Each summer in Toronto, Canada—one of the most multicultural cities in the world—organizations from amongst the city’s nearly 150 cultural groups put on lavish festivals. Half of the city’s residents are immigrants, with Jamaicans, South Asians, and Filipinos making up some of the largest ethnic groups, and more than 140 languages and dialects are spoken. No matter what your taste, from small-scale, family-friendly gatherings to international, action-packed festivals with millions of participants, check out this guide to Toronto festivals that will make your taste buds run wild and get your dancing feet in motion.
Toronto Caribbean Carnival
July 7–August 7, 2017
This year, Toronto Caribbean Carnival is celebrating its 50th anniversary. One of North America’s largest street festivals, Toronto Caribbean Carnival attracts over 1.3 million visitors each year. Most visitors come to see the king and queen and Grand Parade, where you’ll have a chance to catch a glimpse of the colorful and elaborate costumes. This is the only festival on this list with a cost to attend; tickets are $10–$20 (CAD), and $50–$100 (CAD) if you want to splurge for a VIP cabana. The festival also hosts art exhibits and a Junior Carnival Parade—perfect for families with children.
There are many parties throughout the weekend where you can get a taste of fabulous music from the Caribbean and dance the night away.
Lest you think this festival is strictly cultural, there are many parties throughout the weekend where you can get a taste of fabulous music from the Caribbean and dance the night away. Check out the official Caribana Toronto guide for more information. Buy tickets online before you arrive, as the best parties tend to sell out in advance.
KULTURA Filipino Arts Festival
August 10–13, 2017
This unique festival is the only one of its kind in Toronto organized by a youth-led community arts and cultural organization. The KULTURA Filipino Arts Festival features live performances, a marketplace, and traditional and modern food. Last year’s highlights included a street eats competition and live multimedia art battle.
More than just a festival showcasing Filipino costumes and food, the organizers want to use art to facilitate dialogue within the Filipino community and amongst other communities in the city. If you’re looking for a festival with deeper meaning beyond partying and eating, this is one you don’t want to miss.
Toronto Chinatown Festival
August 19–20, 2017
Festival organizers have dubbed this year’s theme “Meeting Across the Milky Way,” which is based upon a folktale of Chinese Valentine’s Day. This two-day festival brings in over 200,000 visitors, and you should get there during the opening ceremony if you’ve ever wanted to see a Chinese lion dance. For martial arts enthusiasts, there will also be an opportunity to see demonstrations by kung fu masters. Make sure to check out the many vendors lining the streets to grab traditional Chinese food and listen to Chinese storytelling.
Korean Harvest Festival
August 25–27, 2017
The Korean Harvest Festival celebrates Korean Thanksgiving (Hangawi), a major holiday in Korea when historically people would visit their ancestral homelands and share a feast of traditional food and rice wines.
This year’s guests will be the characters Umma (Jean Yoon) and Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) from the hit Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience. Snap a picture to show your friends that you met international celebrities.
Toronto’s Korean Harvest Festival is the largest Korean festival in Canada where visitors can enjoy live performances of traditional Korean wrestling, drumming, and dance. Each year, Korean Canadian celebrities host meet and greets with festivalgoers. This year’s guests will be the characters Umma (Jean Yoon) and Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) from the hit Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience. Snap a picture to show your friends that you met international celebrities.
September 1–4, 2017
If you’re still trying to decide on a quick getaway for Labor Day weekend, why not head to Toronto for Hispanic Fiesta? This festival brings together visitors and performers from over 20 Spanish-speaking countries for a four-day celebration of Latin American food, music, art, and entertainment. The festival began in 1981 with the purpose of uniting Spanish-speaking people in the city by celebrating their similar cultural roots. Now in its 36th year, the festival has grown into the largest Hispanic cultural event in Canada. There are few other places where you can listen to music and see dancers from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Ecuador, and more all in a single weekend.
Toronto Pearson International Airport, with direct flights from many U.S. cities and over 180 destinations worldwide, makes Toronto one of North America’s most accessible cities. If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway where you can eat great food, listen to awesome music, and meet people from all around the world, visit one of Toronto’s many festivals.