Category: Art

What to do in Toronto – July 2017

If you thought there was a lot of fun to be had in May & June, just wait for July. We are beginning to hit our summer stride.
We think there are two ways to experience Toronto events in the summer. Some will need planning, while others you can stumble upon while exploring the city. 

Your list of July events to plan for or stumble upon, are as follows: 

July 1 - Canada Day

The city will be erupting with celebrations for Canada's 150th birthday!
The below links will bring you to a breakdown of most everything that is happening around the city for that day. Be forewarned, there is a LOT to choose from! From food & drink to markets & festivals to sporting events & family fun and don't forget to end the night with fireworks!
1. Toronto.ca
2. ToDoCanada.ca

To break down firework timing:

✫Nathan Phillips Square 10:55pm (this will be an epic 4 day celebration starting June 30, every night ending in fireworks!)
✫CN Tower 10:30pm
✫Harbourfront Centre 10:30pm
✫Mel Lastman Square 10:55pm
✫Humber Bay Park West 10:55pm
✫Scarborough Civic Centre 10:55pm
✫Ashbridges Bay (The Beaches) 10:00pm
✫Centennial Park 10:00pm (part of Toronto Ribfest happening June 30 thru July 3)
✫Downsview Park @ dark

(If anyone is wondering what we will be doing -- we'll be going to the Canada Day Blue Jays game vs. the Boston Red Sox. Afterwards we will be wandering around Harbourfront/Redpath Waterfront Festival/Artisan Market. Followed by setting up somewhere with a good perspective of the CN Tower fireworks & Harbourfront Centre fireworks that will be happening in tandem @ 10:30pm. If we can squeeze it in during the morning hours, the Royal Ontario Museum has free admission on Canada Day. My feet are already tired and looking forward to resting on July 2.) 

Festivals & Events

1. July 1st thru 3 - Redpath Waterfront Festival - this FREE festival happens along the lakefront. You will finally be able to see this HUGE RUBBER DUCK!

2. July 5th thru 16th - Fringe Festival - Inspired by the worldwide fringe movement, Toronto started their's 28 years ago. These 12 days of Toronto theatre is Ontario's largest theatre festival. And ticket prices are lower than most other festivals in the city @ $12 a ticket!
3. July 7th thru 30th -The 29th annual Beaches Jazz Fest - A FREE 10 day music festival staple that takes over the Beach communities on the east side of Toronto. Full schedule of the events, bands and when to expect Queen St. East to be closed can be found in the orange link. 
4. July 8th and 9th - TD Salsa  in Toronto - Get your dancing shoes on for the 13th annual festival. It is one of the largest latino themed festivals in Canada. It happens during 3 weeks in July, but the big talk is when the festival takes over St. Clair Avenue West between Christie and Winona Drive on July 8th and 9th.  
5. July 11 thru the August long weekend -  Toronto Caribbean Festival (We still call it Caribana) - The official city of Toronto launch is July 11, but the Grande parade, King and Queen parade and OVO Fest won't be happening until NEXT month! Click on the orange link for a full run down of events. 

6. July 14 and 15 - 1st annual Budweiser County Fair - The spirit of country will be taking over King St. West! Think country carnival with BBQ, carnival eats & games, Coyote Ugly dancers and mechanical bull rides! 
 

7. July 15 and 16 - 45th annual Festival of India - This was originally scheduled to be a Centre Island event. As of right now, they are working with the City of Toronto to find a more suitable location. The parade will still be held on dry land July 15th @ 11am, starting at Bloor & Yonge and moving south towards Queens Quay. We will update you when we have more information. 
8. July 20 thru 23 - Burlesque Festival - The 10th annual Toronto Burlesque Festival takes over MOD Club and Revival for 4 days this month. If you are looking for a summer festival a little different, this could be your choice.

9. July 22 - Junction Night Market - this fun night time community food event supports a good cause. ALL of the proceeds go towards helping members of their community access fresh and healthy food through local programs. Indie 88 will be there spinning some tunes and handing out FREE high fives!
10. July 22 & 23 - Big on Bloor Festival of Arts and Culture - A city and community-building street festival that celebrates local arts, culture and community. If you live in the area or want to drive that day, remember Bloor West will be shut between Dufferin and Lansdowne. 
11. July 28 thru 30th - Toronto's Festival of Beer - This is the big one! All the beer will be there! The free music on Saturday will be Toronto's own Sloan will be the band on the Saturday and it is already sold out. (Method Man & Redman play Friday and Alan Doyle on Sunday.)
12. July 30th - Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market - We've hit the middle mark for Pedestrian Sundays now. If you haven't gone out to experience one yet, here's your chance! If you have made your way there already... do it again!
13. Live on the Patio - Roy Thomson Hall - Sit on a patio, listen to some music and admire the beautiful Roy Thomson Hall. This is yet another FREE music event that happens in Toronto during the summer. There are 7 dates to choose from in July with different musicians for each date. The line up can be found in the link. Doors open at 5pm and seating is limited. All you have to do is get there before the Bay Street Crowd does after work.
14. Harbourfront Centre - Free music, movies and events throughout the entire summer. Every Wednesdays are Free Flicks, Thursdays are Dancing on the Pier, Thursdays and Sundays there is Summer Music in the Garden and of course don't forget the Paddle boats on Natrel pond. (Who doesn't like city paddle boats!) Full schedule for the summer can be found in the link. (We're waiting for the Hot & Spicy Festival there in September.)

Unique Attractions & Events

July 14 thru 16 - Honda Indy - Insider Tip: the Friday is practice and qualifying races. And FREE!

July 14 thru 16 - Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition - Nathan Phillips Square becomes a juried art exhibition over these days in mid July. Go to browse, buy or do art tours with beer chats. More information in the orange link.

AGO:
July 6 -  First Thursday this month is called "Future Perfect"  celebrating the diversity of the Canadian experience.
+ Georgia O'Keefe ends this month. We've attended this exhibition and definitely recommend it. If you enjoy art, she's well worth the trip.

Remember ☝︎ if you attend First Thursday, entry into Georgia O'Keefe is included. If you are an AGO member, Georgia O'Keefe is FREE and there is a member's discount for First Thursday!

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada:
Friday Night Jazz on July 14 is Juliet Dinn

Casa Loma After Dark:
Soul in the City continues every Monday
Symphony in the Garden continues every Tuesday
+ the Escape Series continues

Movies Under the Stars 


We've listed all of the parks and rec. centres that are hosting one OR more movie nights in July. And the best part? Most are doing it for FREE! All you have to do is show up, bring your blanket to sit on and maybe some nibbles. Click the orange link above for more details on the movies that will be featured, dates and times. If you live nearby any of these parks or can make the trip, we highly suggest you checking it out!

Regent Park
Corktown Commons
CityPlace's Canoe Landing
Christie Pits
St. James Park
Trinity Bellwoods
Downsview Park
Harbourfront Centre

Food Markets & Food Tours

There are many regular area Farmer's Markets popping up all over the city.
Our select few are below: 

Artisan Market HTO Park every Saturday  
+ Trinity Bellwoods Farmer's Market every Tuesday
+ Adelaide Eats - You originally saw this group at Union Station 2 years ago. The've moved locations and give you great options with places like Tacos 101 and Chimney Stax to tempt your tastebuds
+ David Paecut Square's INDULGE (market/entertainment) every Thursday
+ Brookfield Place every Wednesday
+ Nathan Phillips Square Farmer's Market every Wednesday

We've also noticed Food Tours & Culinary Adventures are becoming more popular. There are many tour providers and we have chosen a selection (see below) from Savour Toronto and Culinary Adventure Co. They all require tickets. Ticket prices range from $50 - $150. 
Kensington Krawl  
Old Chinatown Food Tour
Best of the West Food Tour
Coffee & Pastry Food Tour
Tastes of Little Italy 
St. Lawrence & Old Town Culinary Adventure

Active

July 8 - Bubble Run - Get exercise and play in the bubbles! Jon and I came across a Bubble Run in Marseille, France. We didn't participate and we had no idea what we were witnessing until afterwards. All we knew is this: everyone looked like they were having so much FUN!

July 15 - Night Nation Run - A running music festival that takes you thru a 5k running course laced with lights, lasers and DJs spinning electronic music. This looks like it may be even more fun than the Bubble Run!



July 23 - Toronto Triathlon Festival - Voted the best Triathlon in Canada last year, this "festival" celebrates human endurance and tenacity. 

Concerts & Music Festivals

July 1 - Electric Island continues with July's installment @ Woodbine Beach
July 7 - Bud Light Dreams Festival @ Echo Beach
July 7 - Ed Sheeren @ Air Canada Centre
July 6 - Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull @ Air Canada Centre
July 8 - Violent Femmes @ Massey Hall
July 8 - Linkin Park @ Budweiser Stage
July 10 - Gorillaz @ Air Canada Centre
July 11 - Joan Jett and The Blackhearts & Boston @ Budweiser Stage
July 14 thru 16 - Ricky Gervais @ Massey Hall
July 15 - Iron Maiden @ Budweiser Stage
July 15 - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers @ Air Canada Centre
July 16 - Metallica @ Rogers Centre
July 18 - Take Off, Eh? @ Second City - This is a ONE NIGHT ONLY, ALL-STAR Benefit. Bob & Doug McKenzie and Jiminy Glick will be there! It's expensive, but click the link and you'll see why.
July 18 - Muse & 30 Seconds to Mars @Budweiser Stage
July 19 - Chicago & The Doobie Brothers @ Budweiser Stage
July 20 - Elvis Costello @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
July 25 - Kendrick Lamar @ Air Canada Centre
July 25 - Korn @ Budweiser Stage
July 26 - Blondie & Garbage @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts 
July 28 thru 30 - 3rd annual WayHome Music & Arts Festival @ Burl's Creek Event Grounds - look at that lineup! 😍

Major League Sports

Rugby: Toronto Wolfpack RLFC (Lamport Stadium)

July 1 vs. York City Knights RLFC
July 15 vs. Hemel Stags RLFC

Baseball: Toronto Blue Jays (Rogers Centre)

July 1 & 2 Boston Red Sox
July 6 thru 9 Houston Astros
July 24 thru 27 Oakland A's
July 28 thru 30 LAA

Soccer: Toronto FC (BMO Field)

July 22 vs. Colorado Rapids
July 30 vs. NYC FC

Football: Toronto Argonauts (BMO Field)

July 24 vs. Ottawa Roughriders

What to do in Toronto – June 2017

There is so much going on in the city in June, you are going to want to clone yourself. Jon and I are going to have a busy month, that's for sure!
We are going to break it into categories instead of calendar days this month. Like last month, the orange links will take you to the website for more information and don't forget to look out for J&C's choices!

Festivals & Markets

1. **J&C's choice** June 1 thru 25: PRIDE! Events happen the entire month of June in Toronto to celebrate Pride month. They kick it off at the AGO's First Thursday event (details later in this post) and end it on June 25 with the annual Pride parade. The Village neighbourhood is ground zero for most of the events. We were front row for the parade last year and what an incredible experience! Love, acceptance and inclusivity flooded our day. Also, the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black was represented with a float. As they passed us Jon yelled, "WE LOVE YOU!" at 'Dayanara' (actress Dascha Polanco). She yelled back, "I love you, too!" Look, I even have a blurry photo to prove it! WHATTTTTT!

We love you Dayanara!

2. June 2 thru 4 - Mac and Cheese festival @ Ontario Place. FREE admission - tickets are recommended and available online. Eat, drink and celebrate MACARONI AND CHEESE!
3. June 3&4 - Riverdale Art Walk A free 2 day exhibition in the Queen East neighbourhood connects local artists with the public. A perfect compliment to the Riversaide Eats & Beats festival (see below.)
4. June 3&4 - Riverside Eats & Beats 10 blocks of free neighbourhood fun on Queen East, east of Degrassi. Note that this is only a part day event, 1:00pm - 6:00pm on Saturday and 1:00pm - 4:00pm on Sunday. 

5. June 3 - Dundas West Fest All day Saturday, between Landsdowne and Roxton! Celebrate and share with this west side neighbourhood. 11:00am - 10:00pm
6. June 3 - Waterfront Artisan Market. If you wandered down along Queens Quay on weekends last summer, you may have noticed a food & craft market set up around HTO Park. It's back for 2017! All summer long on Saturdays you will find this market open from 11am - 8pm. If it's hot, you will need ice cream and the best ice cream there belongs to our friend Mel's Boreal Gelato. (Yes, we are bias. But try it, you won't be disappointed!)

7. June 9 thru 11 - BBQ Eats Festival @ Ontario Place. Looks like Ontario Place has found a new use this summer... Food Festivals! This time a massive BBQ competition will be happening, featuring ethnic BBQ flavours. It's free admission, but you still need a ticket to get in. Get your tickets HERE.  
8. June 10&11 - Foodalicious Food Truck Festival - Popular food trucks will be gathering in Downsview Park for a big food fest. Go hungry and bring the kids (there will be a middway and kids area!) $5 tickets can be purchased on the website. 
9. June 10 - Sessions Craft Beer Festival @ Yonge Dundas Square. Similar to Beer Fest, you a pay a price for a souvenir mug and tokens and you sample beers. Fun for the day includes Collaboration Nation where multiple breweries team up with local celebrities for a special brew and then YOU get to vote on your favourite. Ticket packages start at $40 and are available on the website.  
10. June 10 - Liberty Village Art Crawl - The 5th anniversary of this free neighbourhood art crawl.
11. **J&C's Choice** June 13&14 - The 5th annual Stop Night Market. An all you can eat, all you can drink 2-day fundraiser hosted by Stop Community Food Centre. This popular night market brings together creatives in culinary, design, performance and graphic arts to celebrate diversity, community and the power of food.  In the past it has been held in the Honest Ed's alleyway. This year they have moved venues to 181 Sterling Road in the Lansdowne and Bloor area. Tickets are $100. One ticket could provide healthy food for up to 3 families or 20 meals at the Stop Drop-in. They are still looking for volunteers, deadline coming up soon (May 29). 
12. June 14 thru 25 Luminato. Last year Luminato took over The Hearn and placed the world's largest disco ball there. There are a plethora of events and it looks like this year is shaping up to be even better.  The kick-off event will be held at David Pecaut Square and is called Tributaries. Tributaries pays tribute to the immeasurable power, passion, beauty and resistance of Indigenous women. Different shows, community events, entertainment will be spread out over 12 days. The full schedule can be found HERE

Shiny Disco Balls

13. June 15 thru 18 - Taste of Toronto. Dubbed a foodie wonderland, Taste of Toronto is 4 days of food, drink and summer fun times. You will recognize the names of the chefs and restaurants who are in attendance. You will want to try samples from every place you can. And then your stomach will thank you. (Your doctor or personal trainer, maybe not so much.) General admission tickets start at $17. For more information on tickets, click HERE.
14. June 16 thru 18 - TacoFest is for those who enjoy a good taco. (*cough* Jon) Like so many other food festivals, TacoFest will be held at Ontario Place. Admission tickets are $9.95 but you do need to choose an entry time. You can do that HERE
15. June 16 thru 18 - Tastes of Little Italy - Mama Mia! This long running neighbourhood festival happens right thru the heart of Little Italy along College Street. It begins on Friday night and ends Sunday night. And this year they are giving away a trip for 2 to (big) Italy! (*Note that Saturday the festival will be open until 1:00am.) Last year we ventured out just for a veal parmigiana sandwich and it was worth it, it tasted just like Nonna's! Oh and we happened to eat a pizza too. Said pizza below.

16. June 16 thru 18 - Beaches BBQ & Brews is The Beaches neighbourhood's Rib Fest. Woodbine Beach is where it will all go down and there will be something for the whole family. Free admission, live music, midway, fully licensed and BBQ ribs!
17. June 16&17 - Wine & Spirit Festival @ Sugar Beach. The 9th annual Wine & Spirit festival is returning to Sugar Beach this year. This is a pay as you go event. $25 admission and then you pay for vouchers (cash only) to sample the wine, spirit and selection of foods. Your admission is an experience that includes entertainment by local musicians who will be performing all weekend as well as fun free mixology classes to take part in!
18. June 22 - Movies in St. James Park. This is a neighbourhood secret in Old Town. Once a month throughout the summer, they screen movies in the park! This year it kicks off in conjunction with Pride month. They are screening the 2014 movie, Pride @ 9pm and a live drag show @ 8pm will accompany the movie. 

19. **J&C's Choice** June 23 thru July 2 - TD Toronto Jazz Festival. This annual festival has a lot to be excited for this summer. It will be moving to Yorkville in part to coincide with the re-opening of The Concert Hall (Masonic Temple) as a music venue. Aaron Neville will be headlining the OLG Yorkville Ave. stage for a FREE concert on Saturday June 24. Randy Bachman will be kicking off the festival at The Concert Hall on Friday June 23. And there will be a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Aretha Franklin at the Sony Centre on Canada Day. Full schedule here
20. June 24 - Junction Summer Solstice. No details have been released yet, but we'll keep you updated. *Update* Noon - midnight. Stages & market places will be strewn across Dundas Street West, between Keelse Street & Quebec Ave. Click the link for more details. 
21. June 25 - Kensington Pedestrian Sunday The second installment of the summer for our favourite neighbourhood festival. 

Unique Attractions 

Casa Loma 
June 4 - Italian National Day. Seeing as though I am of Italian heritage, it makes sense that we highlight this event. The castle will be transformed into an Italian Piazza complete with entertainment, art, a kid zone and a culinary feast. You must register for this event to attend. 

June 19, 26 - Mondays will bring back Soul in the City to Casa Loma. Dine in the gardens and listen to the soulful sounds of Sean Jones and his 7-piece band under the stars. General Admission is $25.
June 6, 12, 20, 27: Tuesdays are for Symphony in the Gardens. The Toronto Concert Orchestra will fill the Glass Pavillion with beautiful sounds all summer long. The concert schedule looks incredible, kicking off in Great Gatsby style. General admission is $25 per show and there are also seasons passes available. All 13 shows were on Groupon @ $18. They are currently sold out, but keeping checking back. They sometimes will release a new batch of tickets

AGO
June 1 - First Thursday for June is The Official Pride Month Launch Party. This visionary night is being created by the collective Blackness Yes. It will be everything you would normally expect from a First Thursday and more. New York based hip hop artist Junglepussy will be performing at 10pm in Walker's Court. All information on the event including tickets, can be found HERE

ROM
There is a busy Friday Night Live schedule with 5 Friday's in June!

June 2 - DinoNite. Everything dinosaurs lights up this night! Palaeontologist Dr. Victoria Arbour will be on hand as the ROM's newest dino is introduced out of the vaults.  
June 9 - Love. PRISM Festival will be represented and Carole Pope will perform. Yes the same Carole Pope who sings High School Confidential. 

June 16 - Indigenous Now. In honour of Aboriginal Heritage Month. 
June 23 - Colour ROM Proud. Continuing with Pride month celebrations. 
June 30 - The final Friday Night Live of the season - O Canada! Let's celebrate Canada's 150th birthday in style.

Ripley's Aquarium 
Friday Night Jazz

June 9 - The soothing sounds of Melodious Vibes is this month's jazz event at the Aquarium. 

Yonge Dundas Square - "Lunchtime Live!"
From 12:30pm - 1:30pm on specific dates, it gets a little more lively at Yonge Dundas Square! If you work in the area or find yourself wandering through, check it out. 

June 5 - Nhapitapi and Classic Roots
June 12 - Vanessa Lu, Dynesti Williams & Charmie

Active

June 4 - 27th annual Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart. Raise money and ride to help Canadians live longer lives. It's an exciting opportunity to ride on the DVP and Gardiner Expressway car-less as well!
June 11 - Divas Half Marathon. 5k or half marathon. You've seen these runners, dressed in pink tutus and wearing tiaras racing around your city. Originally scheduled to take place on Centre Island, they are awaiting their change of venue. We'll keep you updated.

June 17 - Toronto Waterfront 10k. Part of the Canada Running Series, this 10k runs most of it's race along Lakeshore, ending at the CNE. There are prizes and awards for the top finishers!

Concerts & Music Festivals 

We tried to limit the list of concerts & keep it in Toronto. There are so many great shows happening all around the GTA and Ontario, not only Toronto ( for example, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Billy Talent will be in Hamilton this month and ZZ Top will be at Casino Rama, whaaaatttt!),  but we're aiming for a short (ish) list. 
You can find tickets for most events on official sellers Ticketmaster.ca or LiveNation. When in doubt, we like to use StubHub for re-sale. For smaller shows if you want to avoid ridiculous amount of service charges, pop into Rotate This @ 186 Ossington. But remember, they are cash only, so go prepared. 

June 2 - Franz Ferdinand @ Danforth Music Hall
June 2 - Toronto band Goodnight, Sunrise are hosting their 6th birthday @ Adelaide Hall
June 3&4 - Field Trip Music Festival @ Fort York 

June 6 - The Specials @ Danforth Music Hall
June 7 - Neil Diamond's 50th Anniversary Tour @ Air Canada Centre
June 13 - Don Henly @ Budweiser Stage 
June 16 - Carl Cox @ Rebel
June 16 thru 25 - NXNE rolls into Toronto. You'll find events all around the city. June 23-25 Peaches opens NXNE at the Phoenix and they will close it all out with a 3-day music festival in the PortLands.

June 17 - John Legend @ Budweiser Stage
June 18 - Alexis on Fire @ Danforth Music Hall *All Ages Event*
June 19 - Hall & Oates/Tears for Fears @ Air Canada Centre 
June 20 - New Kids on the Block/Boyz II Men/Paula Abdul @ Air Canada Centre (Jon loves Joey McIntyre) 
June 20 - Steve Miller/Peter Frampton @ Budweiser Stage
June 23 - U2 @ Rogers Centre (I have seen them at the Rogers Centre with the dome open, what an unbelievable experience. Let's hope for a repeat!)
June 24 - Be Yourself with Danny Tenaglia @ Sunnyside Pavilion
June 25 - Prism Festival: Revival @ Rebel 
June 27 - Nickelback (Canada's favourite band) @ Budweiser Stage
June 29 - Third Eyed Blind/Silversun Pickups @ Echo Beach

Sporting Events

Toronto FC (MLS Soccer) @ BMO Field

June 17 vs. DC United
June 23 vs. New England Revolutions

Toronto Argonauts (CFL Football) @ BMO Field

June 8 vs. Montreal (preseason game)
June 25  vs. Hamilton Tigercats
June 30 vs. BC Lions

Toronto Blue Jays (MLB Baseball) @ Rogers Centre 

June 1-4 vs New York Yankees (we'll be taking my mom to her first baseball game at the dome, EVER!)
June 13-14 vs. Tampa Bay Rays
June 16-18 vs. Chicago White Sox
June 27-29 vs. Baltimore Orioles
June 30 vs. Boston Red Sox

Miscellaneous Events

June 7  - TIFF's 6th edition of Food on Film continues. Chefs, food experts and film lovers come together for culinary cinema and thoughtful conversation. This month will be with internationally known chef, Susur Lee at the screening of Ang Lee's  Eat Drink Man Woman. Local bites provided by St. Lawrence Market. Yum.

**J&C's choice** June 24&25 - Step back in time to the 1920s and enjoy the Great Gatsby Garden Party @ Spadina Museum, This annual event is a 2 day, daytime extravaganza filled with music, food, croquet (yes I said croquet) and a costume contest too! $10 admission, tickets online only.

**J&C's choice** June 29 thru September 3 - Shakespeare in the Park begins @ High Park. Admission is free, you may pay what you can in donations. What we learned last year is that if you make a donation of $25 or more beforehand, they will reserve you a spot in the amphitheatre. You are sitting on the concrete amphitheatre seats, so bring something comfortable to sit on. There are pillow seats, food and drink for purchase. This year the choices will be King Lear and 12th Night.

**J&C's choice** June 30 - Canada Day celebrations kick off at Harbourfront Centre!

Always remember that if you don't want to take part in any of these events, many will always be looking for volunteers!
(Blog TO re-iterates our thoughts with a list of places that are still looking for volunteers, HERE.)

Captivated by The Royal Ontario Museum

We continue on our CityPASS adventure series, bringing you the Royal Ontario Museum (otherwise known as, "The ROM".)

The Royal Ontario Museum is not one to be missed and you literally cannot miss it. If you can't remember if you have seen the building before or not, you most likely haven't. The Daniel Libeskind architecture and the polarizing facade known as the Michael Lee-Chin crystal, has an undeniable unique identity that could best be described as unforgettable. Those who know it generally love it... or hate it. Jon and I personally love that such a provocative and innovative building exists in our city and is now synonymous with Toronto architecture. Makes for great photo opportunities too! 

Enough about the outside, let's get back to the BIG, beautiful INSIDE of the building. (And by big, we mean biggest museum in Canada and 5th largest in North America!)

While we were visiting the ROM we learned that the experience is part art, part culture and part natural history. Oh, and part fun! (I think we have found quite the balance of this entertainment AND education thing as we've been wandering around our city.) 

Like our previous CityPASS installment the Ripley's Aquarium, the ROM offers so much more than meets the eye. For example, they host ROM sleepovers for the little kids and Friday Night Live for after-hours fun with the big kids (a.k.a. adults). Unlike Ripley's Aquarium though, the ROM may take multiple visits to be able to fully experience everything that it has to offer. There is just too much to see and do and feel and interact with. 

Trying to think of how to sum up the museum and all of the fun you can have while exploring this attraction, I think may be best left to our video below:

There you have it - The Royal Ontario Museum. (It's really not just for kid's school field trips!)

Toronto’s Top 5 Attractions and CityPASS

If you are reading this, I probably don't have to remind you --> WE LOVE TORONTO! We love Toronto in the day and in the night, in the hot and in the cold, in the good and in the bad. It's our favourite city in the world. 

Although Toronto flourishes in the summer, you aren't "out in the cold" in the winter. I grew up in Toronto surrounded by the idea that you were supposed to hibernate in the winter. In adulthood both Jon and I disagree with this, fully and completely. 

So far on our website we've covered some of the outdoor fun you can take advantage of in the city during the winter months, but for those of you who really do prefer to stay indoors, there is so much for you to see and do too!

Enter CityPASS - A pass that allows you to see 5 of Toronto's top attractions, for 42% off the regular admission price. I know that sounds like there's a catch, but there really isn't. You buy it, you use it and then brag about how much fun you had!

Attractions included (site links in orange):

CN Tower
Casa Loma
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Royal Ontario Museum
Ontario Science Centre (OR) The Toronto Zoo

Regular admission price: $126 + tax
CityPASS: $72 + tax 
CityPASS Children: $46 + tax
(please don't make me do the math tax, just add our ridiculous HST of 13%)

Even if you don't visit all 5 attractions, you can still be saving money. Wait there's more - once you have your CityPASS booklet, you skip most lines for entry! And let's not forget that you get to visit 5 of the top attractions in the city! 

You have 9 days to use the CityPASS.
(We took all 9 days to use it. We probably could have used it even quicker but we didn't in order to avoid crowds over the long weekend. Although 9 days seems like a long time, it goes by quickly. Especially if you will be using CityPASS with your children, so please be prepared. *Note* You will need a full day for almost all of the attractions.) 

If you are from Toronto, you may be thinking, 'Oh I've been there on a school trip in elementary school, I don't need to go again.' If I may be so bold as to say - YES, YOU DO. I have been to all of these attractions dozens of times in my lifetime. I have enjoyed them every single time and exhibits are always changing too, so there is always something new and exciting to check out. Jon and I had SO MUCH fun at all of the attractions. We learned a lot - about history, about science, about Toronto. Educational AND entertaining!

This was Jon's first trip to the Science Centre and he said this was his favourite stop in our adventures. As for me, Team CN Tower. Even though I used to work at the CN Tower, I never ever get sick of the views. I mean, #views.

We've put together a video highlight reel of sorts, of all 5 attractions. Either to sell you on the idea of CityPass or just entertain you with our charm.

You can find it here. Right below this writing.
See it? Click play and enjoy!

If you are planning a visit to Toronto or you already live here, we at J & C Toronto can now weigh in with our opinion.
JUST DO IT!

(If anyone has any specific questions about the attractions, how to get there, what's included in each place, etc... please let us know, we're here to help!)

Toronto Light Festival – Distillery District

We really don't like hibernating in the winter. What we are learning coming into our second winter at home is: you really don't have to.
All of the incredible activities that happen around the city, even in the winter, PROVE - we're a city not afraid of the cold! 
(Okay, I'm afraid of the cold. And that's what warm winter jackets & boots are for, people like me who are afraid of the cold.)

This time we bring you to a unique event in the city that it is so wonderful that we have left the house willingly THREE times to enjoy it.
It's called the Toronto Light Festival. And it's happening right now in the Distillery District. It began on January 27 and it will be running until March 12.
Every night 5pm until 11pm the lights turn on and magically illuminate the spaces that are the Distillery District. 

Words I would use to describe this festival: entrancing, imaginative, magnetic, mesmerizing. (If you go check it out, let us know if I've missed any words.) 

The Toronto Light Festival (website link HERE) is coming to you from the team behind the Christmas Market in the Distillery District, so they are well versed on how to make the space spectacular. They said it best when they described it like this: 

1 Big Idea.
45 Days. 13 acres. 44 buildings.
1000s of lights.
$0 to attend.

Did you see that, ZERO dollars to attend!

Watch our video and then get out there and enjoy winter in the city!

Honest Ed’s Final Bow

If you live or have lived in Toronto, you likely know of the popular discount department store called "Honest Ed's". You know the one... at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst, with all the saloon style marquee lights. The one that you go to for good deals on fabric, furniture, your dishwashing detergent. It's only been there for uhhhh, 68 YEARS!

As of December 31 this year, the chapter will end. Honest Ed's, an iconic landmark in Toronto, will be closing it's doors for good. But not before we went for one last jaunt around the place. And by jaunt, I mean JAUNT. We walked around the outside of the building a bunch of times (for our Fit Bit steps and Jon wanted to see how long it would take me to freeze in the +5C temperatures.) Then we walked around the inside of the of the massive two-block building a bunch of times. We wanted to discover Honest Ed Mirvish and his legacy one last time (and I needed to warm up). It was fun. And we bought a sign.

We documented said fun here (cue the video):  

In all of our fun writing and filming for this blog, we also learned quite a bit about the late great Ed Mirvish and how his era began. 

We learned that he lived and breathed his business until he passed away in 2007, at age 92. We learned that he cared about his community and his city, like it was an extension of his family. We learned that he had once said that he wanted his ashes to be put into an hourglass so that an employee could sit on a throne in the middle of the store and turn him. You know, so that people could see that even after he died he was still working in the store. 

Honest Ed was a character, like a dad, Toronto's dad. His vision seemed parental. He wanted to take care of us in the city and create an inclusive environment for all. Like when the city of Toronto reneged on permission for Ed to create a parking lot and he decided to build Mirvish Village instead. [Mirvish Village: an area of homes, shops and studios. Affordable studios for artists to create. Dare I say, a safe space?]

He thought outside the box and was a master at free publicity. He held 72 hours dance marathons at the store to defy Toronto's closing hour laws. He had a Noah's Arc Sale with live animals. He sold Robert Goulet as a dream date for 0.79¢. He hired picketers to picket his own restaurants on King Street. He was a character of the best kind. 

Before we say our final goodbyes and the building is being replaced with a "reimagined Mirvish Village",  there will be one more event. Maybe not so much of an event as a 'public experience'. It's called, Toronto for Everyone.  It will be a three-day community festival running Feb. 23-26, 2017. (For more information on this event, click HERE!)

Maybe saying goodbye isn't a bad thing. Maybe it's time for a change? Maybe he would be happy that we are evolving as a city. Either way, his spirit will live on and he will never be forgotten. 

“None of us own anything,” Ed once said. “We’re only caretakers. I have two million bosses who keep me straight. If I don’t satisfy the people of Toronto, I’m in trouble.”

From Sunset to Sunrise: Nuit Blanche 2016

Nuit Blanche
/nwē ˈbläNSH,ˌnwē ˈblän(t)SH/

noun

a sleepless night.

One night, from sunset to sunrise, a city is transformed by artists.

The first weekend of October, Jon and I woke up with the birds at 5:30am. This was the day of our second real estate exam. We had to be out the door for 7am to make it to our exam. Needless to say, it was a tiring day. By the time we arrived home later that afternoon, we were both looking for excuses to stay home and not leave the house for Nuit Blanche that night. We were soooooo tired.

There was an 80% chance of rain and we were both (not so) secretly hoping it would rain. Our first year home full time and our first Nuit Blanche together. That sentence right there was our motivation to get off our lazy butts. It was our first Nuit Blanche home! We HAD to go.

We found the energy and pushed ourselves out the door (without an umbrella, stating that rain would be a sign to come home.) We were so happy that we did! The rain stayed away for the entire night, with temperatures that felt more like a mild summer evening than the early weeks of fall. It was almost too perfect. We were off to experience 90 different projects strewn throughout the city, by 300 artists. Our city was illuminating.

We began our Nuit Blanche journey walking to Union Station, worked our way up Bay Street to Nathan Phillips Square, then on to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and down John Street. Just a 4 km loop around the main downtown core.

As we walked down our street, we noticed that the CN Tower looked more like a guiding spaceship than our usual landmark. Maybe just a weeeee bit creepy, but these low hanging clouds and humidity in the air seem to only add to our experience of the night.

 

We had a map of all of the art, but Toronto was organized with signage everywhere across the city directing us where to go. Great job Toronto!
---->   <----  

 

First stop - Union Station. Here we found 3 installations and the crowds were just beginning to build.

On to the Design Exchange where we easily walked into the building without any line up.  We headed straight to Vertigo Sea, a video installation by John Akomfrah. This multi-screened video installation had both Jon and I completely under it’s spell. We were mesmerized by Vertigo Sea, the beautiful and haunting visual story of the “sublime sea”. We were so taken with this installation that when we returned home later that night, we searched online to see if there was somewhere we could view it again. Fortunately we found a small portion of it online. Click here to view (and I highly suggest you do!)

After watching much of this film, we joined the small line up to head into the second art installation inside the Design Exchange. Although we were close to the front of the line for the elevator, we were told that it may be a long wait since the room could only hold 30 at a time. We spent about... mmmmm... 10 seconds deciding on whether we should wait and we decided to come back later. When we exited the Design Exchange building, there was a MASSIVE and growing line up just to get into the building! It became clear to us that we may have missed out on that second art installation and there would be no going back at the end. It also became clear to us that the threat of rain was not scaring away the crowds! 

As we wandered up the (now pedestrian only) Bay Street in the Financial District, we encountered many different installations. There were some inside the buildings and some out on the street. We stopped only momentarily at each one knowing there were a few must sees that we wanted to get to before we lost steam.

(*Note* Click on any photo to enlarge. Most words that are orange in colour contain information links.)


We took a small detour down Temperance Street to Cloud Gardens and Robert Montgomery's: Beauty Vs. The World

Robert Montgomery: Beauty Vs. The World

Robert Montgomery: Beauty Vs. The World

Robert Montgomery: Beauty Vs. The World

Robert Montgomery: Beauty Vs. The World

We then headed for the Eaton Centre to feast our eyes on Literature vs. Traffic by Luzinterrupts and Hand-Held by David Rokeby in the Church of the Holy Trinity. By the time we had arrived, they had relocated Literature vs. Traffic to somewhere that we never found. And the line up to get into the Church looked like this (no thanks).  --->

Oblivion

Oblivion

Nathan Phillips Square was next and this was the absolute highlight of the night for me. We didn’t experience enough of the art that night, but at least we were able to take in all that was ‘Oblivion’.

Oblivion was broken into 3 parts. The first we came upon was Pneuma by Floria Sigismondi. You might know Floria from her video direction career (Christina Aguilera, The White Stripes, Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Katy Perry) or her feature films (she wrote the screenplay and directed The Runaways starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart). I was so excited when I realized she was the artist behind Pneuma because I had met Floria in 1993 at the Ontario College of Art (OCAD)! My grade 13 class had taken a field trip to different Colleges and Universities in the city to explore our school options. Floria was one of the students sharing her Photography experiences at OCAD and I was there. The then yet to be famous Floria was incredibly appealing to me and I immediately had felt inspired by her. She was of Italian decent like I was, she was into Photography like I wanted to be, she had an artistic darkness about her that I felt drawn to. I think you could say that I had a lady crush. Getting to the point - Pneuma at Nuit Blanche was amazing. I posted a photo on Instagram telling Nuit Blanchers not to miss it. I wasn’t just saying this as a bias fan. Dark and spellbinding video was projected into the fountain of water in the reflecting pool at Nathan Philips Square. It was set to beautiful and haunting music that only added to the experience. If you missed it, there are many videos on ---> YouTube.

Floria Sigismondi: Pneuma

Floria Sigismondi: Pneuma

Floria Sigismondi: Pneuma

Floria Sigismondi: Pneuma

You couldn’t ignore what was right beside this fanciful fountain. Your peripheral vision guided you to a big white globe that read, #TheSunWillComeOutTO. We didn’t realize at the time that this meant we would be observing an artistic death of the sun. Death of the Sun was the name of this installation. It was created by Torontonian, Director X (who you may know as the director of Drake’s ever so popular music video, ‘Hotline Bling’.) 

 

Director X: Death of the Sun

Director X: Death of the Sun

See our (quick) time lapse video of the Death of the Sun below:

The third part of Oblivion was inside City Hall and it was a kinetic sculpture called Ocean by Philip Beesley. One look at the line up that wrapped around the building and we knew we would have to come back another day to experience the Ocean. Although it was on my list of things I wanted to see at Nuit Blanche, Oblivion was running for more than a week after Nuit Blanche finished. We didn't feel the need to stand in line because of this. PHEW!

Although not as spectacular as photos that were taken the night of Nuit Blanche, here is our photo of Ocean:

Philip Beesley: Ocean

Philip Beesley: Ocean

We were beginning to tire (and feel a little cranky) but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. I still wanted to at least try to see what was going on at the AGO. I’ll tell you what was going on… a miracle! NO LINE UP! We realized when we walked inside the AGO that it was open in it’s entirety! This was done so that the public could also take advantage of free admission on this night. (We weren’t too excited about that, since we are fancy pants and have an AGO yearly membership.)

We did however watch the performance art happening in Walker Court. Artist Rebecca Belmore was painting New Project in what looked like clay, on the floor.

Rebecca Belmore: New Project

Rebecca Belmore: New Project


She is known for her political and social activism as well as her art and although to the eye it appeared to only be a quiet woman painting ordinary words on the floor, it felt like so much more. There was a strange sombre feeling in the room and we walked away feeling as though there were more questions to be asked.

Leaving the AGO we couldn’t believe the LINE UP to get in now! No rain AND we had made it in moments before the crowd!! Score! (<-- do people say that still?)

At this point we made a decision and began our journey home.

 

 

This is a guy who believes in safety first while riding your bike. -->

Arturo Duclos: Utopia's Ghosts

Arturo Duclos: Utopia's Ghosts

Heading down McCaul Street we came across another line up to get into OCAD, so we passed. Outside of the building was a mural called The Merging by Nicola Verlato. We only walked by, not stopping for any length of time. Home was our mission now. We stopped to look at Utopia’s Ghosts by Arturo Duclos. This was a collection of images of the world’s fallen flags. I took this photo upside down because I believe my brain was feeling upside down at the time. Or some may say I had "bed on the brain."

 

We started to hit thicker and thicker crowds as we walked through Queen Street and King Street’s Entertainment district. Both Jon and I began to feel impatient with the crowds. We unfortunately only glanced at most of the art on John Street because of this. We turned on to King Street with all intentions of walking in the underground PATH to avoid the crowds, but decided to take our last few photos outside, especially since the mild temperatures were continuing to work with us. 

Although we had only experienced a small portion of the art and installations that we were hoping to see, we had to admit that we finally hit our wall. 10:30pm felt like our bed was bellowing to us to come lay in it. We had really wanted to go to Kensington Market and the Bata Shoe Museum and the Waterfront and experience more of what we were now seeing on social media. There seem to be so many exceptional installations and works that we didn’t even know about when we first began this journey. We knew we had missed out on additional spectacular art. We kept wondering if maybe we should have planned better and chose a different date to write our exam. That hindsight... always 20-20.

To sum up our night: 

Our city had so much wonder in store for those of us who were out and about. There was a feeling of community. Smiling and laughing crowds enjoying their night. Dazzling art for your eyes and ears. And line ups, so many line ups.

For those of you who have never experienced Nuit Blanche, we highly recommend you do it. As one of the taglines said, you can sleep Sunday! It will wow you in so many ways. Some installations were more thought provoking than others and some were more visually stunning. One of the things that had surprised me the most was the attendance. In general, I have so much excitement realizing the support and love that our great city receives and Nuit Blanche highlighted that for me. Young, old, families, couples, every race, religion you name it… people were wandering the streets sharing this experience of (artistic) inclusion. Other than the graffiti on our beloved Toronto sign, there were seemingly no major issues. I love that so many people constantly come out to experience all that our city has to offer. 

(Side note: days later we saw a young Toronto worker scrubbing the graffiti off of our Toronto sign. I had said to Jon, “that is such a thankless job, but I’m so thankful he exists. I hope people tell him.” We were quite far from the worker and without a thought, Jon walked over to the young man and thanked him for helping to keep our city clean. The young man thanked us for thanking him, as you do.)

I wish we had better photos of all of these wonderful artistic installations to share. On one hand I’m glad we experienced it and weren’t focused on taking photos. On the other hand, I wish we had better photos to show all of our wondrous readers how incredible the night really was.

After the wonderful night that was Nuit Blanche, we returned to Oblivion at Nathan Phillip’s Square three more times. Oblivion was showing for 10 days in total. In my opinion, it was magical and deserved multiple visits. Below are a few of the photos that we took in those days following. 


This gentleman above knew there were people taking photos of the fountain and the art that was a part of the fountain. 
He was being inconspicuously conspicuous and allowing us all to photograph him and his bicycle as well. 

DEATH

OF THE

SUN

Thank you for joining us on our journey!
For more information on Toronto's Nuit Blanche 2016, the art & the artists and the breakdown of sponsorship & curating, click HERE.

P.S. We aced our exam!