After two long years without some of the biggest summer festivities in Toronto, this season is sure to be a memorable one with a number of festivals and celebrations returning to the city for in-person events.
From the Pride Parade to the Canadian National Exhibition, the city will be bustling with activities to enjoy all summer long.
CP24.com has compiled a list of 12 major events returning to the city this summer that you don’t want to miss.
1. PRIDE PARADE
Toronto’s Pride Parade returns this year and is set to be the “largest parade in Pride history,” with nearly 275 floats and over 35,000 marches.
“We’re very excited. We see this as a great opportunity to bring the community together. We’re finding that there are many folks that this is their first Pride and they’re excited. Folks who have finally decided to come out, folks who just moved to Canada and this is their first Pride,” Sherwin Modeste, executive director of Pride Toronto, told CP24.
The 41st commemoration of the parade will also be the first to not include any motorized or gas-powered vehicles in an effort to go green.
Float sizes have also been reduced from any size to no more than 14 feet this year to prevent large corporations from having an upper hand over smaller community groups.
“We wanted to make sure that the protest side of Pride is not lost with big floats of celebration,” Modeste said.
People participate during the annual Toronto Pride Parade, in Toronto on Sunday, July 3, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch)
“The parade on the Sunday, it’s two-fold. It’s a message of celebration, of the gains that we have made but it’s a protest of the things that we’re still fighting for. It’s also an opportunity to send a message that there are queer folks across the globe whose rights are still being denied.”
The parade will follow the same route as previous years, travelling west along Bloor Street to Yonge Street and then south on Yonge Street to Dundas Street.
The Pride Parade starts at 2 p.m. on June 26.
In addition to the parade, Pride Toronto is also hosting a Trans March and Rally on June 24 and a Dyke Rally and March on June 25 in the city’s gay village.
2. TD SALSA ON ST. CLAIR
If you’re looking to go dancing this summer, there’s always a chance to learn some moves at the city’s biggest salsa street festival.
TD Salsa on St. Clair is set to run on July 9 and 10 on St. Clair Avenue between Winona Road and Christie Street.
The Latino-themed festival offers a variety of food, music, entertainment, and of course lots of dancing.
Some of the entertainers performing at the festival include Bachata Swing Toronto, Latin Swing Orchestra, Samba Squad and The Mexicans Folk Ballet.
Free dance lessons will also be offered at various locations along St. Clair Avenue.
3. TD JAZZ FESTIVAL
The TD Jazz Festival is back this year to provide soothing sounds and upbeat rhythms for all live music fans to enjoy.
From June 24 to July 3, over 160 live concerts will be free to watch and primarily held outdoors in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the festival which focuses on highlighting local talent.
“We really wanted to focus on the incredible music that’s being made here in Toronto and across the country on a year-round basis. We want to make sure that these artists are generating some revenue for themselves, but also generating some audience,” Artistic Director Josh Grossman told CP24.
The festival kicks off with its big opening weekend at Queen’s Park, which will feature international artists, such as Amber Mark and The New Power Generation, along with local talent, including Adria Kain and Savannah Ré.
“We’re really building this up as a big party. We want it to be sort of a welcome back to a live music festival,” Grossman said.
Ticketed events will also be available and will include performances by Smokey Robinson, Gregory Porter and Michael Michael Kaeshammer.
4. TASTE OF THE DANFORTH
The “Taste” is expected to return this summer after a two-year hiatus, but there are “logistical concerns” that could hamper its success.
Organized by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA, Taste of the Danforth is a celebration of Greek heritage and cuisine.
This year’s event, however, is at risk of being cancelled because organizers say they are figuring out how to hold the event with limited street space, due to bike lanes and CafeTO installations along the street.
Mary Fragedakis, executive director of the Greektown on the Danforth BIA, told CP24 earlier this month that the BIA has been in talks with the city to remove those obstacles for the event.
The city, however, said removing the bike lanes and patios would cause at least nine days of disruption and said other festivals are “working within the confines of this new infrastructure.”
If the event goes on, it is expected to include a variety of Greek dishes to sample, a kids fun zone, sports zone and live music and entertainment.
The festival is set to run from August 5 to 7 on Danforth Avenue, from Broadview to Donlands avenues.
5. CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL GRAND PARADE
Colourful floats and Caribbean music are set to take over the Canadian Exhibition grounds again this year as Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival returns.
The Grande Parade on July 30 is free to watch from along Lake Shore Boulevard or attendees can purchase tickets to watch the parade from within the Ex grounds.
This year’s parade will boast the same attractions as previous years, with colourful floats, beautiful costumes and lots of dancing.
Chair of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival Board, Laverne Garcia, says everyone involved is “ready to get back on the road again.”
“We’re really excited to welcome people to just celebrate Caribbean culture, but, you know, also it’s for everyone because it’s really about freedom and diversity and emancipation. That’s really the roots of what Carnival is about,” she told CP24
A parader breaks to talk on her cellphone during the Caribbean Carnival in Toronto on Saturday, August 3, 2013. (Michelle Siu /The Canadian Press)
Garcia added that the carnival is a time for everyone to unite and celebrate after experiencing the pandemic and other adversity throughout the past two years.
“I think our society as a whole has gone through a lot the last few years and we’re so happy to welcome everyone back and come together as one again. I think that’s really something we really need as a community.”
The parade will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In addition, the carnival is hosting its Kiddies for Mass event on July 10 at Scarborough Town Centre and a parade for kids on July 16 at Neilson Park.
6. HONDA INDY TORONTO
The roars of zooming racing cars will fill Toronto’s west end this summer as the Hondy Indy returns from July 15 to 17.
The 2.84 kilometre, 11-turn street closure is constructed throughout and around the Ex grounds and uses Lake Shore Boulevard as the backstretch.
A variety of single-day and weekend ticket options are currently available.
The event is also hosting its Rookie Racers program which provides the youngest racing fans with interactive experiences to enjoy.
North America’s largest free African Music festival is set to return to Toronto.
Afrofest will be celebrating 34 years in the city with over 45 multinational artists and initiatives to showcase various cultures in Africa.
This year will also be the first where the festival will be spread over three days instead of two.
The festival will have two stages, the Main Stage and Baobab Stage, and will feature performances by Femi Kuti, D-Flex, FAARROW and Shy Musiq among others.
Afrofest will be held from July 8 to 10 at Woodbine Park.
8. TASTE OF LAWRENCE
The 18th annual Taste of Lawrence is set to return this year with a variety of mouth-watering dishes to try.
The street festival will run from July 8 to 10 on Lawrence Avenue from Warden Avenue to Birchmount Road.
Along with a plethora of multicultural food to sample, the festival will have midway rides, live music and dancing.
9. BEACHES JAZZ FESTIVAL
Another live music festival is set to return this summer in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood.
The Beaches Jazz Festival will take place across a number of venues and stage concerts along a two-kilometre stretch of Queen Street East.
Every year, the festival brings in internationally acclaimed jazz performers, as well as local talent.
In addition, this year will include a Salsa on the Beach event on July 2 and 3, where attendees can take lessons or listen to live music and DJs.
The Beaches Jazz Festival runs from July 2 to the 24 and is free admission.
10. CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION
“Let’s go to the Ex!” The renowned CNE is back and is sure to be a memorable one after a two-year hiatus.
Attendees can expect the usual midway rides, games, live performances and unique food dishes to feast on.
Other attractions at this year’s CNE will include a casino, HorseCapades, the first-ever gaming garage, air show, superdogs and a farm.
The CNE will also be complete with a variety of exhibits, competitions and shopping areas to browse through.
The CNE will run from August 19 to September 5 at Toronto’s Exhibition Place
Children swing on a midway ride at the 140th annual Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto on Sunday, August 19, 2018. The Canadian National Exhibition has been cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
If you’re looking for a good laugh, then Toronto’s International BuskerFest for Epilepsy is the place to go.
The four-day festival will feature circus artistry and non-verbal shows, along with music, magic and mime.
Comedians, fire jugglers, acrobats, clowns and more will provide laugh-out-loud performances for all to enjoy.
The festival is also a fundraiser for Epilepsy Toronto in an effort to raise public awareness about the neurological disorder.
Buskerfest will run from September 2 to 5.
12. TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The red carpet is rolling out for some of the world’s biggest stars to end off the summer in Toronto.
After a mix of in-person and digital screenings last year, The Toronto International Film Festival is set to host more in-person events this season.
The 47th edition of the festival will be complete with 11 days of international and Canadian cinema and special events.
Ticket sales have already begun for select members, but the film schedule won’t be released until mid-August.
TIFF will run from September 8 to 18.
For a full list of events happening in Toronto this summer, visit the city’s website.