Now that it’s officially summer in the 6ix, it’s time to start enjoying all of the wonderful things that the season has to offer, like food and drink festivals, outdoor concerts, street parties, and cultural events.
The only problem is, that all of these amazing events can leave your bank account feeling a little light.
But luckily for you, we’ve tracked down the biggest free summer events happening in the city and put together a carefully curated list that will keep you having fun while also keeping your wallet full – enjoy!
What: The Toronto Market Co team is bringing back their 3rd annual outdoor food market in the Financial District. Located at Adelaide and University, Adelaide Eats will feature 13 local chefs, restaurants and food entrepreneurs with dishes that will tantalize your taste buds.
What: If nothing says “Canada Day” to you more than a saucy rack of ribs, you’ll find no shortage at Ribfest. In addition to two stages with live music all day, perks for the kids include free KidzZone activities, a massive mobile midway and a variety of daily activities.
Where: Etobicoke Centennial Park, 256 Centennial Park Road
What: The East end’s biggest food and cultural festival returns this summer. The annual Taste of Lawrence celebration takes place over the July 8 weekend, featuring over 130 vendors serving up local flavours and lots of family fun.
Where: Lawrence Avenue East, from Warden Ave to Birchmount Road
What: This one-day festival will feature over 40 diverse food vendors, a food eating contest, local performances, a kid zone, buskers and much more. This year’s theme is Canada 150, so come and experience the best that Canada has to offer.
Where: Albion Road and Islington Ave, 2621 Islington Ave
What: This July marks the 8th anniversary of this great community event, which will feature six fabulous ribbers who will be serving up thousands of mouth-watering ribs. With barbequed ribs, a beer tent, continuous live entertainment on the big stage, there’s no better way to celebrate summer. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
What: Returning to the Toronto Beach(es), this food truck festival takes over Woodbine Park over the civic holiday long weekend. As always, admission is free and in addition to street foods expect live-eating challenges and other entertainment on site.
Where: Woodbine Park, 1695 Queen Street East
When: August 4, 5 pm to 10 pm; August 5, noon to 10 pm; August 6, noon to 8 pm; August 7, noon to 8 pm
What: Friends, kids, pets are all welcome to this park turned foodie haven in mid-August. Admission is free for the weekend of outdoor eating, plus there will be a beer garden, children’s village, beer garden, and stage showcasing live entertainment.
Where: The Esplanade Park, 1 The Esplanade
When: August 11, 5 pm to 9 pm; August 12, noon to 9 pm; August 13, noon to 8 pm
What: The annual T&T Waterfront Night Market is back for another exciting run and attendees can expect the awesome outdoor culinary experience along with all the night market awesomeness at a brand new venue.
What: One of Toronto’s most famous summer events, The Krinos Taste of the Danforth is Canada’s largest street Festival and is back for its 24th year with plenty of Greek-style eats at this massive street festival.
What: This year, the Christie Pits Film Festival’s theme is EYES ON THE PRIZE, and will be screening films about competition and beating the odds. Locally organized, the Christie Pits Film Festival has attracted thousands to its free weekly series of outdoor films. Sundays throughout the summer, the screenings will include a mix of old and new. Although all screenings are free of charge, there is a suggested donation of $10.
What: Humpdays in the city are always a little sweeter with Free Flicks. This summer, the popular Harbourfront series will be running until the end of August and features inspiring and fun films. The free event takes place at 9 pm.
What: CityPlace Fort York BIA will be hosting a free movie night once a month up until September. Gather up your friends, bring your blankets/chairs and come a little early to enjoy snacks/refreshments. The summer movie lineup includes Half Baked, Ace Ventura Pet Detective, and a CityPlace pick for the final screening.
What: Head east to The Beach Village for Movie Nights in the Park every Wednesday in July and August! This movie experience will take place in a number of beautiful parks (screenings will rotate between Kew Gardens and Ivan Forrest Gardens Park). Did we mention there’s FREE popcorn?
What: For the second year, Toronto Outdoor Picture Show will present weekly films in the beautiful park at Corktown Common, in Corktown. Just minutes from many bustling east-side Toronto neighbourhoods – Riverdale, Regent Park & the Distillery, along with others – this new neighbourhood is home to another great, urban TOPS screening series, under a city skyline that can’t be beat.
What: The popular outdoor movie night program is celebrating Canada 150 this summer. The event at Downsview Park will be screening films with a Canadian connection and this summer’s lineup includes La La Land, Moana, Doctor Strange, Lego Batman, and Beauty and the Beast.
What: The annual outdoor summer screening series takes place on Wednesday evenings. The screenings are free, and snacks will be available for sale with proceeds going towards the Regent Park Film Festival. Bring a blanket and get ready for some activities before each film.
What: Sail-In Cinema is coming back to Toronto this summer for its seventh year. And as Sugar Beach will once again turn into the largest outdoor theatre in Toronto this August, you’ll be able to participate from both the shore and the open water thanks to the only duel-sided floating movie screen in the world!
What: The TD Toronto Jazz Festival has come to be recognized as one of North America’s premier jazz festival and has attracted some of the biggest names in jazz and blues. This summer, the festival will be moving to Yorkville Village, where it will play host to over 100 free concerts across 10 days (NOON-10 pm).
What: Enjoy 10 concerts by an eclectic roster of popular artists, set in the natural beauty of the gardens, rain or shine. (indoors in case of extreme weather). The concerts will take place in the courtyard adjacent to the historic barn in Edwards Gardens.
Where: Toronto Botanical Garden, 777 Lawrence Ave East
When: Every Thursday until August 31, 7 pm to 8:30 pm
What: Every July, UNITY Festival celebrates hip-hop diversity in an action packed event incorporating beatbox, dance, concerts, and spoken word. There’ll be a free dance exhibition and beatbox competition and a Unity concert.
What: Now in its 19th year, this three-day outdoor music festival will be celebrating Canada and Ontario’s 150th anniversaries with 100% Canadian acts featuring the best of Canadian Blues. There will be free admission to the vendor village, food court, and south stages 1 and 2.
Where: Port Credit Memorial Park, 20 Lakeshore Road East
When: September 8, 5 pm to 11:30 pm; September 9, 11:30 am to 11:30 pm; September 10, 11 am to 8:30 pm
What: This yearly, free outdoor pedal-powered concert will be taking place in and between Trinity Bellwoods and Humber Bay Park West this summer. This year’s lineup includes Ansley Simpson, Blokoloco and HoodedFang.
What: This weekly free art exhibition features works in a wide range of media, from artists in the resident groups at Neilson Park Creative Centre: Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto, Etobicoke Art Group, Etobicoke Quilters Guild, Etobicoke Rugcrafters, Handweavers & Spinners, and Humber Valley Art Club.
Where: Etobicoke Civic Centre Art Gallery, 399 The West Mall
What: History hits the streets for Canada’s 150th birthday. From the end of May to the end of August keep an eye out for Mackenzie House’s street artists. Using only sidewalk chalk, this group of 7 artists will draw episodes of Toronto’s history throughout the downtown core at or near the location they occurred.
What: The Roundhouse Gallery at Steam Whistle Brewing presents SOJOURN, a solo exhibition of recent work by Sarah Carlson. The paintings in Sarah Carlson’s collection are a pictorial mix of figuration and abstraction inspired by recent travels within Canadian wild spaces.
What: If you’re looking to enjoy a Canada Day that’s rich with culture and history for the little ones, the festivities at Harbourfront Centre celebrate the creative contributions of Indigenous and new Canadians.
Where: Harbourfront Centre; 235 Queens Quay West
When: June 30 to July 3
What: Canada Days at Nathan Phillips Square will bring Canada’s rich cultural fabric to life through an incredible mix of music, dance, circus, and street arts. There will be performances from the Barenaked Ladies, Belly, Buffy Saint-Marie, Ron Sexsmith & TSO + Ron Cousins, and much more.
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West
What: Celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with hundreds of others at Mel Lastman Square. The event will highlight urban music and culture from Toronto, Canada, and the world through Persian funk, Indigenous hip hop and indie rock, and Afro-Latin soul. There will also be dance performances, family filled activities, and an amazing fireworks display.
What: Come and celebrate Canada’s 150th, with a huge firework show in the heart of downtown Toronto. The show begins at 10:30 pm with a 30-second light show, followed by five minutes of fireworks set to Canadian music that will end with another fantastic light show.
What: If you’re looking to embrace the history of Canada’s past, come and celebrate Canada Day at Fort York. Here you’ll find musket drills, tours of the fort, music, face painting, hula hooping and much more.
Where: Fort York Historical Site, 250 Fort York Blvd.
What: If you’re looking to dance with the kiddos to a day packed full of music, you’ll find it at Humber Bay Park West. You can expect sounds inspired by the rich cultures of the surrounding Etobicoke area and to end the day with a fireworks display.
Where: Humber Bay Park West, 2225 Lakeshore Blvd. West
What: If you’re looking to dance this Canada Day, make sure to head to Scarborough Civic Centre for Canada Days. This multi-stage event will feature performances by local, national and international music acts from desert blues, Taiwanese indie, and electronica to legends of reggae and South Asian hip hop that will get everyone on their feet. There will also be a family activity zone and a hospitality area offering food and beverage will be available for the public throughout the day. A spectacular fireworks finale at 10:55 pm will end the night.
Where: Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive
What: Viral sensation and Canadian-Muslim hip-hop duo Deen Squad will be performing at Canaday Days in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. The influential rap duo from Ottawa combines the raw essence of urban hip-hop with the core tenets of spiritual values, breaking the stereotypes with being Muslim in the contemporary world.
Where: Scarborough Civic Centre Main Stage, 150 Borough Drive
What: You’re invited to attend the 34th Annual Amesbury Park Canada Day Celebration! Here you’ll find an exciting event lineup that’s complete with a talent search, strong man’s show, multicultural entertainment, children’s activities, plus many interesting vendors. This is going to be an event that you surely won’t want to miss.
What: The annual Multicultural Canada Day celebrations includes everything from a “Parade of Nations” and a massive singing of “O Canada,” to art, food and live performances from multicultural groups that showcase their diversity.
What: What could be more Canadian than spending the 150th Birthday of Canada on the Pride of Canada Carousel which has 44 unique characters portraying Canadian animals, culture, and history. There’ll also be face painting and balloon twisting activities for little ones.
Where: Pride of Canada Carousel, 8080 Birchmount Road When: July 1, 12 pm to 5 pm
What: Discover the meaning and importance of Canadian citizenship on this free guided tour through downtown. The walk features engaging stories about key symbols of Canadian identity and notable figures who shaped Toronto’s diversity and built the country we know today.
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen Street West
What: The Brewer’s Backyard is a fun afternoon soiree that gives you a chance to learn about, try and meet the people behind the best beer Ontario has to offer, in the casual and relaxed setting of historic Evergreen Brick Works.
What: Bring the entire family to this annual Canada Day celebration where there’s something to do for everyone. Activities include music and dance performances, roaming performers, games, children’s activities, such as face-painting and arts and crafts.
What: Come and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Downsview Park-style. Attendees will be able to partake in an action-packed day of festivities with rides, food, music, entertainment and of course, a grand firework display at dusk to end the day.
Where: Downsview Park, Downsview Park, Keele/Sheppard
What: Give the little ones an interactive lesson in Canadian history at Black Creek Pioneer Village with an 1867-style Canada Day celebration. Here, you’ll find an official Citizenship ceremony, traditional games, and horse-drawn wagon rides.
Where: Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway
What: Come taste, shop and enjoy the sights and smells of warm baked breads and pastries, freshly picked produce, locally made cheeses, artisanal jams & preserves, VQA wines, freshly farmed meats, among other tasty treats at the Royal Bank Farmers’ MRKT, a downtown market focused on gourmet, high quality products.
What: Back for its second year, the Waterfront Artisan Market will make Toronto’s waterfront come alive every Saturday from May 20 until October at HTO Park. Here you’ll get to explore a curated mix of 75 artisans, crafters, chefs and bakers. Admission is free.
What: Come and celebrate the heritage, culture and traditions of Ontario through music on multiple stages, interactive exhibits, food and drink vendors, spread out all around the Ontario Place grounds.
What: In celebration of Canada 150, the ROM is opening its doors to all visitors with free admission to the Museum’s permanent galleries and select special exhibitions. There will also be a series of live performances and activities for the entire family.
What: At Redpath Waterfront Festival, you’ll find a Canada 150 Fund project written specifically for the occasion, an interactive performance by internationally-renown street artist DJ Creeasian, the plaid-filled West Coast Lumberjack Show and a large artisan market.
What: Cultura is a free family friendly outdoor festival presenting music, art, food, and film every Friday evening in July at Mel Lastman Square. Cultura celebrates Toronto’s rich diversity featuring world-renowned musicians, tasty international street food, explosive buskers and dance, interactive art activities, and evening film screenings under the stars.
What: For one weekend only, the city’s most creative people and their projects gather together at the Toronto Reference Library to share their latest creations, demonstrate their newest projects and make things together.
Where: Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street
What: Families are invited to enjoy the fourth annual Oakville Children’s Festival at Oakville’s beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre which will transform into an arts and culture playground for kids of all ages. This fun-filled event will feature free live performances, activities that engage the little one’s imaginations and foster creativity. Take part in interactive building and art activities, story times, scavenger hunt, sports zone, face painting, and more.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, 2302 Bridge Road
What: It’s been 50 years since the first Summer of Love in Toronto in 1967 and this summer’s picnic will be taking place at Trinity Bellwoods Park. This will be a coming together of intentional, conscious groups of people, everyone from musicians, dancers, artists, shamans, psychedelic groups, meditators, contact improv, dancers, yogis, singers, drummers, and anyone else who is interested in hanging with a spiritual community.
Where: Trinity Bellwoods Park, 790 Queen Street West
What: Enjoy the dazzling colours, intoxicating beats, and the beautiful people designs that make up the world of Bollywood. This family-friendly event shares the elegant yet ecstatic Bollywood culture with everyone and helps bring cultures together.
Where: Mississauga Celebration Square, 300 City Centre Drive
What: The Toronto International Buskerfest for Epilepsy Awareness is hitting the beach this year and will be taking place at Woodbine Park. This year you can expect a beer garden, car show, and plenty of exciting surprises.
Where: Woodbine Park, Coxwell Ave at Lakeshore Boulevard
What: As part of Toronto’s Caribbean Carnival, members of the Caribbean Consular Corps will be paying tribute to Canada in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary with a commemorative flag raising ceremony.
What: Come see Creole (French Caribbean), Spanish, and Jamaican communities display their creativity and pay tribute to the Caribbean founders with “Rum ‘n Reggae”, music and of course, plenty of food. The event will also include a three-day exhibition of Carnival and historical artifacts at Metro Hall.
What: The 50th Anniversary Festival Season begins with the Official Launch ceremony. This kick-off event gives the city of Toronto a taste of what’s to come in the upcoming weeks ahead. There is an array of performances by popular Caribbean music artists. It is a cultural showcase and celebration of the creative spirit of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.
What: Splashing some spiritual culture into the city, the 45th Annual Festival of India returns on July 16 for two days of nourishing festivities. The event will begin with a euphoric parade down world-famous Yonge Street, followed by a day of festivities for the entire family.
What: Come out and see the future of Carnival. Join the young producers, performers, and presenters as they put their imprint on the Festival. This will be a day filled with music and dancing and an event not to miss.
What: ITALFEST celebrates all that is Italian. Featuring delicious food and crafts from 40+ vendors and artisans, cultural and family-oriented activities, entertainment from local and international talent, a thriving “marketo” and much more, the festival spotlights a community rich in heritage, entertainment and family values.
Where: Mississauga Celebration Square, 300 City Centre Drive
What: The 6th annual Scarborough Afro-Carib Fest will feature live musical performances, exciting entertainment from local and international artists, mouth-watering ethnic cuisine, visual arts, drum and dance workshops, kid’s zone, dance competitions, and much more! Definitely not an event to miss.
What: Wrap up summer by attending North America’s largest celebration of Polish culture in Toronto’s best neighbourhood. The festival will feature local and international music, fantastic cuisine from over 40 renowned restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and bistros, along Roncesvalles, and of course, lots of traditional Polish fare.
Where: Roncesvalles Avenue from Queen Street West to Dundas Street West
When: September 16 to 17
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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 her at [email protected]