The top 10 outdoor concert venues in Toronto
The top outdoor concert venues in Toronto are one of the best ways to soak up the summer heat. As we head deep into July we have to come to terms with the unbearable fact that summer is about to peak. It's that time of year when we put winter sports like watching TV on hold and look for ways to enjoy every fleeting day outside. This means watching flat screen TVs on a patio, getting excited to watch a movie you'd normally have no interest in on an outdoor screen, and, above all, securing your Instagram moments with tickets to an 'al-fresco' concert.
While there isn't much middle ground between the guy playing the buckets on a street corner and larger 'official' stadium size venues like the Molson Amphitheatre, there's still a slew of places worth getting caught sneaking booze into to enjoy the sounds of a summer night. Here's some suggestions for your next google map search.
Lifting its title from Toronto new-waver's Martha & the Muffins eponymous smash hit of the same name, this 5,000 square foot venue on the shore of Lake Ontario boasts a sand beach and some of the summers best bookings. Splurge a little more for VIP tickets and be treated to a private patio, air conditioned washrooms and a better chance of being mistaken for an 'industry' type.
Yonge and Dundas Square
You're almost guaranteed to lose your friends in the crowd here, and being forced to buy something at the Hard Rock Cafe just to use their bathroom isn't the most ideal situation, but at least all of the concerts are free and generally host great acts.
A hill and a stage: the simplistic brilliance of this venue has made it a favourite amongst concert goers for decades. Master the art form of the drunk waddle down the steep pathway or firmly plant yourself on a sweet patch of grass at the brim. For those who are a little more savvy, skip the ticket sales, rent a paddle boat, stay in earshot and find your own lakeside make-out cove.
Fort York Garrison Common
As the primary defensive position back when Toronto was York during the war of 1812, many battles were waged on this historic field. Our ancestors prevailed and preserved the site so that hundreds of years later we could enjoy seeing the likes of Riff-Raff and Broken Social Scene in a chill setting. The only fights taking place nowadays are for the bathroom line or a bite from the venues event exclusive food vendors.
Located one car pool away from the city, the outdoor stage in this expansive green space has served as the home of edgefest for years and awaits energy drink bombardment when the upcoming EDM VELD festival lands there in August.
While it will always be known as the Porter stage in my heart, the WestJet stage holds a number of eclectic concerts and events all throughout the summer, including the Soundclash Fest, and it's all free so you can save your cash for gyros at Alexandros afterwards. You can catch Petra Glynt there this Sunday.
Artscape Gibraltor Point
A welcome alternative to the large crowds and missing children of Olympic Island is this tiny oasis on the southern side of Hanlans island. Don't worry, it's still mostly clothed, unlike the area's more famous beach. Set up as a retreat for artists seeking studios, accommodations and inspiration, the space also see's booking for musical events, like last years Jansport Bonfire with the Smith Westerns. While the shows here are infrequent, its isolation and picturesque setting makes it one of the more intimate outdoor music spaces the city has to offer. Even if there's nothing going on, make it an event with a set of speakers and a picnic. You won't be disappointed.
Escape the city while still staying closer to it than the Sheppard Line, with a journey across the water to this island. While it's not an all inclusive, it still features fantastic facilities, expansive views of the city, and that (marginally) crisp lake air. Even if the ferry lines getting back can resemble an apple product release, there's no question it's worth the excursion.
Trinity Bellwoods Dog Bowl
Really this is more a gathering for sophisticated buskers, but often you can find talented groups taking advantage of the natural grass theatre at the northern end of the dog bowl on balmy afternoons. With no officiator running events, you'll just have to keep your ears open for when a show is popping up.
Though probably better known for its baseball diamonds and amongst swinging pooches for its off leash dog walking policies, this green space on the lakeshore near the CNE fairgrounds is beginning to see more and more event organizers utilizing the luscious grounds. Sound in Motion Festival will host a free showcase there this Saturday.
Writing by Aidan Johnston / Photo by Hanna Jor