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by Santorini Dave • Updated: December 21, 2018
The best time of the year to visit Toronto is from late April through May, and from mid-September through mid-October. During these times, you’ll have a good chance for pleasant weather, and tourist crowds will be few while the sidewalks will come to life with patio eateries, cultural events, and pedestrian markets.
When is the best time to go to Toronto for…?
- Good Weather:
Weather is warmest and the sunlight hours are longest from May through September, while May and July are the rainiest (May has the most number of rainy days, while July has the most millimeters of rain). The best chance for warm, sunny weather in the city is during June and September. If you’re visiting specifically for snowy weather activities, then January and February are the best months to find snow that sticks around.
- Families and Kids:
Summer in Toronto is filled with pedestrian markets and family-friendly, outdoor festivals. Centreville Amusement Park and other Toronto Island attractions will be open, and parks will be buzzing with activities. This is a great time to check out High Park and the Toronto Zoo. But although the temperature averages around 25°C, it’s not uncommon for the heat to ramp up to 40°C for a few days at a time, especially in July, and depending on the ages of the group, it can be exhausting to haul everyone around town in the heat. July and August also rank among the rainiest months of the year. If you can arrange it with the kids’ school schedules, May, June, and September are the best months: the weather will be more comfortable, seasonal attractions will be open, and there will be fewer crowds. April is also a good month to visit, though do pack extra layers for the cool evenings. There isn’t much going on in the Toronto area in the winter, other than cold weather activities, like cross-country skiing and ice skating. However, rates on hotels and flights are deeply discounted, making a family trip more affordable. If you do plan on a winter trip, book a hotel that’s connected to the PATH, Toronto’s underground pedestrian system; you can reach many of the city’s attractions, restaurants, hotels, and subway stations without having to bundle up much, even if it’s snowy.
- Visiting the Toronto Islands:
The Toronto Islands are made up of three major islands, Centre, Ward’s and Algonquin, with bridges, boardwalks and paths that connect them all. They can be reached with just a 10-minute ferry ride across the Inner Harbour and offer a relaxing respite from the city with car-free streets, charming cottages and beachfront attractions. During summer weeks, Center Island will be filled with kids and parents, and weekends often have special events, adding further to the crowds. The best time to go is in the morning during the week, especially before or after summer vacation. If you do go in the summer, you can still find some relatively quiet spots, but you’ll want to avoid Center Island unless you have kids along who are looking forward to going on the rides.
- Visiting the CN Tower:
If you’re hoping to beat the crowds and avoid long lines, you’ll definitely be able to do so in the winter, but the problem is that when bad weather hits, you’ll risk not being able to see anything from the tower at all – and, the Outdoor SkyTerrace may be closed. Those who visit during this season should check the weather frequently and try to go on a clear, sunny day. While it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the forecast no matter what time of year you go, to visit without big crowds, go early in the morning, around 9am, or in the evening after 5pm. During the early morning hours, you might even be able to enjoy it alone. Also keep in mind that as with most attractions, there will be fewer crowds in the middle of the week than on the weekend.
- Visiting the St. Lawrence Market:
The best time to hit this popular market is on a Saturday morning. If you’d like to have the opportunity to take photos and/or browse all of the produce and other items in peace, arrive before 8am. This is also a good time to go and speak to the vendors to find out a little more about their food for a tasty and educational experience. Stick around through mid-morning and things will really get lively. While it’s still going at noon, it will start to wind down shortly afterward, with inventory depleting quickly.
- Attending the Theater:
Toronto’s thriving theater scene offers fantastic live performances all year long. The Entertainment District is among the largest theater hubs in the English-speaking world, just behind New York and London. Visit in spring or summer, though, to attend one of the many vibrant theater festivals. For example, Toronto Fringe Festival, held in July is the largest in the city and features a selection of un-juried plays; InspiraTO is a medley of 10-minute plays held annually in June.
- Attending Art Events:
The city comes alive with art, music, film, and dance beginning every spring and lasting through the tail end of summer. Toronto hosts several film festivals, beginning with Hot Docs in April and finishing the season off with the largest event, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September. For families, don’t miss TIFF Kids Festival in April, featuring movies made for and by kids of all ages. North by Northeast and Luminato, two outstanding music, film, and arts festivals, take place in June. Plan on booking hotel stays well in advance if your travel dates overlap with these events, especially during TIFF.
- Spending Time Outdoors:
Spectacular Niagara Falls is the most popular outdoor attraction in the area, just a little over an hour’s drive away. June and September are the best months to visit, since the weather is warm and the site is less crowded than in July and August. The Toronto Islands are a wonderful destination year-round, with an amusement park open all summer and cross country skiing in the winter. For more cold weather fun, visit Harbourfront Centre for DJ Skate Nights, a huge outdoor on-ice party, every Saturday from December through February. Hiking is most popular in the summer, but is best experienced in late spring and early fall to avoid the stifling summer heat. August is great for beginning surf or SUP, with a contest held each year at Cherry Beach, but the biggest waves come in fall and winter. Sportfishing, especially for salmon, can be enjoyed year round but is best from April through September.
- Canadian Sports:
Ice hockey is Canada’s official winter sport, while lacrosse is the official (and oldest) summer sport. Hockey season runs from October through April, with the NHL playoffs lasting from April through June; lacrosse season begins in April and ends in August. Curling is supremely popular throughout Canada, and matches can be seen from August through April. Basketball, invented by a Canadian doctor, is second only to hockey in popularity here. Catch a Toronto Raptors game from October through May.
- Restaurants and Food Events:
Toronto is a foodie’s paradise with culinary events taking place several times a year. The largest is Summerlicious, a two-week festival held every July with prix fixe lunches and dinners offered at over 200 restaurants in the city. Its counterpart, Winterlicious, runs for two weeks at the end of January through early February. Le Burger Week awards the city’s best burgers in multiple categories, including most creative and tallest burger, every year September 1-7, while its sister contest La Poutine Week runs from February 1-7 yearly.
- Avoiding Crowds:
Winter is the quietest time in Toronto, especially from December through February. These months also have the most bitterly cold temperatures of the year, averaging from a high of -1°C through a low of -5°C. To avoid the crowds, while still having relatively pleasant weather, plan your trip for late April, May, September, or October (with the exception of the days surrounding Canadian Thanksgiving, the second Monday of the month).
- Great Deals:
Because of its icy weather, winter is the least popular time to visit Toronto, meaning that flight and hotel prices plunge. This is a great time to explore the city on the cheap; just be sure to bring your winter gear, including a parka, scarf, gloves, and hat. Toronto has tons of indoor activities to be enjoyed (often at reduced rates) in the winter months, including theater, comedy, dining, and shopping. Many restaurants and bars also have heated patios, so you can enjoy a sidewalk or rooftop drink, even in the cold.
Toronto Travel Seasons
- High Season (June through mid-September):
Toronto’s high season is all summer long, from June through September but especially in July and August. School is out in most of the U.S. and Canada, and families flood the attractions. The city’s biggest festivals are in full swing, and the streets lively up through the evenings, when temperatures cool down to offer a break from the days’ heat and humidity. This is a fun time to visit for people who love outdoor activities and events and who prefer a party atmosphere over relaxation. Because of increased demand, prices on flights, hotels, and attractions will be at peak levels during these months.
- Shoulder Season (February through May, mid-September through mid-November):
Spring and fall are great times to travel, offering low prices on transportation and accommodation, combined with comfortable weather. September and October perfect months for catching the colors of falling leaves, but avoid traveling during the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October), as prices temporarily rise. The months of April and May offer warming temperatures, tulip blossoms, the first festivals of the year, and the re-opening of seasonal attractions without the crowds of later peak months.
- Low Season (mid-November through January):
Winter is Toronto’s low season, running from November to March. Flights, hotels, and many attractions are available at reduced rates. Exceptions to this rule fall during Canadian Thanksgiving (second Monday in November) and Family Day weekend (third Monday in February). Though the temperature is low and the days are shorter, this is a great time to enjoy Toronto’s world-class theaters, performing arts, museums, and other indoor activities. Many restaurants and bars have heated outdoor patios open year-round, unfazed by the most inclement weather. This is also a great time for cold-weather outdoor activities, like skiing and ice skating, or for taking in a Maple Leafs game.
Toronto Weather by Month
Toronto truly experiences all four seasons, with hot, steamy summers, subzero winters, and moderate-to-cool springs and falls. July is the hottest; January is the coldest. Rainfall is staggered throughout the year, with July having the heaviest amount of rain and December having the least. May has the most number of rainy days (around 16), but is also one of the drier months (around 30 mm total). There is no dry season here; always be prepared for at least a little rain.
- Toronto Weather in January: On average, January is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures averaging around 3°C, though the coldest nights can plunge below -20°C. The heaviest snowfall occurs this month, and though extreme blizzards are rare, they are more likely in January than during any other month. Snowpack this time of year averages around 7cm. It’s a good idea to bundle up; be sure to pack a parka, boots, gloves, hat, and a scarf. (Average Max Temperature 0°C, Average Low 5°C, Average Precipitation 40mm, 3 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in February: The cold temperatures continue into February, with an average of 3°C. Precipitation holds steady at the same amount as January, but spread over fewer days. In fact, February has the fewest days of rain of the year despite being cloudy most days. The snowpack is still heavy this month, though there are slightly fewer days where the depth is over 7cm. Most days see 1 to 5 cm of snow cover. (Average Max Temperature 0°C, Average Low 5°C, Average Precipitation 40 mm, 3 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in March: Temperatures just begin to thaw in March, seeing an average of 1°C with snow starting to melt away, especially toward the end of the month. The snowpack is thinner, less than a centimeter on most days. Evenings are still long and cold, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers, especially if you plan on traveling around town. (Average Max Temperature 4°C, Average Low -2°C, Average Precipitation 40 mm, 6 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in April: April is usually the final month that sees snow before spring fully begins, though usually less than a centimeter sticks, if any falls at all. Temperatures average around 7°C. About half of the days this month will see either rain or snow, so be sure to pack a light waterproof jacket, just in case. Expect to see the first daffodils and tulips of the year around mid to late April. (Average Max Temperature 9°C, Average Low 5°C, Average Precipitation 50mm, 8 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in May: Spring is in full force in May, with longer sunshine hours and warming weather with most days hitting the high teens. Snow is rare this time of year; if it comes at all, it’s never more than a quick flurry. May can feel balmy during the afternoons, though temps drop after sunset, and mornings are chilly. (Average Max Temperature 17°C, Average Low 10°C, Average Precipitation 30mm, 9 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in June: In June, the weather is really beginning to warm, with high temperatures rising five degrees to 22°C. Night time temperatures are refreshingly cool, though early in the month it can be pretty chilly after dark, with lows still dipping down to 10°C. There is 68mm of precipitation on average, falling over 13 days in June, but it’s generally light and you’ll enjoy plenty of sunshine in between. You’ll also have lots of daylight to take advantage of the warm weather, with June bringing the longest day of the year, and sunset at around 9pm through the month. June enjoys some of the most comfortable weeks of the summer, when a sweater or light jacket that can be taken off and carried delivers all the warmth you’ll need. During the day, shorts or lightweight pants and short-sleeved shirts are typical attire, and you’re likely to need some sunscreen too. (Average Max Temperature: 22°C. Average Low 10°C, Average Precipitation 40mm, 10 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in July: July is both the hottest month of the year and the rainiest, with highs in the mid to upper 20s and around 60mm of rain. This is a particularly muggy month, with humidity averaging around 70%. Now is the time you’ll really need that summer gear, like tank tops and shorts, dresses and sandals, as well as sunglasses, a hat and plenty of sunscreen. Despite the heat, rain, and humidity, July is a peak month for travel and events, with the long daylight hours bringing tourists and locals outdoors for festivals, street food, and patio bars. If you plan to participate in a lot of outdoor activities, consider clothing made from natural fabrics like cotton or hemp, or items with special wicking properties that help keep moisture away from the skin and dry quickly. You’ll also want to bring lightweight long pants and a sweater or light jacket for cooler evenings as well as for overly air-conditioned restaurants and malls. (Average Max Temperature 25°C, Average Low 17°C, Average Precipitation 60mm, 11 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in August: Although August is similar to July, bringing lots of sizzling hot temperatures, those temps will slowly begin to drop as the month progresses, with the average high dipping a degree to 24°C. There is slightly more precipitation, with 80mm falling over nine days, but you can expect plenty of sunshine for enjoying the outdoors. Native blackeyed Susans are blooming now, and goldenrods are just getting started, making High Park flora a delight to see. At the same time, with humidity levels nearly 90% throughout the month, prepare to be hot and sticky. Again, wearing items with wicking properties that dry quickly, or those made from natural fabrics, can help. Pack as you would for July and you’ll be well-prepared. (Average Max Temperature 24°C, Average Low 17°C, Average Precipitation 50mm, 10 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in September: September is a wonderful time to be in Toronto, with pleasant temperatures throughout the month, and daily highs decreasing from 22°C to 18°C as it progresses, only exceeding 26°C or dropping below 13°C one day in ten. Humidity levels drop significantly, and there are less days of rain, with 75mm of light or moderate rain falling over five days in September. As it’s no longer uncomfortably hot or humid, the cold hasn’t arrived and there are many dry sunny days, outdoor activities can still be enjoyed comfortably. Plan to pack a range of clothing that can be layered, including both long- and short-sleeves shirts, long pants and shorts; sweaters and a light jacket. Sunscreen and sunglasses are still appropriate too. (Average Max Temperature: 22°C, Average Low 13°C, Average Precipitation 40mm, 9 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in October: Autumn has arrived, and with that, gorgeous fall foliage just outside the city, along with significantly cooler temperatures, though not uncomfortably so. The average high drops 8 degrees to 14°C, and although there are more rainy days, with 60mm of precipitation over 14 days this month, it’s still usually a very pleasant time to be in Toronto. The days are getting shorter now, with sunset at 6:09pm by October’s end. Once again, be prepared for a variety of temperatures. It’s unlikely to get very hot, but with the sun out often, you’ll still need those sunglasses, and in the evening it can actually get quite cold, with temperatures dropping down to 8°C overnight. There is even (very occasionally) a chance of snow at the tail end.Pack clothing that can be layered, including long-sleeved shirts, sweaters and a warm jacket. (Average Max Temperature: 14°C, Average Low 8°C, Average Precipitation 40mm, 6 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in November: With winter now just around the corner, temperatures can get quite cold, but usually not all that unpleasant, especially if you’re prepared. The average high is now just 8°C, and lows dip down to just about freezing at 2°C. Snow is possible now too, though most precipitation, 70mm on average, comes in the form of rain. As the more the month progresses, the greater the likelihood of snow. You’ll still want to pack clothing that can be layered, as most days it will be cold, but the heat is often cranked up in places like malls and restaurants. With the clocks changing backward an hour earlier in November, by mid-month, expect the sun to go down just before 5pm. (Average Max Temperature: 8°C, Average Low 2°C, Average Precipitation 50mm, 5 hours of sunshine.)
- Toronto Weather in December: December ushers winter in, and with that, you can expect it to be cold and snowy. The average high is just 1°C, and lows are below freezing at -3°C. There is 73mm of precipitation, and it most commonly falls in the form of light snow. The days are darker and shorter, with this month bringing the year’s shortest days and sunset as early as 4:41pm during the first half of December. Even though the weather ranges from freezing to ridiculously freezing this month, you can expect lots of people to be out and about in the city, but they’ll be appropriately dressed to stay comfortable. You’ll best be prepared by bringing a warm winter coat with a hood (a Canada Goose jacket is ideal), waterproof boots, warm gloves, a scarf and clothing that can be layered. Fleece-lined leggings are highly recommended as well. (Average Max Temperature: 1°C, Average Low -3°C, Average Precipitation 20mm, 3 hours of sunshine.)
Toronto Events and Festivals
Toronto in January
- New Year’s Day – New Year’s Day is a public holiday in Toronto, and throughout the country, which means government offices, banks and the post office will be closed, although many attractions, malls and restaurants remain open. You can explore the Toronto Zoo, Ripley’s Aquarium, the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. One of the most popular things for locals to do, is to plunge themselves into the icy waters of Lake Ontario as part of the “Polar Bear Club,” celebrating the upcoming year. If you aren’t up for that yourself, you can always watch the fun – most years it includes other festivities too, like live music.
- Long Winter – Every year on a Saturday in mid-January at the Great Wall, this event features an array of art-based performances and exhibits that include some of the finest musicians, dancers, artists and speakers.
- WinterCity Festival – The WinterCityFestival is actually three festivals in one, taking place over 14 days starting in late January. In 2017, it will run from January 27 to February 10. It includes Winterlicious, a culinary celebration offering a variety of experiences like cooking classes and demonstrations, dinner theater, tastings and pairings, and intimate chef dinners. The WOW! Series features open-air theater, dance and chef demonstrations, all paired with live music from every genre. Finally, the Warm Up Series takes place at indoor venues across downtown Toronto featuring multi-media events and performances with a range of events for both families and more mature audiences.
- Winter Exhibitions – This annual event starting in late January and running through early May at Harbourfront Centre showcases exhibitions that incorporate photography, film, sound and art installations.
Toronto in February
- Family Day – Family Day is observed on the second Monday of February in Ontario and four other Canadian provinces. Throughout the long weekend, you’ll find a wide range of events held at various venues in Toronto, like Kids Fest, offering the chance for children to ride, bounce and slide on fun inflatable items as well as take part in games, crafts and other activities. Many popular attractions across the city offer discounts and even free admission for kids, including the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- Kuumba Festival – Two weekends of events make up Toronto’s longest running Black History Month festival. Held at Harbourfront Centre for the past 20 years, the event highlights musicians, filmmakers, workshops, and comedy that fosters discourse on historical and contemporary issues.
- Bloor-Yorkville IceFest – Typically held over the third weekend in February, the IceFest features spectacular works of art made from ice, ice carving demonstrations, street performers and more. Some of the neighborhood’s best restaurants will be serving all types of refreshments like hot beverages, soups and desserts too. This is an outdoor event, so bundle up!
Toronto in March
- Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival – Family-friendly event, featuring maple syrup samples and demos, horse-drawn wagon rides, and lots of food. The event takes place at four locations outside of the city over the course of the month. Online tickets are available.
- Canada Blooms – Held over 10 days in mid-March, this annual flower and garden festival is the largest of its kind in the city, featuring floral arrangements, landscaping projects and horticulture as well as showcasing more than 25 gardens created by expert designers. There are often well-known experts, including TV personalities, that provide gardening advice as well. It runs adjacent to the National Home Show which includes the largest selection of products and expertise in home décor and renovation with a range of companies and exhibitors.
- Toronto ComicCon – Toronto ComicCon is one of the most popular events of the spring season. Held over three-days in mid-March at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, it features hundreds of exhibitors with collectibles, exclusives and more, as well as more than 100 retailers selling everything from video games to comic books, workshops and presentations. Attendees also have the opportunity to meet comic characters and celebrity guests.
- St. Patrick’s Day – On the Sunday closest to March 17th each year, Toronto hosts one of the biggest and best St. Patrick’s Day parades in North America. The 90-minute procession attracts more than a half-million spectators, and afterward, the celebration continues at many of the city’s pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues, some of which host special events for the Irish holiday, like McVeigh’s, an Irish bar that’s been in the same location at Church and Richmond for nearly a half-century.
- Toronto Storytelling Festival – Beginning in 1979, this is one of the largest and longest running urban storytelling events. Featuring international and local storytellers at venues across the city, plus special concerts, workshops, and family activities.
- One of a Kind Spring Show – An annual five-day event held at Enercare Centre in late March, this popular craft show features art, designs, one-of-a-kind fashions, accessories, housewares, gifts and more. More than 800 artisans and designers exhibit their hand-crafted works of art, including paintings, prints, jewelry, furniture, ceramics and clothing.
Toronto in April
- TIFF Kids Film Festival – A spinoff of the mega-sized Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF Kids celebrates children’s movies, with selections juried by young film fans and including works by young filmmakers.
- Toronto Food & Drink Market – Held over three days at Enercare Centre in early April, this fun festival features a wide variety of products exhibited by over 100 vendors as well as a farmers market with local food and drink, master classes with top chefs, cooking demos and some of the most popular food trucks in Toronto.
- Arts and Fashion Week – This week of fashion in mid-April showcases over 200 designers, performers and visual artists with photography exhibits, live music, runway shows and more. More than 100 different designers take part in the runway shows and other artwork exhibitions throughout the week.
- Khalsa Day Parade – This event celebrates the Sikh New Year and the founding of the Sikh community in 1699. People from all backgrounds and religions are welcome to attend. The event is preceded and followed by hymns, prayers, speeches, snacks, and music.
- Four Winds Kite Festival – This weekend festival at the Kortright Centre for Conservation in late April showcases unique interpretive kites, spring-themed activities and professional kite demonstrations as well as offering guided hikes in the late morning and early afternoon.
- Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival – The largest documentary film festival in North America, featuring over 200 films. Established in 1993, this Toronto staple marks the beginning of festival season and features a forum and market.
Toronto in May
- Canadian Music Week – For a week in early May, the biggest new music festival in Canada hosts hundreds of bands at over 60 venues throughout the city. It includes a variety of new and experienced performers from around the nation, and the world. Just a few of 2016’s artists include the X-Ambassadors, Wild Nothing and Black Lips.
- Contact Photography Festival – Held throughout the month of May, this festival features exhibits in galleries, museums and in installations on city streets with the works of more than 1500 local and international artists showcased.
- Doors Open Toronto – Around 150 significant buildings open their doors for free to the public for one weekend a year. Participating buildings include museums, historical sites, government buildings, broadcasting facilities, houses of worship, and other attractions.
- Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon – On the first Sunday of May each year, this marathon that’s an official qualifier for the Boston Marathon, is one of the most challenging and popular in the city. In addition to the marathon, there is a half-marathon, 10K, 5K and relay race.
- Science Rendezvous – Annual science festival featuring live demos, experiments, and lab tours in the streets and at several venues around the city. Family-friendly, free, and great for science enthusiasts of all ages.
- Victoria Day – This national Canadian holiday is celebrated on the Monday before May 25th; government services and banks will be closed. The long weekend features a variety of events, including cruises, tea at historic sites, and a fireworks display over Ashbridges Bay.
- Inside Out LGBT Film Festival – Taking place over 11 days in late May and early June, this festival includes panel discussions, screenings, installations, artist talks and parties, highlighting over 200 LGBT films and videos from Canada and beyond.
Toronto in June
- Luminato Festival – A mostly free, ten-day arts event, featuring local and international talent. Visual arts, performances, music, and even magic are all celebrated here. Since its inception, the event has commissioned nearly 100 original works and showcased thousands of artists from around the globe.
- North by Northeast Music and Film Festival – Annual festival focusing on music but also including a film festival, plus comedy, visual arts, and most recently, video games. Around 50 venues participate citywide, with around six bands playing each stage, every night. Emerging and established artists are featured in a variety of settings, from outdoor spaces to dive bars.
- Taste of Toronto – Taste of Toronto is one of the top global food festivals, held at Fort York Historic Site over four days in late June. It includes live music and entertainment, more than 70 producers of outstanding food and beverage, a food market, master classes, artisan stalls and more.
- Toronto Craft Beer Festival – Independent craft brewers of beers and ciders are highlighted here. Expect a raucous weekend of fantastic drinks, great food, plus live music and activities.
- InspiraTO Festival – This ten-minute play festival takes place over ten days every summer. Emerging playwrights, directors, and actors present works of beauty and brevity designed to push boundaries and inspire audiences to think and artists to get involved in theater.
- Pride Toronto Festival – The 10-day Pride Toronto Festival caps off Pride Month in late June and early July, which includes parades and marches celebrating gender and sexual diversity as well as parties and other festivities.
- Fringe Festival – Toronto’s liveliest grassroots festival, the Fringe Festival is held for nearly two weeks beginning in late June. This theater festival is best known for featuring un-juried plays; a lottery, rather than a committee decides the lineup, anyone can enter their work and pretty much anything goes. The audience tags along for the adventure.
Toronto in July
- Redpath Waterfront Festival – This exciting family-friendly festival in early July is held along Toronto’s waterfront from Spadina to Sherbourne. It’s action-packed, celebrating Latin and Caribbean talent with live music, dance routines, games and more.
- Beaches International Jazz Festival – Held annually for two weeks in mid-July in the heart of the lakeside neighborhood, this festival celebrating music features multiple stages with a wide array of free jazz performances along with an excellent line-up of gourmet food trucks.
- Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition – The largest outdoor art exhibition in the country, this three-day event in mid-July typically features some 500 artists as a free alternative to more conventional art shows and galleries.
- Caribbean Carnival – AKA Caribana. This celebration of Caribbean culture and music is one of the largest street festivals in North America, attracting over a million visitors every year. Events take place for a few weeks ending with a huge Parade of Bands with live calypso music and wildly dressed dancers.
- Summerlicious – One of the city’s favorite culinary celebrations. For two weeks each year, over 220 restaurants city-wide offer three-course, prix fixe lunch and dinner service at a set rate. This is a fun way to try lots of new foods and restaurants without breaking the bank. Reservations are recommended but not required.
- Brickfete – Weekend-long LEGO fan festival, featuring exhibits of over-the-top sculptures of historical buildings, castles, sci-fi creations, and other sculptures, made by fans and entirely using LEGOs. Build your own works on site, shop for custom LEGOs, and talk with other enthusiasts.
Toronto in August
- OVO Fest – This hip-hop festival established by Toronto rapper Drake is held at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre and runs throughout the month of August. It often features Drake himself, along with numerous other artists.
- Taste of the Danforth – This three-day festival in early August celebrates the multi-cultural diversity of Toronto and is hosted in Greektown. It features fantastic Greek cuisine from local restaurants, including stuffed grape leaves and authentic souvlaki as well as Indian, Cuban and Thai fare. Other festivities include traditional Greek dancing, music performances and challenges from professional Toronto sports teams.
- Canadian National Exhibition – AKA The Ex. The largest fair in Canada features a carnival midway with rides, live music, shopping, farm displays, casinos, acrobatic acts, dog shows, and more. Food is a key component here, with the stars being the outlandish fried options, including deep-fried red velvet Oreos, churro cheeseburgers, and cartoon dogs (bacon-wrapped hot dogs topped with PB&J, spicy mayo, and Cap’n Crunch).
- Ashkenaz Festival – One of the largest global celebrations of Jewish music and arts, the Ashkenaz Festival began in ’95 as a Klezmer and Yiddish music fest and has since grown to cover dance, visual arts, film, and more. All attractions here are family-friendly, and most are free. This is a biennial event, as of now occurring on even-numbered years, though smaller events take place year-round.
- Toronto Vegan Food & Drink Fest – A fun-filled day of mock meat comfort food, dairy-free desserts, craft beers, and booze. Enjoy live music and dancing on the Fort York garrison commons, plus ping pong, and lawn games.
Toronto in September
- Buskerfest – Four days of street performance: music, comedy, jugglers, acrobats, breakdance, and more. The festival includes the “Be a Busker” Zone, where kids learn fun acts, like aerials and magic, plus a car show and beer garden. No set admission; pay what you wish. Proceeds support Epilepsy Toronto.
- Small World Music Festival – Eleven days of international and Canadian music, fusing contemporary with traditional sounds. Concerts take place all day on weekends and evenings during the week. Put on your dancing shoes!
- Fan Expo Canada– One of the largest fan events in North America, and the largest in Canada, the Fan Expo is held for four days in early September at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre. It celebrates gaming, comics, horror, anime and sci-fi through family-friendly events and celebrity guests.
- Toronto International Film Festival – One of the largest film festivals in the world, TIFF has been growing in size and influence since its inception in 1976. This star-studded event draws crowds of nearly half a million and screens almost 300 films over its eleven-day run. Buy tickets and book your hotel early!
- The Word on the Street – Toronto’s largest literary festival, celebrating books, magazines, and all forms of the written word. Authors and publishers present their latest works and discuss literacy issues, and the book market features over 250 vendors.
- Southside Shuffle Festival – An annual music festival over three days in mid-September, this event features jazz and blues in Toronto’s Port Credit area by Lake Ontario with more than 150 Canadian and international artists.
Toronto in October
- Toronto After Dark Film Festival – This critically-acclaimed festival brings nine nights of horror, action, sci-fi and cult movies to Toronto. It includes new independent pieces from across Europe, Asia and North America.
- Thanksgiving – Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the second Monday in October, is a national holiday, which means government services and banks will be closed as most Canadians celebrate the day by sharing a meal with family, although you’ll find a wide array of restaurants and stores that remain open.
- International Festival of Authors – With readings, book signings, talks, and panels, this eleven-day event celebrates contemporary literature from Canada and around the globe. Featuring a number of special events and kid-friendly activities, all at Harbourfront Centre.
- Nuit Blanche Festival – An all-night, citywide art fest from sunset to sunrise. Most of the activity goes on between 11p to 3a, when the city is taken over by thousands of artists, creating thousands more unexpected contemporary art installations in public spaces.
- Toronto Chocolate Festival – Chocolate lovers can delight in chocolate in all of its tasty, magnificent forms at this three-week festival that kicks off in mid-October. A variety of decadent events are hosted, including chocolate eating contests, chocolate tastings and chocolate-making exhibitions.
- Queen West Art Crawl – Three-day art celebration in Trinity Bellwoods Park, featuring over 200 jury-selected artists, plus live music, a beer garden, and food. The art walk offers interactive areas for kids and adults, with a number of free art-making stations, games, and pay-what-you-can face painting.
- Halloween – Halloween in Toronto is celebrated in many different ways, with events for kids and adults alike. There are multiple family-friendly farms with pumpkin patches, corn mazes and wagon rides, as well as haunted houses, ghost tours and parties throughout the city on the big day.
Toronto in November
- Royal Agricultural Winter Fair – Held over 10 days in early November, this annual event brings more than 300 vendors, regal horse shows, dog shows and more.
- Toronto Christmas Market – Opening in mid-November and running until just before Christmas, this annual market offers a bit of the Old World and New, with the charms of a European Christmas Market along with hundreds of unique, local handcrafted items.
- Santa Claus Parade – Featuring twenty-five animated floats, two dozen marching bands, a hundred celebrity clowns, thousands of costumed characters, and of course Santa Claus. A Canadian tradition, this parade is one of Canada’s longest-running (for over 100 years). Bundle up, bring a thermos of hot cocoa, and get there early to grab a good viewing spot.
- The Royal Agriculture Winter Fair – The largest indoor agriculture and horse show in the world comes to Toronto every year. The equestrian competition is the biggest draw, though the fair also features over 5000 animals, amazing food and culinary competitions, and craft beer, wine, and cider.
- Cavalcade of Lights – On the last Saturday in November, the annual Cavalcade of Lights is hosted at Nathan Phillips Square and includes live performances, the first light of the city’s official Christmas tree and a magnificent fireworks display.
Toronto in December
- Toronto Christmas Festival – Starting in mid-December, this 10-day festival features a sleigh ride with Santa, live music, laser lights shows, shopping and more in Toronto’s Harbour Front Centre.
- Kensington Market Winter Solstice – Every day on the longest, darkest night of winter known as Winter Solstice, December 21st, a lantern festival with music, drumming and puppets is featured at the Kensington Market.
- Magical Winterland Nights – Visit Casa Loma any Wednesday night in December to see Canada’s castle decked out in lights. Featuring 10 celeb-decorated trees, an illuminated garden, a sing along with carolers, and a holiday magic act.
- 12 Beers of Christmas – Craft beer-tasting party hosted by The Gladstone Hotel. The $5 cover will give you unlimited tastings, plus there’s a cash bar for wine and cocktails, an ugly sweater competition, and free entry to the Christmas karaoke party following the main event.
- Christmas Day – Most residents throughout the province will be spending the Christmas holiday with family, and the majority of businesses will be closed, including all of the major shopping malls, although some restaurants and movie theaters will be open.
- New Year’s Eve – Parties and a host of events celebrating the upcoming New Year will be held on December 31st throughout Toronto. One of the most popular ways to celebrate is to attend the all-ages party at Nathan Phillips Square which will be capped off with fireworks at midnight.
- New Year’s Eve Comedy Extravaganza – End the year with a good laugh after a night of stand-up comedy sets punctuated with live music. A Toronto tradition since 2001, live at Massey Hall.
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