Summer’s not over yet! Head to Toronto for the best weekend getaways where you can make the most of food, festivals and special events.
Hot town, summer in the city… make the most of the sultry nights left this summer! Because if there’s one thing Toronto is great at, it is knowing how to crank up the after-dark fun all summer long.
From sampling our old-school city traditions to checking out top DJs as they spin at the hottest rooftops, your social calendar may crash from being overloaded.
Participate in Toronto’s summer traditions
Multiple generations of Torontonians have been thrilled to the mid-way rides and carnival games of the Canadian National Exhibition, also known as The Ex or CNE (August 18 to September 4, 2023).
Another part of this classic experience is tasting your way through the CNE Food Building. If you’re wondering what could top last year’s mac and cheese lemonade or ketchup soft serve, bring your curiosity and find out. For locals, a night at the Ex is a core memory unlocked.
Tip: The Chelsea Hotel is the official hotel partner of the CNE, so be sure to check out their offers.
Party through the ROM’s galleries and exhibitions decked out with Jurassic era-inspired décor with costumed performers, games and interactive activities. But find a babysitter because this is an adults-only soiree with grown-up nibbles and cocktails, too.
The Bentway Block Party (August 13, 2023) is back! By day, you’ll find Toronto Art Crawl taking over this downtown community space, but by nightfall, the party will kick off by the Amphitheatre, where Brooklyn-based singer Bayli and Toronto-based DJs Sofia Fly and TUSH will get everyone dancing in a revitalized common space under the Gardiner Expressway.
Casa Loma’s ongoing and much-loved Symphony in the Gardens (June 5 to September 4, 2023) series is the perfect late-summer escape, complete with alfresco food and drink, a magical castle backdrop and music beneath the stars. Mama Mia lovers will enjoy the fact that August’s outdoor concert showcases songs by beloved Swedish supergroup Abba.
Feed your appetite at Toronto festivals and events
Laugh till you cry with comedian Gina Yashere, then enjoy an evening of island sounds in one of the best cities for live music, with four reggae queens and a five-piece reggae band Rayzalution Band. Tuck into jerk chicken because a festival just isn’t a festival without food!
Next, the Hot and Spicy festival returns for the Labour Day weekend (September 1 to 4, 2023). Besides phenomenal food that may put your heat tolerance to the test, after-dark programming includes top Indian performers hitting the stage, like YouTube star and comedian Abish Mathew and raga/rock/funk star Kailash Kher.
Green thumbs and foodies alike will not want to miss Avling Brewery’s Culinary Herbs & Infusions workshop (July through October 2023). The east-end brew pub’s got a rooftop farm and you’ll get to raid it for herbs and botanicals to create your own herbal infusions (such as vinaigrettes that you can take home with you), all while sampling the craft brewery’s herb-and floral-infused beers.
Or are you sober-curious? If so, book a ticket to Sansorium’s alcohol-free wine tasting on the rooftop of trendy Lavelle (August 3, 2023). The alcohol-free marketplace brings Australian zero-alcohol wine pioneer Michael Bright of Edenvale Wines over for a tasting event.
One of Toronto’s local-fave pizza makers is turning 15! To celebrate, Pizzeria Libretto is rolling out fan-favourite dishes as part of a special summer retro menu—and yes, prices will be retro-inspired, too! Dig into the pizza fun at their inaugural location in Ossington Village (August 14–August 27, 2023).
Finally, catch the final few weeks of Union Summer-Presented by TD (through August 27, 2023). This signature summer event includes programming into the evenings, with family-friendly Tuesday movie nights, Friday night live music with the weekly Summer Soul Jam, and a new group of exciting food vendors for the month of August.
Immerse yourself in interactive art activations and festivals
This new entertainment complex will serve up immersive, interactive spectacles through video, audio and projection technology that will have you hopping down rabbit holes in the Lewis Carroll-inspired Waking Wonderland or travelling through the galaxy in Space: A Journey to the Moon & Beyond.
There’s art outdoors to enjoy, too, with murals, installations, inflatables, live painting, talks, dance battles and more at Yorkville Murals (August 26 and 27, 2023).
This year’s theme is “No Empty Space,” and with Yorkville Avenue from Bellair to Hazelton Avenue closed to traffic, you can safely gawk at all of the buildings decked out with murals. Join the block party on top of the Cumberland Parkade on August 26, when the entire rooftop will become a mural that everyone can interactively walk on.
Explore the nightlife at Toronto’s most exciting hotels
Toronto is one of the best nightlife cities, and much of the after-dark action is hotel-centred, making it easy to mix and mingle close to your home base.
Expect house music all night on Fridays and Saturdays at the W Hotel’s Living Room and the Yard. Or hit up Skylight Tuesdays to Saturdays for progressive Mediterranean beats.
Meanwhile, Harriet’s Rooftop at 1 Hotel Toronto is a must for live music and DJ performances. Sip on one of their signature Purple Rain cocktails (Grey Goose Pear, St. Germain, homemade lychee hibiscus juice and prosecco) as you soak in the scene.
Come September, Toronto’s choicest hotels will be busy with Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) celebs and industry insiders. Head to the Fairmont Royal York to kick off film fest season with The Grandest Night of Fashion (September 6, 2023), celebrating Canada’s top emerging designers. The host this year? Suits and Chicago Med star Sarah Rafferty.