It’s been a sizzler so far this summer, but hey, no complaints other than the ridiculous traffic gridlock in the core. But hey, we are Torontonians! We find ways to enjoy the summer months nevertheless. Naturally, we just plan ahead, right? To that end, here are some fun things that have caught this city girl’s attention for July in Toronto!

Canada Day Long Weekend at Harbourfront Centre:

Celebrate the long weekend with Harbourfront Centre’s free and ticketed programming lineup. Everything from music, film, dance, comedy, and food to family-friendly activities. Enjoy all-ages programming and outdoor concerts with Tyler Shaw and Choir! Choir! Choir. Spend an evening with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and follow with a comedy set with award-winning comic Martha Chaves.

Check out Alexa Samuels’s photo exhibition “Not From Here,” which explores urban streetscapes but unconventionally examines everyday landscapes. On the other hand, you can learn about traditional floral beadwork of the Métis people through a bead art workshop with Marissa Magneson. You can even experience the fundamentals of West African dance.

Canada Day at The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM):

FREE admission on July 1. ROM officially kicks off the summer and invites all to enjoy the Museum with no ticket required. Canada Day free admission and Free Main Floor access initiatives. Visitors will receive complimentary access to the permanent galleries and Quilts: Made in Canada throughout Canada Day. Note: please use Weston Entrance along Queen’s Park.

Then, ROM’s summer program Free Main Floor starts on July 2. Experience Ontario’s vibrant cultural diversity and artistic excellence with performances tied to the Museum’s exhibitions, galleries, research, and community initiatives. Featured performers for summer 2024 include Opera Atelier, who will present varied styles of opera and classical music; Scott Jackson, an internationally renowned master of sound and ceremony; and My Pop Choir, an ensemble perfectly blending the joy of music and the power of community.

The summer Museum experience will be enhanced with daily interior performances in the Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery, complemented by outdoor weekend shows every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. No ticket is needed for access to Free Main Floor programming

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Canada Day at Historical Sites:

Across the city, there are plenty of free activities happening on July 1 at the many historical sites including Todmorden Mills, Spadina House Museum, Colborne Lodge, and many more. Check Toronto.ca for full listing.

Jinny Yu: At Once at the AGO:

Artist Jinny Yu makes her AGO debut by exhibiting new works, including not only oil on aluminum paintings but works on paper as well. Born in Korea and now based in Ottawa and Berlin, she has been an active professional artist and educator for the past twenty years, using abstract and geometric forms to consider the implications of mass migration and rapid social change.  In a departure from her usual practice of exclusively using black paint, Yu uses vivid colours, transparency and distorted forms to continue questioning what it means to be a guest and a host. This exhibition is curated by Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton, Curator of Canadian Art, AGO.

Jinny Yu, Inextricably Ours 23-01, 2023. Oil on aluminum, 152.4 x 139.7 cm. Courtesy of the artist © Jinny Yu via AGO

Bright Signs: Spotlight on Video Art at the AGO:

AGO. July 3 to October 14. This new exhibit brings together works by 17 leading contemporary artists spanning three decades. It includes cinematic video installations, neon sculptures, paintings, and photographs, many of which have yet to be seen at the AGO. Drawn from the AGO’s collection of contemporary art, the artworks on view address critical social issues, including perceptions of history, visibility, and power.

Theaster Gates. Baby Neon, 2016. Bent glass neon tubing, electrical transformer, 91.4 × 45.7 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario. Purchased with funds from the Modern and Contemporary Curatorial Committee, the Michael and Diane Hasley Fund, the Molly Gilmour Fund, the Janet and Michael Scott Fund, the David Yuile and Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, the Ivey Foundation Contemporary Art © Theaster Gates. 2017/32

Marimekko Pop Up at Holt Renfrew Bloor Street:

Fans of the Finnish lifestyle design house, Marimekko, will want to visit the brand’s pop-up at Holt Renfrew Bloor Street. During the month of July, discover new and classic collections including Unikko, one of the most recognized Marimekko print designs. Available are home decor pieces, apparel, and accessories. In addition to the pop up, be sure to make a reservation at the Holt’s Cafe for the Marimekko take-over starring Finnish-inspired cuisine.

TD Union Summer:

TD Union Summer returns to Union Station’s Front Street plaza, running until August 25th. Union Summer is certainly THE destination for all patio lovers to enjoy the best of Toronto under one umbrella while soaking up the sun. This seventh edition offers 63 days of free outdoor fun featuring not only dynamic music and live performances but also curated food vendors, beat-the-heat refreshment stations, and other participatory entertainment to celebrate summer in the city and everything Toronto is known for.

Union Station Summer Toronto Outdoor Market

The Sunset Concerts at Casa Loma:

This continues throughout the summer and every Tuesday evening in partnership with Canada’s Walk of Fame and Seeing Red Media—the weekly outdoors is not only in the gardens but inside the castle’s glass pavilion as well.

The curated, cross-genre line-up of artists, special guests and surprise performances runs through August 27 th , with $2.50 of each ticket sale donated in support of Kids Help Phone. General Admission (standing room only, outdoors) tickets are $45 pp; On the other hand, Reserved Table Seating (with dinner service on offer) and theatre-style tickets inside the Pavilion are $85 pp available and schedule can be found on the Casa Loma site.

Casa Loma - Toronto - Gardens

Wine Fest Toronto: Wines of the World:

July 5, 6 and 7 at Roundhouse Park (255 Bremner Blvd). Toronto’s only all-you-can-taste outdoor wine festival is back this July at a brand new location beside the CN Tower at Roundhouse Park! Wine Fest Toronto will welcome over 5,000 guests over three days. Guests taste and explore 100+ wines worldwide and a diverse selection of food truck culinary pairings. All-you-can-taste ticket prices range from $62 to $89.

Summerlicious:

From July 5 to 21, the popular dining event returns with prix fixe menus at participating restaurants (lunch and dinner). Firstly, It’s an opportunity to discover new-to-you restaurants across the city. Secondly, you can revisit old favourites. Thirdly, you can upport local chefs and their teams.

One event that has caught our attention is a special dinner with the Hong Kong Tourism Board at Yu Seafood Yorkville. Join culinary legends Chef Alvin Leung and Cheng Kim Fu in this Michelin experience on July 18. Summerlicious attendees will also have a chance to win an unforgettable trip for two to Hong Kong aboard Air Canada to experience the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival at the end of October. A complete list of restaurants (and menus) as well as the Hong Kong Tourism Board partnership details can be found here.

Nutella’s Savour the Beauty of Canada Event:

July 5 (12:30 to 8 pm) and July 6 (11 am to 7 pm). Yonge Dundas Square. Visitors to Yonge Dundas Square will have the chance to take stunning photos with the Nutella Balloon and enjoy a taste of Newfoundland with freshly prepared Toutons topped with Nutella. Celebrate Canada’s hidden gems with stunning location that are “off the beaten path”. Nutella’s CGI hot-air balloon has been travelling westward across Canada, showcasing the hidden gems on social media.

TD Salsa on St. Clair:

July 6 & 7. (Between Winona Road and Christie Street). This popular street festival returns and, as always, brings the heat! Dubbed Canada’s hottest salsa party, this event features Latin music, authentic cuisine and a fiesta for lovers of all Latino cultures. Naturally, bring your appetite and your dancing shoes!

Yoga with Adriene at The Bentway:

July 6 at 10 am. Join Youtube sensation with Youtube superstar Adrienne Mishear of Yoga with Adriene at her first-ever live event in Canada. Thousands are expected to gather on Fort York’s Garrison Common green space for a live outdoor yoga class with Adriene. Considered one of Youtube’s biggest wellness influencers, she will guide Torontonians through a massive guided yoga class, accompanied by a DJ set by local artist and wellness instructor Renelyn Quinicot. Ticketed event. Update: additional tickets will be released on July 3 at noon. Link here.

Memorial for Conrad the Raccoon at The Museum of Toronto:

July 9, 12 to 5 pm. 401 Richmond Street West. It’s been 9 years since the lifeless body of Conrad the racoon was discovered on the streets of Toronto. For 12 hours, Conrad unified the people of Toronto through a memorial shrine at the site complete with photos, cards, candles, roses, and a trending hashtag – #DeadRaccoonTO. The memorial at the Museum of Toronto, will allow Torontonians to revisit that moment and let Conrad know he will not be forgotten. This memorial is a public event that is part of the Museum of Toronto’s latest exhibition, Toronto Gone Wild, an exhibition exploring the city as a habitat – not only for humans, but for all the animal and plant life, including the unofficial mascot of Toronto, raccoons. Toronto is a habitat for a vast and intersecting community of living things.

Summer Series at Trillium Park, Ontario Place:

This amazing Summer Series returns to Trillium Park at Ontario Place this summer with another season of free, family-friendly programming from July 13 to September 1, 2024. Enjoy a variety of locally curated programming, including live music, arts as well as culture and dance.

On Saturday, July 13 & Sunday, July 14, join in the Mixto Festival. an intergenerational party that brings together not only communities but cultures and experiences. Enjoy music and dancing alongside children’s programming. Theres also food and craft vendors, a licensed bar, art installations, and impeccable vibes.

Then, on Saturday, July 27 & Sunday, July 28: Summer Live Music Festival. Features two diverse programs: Live Jazz and World Music and SING! In the Summer. Audiences will experience concerts by four award-winning emerging bands and four a cappella groups, showcasing a range of original music from jazz to pop.

Toronto Outdoor Art Fair

Toronto Outdoor Art Fair:

Officially returns Friday, July 12th at Nathan Phillips Square for a weekend of art collecting and artist discovery. Likewise, there will be installations, guided tours, engaging conversations, featured exhibitions, and live music. Of course, independent artists continue to be the center of the fair, with 350+ artists from across Canada taking over the square in iconic white tents creating a dynamic showcase for visitors to peruse. However, another 66 artists are presenting exclusively online at TOAF.ca

Almagul Menlibayeva: My Silk Road to You:

Aga Khan Museum until September 24. Located in the Aga Khan Park, My Silk Road to You immerses visitors in a world where textiles become the connecting thread of Central Asia’s history and culture, extending from China to Iran and into Russia and Europe. The works inevitibly, invites viewers to step into a realm where past and future merge.

They consider the roles of women and girls in Central Asia today, who act both as custodians as well as symbols of modernity, culture, and enduring mythology. Their portraits are set against the backdrops of major historical shifts, extending back to the empires of Genghis Khan to the Timurids and Karakhanids, through to the trials of Soviet modernism, and the invisible nuclear contamination from military test sites.

Then, located in the Lower-Level Gallery of the Aga Khan Museum, Nomadized Suprematism is an artistic analysis of historical shifts that have touched people’s lives across the Eurasian continent. Without a doubt, these works invite viewers to think differently about the Silk Roads by framing them through the context of Soviet industrial modernization.

The photographs capture the complexity not only an ear of ancient nomadic civilization but how its economy collapsed due to these forces. The women depicted in this series are searching for a new sense of humanity. Specifically, creating new identities in response to the dystopia that arose after the collapse of modernist utopian ideals.

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical: on stage at the CAA Ed Mirvish Theatre until July 28.

An uplifting comeback story like no other, this is the story of the inspiring journey of a woman who broke barriers and, eventually, became the Queen of Rock n’ Roll. Set to the pulse-pounding soundtrack of her most beloved hits, this electrifying sensation will send you soaring to the rafters.

One of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, Tina Turner has won 12 Grammy Awards and her live shows have been seen by millions. In fact, she more concert tickets sold than any other solo performer in music history.  Accordingly, the musical features her much-loved songs. Tina – The Tina Turner Musical is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Halland and directed by the internationally acclaimed Phyllida Lloyd.

Wicked The Musical:

continues through to July 21 at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The Broadway sensation looks at what happened in the Land of Oz but from a different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, another young woman is born with emerald-green skin—smart, fiery, misunderstood, and, most importantly, possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets an exceptionally popular bubbly blonde, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships…that is, until the world decides to call one “good” and the other “wicked.”

You want to read our interview with the cast here. From the first electrifying note to the final breathtaking moment, WICKED—the untold true story of the Witches of Oz—transfixes audiences with its wildly inventive story. (Psst…you may even want to try your luck with their digital lottery for tickets too!)

Lauren Samuels as Elphaba and Austen Danielle Bohmer as Glinda in the National Tour of WICKED. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus 2024

Mean Girls The Musical:

Royal Alexandra Theatre July 30 to August 25. The smash hit and hilarious musical returns to our city on the 20th anniversary of the original film! In fact, it was partly filmed in Toronto! The story follows Cady Heron — Indeed, she may have grown up on an African savanna, but nothing prepared her for the vicious ways of her strange new home: suburban Illinois.

Soon, this naïve newbie falls prey to a trio of lionized frenemies led by the charming but absolutely ruthless Regina George. Cady devises a plan to end Regina’s reign but, instead, she learns that you can’t cross a Queen Bee without getting stung. The musical was created with an award-winning creative team, including book writer Tina Fey (30 Rock), composer Jeff Richmond (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), director Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon), and producer/proud Torontonian Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live). Lastly, Check out our interview with the cast here.

Mean Girls Musical - Mirvish - Toronto
Maryrose Brendel (Karen Smith) and the Tour Company of Mean Girls. Photo Credit: Jenny Anderson, 2023.

The Art of Banksy:

1 Yonge Street at the Lighthouse Immersive space. Fans of the ellusive contemporary artist will want to visit this incredible collection of work, without a doubt. Over 140 original drawings, sculptures, and paintings from private collections, including the Mona Lisa, reported to be from the home of an A-list Hollywood star, are on display. What’s more, the collection on view is actually reportedly valued at $35 million.  And yes, you’ll have to exit through the gift shop.

Banksy - Lighthouse Immersive - Toronto - artist

“The Meteorite” lands at the OFFWORLD BAR (739 Queen Street West):

This is definitley worthy of attention for all space lovers! One of our favourite out-of-this-world bars in the city has a unique cocktail but is, to be true, only available in a very limited quantity. The Meteorite is a new cocktail inspired by the blazing trail these space rocks leave across the night sky. 

Remy Martin 1738, Tio Pepe, Grand Marnier and lemon juice are spritzed with a starburst of yellow chartreuse. Garnished with Gooseberries and a lemon wedge and topped with a thin disc of watermelon-radish it also  bears a genuine slice of the Gibeon Meteorite, discovered in Namibia in 1838. Yes, that meteorite that was once the iron core of a shattered asteroid. Each Meteorite cocktail, priced at $59, comes with a certificate of authenticity for the meteorite slice that accompanies it. More details here.  If you haven’t visited this unique place, or it’s sister restaurant Storm Crow Manor…RUN. It’s a blast.

Little Jamaica Music History Walking Tour:

The tours are July 18 and 21 (more dates available in August) and Presented the Black Music Archives . Our city is rich in music history and this area known as “Little Jamaica” is certainly full of stories. A local guide takes visitors on a 2 hour walking tour that features landmarks and people. You’ll not only see murals and artwork along the walk but get to explore the many shops and restaurants. Tickets by donation here.

The Air Miles Moment Shop:

July 5 to 7 and then again July 11 to 14. 360 Queen Street West. The Moment Shop created by Air Miles is inspiring Canadians to Collect More Moments with the people that matter the most. The first of its kind retail-style experience for Air Miles invites guests to immerse themselves and “shop” their favourite Air Miles Moments as opposed to things.

Staples Kids Learn + Play:

Two GTA locations (Richmond Hill at 45 Maple Road and Etobicoke at 1750 The Queensway) are open! Looking for a place to cool off with the kiddies? Check out this new customer experience tailored to families with kids. The in-store experience features the widest assortment of toys and games. categorized by four foundational learning and development skill sets, it’s simultaniously fun and educational.

This design enables parents to easily find the perfect play-based tool for their child based on their own individual needs or preferences. Products are from brands Canadians know and love, including LEGO, of course, as well as Play-Doh, Crayola, and Ravensburger. In addition, the zone also features an activity space for kids to use during your visit.

LOTTO MAX Thrift Drop Pop-Up at The Well:

July 12 to 14, Visit this pop up to check out a new limited-edition up cycled clothing collection including a limited number of handmade hoodies, jackets and shirts made entirely from thrifted textiles. Interantioan fashion designer Kevin Leonel, known for his nostalgic, high fashion pieces created the LOTTO MAX-inspired unique thrifted collections. Each one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art features also features seven numbers sourced from thrifted textiles (a nod to LOTTO MAX and…um, maybe your lucky numbers?) The collection will also drop online. Sign up on OLG.ca/ThriftDrop by July 21 to receive a link to the sale website when it goes live. At the pop-up, visitors that view the collection in-person will also have a chance to win a piece for free.

Make it a Staycation:

Kimpton Saint George Project 416: Consider this a love letter to Toronto. Located steps from Yorkville, this boutique hotel has recently launched Project 416, an initiative that highlights the city’s diversity and cultural icons. For that reason, the hotel has decked out room 416 with Toronto-centric decor and curated snacks and activities that reflect the diversity and what makes the city unique.

Additionally, from each reservation booked during the duration of Project 416, the Kimpton Saint George will donate ten percent of the room’s revenue to local charity, Red Door Family Shelter. This supports the charities ongoing efforts to assist families, refugees and women who are fleeing violence.

Kimpton Saint George - Toronto

What’s Happening Outside of Toronto?

Avalon Lavender Farms:

We love our flower fields, and currently, the lavender fields are in bloom. Not only is it breathtaking and picture worthy but you can also experience hot air balloons as well as booking in a high tea experience. No car? No worries, because they also have a shuttle bus service. Book in advance to secure your epic moments. Even more, it would be great for bridal showers and girls outings too!  Read Libby’s write-up here.

avalon lavender farm high tea
Photo credit: Libby Roach

Stay and Play at Longridge in Caledon:

If you’re an avid golfer and have always wanted to play the award-winning “The Pulpit” or “The Paintbrush” and enjoy the peace of Calendon (Ontario), here’s a great opportunity! Longridge Partners has transformed a few stunning houses into vacation rental properties. Additionally, they recently updated with modern amenities and a dedicated concierge that can help plan out a relaxing getaway (and arrange highly sought-after tee times). Great for not just families and friends, but corporate retreats too. Learn more here.

Stratford Festival:

Theatre season is in full swing in this beautiful Shakespearean town. This year’s buzz is already on the hilarious play “Something Rotten” with its catchy tunes! Considered a comic masterpiece, this is sure to be a sell-out hit all summer long. In addition to Something Rotten, see the complete lineup of plays here. You’ll need a place to stay afterwards so check out The Bruce Hotel and Hotel Julie.

Hotel Julie Stratford
Hotel Julie

Kingston Culinary, Culture, and History:

This city is known not soley for its rich Canadian history, Queen’s University, vibrant food scene and “The Pen”, but also a hella lot of ghost stories! Recently added attractions include the S.S. Keewatin Luxury Steamliner, which was, in fact, built in 1907 in the same era as the Titanic. The ship now sits permanently on the waterways and offers an incredible experience. It’s like walking into a time capsule.

Explore the passenger rooms, kitchen, dining room, men’s parlour, staff quarters, and decks, as well as the underbelly of the ship where cargo and engine rooms keep things moving. Another great attraction is the completely updated tour of the home of Canada’s First Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, at the Bellevue House Historical Site. To be sure, as visitors enter, they will notice Canada’s history told with many other points of view worthy of discussion.

Kingston is worthy of a multi-night stay, therefore we checked into The Smith Hotel. Its a stunning stay in a former Gothic-Revival-style church that was built in the 1860s.