From art to theatre, music to history, Toronto’s buzzing metropolis is a melting pot of culture. There are galleries and museums everywhere you turn, as well as an impressive events calendar filled with festivals and concerts. We’ve handpicked 5 of the best cultural events and activities that connoisseurs and curious visitors alike will fall in love with.
This 16 day festival from June 10-26 is the premier event in Toronto’s calendar, and is a strong contender out of any event in North America. With 100 new artworks commissioned, 3000 performances and 11,000 artists it promises to be an incredible spectacle. The impressive events roster features theatre, dance, sculpture, film and orchestra to name just a few.
The festival will take place in a unique industrial space on Toronto’s waterfront, known as the Hearn. This huge venue is, incredibly, three times the size of the Tate modern. As well as all the shows and installations on offer, there will be a mouth-watering selection of food and drinks at one of three pop-up dining rooms and at bars throughout the building.
2. Royal Ontario Museum
Nestled in the University district of Queens Park, the Royal Ontario museum is an extravaganza of art, world culture and natural history. It is one of the largest museums in North America and is an incredibly immersive experience, too. Current exhibitions include ¡Viva México! – a celebration of Mexican clothing and culture; an exploration of the ritual, obsession and identity association with the practice of tattooing; and a giant animatronic T-Rex!
Permanent features include the impressive bat cave modelled on the real St. Clair Cave in Jamaica. The cave features live specimens, hundreds of models and a realistic dramatisation of bats in a twilight flight exodus. There are also live events on at the museum, including the Friday Night Live series of music, poetry and speakers throughout the summer.
3. Art Gallery of Ontario
The art housed within the Art Gallery of Ontario is wonderfully varied, offering everything from Old Masters like Monet and Van Gough to contemporary conceptual artists. Highlights include dramatic paintings of Canadian landscapes by artists from the Group of Seven. Also known as the Algonquin School, these artists emerged in the 20s and 30s with the aim of developing a distinct Canadian art style through contact with nature.
Aside from spellbinding paintings, the gallery has an impressive collection of sculpture. Visionary art collector Murray Frum’s private collection of African and European sculptures is currently on display. Until July 17th you can also explore Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard – a snaking labyrinth of corridors created out of 100 vintage Chinese wardrobes.
4. Casa Loma
Casa Loma is Toronto’s majestic castle, and it could easily rival the UK’s stately homes. The towers and crenellations, formal gardens and elegant drawing rooms make a wonderful scene for wandering on a sunny day. From the great hall to the servants quarter, the underground theatre to the tunnel to the stables, there is so much history to explore.
Casa Loma also hosts brilliant events, from special dining events for Italian National Day and Father’s Day to the dramatic Escape series. The immersive Escape events blend fact with fiction and theatre with gaming. Three different scenarios see participants assume the roles of a WWII anti-submarine detective, a prohibition era bootlegger and a Cold War era developer of espionage gadgets.
5. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Toronto is famous for the Toronto International Film Festival, which delivers as much clout in the sphere of film as the likes of Cannes and Sundance. Although the festival takes place in September, TIFF has a permanent space in the city known as the Lightbox which can be enjoyed all year round.
The building houses five public cinemas, two galleries and three learning studios. Home to absorbing exhibitions surrounding cinema, celebrity and media arts, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon. The Cinematheque plays classic acclaimed films all year round, spanning a huge variety of styles and ages.
Toronto is such a vibrant city that there is plenty going on at all times. There’s so much to experience, and flight prices this summer are a fantastic price too! Check out our latest flight deals to bag a bargain to the culture capital.
Photo credits: Hearn interior view Photo by George Pimentel, Tiff Bell Lightbox By Raysonho (Wikimedia)