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Music

The top 10 outdoor concert venues in Toronto

Posted by Staff / July 11, 2013

Outdoor Concert Venues TorontoThe 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.

Echo Beach
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.

Molson Amphitheatre
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.

Downsview Park
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.

Harbourfront Centre
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.

Olympic Island
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.

Coronation Park
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.

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Writing by Aidan Johnston / Photo by Hanna Jor

Discussion

12 Comments

resident / July 11, 2013 at 09:31 am
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its not really a top 10 is it? its more like just a list of outdoor venues, what else is there?
semantics / July 11, 2013 at 09:55 am
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a few things...
- what do you mean there's not much middle ground? how about seating, concessions, bathrooms, merch?? there's tons of middle ground.
- the amphitheatre is not 'stadium size'. typically stadium would refer to 50,000+
- how does the misuse of "your" / "you're" get past spell check. no blogto editors?
- i've never heard of a concert at olympic island and you don't list one. do they have them there?
- the amphitheatre on the cne grounds?
- why not make it a top 5 with a couple special mentions.
sw / July 11, 2013 at 10:44 am
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I agree with semantics - 16,000 is hardly stadium size; also, it looks like you listed quite a few "middle ground" options. Confusion....
Judd replying to a comment from semantics / July 11, 2013 at 10:51 am
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Where have you been, man?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_Island_Festival

And you mean the bandstand on the CNE grounds, which is home to some pretty shitty acts year in and year out.
Justin / July 11, 2013 at 11:04 am
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This whole blog post is rather ridiculous. You basically just listed where the majority of concerts are. Slow day at the office?
skeeter / July 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm
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Since when is a field of grass considered a "venue" alongside actual venues?
semantics replying to a comment from Judd / July 11, 2013 at 03:23 pm
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according to that wikipedia entry there hasn't been a concert since 2010. where have you been?

yes i did mean the bandstand not amphitheatre. didn't say they were good concerts there, just that it exists. like i said this could've been a top 5.

True / July 11, 2013 at 04:12 pm
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Molson Amphitheatre is the worst venue in Toronto. That's a fact.
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tom / July 17, 2013 at 01:05 pm
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Heather / September 17, 2013 at 11:07 am
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There is far too much criticism of this post. The author compiled a list of respectable outdoor venues, none of which suck in the least. I think we should spend some more time outdoors (read: off the computer, outside enjoying music!)
C replying to a comment from resident / September 18, 2013 at 04:12 pm
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Any Top 10 list that includes the beer Amphitheatre is obviously BS. Worst outdoor venue I have ever been to. Too steep, too cheap to step the seats so if you stand your on a downward angle, sound is atrocious and security border on nazish.

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