50 things to do this summer in Toronto 2016
Events and activities in Toronto this summer range from soaking up the sun at a music festival to enjoying warm summer nights watching movies under the stars. The city comes alive when the mercury rises with more events, wild food creations, and lakefront activities to enjoy than at any other time of the year. Plan early and enjoy it all!
Here are 50 things to do this summer in Toronto.
EVENTS AND PARTIES
Discover your inner '90s child with Sailor Moon cosplay
If you were a 90's kid, chances are you've seen Sailor Moon at least once or twice. Well, the Ontario Science Centre is supplying you with a healthy dose of nostalgia by hosting the Sailor Moon Celebration on July 9. You'll find everything from cosplayers to a themed dance party.
Embrace all your senses at an outdoor party
Saturday, July 9 there is a music festival happening at the Evergreen Brick Works called Senseless. Music, art, technology, food, scents, architecture and innovative design come together with DJ sets from people like Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. Check all the deets at their Facebook page.
Hit up Toronto's best annual house party
159 Manning is known to host some pretty epic bashes and its summer BBQ on July 16 should follow suit. Though details are still TBA, you can expect standard shenanigans like grilled meats, live music and plenty of beer.
Get fat at the CNE
The CNE is rolling back into town at the end of August and bringing with it a ton of deep-fried delights to indulge in. While there's sure to be a few healthy options available, who really wants salad when there's battered Oreos available?
Watch the world's best hockey players duke it out for glory
It's not quite as big as the Olympics, but the World Cup of Hockey is one of those rare chances to watch the world's best players represent their country in hopes of being draped with gold. Canada, as always, is a favourite. But this year is special because the tournament takes place in the most hockey-crazed city of them all (sorry, Montreal).
Celebrate Pride Month, louder than ever
The recent tragedy in Orlando has really put Pride into perspective for the city's LGBT community and Toronto as a whole. Celebrate our beautiful diversity with the two final weekends of Pride month and an onslaught of fantastic parties, performances and events.
Make new friends at a street festival
When the temperature begins to skyrocket street parties begin taking over the city. If you want to save your pennies, but still get in on the festival action, I suggest hitting one of these. There's a bounty of cultural and culinary celebrations to choose from.
Discover Klezmer music
Featuring some pretty amazing Klezmer musicians from around the world, the Ashkenaz Festival is the "largest and most prestigious showcases of Jewish music and culture anywhere in the world." It all goes down August 30 to September 5 and there's a promo video to see what you'll get up to.
Crowd surf at a music festival
No matter what your taste there's a Toronto music festival that fits the bill. Into EDM? Digital Dreams and VELD are back. Down for more indie vibes? Camp Wavelength should do the trick. Sadly, Riot Fest will not make a grand return, but there are still plenty of others to take advantage of.
Indulge at a summer food festival
As per usual, summer is bringing a roster of drool-worthy food fests to our fair city. There's everything from a 100% vegan affair to a food truck fest springing up between now and mid-September.
Nerd out at Fan Expo
Fan Expo Canada (September 1-4) goes Star Trek crazy this year as the franchise turns 50. William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols and Brent Spiner will all be there. In addition to this, Sigourney Weaver! Christopher Lloyd! Stan Lee! And a bunch of people from Daredevil. This is the be-all and end-all for popular comic lovers.
Star spot at TIFF
The Toronto International Film Festival, happening September 8-18, will close out the summer in the classiest way possible: with A-listers, upscale soirees and movie premieres. Though we don't know who's coming to town just yet, I can assure you that you'll want your iPhone fully charged during the festival's run.
THINGS TO DO ALL SUMMER LONG
Get out on the water
While some would brand Lake Ontario's waters as untrustworthy, it's actually quite safe to take a dip in them. Instead of fearing that you may meet an undocumented three-eyed water beast, spend your summer sailing, canoeingstand up paddling, or just swimming the days away.
Listen to free outdoor music
There is literally free music outside happening all the time this summer in TO. From free lunch concerts, to great big concerts and smaller neighbourhood jams, you won't need to spend a dime to see some very talented musicians from all the place entertaining us, gratis.
Cool down and wake up with novel takes on iced coffee
A great and easy way to cool off and snap out of your summer haze, there are many great takes on iced and cold brewed coffee in the city right now.
See a movie under the stars
Skip heading to your local Cineplex and take advantage of the many outdoor movie screenings around Toronto this summer. Sure, there's no luxury option that involves cushy seating and bar service, but you won't have to spend a dime and you can BYOB on the low.
Expand your mind at the new virtual reality cinema
If 3D movies just aren't cutting it anymore, try Toronto's new virtual reality cinema for a totally immersive experience. The theatre is opening its doors on July 16 and you can book your slot now.
Start an art collection at an outdoor fair
From June all the way into September the city's neighbourhoods play host to all types of outdoor art fairs. You already know the Trinity Bellwoods art crawl and the mega art beast that is the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit at Nathan Phillips Square, but explore seven more you maybe didn't even know about!
Dance on a Beach
Sunday Promise dance parties at Cherry Beach are out of this world. It's kind of like jumping into a real life Where The Wild Things Are, but with lots of wonderfully loud EDM music and red cups. There's not a lot of communication about the dance days, but judging by last year, there's no need to worry. It's going to be a good time, so just go for it.
Try Toronto's new crop of soft serve shops
Running after an ice cream truck is a thing of the past, now you can snag yourself some souped-up soft serve from some of Toronto's eateries. Junked Food Co. has started serving up Sweet Jesus-esque cones, Seven Lives Paleteria is slinging vegan options and Nanashake is offering guiltless banana ice cream.
Fall in love with Toronto on a bike
A car-free fantasy! Check out these 5 bike rides that will make you fall deeply in love with Toronto. Ride peacefully in the woods or closed-mouth along the water (getting a mouthful of flies while zooming at high speeds is not a pleasant experience).
Try the new Front Street Foods outdoor market
The name Front Street Foods doesn't quite fit the bill - as the festival has moved from last year's spot at Union Station to Adelaide Place - but the food is still worth braving the lunch lines for. Vendors include Holy Chuck, Fresh, Chimney Stax, The Rolling Pin and many more.
Explore your inner cowboy/cowgirl
Just because you live in the big city, doesn't mean you need to lose sight of your backwoods upbringing or cowboy fetish. There are some really great country music events this summer that will plant your westerns firmly back in the ground, all while staying close to home.
Take in some summer theatre (indoors and out)
The summer theatre season is always a fun one. The Fringe Festival (June 29 - July 10), Shakespeare in the Park (June 30 - September 4) and Summerworks (August 4 - 14) offer an astounding level of shows in both traditional theatre settings, oddball spaces and smack dab in the middle of High Park.
Hideout at a secret beach
If a vast stretch of sand strewn with half-naked bodies baking the sun, playing loud games and generally having a great time without a care is not your vibe, then you've got to check out these secret beaches. Tucked a bit out of the way, usually quiet and sometimes next to a nuclear power plant, they're an easy way to impress your friend.
Hang out in a Toronto laneway with all your neighbours
Avoid socializing with tourists at massive festivals and get to know your neighbours at this summer's laneway crawl series instead. Events will be held across the city on various weekends between June and September.
Explore Toronto's newest neighbourhood
Take in the awesome legacy of the Pan Am Games by exploring the now-brimming-with-life Canary District. There's a new YMCA is open, cool new stores, and even a new streetcar route that'll take you into the heart of it all.
Have a picnic in a park
Get your blanket out, wrap up your food, pack some travellers and head to these city parks, ideal for a picnic. Some are big stretches of grass, others are more private with a view. Just eat outside while you can, ok? It won't be an option before you know it.
Check out a brand new patio
With new patios popping up all over the city, you'll have no trouble finding a place to drink or dine outdoors this summer. New kids on the block include Belfast Love, The Slip, Bar Reyna and El Rey.
Party in a parking lot
There's something about partying in parking lots that feels so wrong, it's right. You know? Having drinks and fun food under twinkling lights behind Honest Ed's, down by the water, all over The Village or doing things tailgate style near Ontario Place just gives you that bad ass teen summer feeling. Except now you're not a teen, and you can drink legally and responsibly.
Fill up at a night market
Forget spending summer hitting up hip and happening restaurants, there are night markets to be conquered! There are events that cater to Asian food lovers, locally-sourced meals and more.
Watch the sun set (and rise)
While sunsets and sunrises happen year round (no surprises here), summer is one of the best times to enjoy them because getting outside doesn't involve layering up. Head to one of these spots at dawn or one of these at dusk for a great view of the 6ix.
Take refuge from the heat at an outdoor pool
Tragically, very few of us are blessed with a pool in our backyard or apartment complex. Instead of hitting up Walmart in search of an inflatable alternative, head to one of the city's outdoor pools. If you aren't a fan of crowds you can always try to sneak your way in after hours ;).
See what the city's new breweries have to offer
If you're not a fan of waiting in line at festivals to sample itty bitty portions of craft beer, get your fix at one of the city's new breweries. Halo Brewery, Henderson and Bandit Brewery have recently opened their doors and are slinging their own fine ales, IPAs and lagers.
Get a sun tan while waiting in line
Waiting in line may seem like the worst suggestion in the world, but hear me out. Some of the hottest food and drink destinations garner line ups when the weather's nice - so if you want to get your hands on Tsujiri's matcha ice cream or Doomie's vegan Big Mac, you're gonna have to stand in a queue.
Get drunk on cider
If you're a fan of sweet boozy beverages, you're in luck. One of Harbord Village's newest residents is Her Father's Cider Bar and Kitchen, an eatery/bar that serves up over 75 domestic and international ciders. Of course, if you want to try even more local options you can always hit Cider Fest at the end of August.
OUT OF TOWN
Take a day trip for an out of town festival
If you're up for a little adventure, head to one of the many fests happening just outside of city bounds this summer. There are options for beer lovers, foodies and music fanatics.
Explore surreal wonders near Toronto
Enjoy a David Attenborough-narrated flick every now and again? Well good news, you don't need heaps of cash to explore some Planet Earth-worthy wonders. There are a few breathtaking surreal sights in Southern Ontario that are definitely worth travelling out of Toronto for.
Take a dip in a quarry
Public pools and Lake Ontario's waters are less-than-desirable to many a Toronto resident. If you're not a fan of sharing water with summer camp kiddies or want to forgo ingesting even the smallest amount of polluted water, take a trip to one of these quarries or swimming holes for a dip.
Go for a beach day trip
You have no excuses not to bum around a beach this summer if you live in the city. There are some pretty impressive sandy spots for day tripping close to downtown, and then there are a few just a stone's throw (or car rental) away that'll blow your bathing suit off. There are 25 such places in fact.
Enter the darkness in an epic cave
Within a few hours of Toronto you can find your inner Batman/Batgirl/Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones and go deep into some pretty wonderous caves. See fossils, hidden bodies of water and rock formations while walking, hiking or zip lining your way through these underground gems.
Get spooked at a ghost town near Toronto
You don't have to wait until Halloween to get your fill of the weird and the wonderful. Make the pilgrimage to one of these ghost towns to commune with the spirits, get a history lesson or just snoop around old buildings.
Spend a lazy day tubing down a river
Sit yourself down in the middle a big ol' tube and float down these five lazy rivers. Is there anything more relaxing? OK, a few of these rivers have patches of excitement and slight speed, but you'll mostly get splashed a bit, and not flip over, bouncing your way home.
Soak up the charm of small town Ontario
Rent a car or phone a friend with one and appreciate small town Ontario like never before. We've made handy lists of small towns to visit two and three, andfour hours from Toronto. Ontario -- it's yours to discover.
Forget city life at a hotel or inn near Toronto
If you really, really need to get out of the city, these 10 hotels and inns close to Toronto are an easy way to escape. Upgrade with spots that also feature spa's or local theatre... otherwise, just rent a stunning room in the middle of nowhere and unwind.
Test your mettle by climbing a cliff
For all you adrenaline junkies, there's climbing to be done. These stunning cliffs and rock faces will treat you to some awesome views and do your body some good.
Writing by Alice Prendergast, Derek Flack and Phil Villeneuve.
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