Toronto is in full bloom in the summer hosting cool concerts, festivals, and events. Enjoy a drink at Toronto’s popular patios before taking in a Blue Jays game at the Rogers Centre or a concert at the Molson Amphitheatre. Whether you’re a tourist or resident, you’ll find some robust entertainment in Toronto for the summer of 2012.
Taking place over the weekend of July 6-8, 2012, the Honda Indy Toronto will hopefully see the Honda Indy Toronto 2011 winner, Dario Franchitti, competing against Will Power, the Thrill-from-West-Hill Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani, and Helio Castroneves. General and reserved admission is Adults (2-Day) $185-$45; Juniors (12 and under) (2-Day) $150-$30; Adults (1-Day Sun.) $135-$35; Juniors (1 Day Sunday) $110-$20. For the second year in a row, Free Friday occurs on Fri., July 6, 2012.
Toronto’s Festival of Beer takes place Fri., July 27 to Sun., July 29, 2012 at Bandshell Park at Exhibition Place. Tickets are $38.50 and include five sample tokens, a festival sampling cup and guide. If you want to upgrade to a Hoptimized ticket, it will cost you an additional $10, but you’ll receive five additional sample tokens, access to the festival 1 1/2 hour early and access through an express Hoptimized line. Don’t wait to buy your Beer Festival tickets the weekend of the festival as they usually sell out ahead of time.
Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre
There’s no better place to enjoy a baseball game and a beer than by watching the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, home of the first retractable roof. You should be able to pick up outfield or bleacher tickets on game day, unless former Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies are coming to town (June 15-17, 2012), in which case you’ll have some trouble finding tickets.
Visitors to Toronto can groove to the smooth sounds emanating from Toronto’s largest jazz festival. The TD Toronto Jazz Festival’s main Toronto Star Stage is at Nathan Phillips Square while other acts are featured at various downtown venues. Running from June 22 to July 1, 2012, scheduled acts for the Toronto Jazz Festival 2012 include Natalie Cole, George Benson, Mike Stern Band, Ziggy Marley, Bill Fresell, the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Esperanza Spalding Radio Music Society. More acts are to be announced.
The North by Northeast Festivals and Conference will host over 650 bands on 50 Toronto stages from June 11-17, 2012. Now in its 18th year, the music festival showcases emerging and popular music artists in intimate club settings. Early bird priority passes are now on sale for $200 and $99 for students. Festival and one-day wristbands will be on sale in mid-April. The artist line-up will be announced in April 2012.
Take a 15-minute ferry ride across the Toronto Harbour to reach Centre Island, part of the Toronto Islands, where you’ll find instant calm among the sprawling parkland. This sanctuary in the city boasts a cottage atmosphere, pristine beaches (including a clothing-optional one), verdant landscapes, as well as the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes. The kids will flock to the amusement park (children’s ride passes are $30.97 over 4′ tall, $21.0 under 4′), which is conveniently sequestered from the rest of the island. Rent a bike at the booth near the pier and cycle along the many paths skirting Lake Ontario shores or alongside the yacht club. You can also rent a canoe or kayak for a leisurely paddle in the island’s lagoons. Scope out the serendipitously-situated Rectory Cafe, which is tucked off the eastern boardwalk on Ward’s Island, and replenish body and soul at this lakeside oasis. The ferry ride is Adults $7.00, Seniors/Students (14-18 with student card) $4.50, Children (2-13) $3.50, and under 2 Free.
Beaches Jazz Festival 2012
For tourists visiting Toronto at the end of July, the Beaches International Jazz Festival runs from July 20-29, 2011, along the eastern lakeshore in the ‘hood known simply as ‘The Beaches’. Jazz and blues acts including Liona Boyd, Johnny Rawls, Sharrie Williams and LMT Connection play the main stage in Kew Gardens just a stone’s throw from the lake, while local bars and restaurants along Queen Street East feature other artists. Most events are free.
Molson Amphitheatre Concerts 2012
Although some of Ontario Place’s attractions are scheduled to be closed during the summer of 2012 in order to prepare for a major overhaul, the Molson Amphitheatre will continue to host major musical artists. This outdoor venue with some covered seating is nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario, providing an unsurpassed evening of entertainment under the stars. The 2012 entertainment bill includes the Dave Matthews Band, the Beach Boys, Sarah McLachlan, Lady Antebellum and Florence and the Machine. More acts will be announced as the summer draws nearer.
Caribana Parade 2012
The Scotiabank Caribana Festival, the largest parade of its kind outside of the Caribbean, shuts down a portion of Lake Shore Boulevard West in order to accommodate the reggae rhythms and jump-up jigs of the parade performers. Scheduled from July 10 to August 6, 2012 (with the parade on August 4), the Caribana Festival attracts spectators from all across North America. Many of the events are free. Hotels book fast so reserve early.