With December behind us, it’s time to recoup some funds, but still have plenty of fun. That can be hard in Toronto, but not if you know where to look.
We found some of the great free things going on around town this January.
What: Nothing says “we run these streets” like jumping into freezing cold water on the first day of the year. Take a plunge and invigorate your senses. Donations are accepted and all money raised goes to supporting charity.
When: Wednesday, January 1
Time: 10 am to 1 pm
Where: Sunnyside Beach – Lake Ontario
What: Are you looking for a fun and free event to bring your family and friends to over the holidays? Head to the Mattamy Athletic Centre for a mid-day skate in the historic Maple Leaf Gardens.
When: Wednesday, January 1
Time: 11 am to 1 pm
Where: Mattamy Athletic Centre — 60 Carlton Street
What: There’s a bar in Toronto where you can hear live opera — for free — with a pint in hand. Which honestly sounds delightful. See some real, raw talent in a more accessible space than typically opera exists.
When: Thursday, January 2
Time: 9 pm
Where: The Amsterdam Bicycle Club — 54 The Esplanade
What: Playing soulful, refreshing, and uplifting Disco all night. Listen to the selection from DJ Efsharp and Cyclist at this weekly dance event. Be prepared for disco standards you already know and some deep cuts that will probably surprise you.
When: January 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
Time: 10 pm to 2 am
Where: The Piston, 937 Bloor St W
Admission: Free if you register online
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 opened its doors 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 spring
Time: Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday, 9 am to 11 pm; Sunday, 9 am to 10 pm
Where: Harbourfront Centre — 235 Queens Quay West
Price: Skating is free
What: The celebrated Tunnel of Glam returns for its second year. Members of the public can visit this outdoor, 80 ft. pedestrian tunnel lined with 14 million reversible sequins for a delightfully festive and immersive winter time destination.
When: Now until January 6
Where: 1501 Yonge Street
What: It’s a free local magic show. Watch eight performers trying out brand new magic that they’ve never tried before. Every show is different and they all feature performers from around the world and brand new illusions.
When: Tuesday, January 7
Time: 8 to 9:30 pm
Where: See Scape — 347 Keele Street
What: It’s a weekly Tuesday night Comedy Show with amateur and semi-professional comics who are pre-selected by the hosts in advance. A few lotto spots are available for comics who drop in early enough to register so you never know who might show up.
When: January 7, 14, 21, 28
Time: 10:30 pm
Where: Beerocracy — 583 College Street
What: Bring your friends, and enjoy some brews, food, and test your knowledge with a Trivia Night. Assemble your team wisely as there will be seriously awesome prizes for the winning team.
When: Thursday, January 9
Time: 7:30 pm
Where: Brewhaha — 39 Prince Arthur Avenue
What: Fancy yourself an entrepreneur? This is your opportunity to see and compare some business options and potentially save hundreds of hours of research time. Take some time and at least check out the competition.
When: January 11 and 12
Time: 11 am to 5 pm
Where: Metro Toronto Convention Centre — 255 Front Street West
What: The No Pants Subway Ride is back for another cheeky year. Hosted by the No Pants Society, the risqué subway ride will be happening simultaneously in 50+ cities around the world with the hopes of bringing a smile to commuters’ faces.
When: January 12
Time: Start time to come
Where: Participating TTC Stations (starting station coming soon, check event page for details)
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 15 (Saturday evenings)
Time: 8 pm to 11 pm
Where: Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West
Price: Skating is free
What: No previous dance experience is necessary to participate in the exploration of movement. Discover how touch and motion can impact lives and develop your skills at this event.
When: January 15, 22, 29
Time: 2:30 pm
Where: 750 Spadina Avenue
What: This art installation is an interactive retro-futuristic machine powered by you. Visitors can hop on two at a time into one of the six illuminated cylinders and pump a lever to activate the lights and glowing images within the loop.
When: January 15 to February 9
Where: York Street Park — York and Harbour Streets
What: Bring your pugs to the Dog Bowl in Trinity Bellwoods Park this Sunday for a Toronto Pug Grumble. Get ready for lots of snorting, rolling, and grumbling. It’s basically the cutest thing going on in the city this weekend.
When: Sunday, January 19
Time: 2 to 4 pm
Where: Dog Bowl in Trinity Bellwoods Park
What: Fashion for Futures’ project is centred around engaging with Torontonians to understand just how unsustainable the fashion industry really is. Building on that is the increadible works of art that incorporate this message into original and interesting creations.
When: Saturday, January 25
Time: 10:30 am to 5:30 pm
Where: 477 Richmond Street West
What: Join expert naturalists Lee Earl and Evergreen staff on a wintery walk through the Don Valley Brick Works Park and explore the ravines at night. Please be sure to dress warmly and wear appropriate walking shoes.
When: Tuesday, January 21
Time: 6 pm
Where: Evergreen Brick Works — 550 Bayview Avenue
What: Dying.dialogues is a mini-symposium that invites participants to share and reflect on design practice as it relates to the process of death. It aims to facilitate problem solving by making ‘tools’ to encourage dialogue about mortality, helping us to find perspective and turning death from something we fear into something we might learn from.
When: Friday, January 24
Time: 6 to 7 pm
Where: OCAD University — 100 McCaul Street
What: If you’re looking to start the new year with a new job or career change stop by this festival and see some of your options. Meet recruiters, HR managers, employers, associations, and employment agencies. It’s time.
When: Monday, January 27
Time: 1 to 4 pm
Where: First Canadian Place Gallery — 100 King Street West
What: Titled “Figli del destino” in Italian, this documentary tells the story of four Italian children, from the south to the north of Italy, facing the shame of racial laws and the wave of hate generated by Mussolini and Fascism against the Jews.
When: Tuesday, January 28
Time: 6:30 pm
Where: Spadina Theatre, Alliance Française — 24 Spadina Road
What: Being Salmon, Being Human is a unique storytelling performance from Norway combining traditional tales, original music, and philosophy. Inspired by Martin Lee Mueller’s book by the same name, and drawing on salmon stories from Sami and First Nations peoples of Scandinavia and North America, the performance takes us on a journey through the extraordinary lives of wild salmon.
When: Tuesday, January 28
Time: 7 pm
Where: George Ignatieff Theatre — 15 Devonshire Place
Admission: Free, donations accepted
What: See some of the most powerful documentary films of some of the most serious issues happening in the world today. The annual Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival brings human stories to life in a manner that empowers the audience to demand justice for all.
When: January 30 to February 4
Time: Times vary
Where: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema — 506 Bloor Street West