about 50 Canadian bands who will take over the streets from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. nightly.
Taste of the Danforth
Taste of the Danforth is one of the city's most popular street festivals. The food is plentiful, with more souvlaki than anyone can handle.There's dancing and music, and there's an amazing high energy to it. Be warned though: the festival is this popular for a reason, so the crowds are massive. Last year alone there were 1.5 million revellers along the Danforth. Taste of the Danforth runs August 8 to 10 this year.
Festival of South Asia
The Festival of South Asia is focused on food, and it closes down Gerrard Street in Little India from Coxwell to Greenwood. Alongside the food, it's a great chance to take in some Bollywood music and dancing. This year, it's August 23 and 24, from noon until 11 p.m. both days. It's one of the biggest South Asian festivals in the city, and last year, it brought about 250,000 visitors.
From August 21 to 24, a pack of delightful freaks and magicians will take over the streets with tons of live busking performances. Yonge St. will be open to perfemers and pedestrians alike between College/Carlton Streets and Queen St. This year's festival will be in support of Epilepsy Toronto.
Taste of the Kingsway
Each year, on the weekend after Labour Day, the Kingsway comes alive with midway rides, beer and wine gardens, live performance and samples upon samples of local food. This year, it falls between September 5 to 7 The street festival will run from Prince Edward Dr. to Montgomery Rd., and in case you missed Woofstock in May, it also features a dog show.
Cabbagetown Festival of the Arts
While many of the city's festivals have a culinary/live performance focus, the Cabbagetown Festival of the Arts, on September 6 and 7, switches it up a bit. The point of this festival, as you may have guessed, is to showcase local artists and artisans. Parliament St. will close between Wellesley St. S. to Gerrard St. E., and alongside the hundreds of artists selling their creations, you'll also find the usual mix of food and entertainment, including live music and busking. Oh, and a giant community-wide yard sale.
Toronto Ukranian Festival
This is North America's largest Ukranian street festival. It started as a small gathering in 1995, offering the chance to sample the best in Ukranian food, music and dance, and now, it draws in about 500,000 visitors. This year's festival runs from September 12 to 14 on Bloor St. W.
Roncesvalles Polish Festival
Now is your chance to enjoy all of the pierogies and vodka you please without an ounce of guilt. The Roncesvalles hood, despite its relatively newfound trendiness, is still a Polish enclave, and they know what's up when it comes to food and celebration. Enjoy the Polish folklore, polka bands, and other live performances and vendors on September 13 and 14.
What did I miss? Plug your favourite summer street festivals in the comments below.
Thanks to Pure Leaf for sponsoring our summer adventures. For more things to do this summer, check out our Best of Summer page.
by Sarah Ratchford via blogTO