free live music toronto

Free outdoor live music in Toronto for summer 2016

Free live music in Toronto this summer will make your head spin. All kinds of parks, streets, and a few back-alley garages will shut down to host music from right here at home to around the globe. Some of the free music events listed have seating, and that's cute and everything, but really good ones happen with enough space to let you rock your body.

So leave your cards on the counter and check out some free live music in Toronto this summer.

Music in St. James Park (June 2- September 1)
I don't know why, but the garden at St. James Park is one of the most lush areas in the whole city. Around this garden you can watch free music all summer long. From jazz to hip hop, reggae, Japanese drumming to salsa and indie pop. Just drop by any given Thursday at 7 p.m. to see what's up.

Dundas West Fest Concert (June 11)
The Dears, Neon Wave, Run with Kittens and a handful of other acts perform for free at the Lakeview Ave. stage from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. as part of Dundas West Fest. Or as I like to call it Fundas West Fest... or as my Portuguese neighbour likes to call it, grilled meat day.

Open Tuning (June 11)
The streets, garages, alleyways and porches of Seaton Village come alive with over 90 acts performing all types of musical genres. Participation is encouraged, so if you play something, bring it along; you'll probably be able to join in somewhere. Head to their site for artists and schedules.

Roncy Rocks (June 11)
Roncesvalles closes down for a day while bands and artists take over. There are live shows all day long until 8 p.m. with highlights being The Grapes Of Wrath and NQ Arbuckle.

Indie Fridays (June 24 - September 2)
Maybe the largest free summer music series in the city, Indie Fridays and Yonge and Dundas Square is curated by the folks at Massey Hall. Taking over the pedestrian zone every Friday at 8 p.m., the series boasts genres including hip hop, reggae, latin, soul and Francophone.

Summer Music in the Garden (June 30-September 18)
There are free classical and world music concerts every Thursday at 7 p.m. and and Sunday at 4 p.m. in the most gorgeous garden on our waterfront. There are benches around the concert zone, but screw that! Being a cozy blanket and some carefully disguised wine and relax.

Two-spirit Rainbow Pow Wow (July 1)
Part of Pride Toronto's weekend of crazy fun music and party programming, the two-spirit rainbow pow wow is a must-attend. From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the TD Wellesley Stage, DJ Shub from a Tribe Called Red warms up the stage before Shawnee and then Juno award-winning duo Digging Roots perform.

Beaches Jazz Festival (July 2-24)
The Beaches Jazz Fest happens July 21-23, but it's such a popular festival they've pretty much taken over the month of July. Kicking off with a full weekend of Salsa, Woodbine Park hosts most shows, but there are stages all around the area every weekend of this summer month, all for free.

Blockorama (July 3)
Another Pride stage highlight, this one all the way Barbados, is soca queen Alison Hinds! Surrounded by a sick lineup of DJs and Alabama's fiercest cheerleading squad, the Prancing Elites, this is a free show, but get there early because it'll fill up fast.

AfroFest (July 9-10)
Though the lineup hasn't been announced yet, Afrofest is always a guaranteed great two-days of free, highly energetic and powerful shows and performers. It's the largest free African Music Festival in North America and last year's lineup included Kassan, Emmanuel Jal and a full-out drum zone.

Franco Fete (July 10-24)
Francophone folks takeover Yonge and Dundas Square for their annual celebration near Bastille Day. The lineup hasn't been announced yet, but it's usually a collection of the finest French pop, rock, hip hop and "world" music from the past year.

Ritmo & Color (July 15-17)
Shinning the spotlight on Mexico, this Latin-flavoured music fest is down by the water, surrounded by amazing food and features headliners Mamselle, Astrid Hadad and Centavrvs.

Edwards Gardens Summer music series (June 23-August 25)
This is a series of 10 concerts taking place at the Botanical Garden. These concerts go down rain or shine, and there's food and drink available. Fun acts include Club Django, Persian 4-piece Baarbad Ensemble and the Imbayakunas.

Beats, Breaks and Culture (August 5-7)
This free-music beast is geared towards those who really like to get down. Celebrating hip hop and electronic music culture, performers include the Jungle Brothers, Sinkane and 9-piece hip hop troupe Dirty B-Sides. Shows happen 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Did I miss any free live music in Toronto events? Shame on me. Tell us about it in the comments.

Photo by Matt Forsythe.


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