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20 FREE Toronto events worth checking out in January

Ainsley Smith Dec 27, 2017 1:30 pm 1,731

Head into the new year the right way: with some extra dough in your pocket.

To help you prepare, we’ve put together a roundup of the best FREE events and activities happening in the city this month, so you can get out and have some fun without having to spend a dime.

From outdoor art exhibits to skating parties, here are the top 20 free January events to check out in Toronto.

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60th Anniversary of Dr. Seuss

What: In celebration of Dr. Seuss’ 60th Anniversary of “The Cat in the Hat” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, Toronto’s Liss Gallery is hosting a specially curated exhibition called The Art of Dr. Seuss.

When: Now until January 6
Where: Liss Gallery112 Cumberland Street

Burlington Festival of Lights

What: The Burlington Festival of Lights is the city’s longest-running festival, which lights up the waterfront from dusk to dawn over the holiday season. Now in its 22nd year, the festival will feature 60 festive displays that can be viewed up close or from the warmth of your car.

When: Now until January 8
Where: Spencer Smith Park, Burlington, Ontario

Music from People City

What: This winter, Toronto’s most iconic musical assets will be on display as Myseum of Toronto(a nonprofit museum dedicated to all things Toronto) presents Music from People City – a professionally curated event series that invites locals, visitors and travellers to experience the city’s world-class music scenes, sounds and stories firsthand.

When: Now until January 12
Where: Venues throughout the city

The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls

What: The annual Winter Festival of Lights stretches over 8 kilometers in Niagara and will run through to the end of January. Attracting over 1 million visitors annually, this incredible spectacle is Canada’s largest lights festival. Just imagine a breathtaking, colourful scene with millions of sparkling lights and animated displays that extends to Dufferin Islands. And yes, it’s completely free to attend!

When: Now until the end of January
Where: Niagara Falls

DJ Skate Nights

What: Sharpen your skates and skills at Toronto’s number one outdoor winter party. This year you can expect another stellar lineup of DJs that will bring the heat to your Saturday nights.

When: Now until February 17 (Saturday’s from 8 pm to 11 pm)
Where: Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West

Light Up the Beach

What: Now in its 10th year, Light Up the Beach features more than 80,000 twinkling Christmas lights along the Toronto Beaches boardwalk to support The Michael Garron Hospital Foundation. The light display is truly a sight to see and a holiday tradition that every Torontonian should enjoy.

When: Now until mid-February
Where: At the foot of Leuty Avenue, The Beach

Winter at Ontario Place

What: Ontario Place will be welcoming a new festival this December: Winter at Ontario Place. The new festival features various winter-themed activities including the Winter Light Exhibition, skating on the new synthetic skating rink and film screenings at the newly re-opened Cinesphere.

When: Now until March 18
Where: Ontario Place

Skating at Harbourfront Centre

What: When the weather starts to drop, it means it’s officially time to go skating. And it just so happens that the city’s most scenic rink has its doors open for the winter season. The Natrel Rink is complete with heated indoor change rooms and its own rink-side bar and grill for those interested in getting a snack post-skate. The best part? Skating at the Harbourfront rink is totally free. 

When: Now until the end of March
Where: Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West 

STEM’d-Up Comedy – A Science Variety Show

What: Come and get your laugh on at the expense of science. Come and enjoy an evening of fun, including stand up from a number of prominent science majors.

When: January 4, 6:45 pm to 8 pm
Where: Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor Street West

Opening of the Bentway Skating Trail

What: Opening weekend festivities for the new Bentway Skating Trail include live musical performances, demonstrations of Ice Breaking by the Toronto Ice Skate Group (a unique hybrid of break dancing and freestyle ice skating), art installations, food and drink, music throughout the day from the best of Toronto’s DJ scene, pop-up curling, and free admission to Fort York National Historic Site.

When: January 6, 11 am
Where: From the CNE grounds to Bathurst Street

Free Bollywood Dance Lessons

What: Each Tuesday in January, you can come and learn how to Bollywood dance. This beginner-level class will work through technique and style while building a fun short routine. No experience necessary!

When: January 9, 16, 23, and 30, 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Where: Sony Centre for Performing Arts, 1 Front East

Ice Breaking and DJ Workshop

What: Come and learn about the foundations of DJing and how to breakdance on ice prior to the Friday night outdoors Beats and Bents Friday night skate dance party.

When: January 12, 6 pm to 7:30 pm
Where: Under the Gardiner Expressway from Strachan to Spadina

Toronto Design Offsite Festival

What: The Toronto Design Offsite Festival TO DO is Canadas largest cultural celebration of design with over 100 free exhibitions, window installations, and events forming Toronto’s design week.

When: January 15 to 21, 10 am to 9 pm
Where: Various venues throughout the city

Toronto Light Fest

What: For the second year in a row, the historic Distillery District will be home to the Toronto Light Fest this winter. Designed to entertain and inspire, the free to attend light festival will feature curated light installations and illuminated sculptures created by a number of local and international artists.

When: January 19 to March 4
Where: Distillery District

Ice Breakers

What: Now in its second year, temporary winter art exhibit Ice Breakers is returning to Toronto’s waterfront. Organized by Winter Stations and The Waterfront Business Improvement Area (WBIA), Ice Breakers will provide the city with five temporary wintertime art installations that are 100% free to the public.

When: January 19 to February 25
Where: Queens Quay from Harbourfront Centre to the Toronto Music Garden

2018 Repair Cafe

What: Don’t throw it away, fix it! Bring in a broken household item to the Repair Cafe where you can get help fixing it for free. Volunteers fix household item, ranging from small household appliances such as toasters and lamps to computers and clothes. There will even be a bike repair booth available outside the library’s front doors.

When: January 20, 12 pm to 4 pm
Where: Toronto Reference Library Atrium

Toronto Women’s March

What: This January, join Toronto as it unites its communities to march in the name of women everywhere. There will be a number of motivational speakers in attendance, who will be announced closer to the march.

When: January 20, 12 pm
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West

Trinity Bellwoods Flea – New Year Market

What: Start the new year by checking out the Trinity Bellwoods New Year Market, which will feature lots of new vendors, brands and designers. 

When: January 21, 10 am to 5 pm
Where: The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street West

Winter Exhibitions Opening Party

What: This winter the Ryerson Image Centre will be hosting a series of experimental shows confronting the traditional power dynamic between photographer and subject. Come and enjoy the free opening party and get an early look at the exhibits.

When: January 24, 6 pm to 8 pm
Where: Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould Street

Winter 2018 Season: Opening Party

What: This free party will kick off the new year and celebrate the launch of The Power Plant’s Winter 2018 Exhibition Season. Be among the first to experience exhibitions by Kader Attia and Emeka Ogboh, and view the progression of Michael Landy’s continually evolving Fleck Clerestory Commission Project.

When: January 26, 8 pm to 11 pm
Where: The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, 231 Queens Quay West

Ainsley Smith
Ainsley is a Staff Writer at Daily Hive. She's a former Vancouverite turned Torontonian who is passionate about avocado toast, aesthetics, and avocado toast aesthetics. Story idea? E-mail me at [email protected]

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