Summer is here once again. It was summer when I arrived here in Toronto in 2010. It’s the busiest season and the most fun—the best time to discover Canada’s biggest city. And the most fabulous, too! Don’t miss any of these Summer Festivals in Toronto!

Aside from big festivals, there are smaller and lesser- known festivals in the city that celebrate every culture, ethnicity and pride. Check the Yonge-Dundas Square on weekends and you’ll always see something going on there—be it a food fest, talent search, concert, bazaar and product promotions. And oh, the fountain squirts to beat the summer heat!

So, just in case you’re visiting Toronto or a local who’s looking what to do this summer, here are the summer events you wouldn’t want to miss.

These are arranged according to their dates. Mark your calendar for these events!

READ: Things to do in Toronto for Budget Travellers

NXNE Fucked Up
Fucked Up performed in Yonge and Dundas

1. NXNE Festival (June 10-16, 2013)

A festival of music, film, comedy, interactive and art, NXNE is the badass of all festivals in Ontario, if not in this country! Emerging bands, artists and other performers are given the chance to shine in their own niche. If you can’t afford their tickets, check their website for free performances at Yonge and Dundas.

KD Lang sang her heart loud during Luminato Festival.
KD Lang sang her heart out loud during Luminato Festival.

2. Luminato Festival – (June 14-23, 2013)

A celebration of arts and creativity, Luminato is simply awesome! Theater, visual arts, music, talks, magic—name it, and they all have something for everyone! This year, two of the biggest featured artists are: Chaka Khan and Rufus Wainwright!

3. Little Italy (June 14-16, 2013)

The restaurants in Little Italy open their patios the whole summer and they’re usually crowded when dinner arrives. For three days in a year, the whole street is a sumptuous feast of all food Italian (and other cuisine, too), entertainment, bargains, shows and amusement events for children. To beat the summer heat, trying out an Italian gelato is a must!

Justin Beiber at the Red Carpet.
Justin Beiber at the Red Carpet.

4. MMVA 2013 (June 16, 2013)

Technically, this is not a festival but a music awards show. For the young at heart and for those crazy young music fans, MMVA is their ultimate summer thing where famous artists walk on the red carpet before their performance or receiving an award on stage for their music. It’s like the Grammy but with shrieking high school girls gone wild when Justin Beiber ramps up the red carpet. PSY of Gangnam Style fame will co-host the event this year with the lovely Demi Lovato.

"We're here. We're queer. We're not going anywhere!"
2013 Pride Week Theme: SUPER QUEER!

5. Toronto Pride Parade / Pride Week (June 21-30, 2013)

No one doubts that Toronto’s Pride Parade is the largest in North America. With 1.2’million crowd, during the event, Church Street (aka Gay Village) turns into a city of rainbows, street dance parties, fabulous outdoor performances and avenues of street foods. Happy people of all sexual identities are everywhere!

And you should come back in 2014 because Toronto is going to host the World Pride!

Janelle Monae gave her best performance during TD Jazz Festival last year.
Janelle Monae gave her best performance during TD Jazz Festival last year.
  1. TD Toronto Jazz Festival

For 10 days, jazz artists are all over the city crooning their audience with their songs and charms. This year, catch the incredible Smokey Robinson as he performs at the festival main stage at Nathan Phillips Square!

7. CHIN Picnic (June 20 – July 1, 2013)

This is a celebration of the diverse population in this city. It’s the largest free multi-cultural picnic in the universe! For 3 days, the celebration is fun-filled and exciting! World-class performers from different countries (mostly celebrities/artists in their native land) are invited to perform to please their specific audiences that reminds them of life back home. It’s interesting to be walking around the venue and you hear people talking at the same time in 5 different languages! Their Search for Mr and Miss Bikini makes summer super hot!

8. Toronto Beer Festival (July 26-28, 2013)

This annual Toronto’s Festival of Beer is now on its 19th year! Featuring more than 200 brands of beer, this festival will, no doubt, let you forget of summer heat wave. There are concerts, too. Though it’s not cheap to enter, $39.50 (includes 5 sample tokens and a Festival Sampling cup), you are guaranteed to have a good time, if not wasted! LOL…

Caribana Festival / Summer Festivals in Toronto
Caribana Festival never fails to dazzle you! / Summer Festivals in Toronto.

9. Caribana 2013 / Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Parade (August 3, 2013)

Caribana or Scotiabank Caribbean Carnaval Parade is disorganized in my two previous experiences but go for the experience of it. The colorful costumes, the happy dancers and the jolly rhythm of Caribbean music never fails to tap your feet and shake your booty!

Patios are common fixtures during Taste of the Danforth.
Patios are common fixtures during Taste of the Danforth.

10. Taste of the Danforth – (August 9-11, 2013)

North America’s largest food festival is in Toronto–spearheaded by the Greek community, the second largest outside of Greece. Danforth Avenue turns into the happiest place of songs, dances, amusement playgrounds for the kids, drinks and foods! And yes, there are free product giveaways, too!

Gloria Gaynor Summer Festivals in Toronto
Gloria Gaynor sang her signature song, “I Will Survive” at The Ex International Stage. / Summer Festivals in Toronto.

11. Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) aka, The Ex (August 16 – September 2, 2013)

The CNE Center turns into a huge amusement place before summer ends. Bring your kids and enjoy the rides, the food, the games and the shows. The Air show is a must-see! Watch for shows at their International Stage where famous artists are featured.

Summer Festivals in Toronto
A busker from Japan thrilled the crowd / Summer Festivals in Toronto.

12. Buskerfest (August 23-26, 2013)

The most family-friendly festival of all festivals. Buskers all around the world converge here for three days of jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring and merry performances that would leave kids wanting for more! Proceeds of the festival goes to support the kids / people living with epilepsy. Don’t be a jerk. Give something to the performers/buskers. They fly in here and do it for free.

13. Harbourfront Centre (Every weekend)

Harbourfront Centre is everything Toronto aspires for. From literary arts to performing arts to music and ethnic festivals, they never run out of everything cool. Summer fun activities like kayaking, canoeing, sunbathing, yachting and boat tours will surely add adventure to your summer!


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