50 things to do this spring in Toronto 2015
Spring events and activities are particularly tantalizing this year after the vicious winter we narrowly survived. Now's the time to make the most of the weather. Toronto's arts, culture and food scenes kick into high gear over the next few months, and there's plenty to do outdoors. Spring is a great time to get out and enjoy the city.
Here are 50 things to do in Toronto this spring.
Battle the crowds for a glimpse of the High Park cherry blossoms
A trip to High Park to view the cherry blossoms is a rite of spring in Toronto, and even as the park gets busier and busier each year, the spectacular site is still worth the pilgrimage. It was a cold winter, so expect peak bloom to occur in early to late May.
Get your bike into tip top shape at the new Bike Pirates
It's finally bike riding season for all of us fair weather folks, so it's time to give your steed the good old spring tune up. Instead of paying someone else to do it, pay a trip to the new Bike Pirates in Parkdale, where you can rent a stand and learn some basic bike maintenance along the way.
Check out a spring beer festival
Time to put a cork in the stouts for another year. More than 20 vendors will be pouring springtime suds at the Toronto Festival of Beer's Spring Sessions on April 24 and 25, while the second-ever Craft Brew Cruse sails again on June 6. Check out our list of spring 2015 beer events for more ideas.
Get outdoors and buy some art
From the Liberty Village Art Crawl (June 13), and The Entertainment Districy Art Crawl (July 10) to the Kensignton Market Art Fair (every Sunday from May 31 to October 25) there's lots of opportunities to discover new artists all over the city and maybe take a few pieces home.
Conquer the Game of Thrones pop-up
Ever wanted to feel the cold, steely embrace of the Iron Throne? Maybe you just want a House of Lannister hockey jersey. Either way, GoT fans won't want to miss the upcoming pop-up shop at 277 Queen St. West, which will feature tons of branded merch (and a real throne available for you to snap selfies on, which would put you one step ahead of the Queen of England.) The pop-up runs April 6 through April 17.
Dance in a country barn at the Dakota's Hayloft Dancehall
This only-in-your-Pinterest-dreams Hayloft Dancehall will soon return to Prince Edward County. The Dakota Tavern has taken over, and country, roots, blues, and rock bands will play there from from May until September. It's a plaid wearin' beard strokin' road trip dream. Elliott Brood, The Beauties, and Instant Rivalry kick off the opening party May 15.
Get your dance on at the Toronto Islands
End every long weekend this spring and summer with Electric Island's outdoor music happenings set against the urban skyline. Grab a picnic blanket and come dance at Toronto Island on May 18, July 1st, August 3rd and September 7th.
Play ping pong outdoors
Last fall, concrete ping-pong tables began popping up around the city, thanks to a table tennis enthusiast who lobbied the city to make the game she loved as a kid accessible to everyone in the city. (Upsides: Fresh air, free to play. Downsides: Wind.) Of course, it's bring-your-own paddles and ball. Check out a map of tables here.
Bask in warmth at a spring music festival
Though music festival and flower crown season won't really heat up until June (Field Trip, NXNE, and brand new fest Bestival on the Island), May is a stacked month for music fests too. Prepare now for CMW, the first Electric Island, and more.
Eat at a new food truck
It's almost food truck season again - get ready to see them
parked all around the city relegated to weekend festivals and a couple of awkward, heavily-regulated parking spots. Expect to see some new faces on the road like the Holy Grill (and late-2014 newcomers like Chimney Stax, who serve a tasty coiled-dough snack rarely seen in Ontario). Check out torontofoodtrucks.ca and download their app for all the details.
Show your pride in the 6 with some OVO Raptors gear
You're about to start hearing the phrase "We the North" a lot. The Raptors are playoff bound, and if last year was any indication, the city is going to get very excited about this team. Show your pride in style with the new OVO-branded Raptors gear. Hey, it's cheaper than a pair of seats to a game.
Fill up on film before the summer arrives
For the film buff there's a slew of festivals that will give you a night out at the cinema. Some options include The Toronto Silent Film Festival (April 9 to 14), The Toronto Jewish Film Festival
(April 30 to May 10) and the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival (May 21 to 31).
Try a new restaurant (or an old one that's new again)
What's old is new again this spring at some of Toronto's most iconic and historic restaurants. Peter Pan Bistro, the newly refurbished restaurant helmed by Chef Noah Goldberg is putting out a lovely array of seasonal dishes in elegant deco room. On the other side of town, Maple Leaf Tavern is scheduled to open early June following extensive restorations and a new woodfire grill focused menu from Chef Eric Wood.
Play lawn games rain or shine
Quite possibly Toronto's most anticipated bar opening this spring is Track & Field, the city's first lawn games-themed bar. Opening in the former Cave space at College and Ossington, here you'll be able to play bocce ball and shuffleboard even if its pissing outside. The official opening date is TBA, but the bar's Instagram feed shows that it's getting close.
See a show at Toronto's newest live music venue
If you haven't heard of it, you will soon: The Burdock just celebrated their soft opening, and the lovingly detailed restaurant / bar / music venue / who knows what else (surprises?) just west of Dufferin has some exciting concerts booked already.
Party in your finest duds
AGO's Massive: Hotbed (April 23) Power Ball: Appetite for Excess (June 4) and Luminato's Big Bang Bash (June 18) are a few of the swanky spring flings that will have you dressing to the nines and hobnobbing with Toronto's art elite and fashionistas.
Start an organic vegetable garden
Green space is at a premium in this town - so if you've got some, why not make that yard earn its keep a little? A new Toronto-based company, At Home Organic Farms, aims to take the guesswork out of gardening by setting up cedar boxes and planting them with organic veggies (they'll even help you maintain it).
Discover bands hand-picked by Toronto's most beloved bootlegger
Joe Strutt of Mechanical Forest Sound's new monthly mind bending showcase series Track Could Bend at Johnny Jackson begins April 7. Normally he's the one recording/bootlegging the show, but here he's handpicking the eclectic lineups. History in the making - don't miss it.
Go for a run (muddy or otherwise)
What better way to mark the arrival of spring than by traipsing through mud at Ontario Place (or what's left of it)? Mud Hero will bring a 6km obstacle course to the city May 22 with plenty of ooze to go around. Not your thing. There's plenty of pavement to pound to.
Up your drink game at the Cocktail Cup
Organized by upstart distillery Dillon's, the Cocktail Cup will run as a series of head-to-head elimination challenges between the 10 finalists beginning in spring and extending through the year. The series is also designed to showcase Toronto bars that are known for putting the effort in when it comes to cocktails, so drawing the proceedings out in such a manner should serve to highlight the overall state of cocktail culture in the city.
Eat food on sticks at a spring street festival
From the Dundas West Fest (June 6) Annex Fest (June 14), Taste of Little Italy (June 12 - 14) or Waterfront Festival (June 19 - 24) June is the month of great street festivals. Each one brings out their local colour with an array of cheap eats, booze, live performances and great vendors peddling local goods.
Soak up the sun on a new patio
With the advent of warmer weather, newer restaurants that emerged over the colder months are just itching to burst forth into full-on patio hotspots: Fat City Blues, Furlough, Let's Be Frank and Backwoods Smokehouse all have big plans to break out the patio furniture, so keep your eyes peeled.
Visit the Weston Farmers' Market
The west-end market, held in a parking lot at Weston and Lawrence, is a beloved local institution with a 35-year history - and if the recently-unveiled Artscape development (with the market set at its heart) comes to fruition, it's about to get a whole lot bigger. Look for the first market date to be announced in May.
Check out the new Left Field Brewery space
After getting their start as a contract brewer, Left Field has finally graduated to the big leagues with their own space on Wagstaff Drive. They're still getting the space in shape, but have been opening it up to the public on a pop-up basis - look for more opportunities to get yourself some sweet, sweet Eephus Brown Ale this spring.
Join the biggest pillow fight in Toronto history (APRIL 4)
The Newmindspace pillow fight is a time-honoured Toronto tradition, but this year's will be the most intense yet, with over 19,000 would-be fighters ready to swing and swat their way to glory (compared to a measly 1,000 last year). The feathers fly in Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday, April 4.
Witness the spectacle of a poetry death match (APRIL 12)
The Last Poet Standing puts poets in a boxing ring, where they go head to head, and poem for poem, until one is crowned the Champion of the night. This poetry battle is not for the tongue tied. April 12.
Take in a late night burger battle (APRIL 15)
The inaugural midnight burger brawl takes place on Wednesday, April 15 at The Good Son. Spectators welcome to cheer on as kitchens face off to create the ultimate burger in a preliminaries followed by battle between Vittorio Colacitti and Matt Basile (Lisa Marie). Admission is $15.
Add some drama to your dinner at the Betrayer's Banquet (APRIL 17)
Test your luck, and your relationships at this theatrical dining event on Friday, April 17. The Classical Theatre Project and Original Content London present this fancy dinner party where dining pairs will either unanimously eat well, or betray each other for the chance to feast like a king while their company eats like a peon. Tickets are priced at $190.
Hit up Toronto's least pretentious art fair (APRIL 17-19)
Now in its second year, the Love Art Fair is probably one of the city's best art events. Last year's inaugural event was an impressive showing, even as it appeared a little dwarfed sectioned into a corner of the massive Direct Energy Centre. This year, see a huge array of galleries showing contemporary and commercial art in a set up that's better curated than the Artist Project and more relaxed settling than Art Toronto. April 17-19.
Toast the Bard with some fine suds (APRIL 18)
Shakespeare and craft beer -- what could be better? Throw in some meat pies, and you've got the ammunition you need to pay attention to this abridged version of the complete works of the Bard. Sounds ambitious? That's the whole fun of it. Wychwood Barns, April 18.
Show your loyalty to the the record store and celebrate the rebirth of vinyl culture (APRIL 18)
Celebrate International Record Store Day right by heading to Sonic Boom for vinyl releases, giveaways, and live musical performances by Comet Control, Mimico, Harrison, Anamai, and Carl Didur. April 18.
Catch up on cutting edge fashion at FAT (APRIL 21-25)
Toronto Arts & Fashion Week is the badass, studded-leather jacket wearing French bulldog to Toronto Fashion Week's coiffed poodle. FAT's catwalks and photos ops aim to walk the cutting edge of fashion and art.
Test yourself in Toronto's biggest real escape event (APRIL 23-26)
Toronto's getting new escape rooms left and right, and if one small room is starting to feel like small potatoes, you'll want to hit the Great Hall from April 23 to 26. Escape From The Bank, Toronto's first large-scale escape event, will force 120 participants-turned-1920s bank robbers at a time to hunt for a secret document and fly the coop, see. Tickets are available here.
See Kids In The Hall live (APRIL 23-26)
The legendary Canadian comedy quintet is heading out on a cross-Canadian tour, bringing both new and old material to the Danforth Music Hall stage for a whopping four hometown shows (April 23-26). How long will it take to crush every head in a 1,500-seat venue? Discuss. Tickets are available here.
Watch the best docs in the world (APRIL 23- - MAY 3)
Hot Docs is Xmas for documentary film fans, a chance to see some of the best docs in the world and meet the people behind inspirational stories. With 210 docs from 44 countries, you get your pic from classics to experimental projects using new media tools.
Have your say on what "Music City" means for Toronto (APRIL 25)
If you're at all embedded in the city's music scene, you've likely been curious all this "Music City" and Austin alliance stuff. April 25's public Music City Town Hall Meeting at the Garrison will let you not only hear more, but help shape the fledgling initiative. City officials including music sector development officer Mike Tanner will be in attendance.
Shop (and drink!) at the Toronto Vintage Crawl (APRIL 30)
The Toronto Vintage Crawl is essentially trick-or-treating for shopaholics: Armed with a map of over 50 participating stores, you head from shop to shop, picking up vintage treasures, some snacks, and a complimentary beer or two on the way. This spring's event is set for April 30, from 7pm.
Toast the working class (MAY 1-14)
Mayworks is a grassroots arts festival that highlights the struggles of the working class. Artists tackle issues like justice for migrant workers, campaigns against poverty and the anti-war movement using various mediums from theatre to silk-screening. May 1-14.
Fall in love with the photographic arts at CONTACT (MAY 1-31)
With over 1,000 artists at more than 200 venues across the GTA, you're likely to catch a Contact exhibit no matter where you hangout. But for a treat check out the festival's launch at MOCCA where Jihyun Jung's the Demolition Site will be on view in the courtyard. Starts May 1st and runs throughout the month. Also must-see is Scott Conarroe's Canada by Rail and Sea (pictured above).
See your favourite YouTubers at Fan Fest (MAY 2)
In case you didn't get your fix of YouTube fan mania at Buffer, this massive event will bring some major Internet-celebrity star power to Yonge-Dundas Square on May 2: Jenna Marbles, Epic Meal Time, Superwoman and Bethany Mota will be among those taking the stage. (And if you don't know who any of those people are, trust us: the place is going to be absolutely mobbed.)
Get free comic books! (MAY 2)
Yes, it's a thing: unlike Record Store Day, on Free Comic Book Day the releases themselves are free to take. Many shops will have in-store events too, including Dr.Comics. Sound too good to be true? Ah, don't be so cynical.
Witness the phenomenon that is kpop (MAY 2)
Kpop fans already have May 2nd burned into their calendars. The inaugural one day convention of all things Korean pop music will be headlined by boy band NU'EST, with panels, games and activities, dance workshops, merchandise vendors, fanclub booths, celebrity meet-and-greets, and more.
Celebrate Mexican culture on Cinco de Mayo (MAY 5)
The folks behind Yum Cha and Curryfest are planning a free pop-up festival that'll take place in the Financial District after work. Expect vendors like Los Colibris and Patois and more TBA! Meanwhile Cinco De Mayo is a week-long fiesta at Valdez. This year the King West cantina celebrates by getting loco on the rooftop, hosting a BBQ at Cold Tea, competeing in a gaucamole smackdown at The Drake Hotel, and hosting a street party. Oh and they're serving tacos for the first time ever all week.
Immerse yourself in the art of storytelling (MAY 13)
Storytelling is blowing up in this city and the veterans at Raconteurs deserve much of the credit with their monthly shows at the Tranzac Club. Get your feet wet with their spring show, The Kindness of Strangers or come for their 5th anniversary show on May 13th.
Get over the top with cosplay (MAY 22)
The vendors, speakers, performers, and stars are the glitz of Anime North (shout out especially to all the local talents) but it's truly the geeky fans and the devoted cosplayers who make it one of the year's best spectacles and fan gatherings.
Fill up at Toronto's first multi-day mac and cheese festival (JUNE 5-7)
To be held at the Liberty Market June 5-7, Mac and Cheese fest hopes to treat to Toronto to a food fest not dragged down by logistical issues and entrance fees. Some participants already on board include Cheesewerks, Fonda Lola, Cardinal Rule, Morgan's on the Danforth, Art of Food, Big E's Hawaiian Grinds, H-Bar, Local Public Eatery, Penthouse Catering, Burrito Burrito, and Locus 144. Because it's free, you don't need tickets in advance.
Go for a spin at the World Naked Bike Ride (JUNE 13)
Sure, wearing protective headgear on a bike is important, but nobody ever said anything about pants. Each year, cyclists and exhibitionists are one and the same as cities around the world band together to draw attention to cycling as a mode of transportation. If you dare to bare, this year's event takes place on June 13.
See Rush for "the last time" (JUNE 17)
After 40 years, legendary rock band noted Toronto airport immortalizers Rush are set to play what just might be their last tour ('somewhere between possible and probable', according to their manager). They're playing June 17 and 19 at the Air Canada Centre, with tickets going fast. Catch the mystery. Catch the drift.
Get a dose of culture at Luminato (JUNE 19-28)
This June, the Luminato Festival will take over Toronto with a host of programming that ranges from performance to visual arts. The biggest ticket doesn't get started until the close of spring, but you'll want to get your tickets to Apocalypsis now. It's an epic musical voyage that promises to be one of the largest performance events Toronto has ever seen. This musical voyage will bring 1,000 performers from across Ontario create an empire of sound and movement.
Show your Pride and party in the streets (JUNE 19-28)
While this year won't have the international draw of World Pride, there was a reason that Toronto was last year's host: events around the city from dance parties to marches are among the world's most inspiring. Pride will end dreary old spring and kick off summer with a blast of colour.
What did we miss? Let us know what you're up to this spring in the comments.
Writing by Natalia Manzocco, Sima Sahar Zerehi, Aubrey Jax, and Derek Flack
Join the conversation Load comments