geary winter fest

Toronto's new street fest was like a warehouse rave scattered across an entire block

Geary Winter Fest gave Toronto an immersive art experience for two chilly days and nights on the Family Day long weekend. The free art event included live musical performances, DJs, art installations, pop up shops, food vendors and cozy spaces to hang out.

This was not your typical Toronto art crawl. Geary Winter Fest had the feel of a warehouse rave scattered across a block, both inside and outdoors.

People partook in drinks from the mini bars and sneaky vaping, while surrounded by music blasting and light shows flickering with lasers and projections.

All the major components of a rave were here, right down to people on the periphery inhaling from balloons. While Geary Ave. is usually quiet during the daytime, and a popular spot for a stroll, at night it's known for renegade parties.

People took joy in exploring the businesses and dressed up spaces with their dogs and little children in tow. Even without the help of the handy 22-stop map, it was especially fun to follow the noise of chatter and music as we peaked into each building.

For those savvy to hit up every last spot, the pun-based scavenger hunt awarded them a loot bag.

Kizmet, a visual artist who creates larger-than-life decor, had installations set up on the patio of the Greater Good and on the rooftop next door.

You may recognize these cyber sentinel monsters from the Department of Civilian Dance (DOCD) events. Groups gathered and sipped hot chocolate around intermittently placed firepits.

The Art Vessel, a shipping container painted entirely white on the inside, invited a few folks at a time to watch a curation of music videos.

For anyone willing to participate, a music maker with a keyboard and sequencer made a constant beat with the help of the audience.

A microphone on a brick constantly recorded and repeated sounds made from broken cups, a pylon, and echoing footsteps.

LED panels flashed along with the rhythms. The record label Division 88 hosted a 48-hour recording session, welcoming all producers and musicians.

In the Arctic Treehouse, a room full of colourful tapestries upstairs from a DIY discotek, my dancing partner and I sat down on the beanbags. We finished our food as the extra-boozy ginger beer cocktails hit.

It reminded me of being on the floor of a warehouse in those sweet moments where friends exchange shoulder rubs before going back to the dancefloor. We ran into old friends from the rave scene, making for a unique pre-party before our evening plans.

On Sunday, live bands took over the main stage at the corner of Dufferin St., and more indoor spaces east towards Delaware Ave.

Mixed media artist Renelyn Quinicot hosted sound baths and led meditations while softly hitting a gong. Vintage clothing pop-ups filled up spaces that make you wonder what goes on here when they're empty.

In its first edition, the artists and organizers show promising curation and effort. This is part of the Geary Warehouse Project, a collective of ravers and artists that regularly occupy the warehouse spaces on Geary Avenue.

Uma Nota Culture is the festival production company that helped turn the regular Geary programming into an industrial winter wonderland.

The next Geary Art Crawl takes place Sept. 23 - 24, 2023. Follow @GearyArtCrawl for a closer look at the creation of their festivals.

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