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Our Biggest Arts Festival Ever: Luminato Arts Festival

Luminato is a cultural event extraordinaire that boasts world-class credentials and no end of ambition. The premier arts festival and soon-to-be international destination makes its debut this year with aspirations to rival the appeal of enduring successes like the Edinburgh International Festival and Sydney Festival. To that end, the lineup doesn’t hold anything back: each of the city’s major cultural institutions are involved and some of the most unique and celebrated artists in the world are here.

From June 1 to 10, there are more than a 100 events to choose from—many of them free—including world premieres of works by composer Philip Glass and Spamalot’s Eric Idle. “I challenge you not to find something of interest to you,” Luminato CEO Janice Price enthuses. “It’s got something for families, it’s got something for younger people, it’s got avant garde offerings, it’s got every kind of art form—How can you not want to participate?”

June 2 at Dusk
The festival kickoff includes a spectacular event we’ve been waiting nearly five years for: the architectural opening and dedication of the Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum. The 175,000-square-foot aluminum and glass-covered crystal structure gives the ROM an exciting new main entrance and lobby—the four-storey Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court—plus seven new galleries. Canada’s Governor General Michaëlle Jean officially opens the new wing; other luminaries scheduled to appear include environmentalist David Suzuki. A free 75-minute concert, A World of Possibilities, features singer Deborah Cox and Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster. Foster wrote and will conduct the musical Grand Finale. An added treat: the museum is open free to the public from sunset on Saturday June 2 until Sunday, June 3 at 6 p.m. Be sure to check out Japanese contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto‘s spectacular exhibition History of History. The installation was designed specifically for the new space.

June 2
Part of opening weekend celebrations, the Bloor-Yorkville district casts off its haute couture polish and returns to its Flower Power roots. The neighbourhood was a hippie hangout in the ’60s. Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young performed in area coffee houses. Outdoor concerts, ’60s-themed installations and archival exhibits conjure 1967’s Summer of Love. Free admission.

June 1 to 10
Don’t miss a beat of the festival. Hang out at the heart of all the activity. Luminato’s central hub is The Speigeltentntavern at Harbourfront Centre.

What to see: Inspired by the irreverrence of 1920s European cabarets, the tavern features everything from burlesque shows to performances by acrobats and aerialists. Shows are free during the day; evening performances are ticketed ($25).

The Distillery Historic District is another must-visit. The pedestrian-only site celebrates the city’s Italian, Portuguese and Spanish cultures through daily musical performances, art installations and interactive events.

What to see: The Young Centre for the Performing Arts presents Under Milk Wood (June 2 to 4), renowned Canadian actor Kenneth Welsh’s tour-de-force performance of Dylan Thomas’s beloved poetic work.

For more about Luminato, check out the following stories:

Top 5 Luminato Events You Don’t Want to Miss

10 More Luminato Events

Behind the Scnes With Luminato’s CEO

—Flannery Dean

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