August & September: The Ex
Spending a sweaty summer night seeking out the most gruesome fried foods at the Canadian National Exhibition (otherwise known as The Ex) is a rite of passage for all Torontonians. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what The Ex is — is it an amusement park? Shopping mall? Overheated food court? Regardless of its true purpose, you can still enjoy this overstuffed Toronto landmark. Just be wary of the deep-fried Coca-Cola.
Since its founding in 1976, the Toronto International Film Festival has grown to be one of the world’s most renowned festivals. Its Grolsch People’s Choice Award has also become an early predictor of a film’s future success during awards season. Last year’s festival featured nearly 400 films from 83 different countries. While you’re waiting in rush lines, snag a view of the red carpet early to see the stars emerge. If actually watching movies is more your thing, tickets for the weekday daytime screenings start at $10.
September: Nuit Blanche
On one night of the year, hundreds of art installations are scattered across the city. Taking place from sunset to sunrise, Nuit Blanche is a completely free celebration of contemporary art that has attracted millions of visitors in years prior. This year’s event will take place the night of September 30. Our advice? Don’t wing it — figure out what you want to see and how you’re going to get there. There’s nothing worse than having to wander through packs of drunken teenagers in the cold, asking strangers, “Uh, where’s the art?”
October: Art Toronto
Since 2000, Art Toronto has hosted contemporary artwork from Canadian and international galleries, as well as lectures and panel discussions from distinguished artists. Hosted at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the event is taking place between October 27–30. Make sure to speak to gallery dealers to learn more about the art on display. If you have cash to spare, you can also purchase art from vendors.
The Toronto Black Film Festival is international, independent, and dedicated to showing exceptional films that portray the realities lived by Black people of different communities. Both narrative and documentary films go on display as the festival pursues its mission of presenting diverse audiences with new perspectives. Brave the cold and make your way to one of the series of host theatres to participate in the festival’s effort to promote understanding amongst all cultural communities.
NXNE, or North by Northeast, is Toronto’s main music festival, taking place each year in June. It also includes art installations, a comedy festival, gaming tournaments, and discussions on the intersections of the artistic and digital worlds. This year’s headliners included Post Malone, Bleachers, and Passion Pit, in addition to local acts. If you can’t make it to the main events, not to worry — the Game Land series at Yonge-Dundas Square is completely free, and the ten-day lineup also includes a Club Land series at live music venues across the city.
June & July: Pride
Pride Toronto recently expanded its regular ten-day lineup to an entire month of events focused on celebrating the LGBTQ+ community — the largest Pride celebration in North America. Its programming includes concerts, panels, film screenings, and dance parties. Pride festivities draw thousands of people to the city. Be sure to station yourself in the Yonge-Wellesley area for a look at three of the major events: the Trans March, Dyke March, and Pride Parade.