By Lori Bosworth
Toronto has so much to offer in terms of cultural opportunities. Sometimes those of us who live here take for granted all that the city has to offer. It can also be hard to navigate the myriad of events taking place. There are many free events in Toronto for those in the know. It’s a great way to save money and yet still enjoy the city.
Free Admission to the AGO
If you’re looking for fun free events in Toronto, you can get free admission to the Art Gallery of Ontario collection every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. is a longstanding tradition. Arrive after 6 p.m. if you want to avoid long line-ups and refrain from bringing backpacks. Free admission does not include special exhibits; however, they are available for viewing at the discounted rate of $12.50 during Free Wednesday nights. The Art Gallery of Ontario is located at 317 Dundas Street West.
Free City of Toronto Recreation Centres
The following City of Toronto community recreation centres offer free recreation programs. If the program is full, you can sign up on their waitlist:
- Harrison Pool, 15 Stephanie Street
- Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre, 870 Queen Street East
- John Innes Community Recreation Centre, 150 Sherbourne Street
- Masaryk-Cowan Community Recreation Centre, 220 Cowan Avenue
- Regent Park Aquatic Centre, 640 Dundas Street East
- Regent Park Community Centre, 402 Shuter Street
- Scadding Court Community Centre, 707 Dundas Street West
- Secord Community Centre, 91 Barrington Avenue
- Wellesley Community Centre, 495 Sherbourne Street
Enjoy a free lecture at The Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library. In winter 2018, David Frum, Ken Dryden, Andrew Morton and Martin Amis are some of the authors scheduled to appear. Tickets are free, but must be booked online. There is a limit of two tickets per valid email address. Tickets become available three weeks before each event and are available to book starting at 9 a.m. Because people do cancel, the library overbooks these events. Therefore, it’s important to get to the event early because unclaimed reservations will be released to standby customers ten minutes before the start of the talk.
Toronto Public Library – Museum and Arts Program (MAP) Program
One of the most popular free events in Toronto is Sun Life Financial’s Museum and Arts Program (MAP). Sun Life Financial is providing funding for this program until the end of 2018 so take advantage of it while it’s available. Borrow a MAP pass at your local library with your Toronto Public Library card for free access to Toronto attractions including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Science Centre, Toronto Zoo, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Gardiner Museum, Bata Shoe Museum, Textile Museum of Canada and Toronto History Museums. MAP Passes are good for three months. Not all library locations have passes for each attraction. Check here to see what passes are available at Toronto Public Library branches.
Free Concerts in Toronto
The Free Concert Series in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre takes place from late September to May 2018. The diverse city that inspires and unites us is the ever-changing backdrop seen from the beautiful Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, where artists from around the world share their talent and passion in six series: vocal, piano, jazz, chamber, dance and world music.
The Sunday Interludes Concert Series at The Royal Conservatory brings you free jazz, cabaret, and classical music concerts. Each concert is 75 minutes with no intermission. Some of the upcoming free concerts include:
Canada’s Rolston String Quartet will perform Debussy’s String Quartet, and will be joined by pianist Robert McDonald for Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E- flat Major, op. 44 on Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 2 p.m. Tickets are required. Free tickets can be reserved online starting Monday, April 2, 2018 at 10 a.m.
Latin rhythms fuse with sultry violin and vocals by this all-female Cuban jazz ensemble created by Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne, both of whom perform with the Juno winning band, Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, and many other groups. See them perform at Mazzoleni Concert Hall in Ihnatowycz Hall on March 4, 2018 at 2 p.m. Tickets are required. Free tickets can be reserved starting Monday, February 26, 2018 at 10 a.m.
Derek Gripper performs on February 4, 2018 at 2 p.m. drawing on European classical traditions, avant-garde Brazilian music, Malian kora, Cape Town folk, and Indian classical music. Tickets are required. Free tickets can be reserved starting Monday, January 29, 2018 at 10 a.m.
Sponsored by Downtown Yonge BIA in partnership with Canada’s Music Incubator, Play the Parks is offered from June to September 2018 at five different locations in the Downtown Yonge BIA. Enjoy free musical performances at Trinity Square Park, College Park Courtyard, McGill Granby Parkette, Chelsea Market Garden Patio and 1 Queen Street East.
Summer Music Garden at Harbourfront Centre
In the summer, make your way over to the Music Garden at Harbourfront Centre to enjoy the Summer Music in the Garden series. The concert series features classical, jazz and takes place June 28 to Sept 16, 2018 on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.
Free Fitness Classes in Toronto
Free Two-Week Pass for YMCA
I used to be a member of the YMCA and loved it. They have a running track, up-to-date fitness equipment, a pool, saunas (some locations have whirlpools and steam rooms) and a variety of fitness classes. You can try the YMCA for free for two weeks by applying for a free YMCA pass online.
Free Yoga Classes in Toronto
The Toronto Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre offers a free trial yoga class Sundays from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Learn some of the fundamental principles of yoga by being introduced to the 12 most important postures (asanas), basic breathing and relaxation techniques. No pre-registration is required. Arrive 15 minutes early to sign in. Mats are provided at no cost. The Toronto Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre is located at 77 Harbord Street.
Free community classes are offered at The Sony Centre For The Performing Arts including yoga, Barre Fitness, Beyography (Beyonce tribute dance class), Bollywood and Afrofusion. Enter at Yonge Street entrance, unless otherwise specified on the Eventbrite page. Doors open 15 minutes before class starts. Please arrive early to change and sign in. Late comers will not be allowed entrance. The Sony Centre For The Performing Arts is located at 1 Front Street East.
Several branches of the Toronto Public Library offer free yoga classes. Enjoy free Community Yoga classes at Mount Pleasant and Annette Street branches, a yoga and meditation class at York Woods branch, a meditation class at Brentwood branch and chair yoga at Northern District branch.
I hope you are able to enjoy some of these free events in Toronto. Let me know in the comments if you have other Toronto free events you would like to suggest.