Toronto’s bustling summer season is back again, and Canada’s Downtown promises not to disappoint in 2018. The ever-changing city gears up to add new hotels, restaurants and experiences to its summer line-up! Read through our latest “What’s New” for a list of notable updates and happenings around Toronto.
Bordering two diverse Toronto neighbourhoods, Kimpton Saint George opens its doors to the public on June 19. The hotel blurs the lines of The Annex’s vibrant, bohemian hipness with the historic feel of today’s chic, upscale Yorkville. Noted as the first Kimpton in Canada, the boutique hotel’s design is an immersion into true Toronto — a sweet spot of culture and congeniality. It is the first boutique hotel to capture the spirit of this dynamic and lively neighbourhood, with The University of Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, and Yorkville’s renowned high-end shops and restaurants.
The highly anticipated Hotel X is open for business and it is already becoming one of Toronto’s most iconic hotels with its unique resort style. Throughout 2018, the hotel promises to continue to roll out new features and amenities such as the Harmony Spa by the Lake and the New Fort Hall Museum. Hotel X will also be opening many food & beverage options such as Falcon Sky Bar, Lobby bar, 10XTO Members’ Lounge and Petros 82.
Dubbed ‘A new Era for Glamour’ the buildings located at 311 and 325 Bay St continues to undergo an extensive facelift. Purchased by the late John Jacob Astor IV’s St. Regis brand, the building is currently operating as the Adelaide Hotel. While the hotel portion is not slated for completion until 2019, the now available St. Regis residences offer a glimpse into what designer Ann Johnston has in store for Toronto.
The Spa at Four Seasons Toronto is now open after the completion of phase one of its renovation. Debuting a jewel-tone oasis featuring gold and stone accents, the all-new Spa reception is home to a beauty boutique showcasing the very best in international products, only available here in Canada.
The Fairmont Royal York Hotel’s rooftop patio is back this summer with the launch of an exclusive signature spirit that features botanicals sourced from their 14th floor rooftop garden. Taste their gin in their featured cocktail: “Let It Reign” at EPIC Restaurant and Lounge or “Urban Heir” at Library Bar. Since 2008 the rooftop has also hosted to the world’s first hotel apiary where each summer during the peak of the season, it is home to more than 350,000 Honey Bees, six Queen Bees, and six hives.
As its highly anticipated waterfront revitalization continues, Ontario Place will welcome guests for the summer with the launch of new activities and entertainment. From May to September, Ontario Place will offer a variety of recreational activities, a free performing arts series & family-friendly interactive performances in Trillium Park starting in June, and IMAX movies at Cinesphere. New programming will also include Toronto’s only summer outdoor synthetic skating rink, ping pong and the Imagination Playground™.
The critically acclaimed Museum of Illusions will be opening its first Canadian location right here in Toronto late this summer, and promises to be the largest permanent tourist attraction to open in Toronto since Ripley’s Aquarium in 2013 according to organizers. “Filled with holograms, optical illusions, installations and unusual rooms, the concept of the Museum of Illusions is based on the principle of fun and offers an original experience to visitors, locals and tourists alike,” writes a marketing executive for the Museum. Now under construction at 132 King Street East in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market district, Museum of Illusions will have 60-70 exhibits to start and attracts over one million visitors annually at its other locations.
Toronto is getting the world’s first integrated Nobu Residences, Nobu Hotel and Nobu Restaurant. Nobu Toronto, a dynamic project featuring the world’s first very Nobu branded high-rise residences as well as Canada’s first Nobu Hotel and Nobu Restaurant will be located in the heart of the entertainment district, transforming Mercer Street with its landmark design. Nobu Toronto will rise 45 storeys above the historic Pilkington Glass Factory with two dramatic residential towers, featuring 660 sold out residential units with enviable views of Toronto. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and Hollywood producer Meir Teper officially broke ground for the project in early June.
Toronto is getting its very own outpost of the renowned Taglialatella Galleries, a New York-based luxury brand that’s best known for its impressive array of pop and street art. Opening this June, Canada’s first Taglialatella Galleries location will be in Yorkville, and is “an elixir of fine art, design and entertainment, transcending the usual gallery experience.”
Mirvish Productions now provides direct bus service aboard the Mirvish Express from London, Woodstock, Kitchener, Morriston (just outside Guelph) and Milton to the Royal Alexandra, Princess of Wales and Ed Mirvish Theatres. This bus service is available for patrons attending Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday matinee performances beginning July 4.
Every Sunday from June 10 to October 28, get on board the McMichael Art Bus from downtown Toronto to the gallery to experience The McMichael Art Gallery’s summer programming. A Return bus service to the McMichael leaves from the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival headquarters parking lot located next to 80 Spadina Avenue (just North of King) at 10:30 am and leaves the McMichael to head back downtown at 3:30 pm.
Toronto’s scenic Island has become even more convenient with addition of The Toronto Island Guide app! The Toronto Island Guide is the first-ever app to help visitors get the most out of their visit to the Toronto Island Park. It gives you everything you need to know to plan your trip, decide where to go, and what to do. The app is officially live starting June 22.
The Meadoway, a ground-breaking city-building initiative will transform 16 kilometres of under-utilized land into one of Canada’s largest urban linear parks. Stretching from the Don River Ravine in downtown Toronto to Rouge National Urban Park, The Meadoway will become a vibrant expanse of urban greenspace and meadowlands as it develops over the next seven years. It will connect four ravines, 15 parks, 34 neighbourhoods, over 200 hectares (500 acres) and more than 1,000 diverse species of flora and fauna.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA) opens on September 22 with a mission to “exhibit, research, collect and nurture innovative contemporary art and cultural practices that engage with and address issues and themes relevant to our times.” Recently, MOCA was given five million dollars from the Province of Ontario in its continued efforts to invest in strengthening communities. A 55,000 square foot space in the refurbished Tower Automotive building will be home to the newly relocated and reopened MOCA.
The Air Canada Centre (ACC) will be no more as of July 1. Scotiabank has purchased the naming rights for the iconic Toronto Arena, and has made a 20 year deal for it to be renamed the ‘Scotiabank Arena’. All restaurants will remain open during the construction this summer.
Toronto’s famous Scarborough Bluffs are now even easier to visit this summer. An accessible TTC bus service, 175 Bluffer’s Park, will run between Kennedy Station and Bluffer’s Park Beach every 15 minutes during the daytime and early evening on weekends and holidays. Service will run until Saturday, October 6 making it easy to visit one of Toronto’s most scenic views over the summer months.
Kōjin is a brand new concept by restaurant empire Momofuku serving an eclectic mix of cuisines including Japanese, steakhouse fare, Latin food and more. Chef Paula Navarrete’s Columbian roots play an integral role in the menu’s palate, but the diversity in the menu makes the new restaurant inherently Torontonian. The restaurant features meats cooked on a wood-fire grill, and has been open for business since June 7.
A destination of upper-tier dining, art and entertainment, executive chef Christine Mast brings to the now open Sofia a fresh perspective and honest approach to Italian cuisine. Committed to sourcing quality ingredients to pay homage to true Italian tastes, Mast’s Italian heritage serves as a resource for authentic and inspired plates. Located in Yorkville, this larger Italian restaurant, bar and lounge in one of Toronto’s swankiest neighbourhoods exudes Hollywood glamour.
Grant van Gameren is set to open his seventh restaurant Quetzal later this year with a menu focused on regional fire cooked Mexican cuisine. Located at 419 College Street West, all food will be cooked in wood burning ovens or over a 28-foot-long open flame that will run the length of the restaurant. With the space being designed by Partisans, this restaurant is sure to be a staple for trendy cuisine in Toronto.
Meet up to enjoy amazing views of the Toronto skyline at South Core’s newest rooftop bar. The Roof at SOCO is open through to October and as the coolest rooftop bar in the vicinity, it has a relaxed vibe that makes it perfect for happy hour or casual weekend drinks. Unwind with shareable small plates, pitcher drinks and seasonal cocktails, including innovative and unique frozen beverages. The Roof at SOCO is directly connected to Union Station and easy to get to via the PATH, whether you’re stopping by for a quick drink after work or on game nights.
Located in Brookfield Place, Chotto Matte will give you an experience you will want to repeat, with its mix of a contemporary urban environment, spectacle and great cuisine. The Nikkei cuisine is at the heart of the Chotto Matte experience which will open later this year. It embraces the very best of Nikkei (Japanese – Peruvian) cuisine, with bold eye-catching natural colours and mouth-watering taste sensations.
The Liberty Group is partnering with the Iaccarino family to bring the Michelin Star awarded Don Alfonso 1890 to Toronto. Showcasing the incredible cuisine of Chef Ernesto Iaccarino and the wonderful fresh flavours of the Amalfi coast, Don Alfonso 1890 has been a family-owned business since the nineteenth century. Don Alfonso is internationally acclaimed with locations all over the world, and now makes its North American debut in the main dining area of the Rosewater Room on June 20 right here in Toronto.
From the Malaysian street restaurant Soos, comes its all vegan counterpart: Fat Choi. Like Soos, Fat Choi is open starting in June and is located at 94 Lower Ossington in the exact same space as its older sister, but only on Mondays and Tuesdays — for now. Acting as a pop up shop until they have readied their own store, Fat Choi offers a 100 per cent plant based menu.
Buca is expanding in a big way, with locations near Yonge and St. Clair and Yonge and Eglinton slated to open in this year. The Eglinton location is set to take a page out of the Bar Buca playbook with a more casual menu, as well as takeout, gelato and pizza, while the St. Clair location will feature an entirely new concept.
Coming soon on 611 College Street, Toronto is getting its very own Virtuous Pie. Virtuous Pie is an elevated fast-casual restaurant, focused on handcrafted pizza and ice-cream made 100 per cent from plants.
Vancouver based The Parlour has already broken ground at 642 King Street West, and is hoping to throw its opening party this summer. Welcoming those seeking a stylishly laid-back atmosphere, The Parlour pairs innovative cocktails, craft-brewed beers and quality wines with an inventive menu featuring handcrafted pizzas and an elegant twist on authentic comfort cuisine.
Toronto’s Distillery Historic District has a new Spanish tapas bar slated to open by the end of June. Madrina is shrouded in secrecy, but their instagram description may provide a few answers; “Tapas. Paella. Sangria. Pintxos. Good times. Exhilarating authentic + modern Spanish fare from @ramon_simarro is coming to @distilleryto this Summer.” Madrina is from the makers of the already wildly successful El Catrin and Cluny.
Parcheggio is the latest venture form Canada’s wildly successful Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality and will be located at Bayview Village Shopping Centre this summer. While details are still forthcoming, expect a focus on classic red sauce fare. The menu will feature a range of fresh handmade pasta, antipasti, steaks, chops, and seafood.
PERFORMING ARTS – NOTABLE SHOWS
After a sold-out, standing-room only Toronto engagement before heading to Broadway, Come From Away is back and no re-extended until April 2019. It will continue its run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre until February, when it will be transferred to the Elgin Theatre. Set in Newfoundland, where the weather is wild, but the locals never lack for warmth, this remarkable true story is filled with unusual characters, unexpected camaraderie and uncommon generosity.
Return to an era of pink ladies and slicked back hair with Grease the Musical live in Toronto! The 2017 production that captivated audiences has returned to Toronto’s historic Winter Garden Theatre for another limited run until July 8.
From June 20 to August 5, 2018 at Ed Mirvish Theatre, take a different look at the Land of Oz. This Broadway sensation is an imaginative tale about how a talented, misunderstood and green-skinned young woman gets labelled Wicked.
Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera comes to Toronto as part of a new North American Tour. The beloved story and thrilling score, with songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask Of You,” and “Masquerade,” will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions on tour. Experience it at the Ed Mirvish Theatre from June 7-30.
The Second City is beating the heat with two shows this summer; The Best Is Yet to Come Undone is on stage until July 31 with an all-star cast weaving in and out of the danger zone, tackling our generation’s minefield of crushing clichés and relatable revelations. Hogtown Heatwave begins June 30 and will have you spending the summer with your favorite scenes, songs and characters and new original material. These two original shows will be the coolest part of your summer!
Transport yourself to another time and place by one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works from July 10 to August 12, 2018 at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The King and I tells the story of the tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and a British schoolteacher and features such timeless songs as Getting to Know You, Hello Young Lovers and Shall We Dance.
Returning to Toronto for the fourth time, Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into seventy hilarious minutes at the newly named CAA Theatre. Experience the magic until July 22.
Join the ultimate feel-good show MAMMA MIA!, at the Ed Mirvish Theatre this summer! The world’s sunniest and most exhilarating smash-hit musical is on stage from August 9 to 19. Set on a Greek island paradise where the sun always shines, a tale of love, friendship and identity is beautifully told through the timeless hits of ABBA.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has a number of concerts this summer including “Thank You, Toronto,” a free concert, and “Christopher Plummer’s Symphonic Shakespeare” featuring Christopher Plummer as the narrator! For a full listing of the TSO’s summer programing, go to their events page.
Toronto’s historic Casa Loma has added two exciting new shows to its line-up. Soul in the City starring Juno winner Sean Jones will allow you to enjoy stunning views of the city, the majestic castle and the beautiful estate gardens while Jones is accompanied by a seven–piece band and other special guests Monday evenings, June 18th – August 27th. This year also is the launch of the castle’s partnership with Just For Laughs Comedy, featuring live comedy performances on Wednesday evenings from July 25th to August 29th.
Now in its 36th season of outdoor theatre magic, Shakespeare in High Park presents adventurous adaptations of two of the Bard’s most popular and enduring works. The tragic romance of Romeo and Juliet and the frolicking comedy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream immerse you in tales of rebellious love in the face of authority — a great way to spend a summer night in Toronto.
The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of eclectic shows in its 3,191 seat theatre. Some notable shows include David Blaine Live, Boy George & Culture Club and acts from the TD Toronto Jazz Festival.
EXHIBITS & ATTRACTIONS
The Art of Banksy Exhibit
- Starvox Exhibits in association with Live Nation presents the North American Premiere of “The Art of Banksy” exhibition from June 13-July 11, 2018. With over $35 million in art and 80 original works of Banksy, this is the largest Banksy exhibit ever assembled. The Art of Banksy is mounted in a “raw space” on Toronto’s up and coming Sterling Road.
- The CN Tower’s newly renovated main observation level, Lookout Level, offers an eye-opening, mind-blowing new perspective on the most spectacular views in Toronto with the CN Tower’s two new floor-to-ceiling panoramic Window Walls. The space will be open to the public on June 26 and can host events with a capacity of 500. Alternatively, smaller groups of 80 can be accommodated as there are now air walls to separate the larger space. This renovation will bring more panoramic views, new food, and beverage offerings and more.
Royal Ontario Museum:
- Look beyond fashion and explore the endless possibilities that come from interweaving design, art, and technology in Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion (June 2-October 8). Featuring original designs by Dutch designer and couturier, Iris van Herpen, this exhibition explores her 2008-2015 collections that push the boundaries of traditional fashion and craftsmanship.
- Opening June 16, Spiders: Fear & Fascination will bring guests face-to-face with over 200 live and preserved specimens, interactive and augmented reality experiences, and even a live venom-milking lab. Ignite your curiosity, conquer your fear, and see spiders in a new light.
Art Gallery of Ontario:
- The Art Gallery of Ontario is undertaking a massive re-envisioning and re-install of its Canadian, Indigenous and Inuit collections. Its new Department of Indigenous and Canadian Art will open the refreshed installation July 1 in what is being called the J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art and will feature more than 80 works by Inuit, Indigenous, and Canadian artists. All texts in the McLean Centre will be trilingual – in Anishnaabemowin, English, and French. The Inuit collection will feature texts in Inuktitut, along with English and French.
- Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental explores the artist’s lifelong commitment to the relation of politics and beauty in art, often expressed using natural materials, and the human form starting from July 12. Belmore’s diverse yet cohesive body of work over the last thirty years has voiced an ethos of remembering the forgotten, listening to the marginal, speaking the silenced, and facing the monumental with passion, beauty, intuition, strength and humility.
- Opening on June 16 in the Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavilion, Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak highlights the artistic and family ties of two of Inuit art’s biggest names. Led by a curatorial team of Inuit artists and curators, the exhibition is a gift that comes to the AGO through the language, stories, and its community’s perspective.
- Canada’s Wonderland’s newest thrill-ride for 2018 is Lumberjack, which will take guests for an exhilarating ride on two swinging axe pendulums, propelling them into the sky with their feet dangling through 360 degree loops. With inversions reaching up to 75 feet (22m) high, Lumberjack will give riders the sensation of an inverted coaster loop!
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada:
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada has opened its newest exhibit, Curious Creatures. Step back in time and sail through the life of Robert Ripley (1890-1949), the iconic “Believe It or Not!” cartoonist, explorer, reporter, adventurer, and collector, who travelled to 201 countries in 35 years, seeking the odd, the unusual, and the unexplained. To celebrate the 100th Oddiversary of Ripley’s first cartoon drawing, get ready to explore the new Curious Creatures exhibit.
The Hockey Hall of Fame:
- The Hockey Hall of Fame, home to both the original and current versions of the Stanley Cup, expanded its tribute to these chalices during this anniversary year with the unveiling of featured showcases. The Stanley Cup 125th Anniversary Tribute artifacts include: Stanley Cup pucks dating back to 1901; rings, watches, and miniature Cups awarded to Stanley Cup champions; turn-of-the-19th century commemoratives and periodicals on Lord Stanley; pre-NHL Stanley Cup ribbons and memorabilia; as well as the tools used to craft and engrave the trophy.
Toronto Reference Library:
- Scott Pilgrim, Captain Canuck, Nelvana, and Kagagi are just a few of the thrilling Canadian comic book heroes you can explore at the free Alter Ego: Comics and Canadian Identity, on display at the Toronto Reference Library’s TD Gallery until July 29. Check out some of Canada’s best biographical and realist comic creators, and learn about the talented Canadians behind many popular superheroes, like pioneering Superman artist Joe Shuster.
EVENTS: ONE TIME ONLY AND MAJOR MILESTONES
After being closed for 2017 due to construction, Union Summer presented by TD at Union Station makes its return! From July 1 to August 17, this year will showcase “Where Toronto is Going” with an incredible line-up of food vendors, ongoing programming and events that bring Toronto’s talent, culture and spirit to life. This is an opportunity to get a sneak peek at Union station’s newly installed retailers, all while listening to the songs of summer with live music.
Mississauga Latin Festival is back and is celebrating its’ 10th Anniversary! The event features large musical and folkloric performances, a children’s play area, food vendors, exhibitors, artisans and educational demonstrations of services and initiatives that involve such topics as Immigration, settlement, Educational opportunities, trades involvement, the environment and volunteering. Join more than 35,000 attendees at Mississauga Celebration Square on July 28 and 29.
Toronto’s beloved music festival and summer mainstay, the Beaches International Jazz Festival, returns from July 6 to 29, 2018 to celebrate its 30th year of unparalleled music from both established and emerging artists. Featuring multiple stages and venues including brand new programming at Riverside and Leslieville, the return of festival favourites and leading musical talent, the 30th annual Beaches International Jazz Festival is one that can’t be missed.
The Taste of Danforth will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year from August 10-12. Dozens of tasty food stations from Danforth’s amazing array of multi-ethnic restaurants will line the road. Enjoy some of Greektown’s authentic souvlaki, stuffed grape leaves, grilled lamb and moussaka. There are a number of exhibitors offering contests, prizes and free samples, plus live music and dance.
Now celebrating its 15th year, MuslimFest is an award winning annual festival showcasing the best in Muslim focused arts, culture and meaningful entertainment. The festival was named FEO’s top 100 festivals in Ontario for its 10th year, so this milestone is one no one should miss. The festival takes place at the Mississauga Celebration Square from August 31 to September 2.
An ‘unforgettaball’ beach party is coming to Toronto’s waterfront this summer. Inspired by leisurely sun-drenched days by the water, this year’s Redpath Waterfront Festival, presented by Billy Bishop Airport, will bring visitors three days of carefree fun and endless entertainment. With a giant beach ball art installation, a whimsical H20-themed circus show, a Family Fun Zone and loads of delicious food and drink, the Redpath Waterfront Festival, happening June 22-24, is the best place to kick off the summer of 2018.
The inaugural Masters Indigenous Games 2018 (MIG 2018), set to take place in Toronto July 12 – 15, will provide Indigenous adults ages 20 years and older the opportunity to compete against their peers in a variety of contemporary and traditional sporting activities. In addition to sport competitions, the 2018 MIG will provide all participants, spectators and volunteers with an exciting opportunity to learn about, celebrate and promote the cultures of Indigenous peoples and groups from around the world.
Toronto International BrazilFest celebrates its 15th year and the rhythms of Brazil will be expressed with the help of a diverse and high quality team of performers and bands. Happening on July 22 at Earlscourt Park, there will be a showcasing of styles of music and dance from all parts of the country. The family friendly festival also offers the chance to have a taste of Brazil, with food reflecting the diversity of the country.
Japan Festival CANADA is the largest Japanese cultural event in North America, introducing and promoting Japanese culture, food and technology to a North American audience. Japan and Canada are celebrating their 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations, so expect the already massive festival held in Mississauga Celebration Square to be even bigger! The event will now feature expanded Japanese food booths, traditional Japanese entertainment coupled with modern pop culture, the state of art technologies and more. Experience the festival on August 25 and 26.
Toronto is a city bustling with activities and events all throughout the year. For a complete list of annual activities, please visit our Annual Festivals & Events page on our website; SeeTorontoNow.com.