10 Can’t-miss Summer Festivals in Toronto

Summer is festival central in Toronto and no matter what puts a smile on your face, be it food, beer, art, music or all four, there’s a festival in the city you should probably add to your warm weather bucket list. But how do you narrow down the best options since you can’t see and do everything? We have you covered. Read on for our picks for 10 of the best festivals to touch down in Toronto this summer:

1. Luminato

Toronto’s Port Lands might not be as well-trod as say, Harbourfront or the Distillery District, but that’s about to change. Hearn Generating Station, a decommissioned power plant, will be home to Luminato for two weeks from June 10 to 26. The multi-arts festival will be celebrating its 10th year and transforming the soaring Hearn into a celebration of art in all its forms: theatre, music, dance, visual art, film, and more. What started off as a 400,000 square foot abandoned power plant will be a hive of creative energy for Luminato that features art installations, a theater, music venues, galleries, and even restaurants and bars.

2. Taste of Toronto

Foodies rejoice: Taste of Toronto is back for another year at Fort York’s Garrison Common from June 23 to 26. Unlike a lot of food festivals where it feels like you’re spending more time in line for food than actually enjoying the food, it’s smooth sailing at Taste of Toronto. Some of Toronto’s best chefs and restaurants will be represented, serving up 54 unique dishes to sample. In addition to snacking on gourmet goodies, there will be live cooking demos, tutored wine tastings, and more.

3. TD Toronto Jazz Festival

Nathan Phillips Square will once again be the center of what has become one of the premier jazz festivals in North America, happening June 24 to July 3. This year’s fest, which is now in its 30th year, will see more than 1,500 artists performing in over 350 concerts, some of which will be free. Nathan Phillips Square will see the bulk of the action, but 40 other venues across the city will also host performances. Some of this year’s featured performers include Sarah McLachlan, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Gregory Porter, and the Oliver Jones trio.

4. Toronto Ribfest

Enjoying something fresh off the grill is a quintessential aspect of summer. If you agree, you might want to get yourself to Centennial Park in Etobicoke June 30 to July 3 for Toronto Ribfest. Over a dozen rib vendors will be serving up succulent BBQ and when you’re not wiping BBQ sauce off your face, you can listen to live music happening every day during the four-day festival.

5. Toronto Festival of Beer

Since summer and beer go hand in hand, it’s no surprise that there are multiple beer festivals happening in Toronto from now until September. One of the biggest and best is the Toronto Festival of Beer happening July 22-24 at Exhibition Place. Beer fans can sample brews from over 120 brands from around the world while listening to live music and noshing on various food on offer.

6. Toronto Food Truck Festival

Food trucks in Toronto aren’t as much of a fixture as they are in, say, New York or Portland. But that’s been steadily changing over the last few years with more and more mobile eateries hitting the Toronto streets. Many of them convene at Woodbine Park July 29 to 31 for the third annual Toronto Food Truck Festival. Choose from offerings from over 30 food trucks serving up all manners of sweet and savory dishes. Some of the trucks this year include I Love Lasagna, Heirloom, Fidel Gastro’s, Busters Sea Cove, Portobello Burger, and plenty more.

7. T&T Waterfront Night Market

Another summer fest happening July 22 to 24 is the ever-popular T&T Waterfront Night Market in Toronto’s Port Lands adjacent to the T and T Supermarket. Now in its seventh year, much of the focus here is on food, specifically Asian-inspired street food. But the multifaceted festival also features an interactive sports zone, live entertainment, film screening, and a showcase of graffiti art.

8. Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

There’s no better time than summer to enjoy art outdoors and the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, the largest of its kind in Canada, is the perfect chance to do just that. Browse works by both established and emerging artists at Nathan Phillips Square July 8 to 10. The rain-or-shine event will see 314 visual artists setting up shop to showcase their work for an estimated 100,000 art fans.

9. Krinos Taste of the Danforth

Head to Toronto’s east end for an annual summer favorite: Krinos Taste of the Danforth. Throngs of people take over Greektown for what is Canada’s largest street festival, happening August 5 to 7. The big draw here are the multiple food stations doling out eats from the array of area restaurants, but there will also be live entertainment on multiple stages, a kids’ zone, contests, and a whole lot more.

10. Toronto Urban Roots Festival

Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) is happening September 16 to 18 at Fort York’s Garrison Common. The two-day music festival will feature four stages and 44 artists. So far the first wave of 19 artists has been announced with more to come, including headliners. Artists already announced include James Bay, Death Cab For Cutie, Matt Mays, the Sheepdogs, Barenaked Ladies, and Rheostatics, among many others.

Photo credit: Paul Barker Hemings