50 things to do this fall in Toronto
Fall events and activities in Toronto have an added air of importance given the looming cold temperatures and general desire to hibernate that accompanies winter. Now's the time to get outside and enjoy it while you still can, to layer one's clothing without looking like a marshmallow man, and to experience Toronto at what might be its most beautiful time of year. Fortunately, we're blessed with an embarrassment of options when it comes to things to do in autumn. Whether it be getting outside and enjoying the fall colours, warming up with a stiff drink and a bit of comfort food, or taking in some of the major comic and musical talent coming through the city this season, we should, well, give thanks.
Here are 50 things to in Toronto this fall. Add your suggestions for more things to do in the comment section.
Get dressed for the cold weather at the Toronto Vintage Crawl
The city's best vintage vendors keep their doors open 'til midnight on Thursday, September 26th. Cash in on the one-night-only deals at the 35 shops spread from Roncy to Kensington. It's like mini party at every store: free wine, loud music, and fashionable shoppers decked out in their favourite vintage finds.
Stay up all night at Nuit Blanche 2013
On October 5th, between 6:51pm and sunrise, the city transforms into an interactive art gallery. Plan out a route, or just follow the crowds wandering aimlessly though the all-night sensory playground. 67 pieces from independent artists will be showcased, along with 3 exhibitions featuring projects produced by the city of Toronto, including a special centrepiece installation from Ai Wei Wei.
Play dead at the Toronto Zombie Walk
Halloween comes early in Nathan Phillips Square, as a mass of ghouls and blood-drenched undead hobble their way around the city streets on October 26th. Get your DYI costume on, and completely terrorize innocent Torontonians as part of the increasingly popular Zombie Walk. This year will be the biggest yet, with the first ever Halloween Parade adding floats and marching bands into the mix.
Get Dressed Up For Halloween
Too cool for Halloween costumes? Why pass up the chance to be anything you want for the night? Throw together some thrift store finds, construct a DYI creation, or go right to the or check out some of the city's best costume stores for something truly outlandish or ghoulish.
Get Medieval on a pumpkin
After the excitement of Halloween has come and gone, celebrate one last time at Sorauren Park's Pumpkin Parade. On November 1st, pumpkin carvers decorate the park paths with their jack-o-lantern masterpieces. Hundreds gather to admire the wide range of creativity behind this season's pumpkin design.
Check out Edward Burtynsky's beautiful photos of water
Toronto-based photographer Edward Burtynsky is showing off new work at Nicholas Metivier until October 12th. His stunning (and huge) prints of our relationship with water will make you rethink a substance that's almost an afterthought in Canada. These is arguably Burtynsky's best work to date on both a technical and conceptual basis.
Be a diva at Toronto Fashion Week
The runways of Toronto Fashion Week (or World MasterCard Fashion Week) will showcase Spring 2014 collections of Canadian designers. If the latest designs in wearable and avant-garde fashion perks your interest, grab yourself tickets to an array of shows happening in David Pecaut Square from October 21st to 26th.
Be scared at the Night of Dread
Clay & Paper Theatre present the fourteenth annual Night of Dread Parade, an evening to call on, mock, and banish our private and collective fears. The dress code is black and white and dreadful on Saturday October 26th at Dufferin Grove Park. Join musicians, puppeteers, dancers and stilt walkers in taking to the streets to eradicate our nightmares.
Get smart at TedXToronto 2013
The fifth annual TEDxToronto will be held on September 26th in Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory. This year's programming is centred around the theme "the choices we make." Listen to a diverse array of speakers and performers contributing knowledge in their field. Make sure to register by September 20th, and don't forget to get yourself tickets to the after party.
Get edified by Art Toronto
This giant art fair takes over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for three days, starting with the opening night preview on October 24th. It's the perfect place to start your collection, with modern and contemporary art being displayed from over 100 select galleries from Canada and across the world.
Get a look inside David Bowie's pants
Toronto will be looking mighty fine for fall: 300 items from Bowie's decade crossing alien-supermodel wardrobe will be on display at the AGO, along with installations and videos, from September 25th to November 27th.
Fight cancer with glitz at Boobyball
Over the past 11 years, good hearted and glam college kids have helped Boobyball raise over 1.4 million dollars for breast cancer organizations. This year's ball goes down October 18th at Sound Academy. Dress for your ideal sorority (whatever that may be).
Geek out at Gamercamp
Now entering its fifth year, Gamercamp is a legitimate Toronto success story. What started out as a small celebration of video game culture has blossomed into a major event that attracts some of the biggest names in the gaming industry. Composed of talks, demos, exhibitions and films, this is a premiere event for local gamers. Runs November 1st to 3rd.
Treat a dog like royalty at Winter Woofstock (which takes place in fall)
While Toronto's Woofstock is North America's largest outdoor festival for dogs, its late-fall companion Winter Woofstock keeps those pups safe and warm indoors. Think designer dogs, luxury pet products, handbag sized hounds in costume, free swag, and pugs, pugs, pugs.
Grow a sexy Movember mustache
The facial-hair focused charity drive known as Movember has growing since 2004--but hold up, the money doesn't go to facial hair, it supports a variety of reputable causes related to prostate cancer. Men all over the world grow out their 'staches during Movember in the name of a good cause (and as an excuse to post tons of selfies). Participants can register and take part in a number of events around the city while their humanitarian masterpiece flourishes.
Place a bid for the arts
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, the world's longest-running and largest queer theatre, will host their annual live and silent art auction November 7th. The whole affair is a tradition for Toronto's most stylish and sexy art lovers—people like you.
Learn to knit in time for the holidays
WQW's Knit Cafe hosts terrific classes for newbies and advanced knitters. Hone your skills or get the basics down in time to make yourself something cute and functional before winter rolls around—and maybe fabricate a few cash saving DIY holiday gifts as well.
Stalk Margaret Atwood at the International Festival of Authors
As cold tendrils of fall's chills remind us that staying at home isn't so bad (home is where books live, after all), between October 24th and November 3rd literature fans will instead be gathering, cardigan clad no doubt, at Harbourfront Centre for readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions, book signings and awards. Margaret Atwood will be there, along with over 100 other writers including some guy named Stephen King who sounds like a bit of weirdo.
Spend all your change on art at Canzine
Broken Pencil Magazine's overwhelmingly huge day long zine fair will take place at Gallery918 on October 20th this year. Our best advice to you is as follows: schedule the whole afternoon as you'll need time for looking at tiny things and attending readings and events. Bring a lot of money, preferable all in small bills and change. Wear layers because some rooms will be boiling hot — after all, Toronto's small press, chapbook, comic, and micro label artists are also some of the city's best lookers.
Explore structures of your world at IIDEX
If a good line use can make you all sweaty — and I don't mean pick up lines, Dimitri — then Canada's National Design and Architecture Exposition & Conference (IIDEX) is for you. IIDEX's dazzling array of ideas and artistry, which will include hundreds of exhibitors plus keynotes and seminars, runs from September 26th - 27th at the Direct Energy Centre.
Take in some stunning photojournalism
Running from October 1 - 21 at the Santiago Calatrava designed Brookfield Place atrium, World Press Photo 13 is a stunning exhibit of photojournalism, featuring submissions to the largest photography press contest in the world. Displayed in the centre of the atrium, it's nearly impossible to walk by and not be moved by the images. If you work anywhere near the Financial District, this is a must stop on lunch break.
Get hot and bothered at the Everything to Do with Sex Show
Sex toys, porn stars, leather, a dungeon area, and...food trucks — it would have to be the Everything to Do with Sex Show. Taking place this year October 18-20th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, this sexually positive event does double duty as a retail marketplace and educational resource. Time to get liberated.
Have a staycation at Toronto's newest boutique hotel
Why go away when you can pamper yourself right here in Toronto. We're not short on hotels, of course, but if novelty is your thing then a simple choice is one of the city's offerings, The Beverley. This hyper-modern Queen West hotel is ideally located for a night out, and is well equipped on the food and drink side if you merely care to luxuriate in your surroundings.
FOOD AND DRINK
Take a day trip to a winery
Take a day off and discover what your own Ontario backyard has to offer. Treat yourself to tasting some new flavours, while relaxing with the subsequent head buzz. Don't know where to go? We have you covered, for Prince Edward County and Beamsville (link above).
Eat all the things at Toronto Underground Market
The Toronto Underground Market or TUM, as it aptly abbreviates, is many a foodie's paradise. Sure you've got to buy a ticket, but once you're inside the myriad of sights, smells, and tastes of some of Toronto's top culinary talents might just make your taste buds cry — or send you flowers.
Warm up with some bourbon
Toronto's first ever Bourbon Week gets underway September 27th, and will feature a host of events around town highlighting the suddenly very popular brown liquor. Make sure to check out the bourbon brunch at Acadia and bourbon derby at 3030 Dundas West to close out the festival.
Get a cocktail education
Following on the heels of Toronto Bourbon Week, the more wide-ranging Toronto Cocktail Week lands in the city, with a variety of classes, talks and battles devoted to art of making a cocktail (don't call it mixology). Many of the sessions are on the pricey side, but involve top shelf booze.
Try out a Toronto Farm Share
A farm share is a package of fresh seasonal produce dropped off weekly at a pre-determined location in the city. Many local farms offer them, so choose one with the most convenient drop off for you, and order a box of your preference. Prices typically range from $20 to $40.
Buy a bottle of moonshine from the Toronto Distillery Company
Nothing helps to welcome the chilliest seasons like a bottle of potent alcohol. Toronto Distillery Company recently opened in the Junction, and they're all set up to make some on-site whiskey. However, since whisky technically takes three years of aging, they've got three years of unaged whiskey (a.k.a. moonshine) ahead of them. It will warm you right up.
Gorge on wieners and beer at Oktoberfest
So much to eat and drink, so little time. Oktoberfest lands in Toronto on September 27th and 28th bringing a bit of Bavaria to the Guvernment/Kool Haus, a venue better equipped to handle the crowds the event attracts than in years past. Tickets for some keg sessions have already sold out, so if you want to get in on the fun, you'll have to act quickly.
Look forward to Halloween with a pumpkin beer
Each year around now the LCBO makes sure to stock its shelves with a variety of sturdier beers that stand up against the dropping temperatures outside, but there's nothing more seasonally appropriate than the various pumpkin offerings from crafter brewers. Look for St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale or head to Great Lakes Brewery for their version of the same. Drink beer, feel warm.
Get orgasmic over chocolate
You can bet that given the chance to choose between the Everything to Do with Sex Show and the Toronto Chocolate Festival, more than a few folks would opt for the latter. Hitting Toronto between October 12th and November 3rd at venues all across the city, this 8th annual festival of all things chocolate has everything from the sweet to the bitter, the hard to the soft. In a word, it's decadent.
Eat a $1000 dinner for a good cause
Boutiques and galleries in and around Yorkville and the Annex will transform themselves into dining spaces for the annual Bloor Street Entertains, a fundraising effort for AIDS research. It's a great concept and a worthy cause, but note well: this experience doesn't come cheap. Single tickets are a thousand bucks, but you'll be treated like royalty and know that money is going to a good place.
Seek out a fall-friendly Toronto patio
There's plenty of covered patios to hit up in Toronto on rainy days, but what do you do when you're also trying to deal with a chill in the air. Head were there's fire. The fire pit at the Drake Sky Yard is a good place to warm your hands. And if you're still interested in lakeside views, Against the Grain has a number of table-side fireplaces that'll keep you cosy.
Hit Up a Raptors Game
The first Raptors game of the NBA preseason kicks off on October 7th. Round up a good group of friends, and do everything you can to get on the jumbo screen. The full season schedule can be found on the Raptors official website.
Terrify yourself at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival
The 8th annual After Dark Film Fest showcasing horror and sci-fi genres, runs October 17th to 25th at the Scotiabank Theatre. This festival gives you a chance to see innovative movies that normally wouldn't make the big screen. It also includes special talks with filmmakers, a Zombie Appreciation night, and an After Dark Pub crawl. If blood and gore get your heart racing, you won't wanna miss this.
Peek inside David Cronenberg's weird mind
Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg will debut a new exhibit at TIFF Bell Lightbox starting November 1st. Props from many of his films, such as The Fly, Videodrome, and Dead Ringers, will be displayed in TIFF's first ever curated show. Currently, The MOCCA is running David Cronenberg: Transformation, until the end of December. Six leading contemporary artists present work inspired by themes found in Cronenberg's films.
Collapse a lung or two with friends at Just for Laughs
Have you ever thought to yourself, gee I would love to see Family Guy... live, with an orchestra, and Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green and Mila Kunis there in person? Well the joke is on you, because Just for Laughs 2013 will make that possible on September 28th. Aziz Ansari and Sarah Silverman will also be in town, if that's more to your funny bone's taste. Check out our full guide here.
Get a peek under the sea at Ripley's Toronto Aquarium
Still slated to open in September, Ripley's grand opening date has yet to be made official, but we know it's coming up imminently. Sharks, jellies, rays, and green sea turtles have all been promised by the mysterious, CN Tower-overshadowed downtown aquarium. The undersea zoo keepers will be posting updates on their website.
Dress up for the underground with X Avant
It may be hard to see for all the condos and coiffed indie celebs but Toronto boasts a thriving avant garde scene, and The Music Gallery is one of its king pins, highlighting local and international underground talent in a sophisticated way — no filthy illegal loft spaces necessary. This year their X Avant series features A Tribe Called Red, plus Quartetski, Morton Feldman's String Quarter No. 2, and Not the Wind Not the Flag, to name a few.
Share Kleenex with some fellow punks at Long Winter
This music and art series launched in 2012 by Toronto's Fucked Up is rightly named despite its beginning in fall, because hey, this is Canada—by November 8th, we're going to be crying and sniffling like we've entered ice age conditions. Long Winter is currently accepting artists submissions for their five (five months of winter? Nu uh shut up...) of programming.
Scope the competition at the Canadian Beatbox Championships
It's so amazing what some people can do with their mouths. Get your mind our of the gutter, friends, we're talking music here. Beat boxing is a fine art, and you can watch Canada's best duke it out November 9th at the Mod Club.
Dress up as a porn star for Darryl's Hard Liquor and Porn film fest
How often do you get a chance to dress up as your fave porn star? Maybe don't answer that. 2013 will mark the 13th year of this naughty/nerdy comedy film festival. Plus, look out for their 69 Hour Film Challenge. Takes place at the Big Picture Cinema November 16th and 17th.
Celebrate Drake's birthday, with Drake
Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birrrrthday dear Aubreyyy Grahammm, happy birthday to youuu. This will be you, singing at the top of your lungs during the most touching parts of 'Hold On We're Going Home" October 24th at the ACC. And everyone will understand, and sing along while feeling all the same feelings together. Nothing really will ever be the same. Miguel and Future will also be there to celebrate.
Watch University Hockey at Maple Leaf Gardens
Hockey fan? 'Tis the season for the all-Canadian sport. Instead of the forging over NHL ticket prices, support the local men and women's Ryerson Rams teams. They play in the Mattamy Athletic Centre inside the revamped Maple Leaf Gardens. General admission tickets are just 12 bucks. Face paint optional.
Go Apple Picking
Take your city slickin' self to the orchard for an afternoon of getting back to nature. With upcoming Thanksgiving, why not impress your fam with fresh ingredients for an apple pie? If you can manage the drive, Chudleigh's farm in Milton (linked above) or Al Ferri and Sons Orchard in Brampton will be just the ticket.
Watch Nathan Phillips Square light up at Cavalcade of Lights
If you're into crowds, Cavalcade of Lights is one of fall's most romantic evenings: on November 30th Nathan Phillips Square will host skating, fireworks, the lighting of Toronto's official Christmas tree, live music, and dancing—aka the stuff cinematic memories are made of. This year's performers are TBA, but last year's included Dragonette, Alyssa Reid, Sean Jones and Suzie McNeil.
Run a marathon
OK, easier said than done, but having fitness goals heading into the winter is never a bad thing (especially when you plan to sustain yourself in the colder months with comfort food and booze). Oh, completing a half marathon is pretty darn impressive as well. The annual Waterfront Marathon goes down October 20th, so there's still time to train!
Take a hike in the Rouge Valley
Toronto is spoiled for places to take in fall colours, most notably in the form of the Don Valley and High Park. But if you're looking for something a bit more rugged, head to the Rouge Valley, which is far enough away from downtown to feel like you've left the city altogether. You could even spend the night.
Play of round of golf at Don Valley
Toronto has a number of public golf courses spread across the city, but none is so beautiful as Don Valley, especially when the colours turn. The front nine of this Howard Watson designed course rivals the course architecture of clubs that cost three times as much to play. While the same can't be said about the home stretch, it remains a gorgeous place to waste a few hours looking for your ball amidst the leaves.
Writing by Aubrey Jax, Julia Stead, and Derek Flack