Many of us have “end of summer” traditions — the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), walks on the boardwalk with ice cream dripping down our arms, a picnic at Centre Island, or a baseball game. For August in Toronto, we’re also including fun things for families because we all know these last few weeks often mean kids will be returning from camps and we’ll have a few days to fill. So, savour every moment in the city and enjoy!
Habari Africa Festival at Harbourfront Centre: August 5 to 7. A multidisciplinary art and music festival showcasing Africa’s rich and diverse cultures. It’s a weekend full of exploration and engagement, offering an authentic experience through presentations celebrating the uniqueness, wealth and diversity of the continent of Africa and its music, dance, film and arts. The Habari Africa Festival will feature emerging artists in Canada and established national and international touring groups.
The Bentway Block Party (All Day, All Ages and FREE): August 14. Don’t miss the outstanding talent and energetic performances throughout the day, from sign spinning to fashion to dance. This year’s line up includes New York City musical duo, The Illustrious Blacks, and Canada’s Drag Race Winner-turned-Pop Star Priyanka; Aarow Sign Spinners will transform street advertising into sports and entertainment with their jaw-dropping moves; Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance will light up the dancefloor with a fierce performance featuring Toronto’s Ballroom Legends; DJ sets by Valeroo, Ace Dillinger, and John Caffery – curated with Yohomo (Toronto’s online hub dedicated to the arts, culture, and nightlife of our city’s beautiful LGBTQ2+ community) – will get the crowd dancing. Full schedule and information about street food, games, art, fashion, workshops, and other offerings on their site.
DIS/MANTLE at the Spadina Museum: Beginning August 5 until December 31. Emancipation Month launches this new experience and reimagines the historical museum through the lens of Afrofuturism. Ponder the thought of possibilities of a new world with diverse literary perspectives. Explore this space with incredible interactive art installations, stories and events about Afro-Caribbean culture including the one of Louisa Pipkin a freedom seeker who escaped enslavement in the US and came to Canada where she worked for the Austin family, founders of the Dominion Bank of Canada and homeowners of Spadina. This incredible exhibition was inspired by the real Mrs. Pipkin and the efforts of Black abolitionists.
Access the Main Floor of the Royal Ontario Museum for FREE: all summer. In celebration of Kore 670, a stunning sculpture on loan from Greece, the ROM is offering everyone free access to the main floor of the Museum for the duration of the summer (excluding the Fantastic Beasts: Wonders of Nature exhibition). This experience includes a new pop-up coffee bar, plus free live performances and programming. Enjoy nearly 80,000 square feet of gallery and public space including the Asian galleries, two pandemic-themed exhibitions (#MyPandemicStory and Unmasking the Pandemic: From Personal Protection to Personal Expression), and the Daphne Cockwell Gallery dedicated to First Peoples art & culture.Be sure to check their site and social media for updates on pop-up activities for kids and families too! Tickets can be secured online or at the Museum.
Yayoi Kusama’s “Let’s Survive Forever” Infinity Mirrored Room at the Art Gallery of Ontario: has reopened for in-person experiences! This room filled with silver orbs are not meant to be touched but you can visit (timed entry) and have up to 60 seconds of personal space to take all the fun selfies. Free admission with membership, annual pass or daily admission. Register online (recommended) to reserve your time.
Immersive King Tut: Magic Journey To The Light: Opens August 12. a unique kind of immersive experience launches this month. Timed to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb which kicked off a wave of popular interest in all things Egypt, this exhibit was created with a new design team, Mexico City-based Cocolab in collaboration with the Egyptian Council for Tourism and leading Egyptologists from United Exhibits Group, and the experience is an animated film that tells a foundational story to ancient Egyptian history and culture, the story of the Amduat – an important ancient Egyptian funerary text considered the oldest known illustrated story – it tells the tale of the Boy King’s passage into the afterlife as escorts the sun through the underworld each night. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time here.
National Ballet of Canada Free Outdoor Dance Performances at Harbourfront Centre: August 16-20. FREE outdoor performances, dance classes and interactive conversations will take over the Concert Stage. The National Ballet of Canada shares the stage with guest companies Holla Jazz, Rock Bottom Movement, Samantha Sutherland and Tanveer Alam on two programmes curated by Hope Muir, Joan and Jerry Lozinski Artistic Director and Robert Binet, Curator and Producer, CreativAction and Special Initiatives. Natasha Powell and Ethan Colangelo will also create CreativAction Micro-Commissions performed by National Ballet artists. General admission and first come first served, no tickets needed. Go early also for “show & tell” sessions where the performers will share their creative process. Full schedule here.
Gardiner Museum Free Weekends in the Summer: explore the world of ceramics and delight in some fun treasures — a favourite is the European (German) Monkey Orchestra that dates back to the 18th century. There are afternoons where the museum hosts Pottery on the Plaza where visitors of all ages are invited to experiment with clay outdoors. Take part in a playful and collaborative activity where you’ll mould a human or animal body part out of clay and attach it to another participant’s sculpture to form an imaginative hybrid creature.
Canadian National Exhibition: August 19 to September 5. The annual summer end tradition is back to in-person. A full day’s worth of activities to be had for all ages. From carnival rides and games to meeting with Canadian farmers and shopping for global goods in the International Pavillion. Take in a live entertainment like the SuperDogs! And try some really unique (Ketchup and Mustard ice cream, anyone?) foods. So much to see, do, and eat! Look up! There’s a new nightly DRONE show that will light up the sky! Don’t forget about the Air Show on the final weekend!
FanExpo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre: August 25-28. The largest Comics, Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming event in Canada. Four days of citywide events, family-friendly attractions and world-renowned celebrities including The Kids in the Hall, William Shatner, Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Levar Burton, several casts members from The Mandalorian, and many more. Dress in your favourite costumes. Full line up and tickets available online here.
Little Canada Maker Workshops: Designed specifically for ages 9 to 13 , these workshops will focus on the basic skills needed for miniature model making. Using a variety of materials and under the guidance of a Little Canada model maker, participants will create a themed scene to take home. Each workshop will start with a brief tour of Little Canada where various techniques will be pointed out.
Smorgasburg Toronto: 7 Queens Quay East. Runs every Saturday until September 10. Following the successful formula honed at its markets in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, Smorgasburg Toronto will feature more than 50 vendors from across the city who represent its culinary diversity and burgeoning food and arts scene. Over the last decade, Smorgasburg has become a launching pad for aspiring home cooks and budding chefs alike.
….AND LOOKING AHEAD!
The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience is making it’s way to Toronto this fall! After opening in Montreal, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, and Atlanta, this unique experience will make it’s debut in Toronto this October. The immersive experience will transport visitors straight into the Regency era and feel like you’re right in the popular Netflix series. Will you be the Queen’s diamond? You can join the waitlist to be be one of the first to reserve your spot. Link here for details.
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