Discover Canada’s creative side at the Luminato Festival in Toronto
A bustling city with plenty to see and do, Toronto is the perfect place for art lovers. Photo/Getty Images
Whether it’s paintings, plays, films, dances, or everything in between, Toronto’s Luminato Festival has all the creative bases covered.
Held annually for over a decade, the festival began as a way to promote Toronto as a vibrant place for visitors. These days, it has transformed into one of North America’s largest arts and culture events and has hosted over 15,000 artists from around the world. After a Covid-enforced break, it’s June 9-19 again this year, and it’s as much a celebration of the start of the Canadian summer as it is a nod to all things cool and artsy.
In the streets
As much of the festival takes place outdoors, there is often plenty to see in different corners of the city. This year’s lineup includes a large-scale, choreographed photo exhibit broadcast over buildings in Yonge-Dundas Square. Featuring crashing waves and immersive forest flyovers, the work examines the dangers of global pollution. Also on the square, “Luminato Live” includes a range of free concerts, stage talks and an eco-friendly art fair.
At the edge of the lake, curious passers-by can discover fascinating video installations and attend performances by the Canadian contemporary dance company Animals of Distinction.
There’s an interactive podcast adventure in the city’s Chinatown, while train travelers will be entertained by lively street theater at Union Station. At Woodbine Park, theatergoers can also catch a mystical play in the woods, and on the final weekend of the festival, food stalls and colorful parades will light up the summer night.
Concerts and cabarets
For those who prefer to head to a venue and make a night out of it, there is a wide array of talent on the city’s stages. Late Night Cabaret features 10 nights of live performances, while The Cave is a cabaret-style play about an animal’s take on human destruction of the planet, with songs in English and Cree.
Literature lovers are also well catered for, with masterclasses exploring a range of different genres and a conversation series featuring a range of Canadian authors.
Aside from the arts festival, there’s always plenty to do and see in bustling Toronto, known to locals as “The 6ix” because of the six merged areas that make up the city. It’s a great place to explore on foot, and each diverse neighborhood has its own culture and vibe.
Head to Old Town for historic architecture and the much-photographed Flatiron Building, similar to its New York counterpart. Dotted with shops and craft beer bars, Ossington Ave is a hipster hangout in Toronto’s West End, while foodies should also visit The Danforth for its range of restaurants and some of the best Greek food in town.
Vintage fans will love bustling Kensington Market and the eclectic Roncesvalles Village (aka “Roncy”) filled with charming cafes, second-hand bookstores and laid-back restaurants.
Art and design aficionados should head straight to the Royal Ontario Museum and Art Gallery of Ontario, as well as the wide range of smaller cultural hotspots like the Power Plant Gallery and the Aga Khan Museum. The Distillery District, with its cobbled streets and heritage buildings, is a hotspot for galleries and creatives, with a range of trendy restaurants for evening drinks.
If the view of the water calls you, head to The Beaches area to sunbathe, play volleyball, and swim in Lake Ontario.
For more information, visit luminatofestival.com and destinationtoronto.com