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Thursday, June 21, 2018

50 things to do this summer in Toronto

Events and activities in Toronto this summer take advantage of the outdoors and warm weather. There are too many festivals to include all of them here, escapes to be planned to the Toronto Islands or a day trip out of town, and many patios to grab a seat on and while away the day.

There are also so many free events that you can have fun without spending a dime.

Here's just a sprinkling of the many ways to enjoy Toronto this summer.

New this year

Get your fill of street art at the Banksy exhibition

Mysterious as he may be, his art is internationally recognized. Over 80 original artworks arrive in Toronto from June 13 to August 19, making it one of the biggest Banksy exhibits to date. If only he was actually behind it.

Watch big names in cricket at the Global T20 Canada Cricket League

Canada isn't exactly known for being super into cricket, but that may change as cricket fever takes over Toronto with the Global T20 tournament being held here from June 28 to July 15 with big names in the game like Jeremy Gordon and Darren Sammy dropping by to play.

Skate outdoors at Ontario Place

After laying dormant for the last few years, this waterfront staple is making a comeback with a solid lineup of free summer programming that includes a new, synthetic rink for those sweltering days when you just wish it was winter again.

Explore the new space under the Gardiner Expressway

Summer programming has arrived under one of the city's newest public spaces. Skateboarders can look forward to CITE—a celebration of skateboard arts and culture—plus an ongoing photography exhibition and parts of the Indigenous Arts Festival.

Instagram the giant beach ball on Toronto's waterfront

While the giant rubber duck won't be back this year, a new, oversized object is set to take its place during the Waterfront Festival — well, six to be exact. Get ready to snap away at the new HTO Pendulum Wave; a set of six giant beach balls suspended from a massive truss.

activities summer toronto

Works by the mysterious street artist are here for the summer. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Cheer on Canada as it tries to qualify for the FIBA World Cup

Qualifying for the world basketball championships kicks off this summer and Canada wants a piece of it. We've got the stuff and we're not afraid to show it. Cheer on Canada's team comprised of many familiar NBA players as they work to get to the show in 2019.

Get your fill of meat at a burger festival

This summer marks the beginning of not one but three festivals newly dedicated to the all-mighty burger. BurgerMania, BurgerFest and The Burger Fest in Vaughan are all set to serve up mouth-watering burgs from local vendors.

Summer Favourites

Make Sundays better at Promise Cherry Beach

Summer Sundays are good for many things: laying around, BBQs, or perhaps partying on the beach. If the latter is your thing, Promise Cherry Beach has DJs arriving from all over to kick up the sand and throw down the beats every Sunday until September 3. 

Drink and dance lakeside at Sunnyside

Like Cherry Beach, Sunnyside has it going on all summer with Sunnyside 20, featuring DJs and drinks inside the cafe and overlooking the beach. It's a party most Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Watch a free movie under the stars

There's nothing quite like watching movies on the big screen outside on a cool summer night. There are tons of movie nights happening in parks across the city well into September, so grab a blanket, enjoy some food and catch a flick under the stars.

Eat and drink at a night market

The bustle of a traditional night market — like those found around the world — are a staple of summer in Toronto. Music, shopping, food and entertainment make up these late-night festivals happening all over the city, including a new one in Scarborough

Discover new music at a Toronto music festival

No matter your music taste, there's a music festival for everyone. Electro/EDM fans can hit up Bud Light Dreams, Veld, Electric Island and Camp Wavelength, while rockers and country fans won't want to miss the Warped Tour, Deadbeats or Outlaw Music Festival.

activities summer toronto

The natural beauty of the Toronto Islands are always a summer must. Photo by Tanya Mok.

Get some new art at an outdoor art fair

Maybe you've been on the hunt for something to suit your place, or want to check out local up-and-coming and established artists. Either way, you can head to any one of the many art fairs happening around the city this summer. 

Sample something new at a beer or cider festival

Fresh, cold brews are what summer is made of and there's a ton of festivals devoted to the best beer, ciders and wines the city has to offer, like Toronto's Festival of Beer, the Wine & Spirit FestivalToronto Cider Festival and the Leslieville Beer Festival, to name a few.

Take a ferry to the Toronto Islands

Just across from the bustling concrete jungle, a natural oasis awaits with beaches, greenery, parks and lagoons; everything that makes for a refreshing gateway without leaving the city. Take the ferry across, rent a boat, or cycle around. There's tons to do and lots to explore.

Eat some meat at a Ribfest

All things s​​​​​ticky, sweet, juicy and delicious are going down at the many rib festivals happening this summer. The biggest one, Toronto Ribfest, takes place in June, while the others are on throughout the season in and around the GTA.

Marquee Events

Pedestrian Sundays

A perennial favourite, this monthly street festival transforms Kensington Market into a car-free urban playground to wander through and explore. Check out giant board games, food, drink, music and entertainment every last Sunday of the month until October 28.

activities summer toronto

Toronto Pride has grown to become one of the biggest celebrations of the year. Photo by Hector Vasquez.


Toronto's Pride celebrations are known around the world for their scale and diversity. A month of celebrations, memorials, rallies, marches and a big street fair comes to a close with the grand finale: the parade, on June 24. If you're not sure what to expect, here's a handy guide.

Fringe Festival

Fringe is the city's independent theatre festival, on from July 4 to 15, and looks to transform the city into one giant stage with big and small productions popping up all over. Created by artists with the intention of making theatre accessible and nuanced, there's lots to see and do.

Beaches Jazz Fest

The Beaches get jazzy with its own, internationally-recognized jazz festival from July 6 to 19. Musicians from all over flock to this annual festival to play among the markets, food and street festivals spread throughout the neighbourhood.


Summerlicious comes but once a year, and sees old and new dining spots around the city offer special menus and items that showcase the best of the establishment. It runs from July 6 to 22, and in case you're not sure where to start, here's a rundown of the best places to go.

Salsa on St. Clair

St. Clair Avenue comes alive with music, dance and food as this annual festival takes over the stretch between Winona Drive to Christie Street from July 7 to 8. It's free to attend and all you need are your dancing shoes to get in on the fun.


Ossington Avenue's annual street festival returns this year on July 28 to shut down the stretch between Dundas and Queen for some neighbourhood fun, including food, entertainment, activities and workshops throughout the day. 

activities summer toronto

The annual Caribana Parade lights up the city with colourful costumes. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Caribana Parade

A month of Caribana celebrations reaches a grand finale with the annual Caribana Parade on August 4. The huge event attracts people from all over the world to gaze upon the elaborate outfits, experience music, dance and all things Caribbean culture. 


Centennial Park is set to fill up with the savoury spices of the Caribbean as Jerkfest returns from August 9 to 12. The barbecues will be going with all kinds of traditional favourites, accompanied by live music and performances throughout the festival run.


Up-and-coming, established and underground artists show their stuff during this ten-day music and arts festival, with different events happening all over the city from August 9 to 19. The celebrations come to an end with a huge, free concert inside Nathan Phillips Square.


New and experimental theatre productions get the chance to see the light of day from August 9 to 19, and be experienced by audience members at venues across the city. Weird, whimsical, wild; these productions are meant to promote a dialogue, whatever it may be.

Taste of the Danforth

Every year, the Greektown portion of Danforth Ave shuts down for a three-day festival in celebration of Hellenic culture. Hang out on a patio and get your fill of Greek food and drink while listening to live music or checking out some entrainment from August 10 to 12.

activities summer toronto

Taste of the Danforth remains a staple of summer food festivals. Photo by Hector Vasquez.


For all the sweet tooths out there, this festival of treats is for you. On from August 11 to 12, celebrated chefs drop by to serve up the goodies, with everything from ice cream, cupcakes, drinks, cheesecake to some savoury items up for the tasting.

Vegandale Fest

Toronto's vegan movement has only gotten bigger and the festival dedicated to plant-based food is returning from August 11 to 12 with a solid lineup of vegan vendors, ethically and sustainably-sourced shopping alongside musical performances and activities. 


The staple of every Toronto summer is the two-week run of the city's downtown carnival from August 17 to September 3, capped off by a big air show and fireworks display spanning Labour Day weekend. Shows, rides, rib fests and specialty goodies are what make this event so fun.

Fan Expo

It's not just TIFF that reins in the stars this summer. Fan Expo will see an influx of gaming, comic book, movie and television personalities in for talks and panels. This huge expo, on from August 30 to September 2, looks to highlight nearly ever genre of fandom there is.


Toronto's Hollywood North side comes out in full effect during the Toronto International Film Festival from September 6 to 16. Star fever takes over and the city is alive with excitement. TIFF's Street Festival is set to overtake King Street West once again from September 6 to 9.

Taste of the Kingsway

The Kingsway neighbourhood along Bloor Street takes on new life during this annual street festival from September 7 to 9. Neighbourhood businesses come out to feed the masses alongside entertainment, interactive exhibitions and shopping all weekend long.

Toronto Ukrainian Festival 

Toronto's Ukrainian community shows off its colours with a weekend of festivities stretched throughout Bloor West Village from September 14 to 16 with traditional Ukrainian fare, a huge midway and a parade to cap off the celebrations.

activities summer toronto

Summer wouldn't be complete without a trip to the CNE. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Roncesvalles Polish Festival

Perogies, polka and all things polish culture take over Roncesvalles Avenue from September 15 to 16. A neighbourhood favourite, expect a modern take on traditional Polish dance, food, art and music, plus activities for the whole family.

Activities you can do all summer long

Do a brewery tour of the Aleyards District

The site of a former slaughterhouse has gotten new life with the advent of the new Stockyards District in the Junction that, with it's many breweries like Rainhard BrewingShacklands and Junction Craft Brewing taking up shop, is becoming known as the Aleyards.

Eat, drink and shop at the Union Station Summer Market

After closing due to construction at Union Station, Union Summer Market returns every day this summer from July 1 to August 19. Set to transform the station into a bustling marketplace, the newly revamped space will be home to food, shopping and special programming.

Take a walk in a park or a ravine

Outside is the best place to be during summer, and Toronto offers a lot of scenic routes to get you moving. There are tons of slices of paradise spread all over (including some new ones), while the extensive ravine system are the next best thing to actually leaving the city.

Chill out on a patio

There's no better place to find yourself on a hot summer day than hanging out on a patio. Many spots around the city have a summer-ready patio that's calling out for you. If you're not sure where to start, here's a list of some of the best patios in the city.

activities summer Toronto

Late night patio chilling is an essential part of summertime in the city. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Shop local at a farmers market

Farmers markets are where you can find fresh produce from local growers without having to travel very far. Take in the sights and smells of unique and flavourful creations at any of the many markets happening each week in parks and spaces all over the city.

Create your own ice cream tour of Toronto

Ice cream is a summertime favourite, and Toronto has enough spots to keep you busy with your ice cream eating duties all season long. Sandwichesgold-coated and charcoal ice cream — it's all here waiting for you to try.

Hit the beach

Any beach, really, as many of Toronto as many: regular beachessecret beaches and clothing-optional beaches. Pick and choose which you'd like to go, slap on the sunscreen and go. It's that easy.

Have a staycation at one of Toronto’s new hotels

Who says you need to leave the city to feel like you're on vacation? Any of Toronto's newest hotels like the Klimpton, Hotel X, the Broadview Hotel or Bisha offer the rest and relaxation needed to make you feel like a person again.

Take a bus to the Scarborough Bluffs

No longer a forgotten paradise just outside of the downtown core, there's now bus service to and from the Scarborough Bluffs, leaving from Kennedy Station. Great for a day trip, the Bluffs offer a retreat into nature without having to travel very far.

Outside the city

Take a day trip to Niagara Falls to live out your Mario Kart dreams

The future is here as the Niagara Speedway opens its doors to a massive, three-storey go-kart track reminiscent of something out of Mario Kart. Ensemble your crew and hit the pavement for a high-octane day of racing.

activities summer toronto

Torrance Barrens offers some unreal views of the night sky. Photo by @sjmheron.

Take in an epic view and waterfall near Hamilton

Being partially situated on an escarpment means there's lots of sloping wonders and cavernous cliffs nearby, and no more so than in Hamilton. Take a trip out to any of the city's stunning waterfalls and take in the views. It's definitely worth the ride.

Get that selfie at the massive sunflower field

While in Hamilton, you may want to consider stopping by Bogle Seed Farm. This huge sunflower field stretches 75 acres of sunflowers as far as the eye can see. There's nothing like it, and worth the trip for the picture alone.

Go skywatching at Torrance Barrens

Summer stargazers will want to check out Torrance Barrens Preserve in Muskoka. Unencumbered by city lights and pollution, this space offers up an unreal view of the night sky and the chance to experience the expanse of the universe with all of its celestial activity.

See what’s behind the yellow door at the lavender farm

In the middle of a field of lavender stands a mysterious yellow door. The only way to find out what's behind it is to check out the Terre Bleu lavender farm just an hour outside of the city. It's worth the trek for the photo opportunity and outdoor yoga classes alone.

by Lisa Power via blogTO

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