• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom

centennial park

Weekend Roundup: Canada Day Edition

Our national pride soars on Canada Day (photo by Will Spaetzle)

We’re all-Canadian for this edition of the roundup, as Canada’s 144th birthday is celebrated throughout the city (and nation-wide). On Friday, July 1, check out these fun-for-the-whole-family events and activities.

> Get up early and head north to Downsview Park for a special Canada Day breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. If you’re lucky enough to have tickets, you’ll be certain to return in the afternoon for a much-anticipated concert by the Tragically Hip, with special guests Broken Social Scene, Buck 65 and others.

> Harbourfront Centre is always busy on summer weekends, and this one is no exception, with Canada Day festivities—everything from a strawberry “culinary marathon” to a performance by Esthero—happening all day long.

> A favourite long weekend event, the annual Toronto Ribfest takes over Centennial Park. Live music and kid-friendly attractions keep the whole family entertained, but the real draw, of course, are the meaty barbecue offerings from some of North America’s best “ribbers.”

> Head to Yonge-Dundas Square for something a little different—the downtown venue hosts the fifth annual Multicultural Canada Day Celebration, presented by the Community Folk Art Council of Toronto. Starting at noon, this spirited party features music, dancing and more from a variety of cultures. Be sure to be hanging around at 7 p.m., when the special Bollywood dance party kicks off.

> And, of course, Canada Day wouldn’t be complete without a colourful fireworks display. The city’s biggest show takes place over Lake Ontario’s shore at Ontario Place, where free grounds admission makes finding an ideal viewing spot even easier this year. There are also crowd-pleasing fireworks displays occurring to the east (at Ashbridges Bay), the west (at Centennial Park), the north (at Mel Lastman Square) and even further north (at Canada’s Wonderland).

If you have any energy remaining, the rest of the weekend provides ample opportunity for entertainment, too!

> The TD Toronto Jazz Festival continues through to the end of the weekend, with headline performances by the likes of The Roots (on Friday night), Bootsy Collins (Saturday) and vocal powerhouse Nikki Yanofsky (Sunday)

> A distinctive culinary event comes to the Distillery Historic District on Saturday—Food Truck Eats gathers mobile fare purveyors from Toronto and elsewhere in southern Ontario, all offering samples of street fare such as tacos, poutine, smoked meat and more.

> One of Toronto’s biggest parties, the world-famous Pride Parade, marches down Church Street on Sunday afternoon, in a vibrant celebration of diversity and acceptance.

Weekend Roundup, July 2 to 4

We hope you have some energy leftover following the big Canada Day bash, because the city is flush with exciting activities all weekend long.

Friday: Cirque du Soleil inspires awe (photo by Domenique Lemieux)

Friday, July 2
The impossible is achieved before the naked eye in Cirque de Soleil’s Alegría, yet another spellbinding performance by the world-famous troupe. This spectacle derives its name from the Spanish word for jubilation, a feeling sure to be evoked by its gravity-defying acrobatics, graceful contortionists and more.

Immerse yourself in the theatrical arts at the Toronto Fringe Festival, which presents 150-plus independent theatrical productions—musicals, dramas, single-person shows and much more.

Dig into some juicy beef and pork at the Toronto Ribfest. The popular event at Centennial Park also features live entertainment, plus vendors for those who may be immune to the allure of a juicy rack of ribs.

Saturday: Catch a Cyndi Lauper concert

Saturday, July 3
Lords and ladies are welcome to attend Casa Loma’s Renaissance Festival. Take a trip back to medieval times:  warhorses parade in the stables, warriors patrol a Viking encampment, and minstrels stroll by as you explore the castle. Don’t be surprised to see soldiers burst into spontaneous duels!

Gather at Yonge-Dundas Square this evening for a free concert by Chaka Khan, Macy Gray and Quebec-based trio Lost Fingers, courtesy of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

“Girls just wanna have fun”—and you probably do, too, so head over to Queen’s Park, where Cyndi Lauper—along with The Clicks and Dragonette—performs live as part of this week’s Pride festival. The pop icon also marks the release of her latest album, Memphis Blues, with a CD signing at the Manulife Centre’s Indigo store.

Sunday: The Queen comes to town (photo by Steve Punter)

Sunday, July 4

Hear ye, hear ye! Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, grace Toronto with a royal visit today. The monarchs will greet well-wishers following the 11 a.m. service at St. James Cathedral, and then preside over the 151st running of the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack.

Show your (rainbow) stripes at the 30th annual Pride Parade takes off from Church and Bloor streets at 2 p.m., in the country’s biggest celebration of sexual diversity.

Gather at Exhibition Place to partake in the annual CHIN International Picnic, the world’s largest free picnic and music festival. Snack on multicultural fare, see jungle cats, a dog show and circus acts in the midway, and then cheer the crowning of this year’s “Mr. Chin.” (Saturday’s festivities name Miss Chin and culminate in an evening of fireworks.) If the karaoke competition doesn’t raise the bar, a musical performance by Italy’s Nek certainly will.