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The top festivals in Toronto


The top festivals in Toronto

The biggest city in Canada, Toronto might also be the busiest. Dozens of festivals of all kinds fill the calendar year-round. No matter what kind of music, dance or film you're into, there's a big event with your name on it.


We've put together a non-exhaustive list featuring some of the top festivals in Toronto, so you can start booking your time off early.


Indie Music


NXNEExternal Link Title: Maybe you've heard of SXSW? Well, Toronto hosts its Canadian counterpart, NXNE, at a variety of venues throughout the city. The last NXNE featured acts like MSTRKRFT and The Joy Formidable. 


Canadian Music WeekExternal Link Title: An unreal 1,000 artists perform at more than 40 venues during Canadian Music Week, a hugely popular celebration of the country's best and brightest musicians, as well as film and comedy. Past acts include Tegan and Sara and the Sheepdogs.


Riot FestExternal Link Title: Punk, rock, metal and hip hop all share the limelight at Riot Fest. Music fans flock to Toronto's Downsview Park to enjoy acts like Weezer and the Wu-Tang Clan in a carnival setting. Keep an eye out for a lineup announcement for this year's festival, to be held in September.


Alternative, Roots and Hip-Hop Music


Field TripExternal Link Title: The National and Robyn headlined Field Trip 2016, part of a roster that also featured Santigold, Of Montreal and more. Held at Toronto's historic Fort York, Field Trip is not a festival to miss.


BestivalExternal Link Title: The Cure and Tame Impala headlined the last Bestival, in Toronto's Woodbine Park. The festival is known for its magical, eclectic stages, great costumes and party vibe.


WayHomeExternal Link Title: LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, The Killers and Major Lazer top an absolutely stocked lineup for the 2016 WayHome festival. Held in Oro-Medonte, Ontario, close to Barrie, you're going to draw a line through July 22-24 on your calendar.


OVO Fest: Drake's love for Toronto led to the creation of OVO fest, an annual event during which the rapper recruits local acts and industry superstars for two days of performances. In 2016, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa will join the rapper on stage on July 31st.


Toronto Urban Roots FestExternal Link Title: There's indie, there's roots, there's soul, there's folk, there's fun, there's games... there's just about everything. The Toronto Urban Roots Fest will return to the Historic Fort York Common from September 14-19 this year. Lineup TBA.




TD Toronto Jazz FestivalExternal Link Title: With three decades of great events to its name, this premiere festival has imprinted itself on the city with the help of renowned stars like Miles Davis and Diana Krall. More than 2,000 musicians come together for 400 performances that truly move the entire city.


Beaches International Jazz FestivalExternal Link Title: Rather than try and take down its jazz elder, the Beaches Festival takes a different approach, with a lineup featuring many musical styles (jazz, African, Caribbean, R&B) and other attractions, like visual art and a street festival component. This year's event will take place July 2-24.

Caribana - Credit:
Caribana - Credit:

World Music and Dance


Toronto Caribbean CarnivalExternal Link Title: Caribbean culture is so important to the City of Toronto, which is why so many people flock to the Toronto Caribbean Carnival. This three-week extravaganza is a high-energy spectacle, full of incredible reggae, soca, steel drum and calypso music, delicious Caribbean cuisine and never-ending dancing. And the costumes! The costumes on display at the Grand Parade and Carnival Ball are worth the visit all their own. Take in this year's Carnival from July 5-31.


Salsa in Toronto FestivalExternal Link Title: Latin American restaurants and businesses line the streets of St. Clair Street, creating a natural stage for the musicians and dancers that share their heritage. This festival, which takes place during the month of July, transcends its multiple stages and really takes over the streets. If you ever wanted to learn salsa, this is the place to be.


Classical Music


Toronto Summer Music FestivalExternal Link Title: If you love classical music, this event features many of the top orchestras and soloists in the country and beyond. Every year a theme guides the festival programming (this year's is Music in Great Britain), so you can get a sense of the acts and music coming your way from July 14-August 7.


21C Music FestivalExternal Link Title: The 21C Music Festival, hosted by the Royal Conservatory of Music, focuses in on the modern side of classical music. The event's seven concerts revolve around compositions from this century, and today's most innovative musicians.



VELD Music FestivalExternal Link Title: Toronto's Downsview Park will be flooded with big speakers and bigger EDM (electronic dance music) fans, when VELD Music Festival rolls into town on July 30-31.


Digital DreamsExternal Link Title: EDM giants gather in Toronto during the annual Digital Dreams Festival. This year's event, to be held from, July 2-3, will feature huge stars Armin van Buuren and Above & Beyond.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)
The Toronto International Film Festival - Credit:

Film, art and culture


The Toronto International Film FestivalExternal Link Title: Every year, some of the biggest celebrities in the world -- and tons of their fans -- flock to Ontario for the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF turns the entire city into a 10-day party during which you can view cutting-edge cinema, meet filmmakers and celebrities, or just enjoy the celebration with the entire community. TIFF will take place from September 8-18.


Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary FestivalExternal Link Title: Or Hot Docs, is North America's largest documentary film festival. Enjoy the best international documentaries of the day in Toronto's century-old Hot Docs Cinema and several other venues.


LuminatoExternal Link Title: The Luminato Festival "was born out of the cultural and creative energy of the city of Toronto and fosters that energy by turning theaters, parks and public spaces into homes for art. Luminato celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016 by temporarily transforming one of Toronto's most fascinating waterfront buildings, the decommissioned Hearn Generating Station, into a multi-arts hub for 17 days.


Toronto Pride Parade
Toronto Pride Parade



Inside OutExternal Link Title: For more than two and a half decades, Inside Out has celebrated the best in LGBT film from Canada and globally. The annual Toronto festival, the largest of its kind in the country, comprises screenings, panel discussions, talks with artists and directors, and just great parties throughout the month-long event.


Pride Toronto FestivalExternal Link Title: Food, fun and festivities mark the annual Pride Toronto Festival, rooted in the city's gay village. The festival closes out with the popular Pride Parade, a 35-year-old tradition during which people are invited to honor the LGBT community and dance in the streets.


Visit the Tourism Toronto website for more info on annual events.