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 zero-cost 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
Monday: beach time
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.
Eight out of the city’s 11 beaches — including Bluffer’s Park, Woodbine and both Hanlan’s Point and Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands — are Blue Flag certified. 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.
Tuesday: Royal Ontario Museum
Fans of ancient and modern history will be thrilled to learn that the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is offering complimentary admission to all main floor galleries (which includes the Daphne Cockwell Gallery, featuring more than 1,000 artifacts showcasing Indigenous art and culture) every day throughout the summer. Better yet, on the third Tuesday evening of each month, visitors can access the entire museum free of charge.
Wednesday: Art Gallery of Ontario
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 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.
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 students and youth 18 and under.
Thursday: Power Plant gallery
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 all its hours of operation. Visit on Thursday night to expand your creative horizons and avoid the inevitable Harbourfront traffic jams that intensify closer to the weekend.
Friday: Fort York National Historic Site
Bone up on local history by engaging with the edutainment at Fort York National Historic Site. Spitting distance from Lake Ontario, this former military fortification featured prominently in the War of 1812; today, it’s a sprawling archeological park that’s packed with interactive installations, exhibits, film programming and live theatre.
Splurge on a weekend blowout (or four)
Field Trip Music & Arts Festival
Indie, roots and rock fans of all ages will flip over the expansive lineup at the Field Trip Music & Arts Festival (Saturday, July 9, 2022) at Historic Fort York & Garrison Common, which boasts alt-leaning acts like Nathaniel Rateliff, Lucy Dacus and Peach Pit, a pint-sized side stage headlined by kiddie pop icons Splash ‘n’ Boots, a play area and top-shelf snacks courtesy of a gourmet food truck armada.
Veld Music Festival
For EDM ecstasy, look no further than the three-day Veld Music Festival (July 29–31, 2022) at Downsview Park, where iconic trance master Armin van Buuren — ranked the top DJ in the world five times by DJ Mag — will spin the masses into a state of bliss alongside fellow beat-happy A-listers like Alesso, Marshmello, the Chainsmokers and many others.
Dance mavens have multiple opportunities to cut loose this summer as the groove-oriented Electric Island festival (July 1–2, August 6 and September 3–4, 2022) celebrates its 10th anniversary by taking over Ontario Place during the first weekend of each month. Among the highlights: legendary British house DJ John Digweed headlines the Waterfall stage during the August instalment.
Hip-hop heads will go wild when Rolling Loud (September 9–11, 2022) rumbles through Ontario Place in September. While international superstars like Future, Lil Uzi Vert and Skepta are huge draws, don’t sleep on up-and-coming Toronto talents like Tara Lord.