Score free museum and gallery admissions, so you can splurge on weekend concerts and festivals all summer long in the 6ix.
Between bottle service, swag and prime tickets, multi-day festivals can be a pricey proposition. But never fear—we’ve pulled together a list of free arts and culture options to keep you entertained through the week, so you can save your spending for epic weekend blowouts.
Save with free weekday activities
Avoid the weekend sunbathing hordes and visit one of Toronto’s beaches early in the week, when you can take full advantage of the sandy expanses and sparkling waves of Lake Ontario in relative tranquility.
This means they meet international standards for water quality, cleanliness and environmental stewardship, so you can enjoy total peace of mind while you swim, bask and lounge.
Fans of ancient and modern history will be thrilled to learn that the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) offers complimentary admission on the third Tuesday of each month. Visitors can access the entire museum free of charge from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Love dinos? Go beast mode over this summer’s blockbuster exhibition, T. rex: The Ultimate Predator (now to September 4, 2023), with its 40+ models, large-scale video and interactive and hands-on experiences.
Dig design? Don’t miss the Canadian Modern retrospective (now to October 15, 2023) of 100 culturally significant objects designed and produced in Canada.
Get a mid-week culture boost by immersing yourself in visual inspiration. On Wednesday evenings between 6 and 9 p.m., the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) opens its doors for no charge.
But make sure you’re organized: capacity is limited, and a maximum of four free general admission tickets can be booked. You can book tickets starting at 10 a.m. Monday for the Wednesday evening of the same week. Admission is free anytime for Indigenous people and everyone under age 25 (with ID).
For those whose aesthetic tastes tend more toward clay objects, the Gardiner Museum is free for all visitors who want to take in its eclectic ceramics collections between 4 and 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. Admission is always free for Indigenous people, plus all students and youth 18 and under.
An iconic destination for edgy contemporary art since it first opened on the site of a former electrical-generation facility back in 1987, the Power Plant offers free admission to all exhibitions and events during its hours of operation.
Visit on Thursday to expand your creative horizons and avoid the Waterfront traffic jams that intensify closer to the weekend.
Bone up on local history (for free!) at Fort York National Historic Site, where British soldiers, First Nations warriors and Upper Canadian militia men stood together against the United States and its mission to capture Toronto in the War of 1812.
Spitting distance from Lake Ontario, this former military fortification featured prominently in the Battle of York; today, it’s a sprawling 43-acre archeological park that’s packed with interactive installations, exhibits, film programming and live theatre.
Splurge on weekend festivals
Veld Music Festival
For electronic ecstasy, look no further than the three-day Veld Music Festival (August 4–6, 2023) at Downsview Park, where Tiësto—also known as the Godfather of EMD—will spin the masses into a state of bliss alongside fellow beat-happy A-listers like Illenium, Loud Luxury and Rezzmau5 (the dynamic duo of Deadmau5 and protégé, Rezz).
Dance mavens have multiple opportunities to cut loose this summer as the groove-oriented Electric Island festival (May 20 & 21, July 1 & 2, August 11 & 12 and September 2 & 3, 2023) moves from Ontario Place to Toronto Island’s Hanlan’s Point.
Among the highlights: legendary South African DJ Black Coffee and hard techno flagbearer Deborah De Luca, with more bold names to be announced.
Hip-hop heads will go wild when Rolling Loud (2023 dates TBA) rumbles through town. Last year’s lineup included international superstars like Future, Lil Uzi Vert and Skepta as well as up-and-coming Toronto talents like Tara Lord.
This year’s event details are yet to be announced, but organizers indicate a 2023 return is in the cards.
Field Trip Music & Arts Festival
Indie, roots and rock fans of all ages will flip over the typically expansive lineup at Field Trip Music & Arts Festival (2023 dates TBA). Last year’s festivities at Fort York and Garrison Common, boasted alt-leaning acts like Nathaniel Rateliff, Lucy Dacus and Peach Pit.
A pint-sized side stage was headlined by kiddie pop icons Splash ‘n’ Boots, with additional all-ages amenities like a play area and top-shelf snacks courtesy of a gourmet food truck armada.
Stay tuned for announcements and expect no less from 2023, the festival’s 10th anniversary.