Your BIST guide to FREE Toronto summer fun: THE CROWD-LOVING EDITION

By: RICHARD HASKELL

PHOTO:
PHOTO: TORONTO MEDIA COOP

It’s summer, and as the song goes, “the livin’ is easy.”

It’s a time for patios, hanging out at the beach and cool drinks. And because winter was particularly harsh this year, we can appreciate the longer days and warm temperatures that the season invariably brings that much more.

But what about things to do during this all-too-brief period? Luckily for us, we happen to live in one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world with a plethora of events going on all summer long, and best of all, many of them are free!

Salsa on St. Clair

July 19 – 20, St. Clair Ave. West from Winona Dr. to Christie St.
(416) 744-8200, info@tlntv.com

If you find it impossible to resist swaying to the evocative rhythms of Latin music, then the tenth annual Salsa on St. Clair is definitely for you! Head over to St. Clair West from Winona Drive to Christie Street to see several blocks transform into a showcase of Latin life. Check out their survival guide here.

Break dancing at salsa on St. Clair
PHOTO: SALSA IN TORONTO

 

Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival

July 8 – August 3, various locations, (416) 391-5608
Official launch: July 8, 12-2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m., Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. West (at Bay)
Caribana Parade: Aug. 2, Exhibition Place and Lakeshore Blvd. West

Most Torontonians are familiar with the famous Caribana festival held every August. This year, it has not only expanded, but also has a new name – the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival – running between July 8 and August 3. It’s an exciting blend of Caribbean music, cuisine, revelry and visual and performing arts, and is the largest festival of its kind in North America. Check out the Caribbean Carnival’s survival guide here.

Pilaros Taste of the Danforth

August 8-1o, Danforth Ave from Broadview to Jones
(416) 469-5634, info@tasteofthedanforth.com

The Taste of the Danforth has become an enormously popular event during its 21-year-run, attracting more than 200,000 visitors who come to enjoy Greek food, entertainment and dance.

PHOTO VIA FLICKR
PHOTO: FLICKR

Waterfront Blues Festival

July 11-13, Woodbine Park (Lakeshore Ave. East and Coxwell Ave.)
(416) 698-2152

Got the summertime blues? Head over to the waterfront to check out a great combination of Canadian and international talent, including established and emerging artists. This year’s line-up year includes Juno Award winner Jack de Keyzer, Sugar Ray Norcia (of the Bluetonnes) Otis Clay and Johnny RawlsIrene Torres and the Sugar Devils and the Brant Parker Blues Band.

Beaches International Jazz Festival

July 18 – 27, Woodbine Park (Lakeshore Ave. East and Coxwell Ave.)
(416) 698-2152

Nothing goes together like jazz music and the summer.  At the Beaches International Jazz Festival, featured artists include soul/funksters Ron Littlejohn and The Funk Embassy, Latin guitar master and world music artist Johannes Linstead and the Swing Shift Big Band.

North York Festival

August 9, Mel Lastman Square (Yonge North of Sheppard)
5100 Yonge St.,  416 500-0007

If you want international all in one place, look no further than the North York Festival in Mel Lastman Square. In addition to live music, dance and singing competitions, a fashion show and magicians, there will be tents set up celebrating Chinese, Korean, Persian and Russian cultures.

PHOTO: NORTH YORK FESTIVAL
PHOTO: NORTH YORK FESTIVAL

 Toronto Buskerfest

August 21-24
Downtown Yonge Neighbourhood (Yonge and Dundas area)

Whatever way you feel about street entertainers, you can enjoy their talents at the Scotiabank Buskerfest – come see jugglers, impersonators, musicians and acrobats from all over the world.

PHOTO: FLICKR
PHOTO: FLICKR

 

Free Movies!

Yonge-Dundas Square

Every Tuesday until Sept. 2, at dusk
416-979-9960

Who doesn’t enjoy a good movie? This summer, the City Cinema tradition continues at Yonge-Dundas Square with free outdoor movies presented every Tuesday evening until September 2. Among the movies scheduled are Trainspotting, Little Miss Sunshine, and Almost Famous. If Dundas Square isn’t your thing, you can check out free screenings at these venues:

St. James Park

Every Thursday in July and August, 9-11 p.m.
120 King St. East (at Jarvis)

PHOTO: TOUCHSTONE PICTURES
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? PHOTO: TOUCHSTONE PICTURES

 

David Pecaut Square

Every Wednesday in July and August
224 King St. West (at Simcoe)

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is presenting a series of films about “The Biz” – show business that is, every Wednesday during July and August. Must sees: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Searching for Sugar Man

Westjet Stage at Harbourfront Centre

Every Wednesday in July and August
235 Queensquay West
(416) 973-4000, info@harbourfrontcentre.com

This season Harbourfront has got it all when it comes to summer flicks, we’re talking Kissing Jessica Stein, Funny Girl and Mean Girls and oh so very much more!

Summer at Harbourfront

235 Queensquay West
(416) 973-4000, info@harbourfrontcentre.com

Other than free movies, Harbourfront is the place to go for free events during the summer. You can dance on the pier, try a tai chi or yoga class or check out one of the festivals including South Asia Calling, China Now, Habari Africa Festival, Expressions of Brazil, Taiwan Fest and the Hot and Spicy Food Festival.

STAY TUNED FOR THE BIST GUIDE TO FREE SUMMER FUN, PART 2 – THE QUIET, LESS CROWDED EDITION 

 

 

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Your BIST guide to World Pride!

gay pride parade rainbow banner

World Pride has hit Toronto!

Thinking of going to Pride? Here’s the BIST low-down on what’s happening at Pride, with a highlight on some events we think may be more ABI survivor friendly:

Clean and Sober Proud Place – Friday, Saturday and Sunday

WHAT IS IT: A space to hang out and catch performances by local community artists in a drug and alcohol free space.

  • Paul Kane Parkette, 58 Wellelsey St. East (just east of Yonge St.)
  • FREE + WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE; VENUE WILL BE LOUD

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 What it Means to Be Seen – Photo Exhibit – Friday, Saturday and Sunday

WHAT IS IT: A photo exhibit featuring LGBTQ communities from the 1960s to present. See how much things have changed and stayed the same.

  • Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St. (south of Gerrard, east of Yonge St.)
  • FREE + WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE; EVENT SHOULD BE QUIET

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Family Pride – Saturday and Sunday

WHAT IS IT: Just as it sounds – a family-centred Pride celebration! Set up in the Church Street Public School, Family Pride provides tons of free activities for kids, plus gives parents an opportunity to chill and relax in the quietest, and least crowded space on Church Street. BONUS: FREE DRINKS AND SNACKS AVAILABLE!

  • Church St. Public School, 83 Alexander St. (1 block North of Carlton, just east of Church)
  • FREE + WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE; GENERALLY NOT TOO LOUD

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UFCW Canada Pride – Saturday, starts at 10 a.m.

WHAT IS IT: The United Food and Commercial Worker union (UFCW) is hosting a Pride celebration for its members, their friends, family  and basically any community-oriented person who wants to indulge in the spirit of Pride. There will be refreshments, snacks, music, arts and cultural activities.

  • Sheraton Centre Hotel, Civic Ballroom and Foyer, 123 Queen Street West (west of Bay St.)
  • FREE + WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE; EVENT LIKELY TO BE SOMEWHAT LOUD
  • If you’re planning on going, you’re encouraged to sign up here

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Proud Voices – Saturday, Sunday, starts 11 a.m. – readings and performances throughout the day

WHAT IS IT: Listen to readings by some of Toronto’s best LGBTTQ writers. Saturday  features readings by established Toronto women writers, and Sunday it’s the men’s turn. 

  • Glay Day Bookshop, 598 Yonge St. (just North of Wellesley)
  • FREE; NOT WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE
  • ** FREE NIGHTTIME CABARETS SATURDAY + SUNDAY at 8 p.m.! **

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BIST TIP: Getting to Pride from east of Church St. is a lot easier than coming from the west end. But regardless of where you’re coming from – expect crowds. Don’t drive. If you can, walk bike or take the TTC!

  • Avoid Wellesley Station and the surronding area. You will find taking a longer way around to where your going will take less time than managing your way through the crowds.
  • There will be fewer crowds at: Sherbourne Station, Yonge / Bloor station, College Station or Dundas Station – again, it’s worth walk!

For more information: World Pride Toronto