Saturday, February 13, 2021

Fun things to do in Toronto 2021

It certainly is challenging to find fun in the time of Covid-19 and its many variants. Nature has reclaimed a lot of the free time that people have now. Gone for now are the long times spent in restaurants, movies or over at friends places enjoying the company of others. The year started with the lockdown throughout Ontario, now continuing in Toronto until February 22, 2021. Update: The lockdown has been extended again (until June 2) and Toronto has cancelled large events until after Labour Day.
Toronto skyline from the break wall of Mississauga's St Lawrence Park

Updated: On February 24th the City of Toronto extended the cancellation of major events until July 1, 2021 - you can see the media release on the bottom of this post.

From what I can read on the internet, which means it's true, is that indoor gatherings have the highest probability of catching the virus. Public Health Ontario 'COVID-19 Routes of Transmission – What We Know So Far' says "Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs predominantly through close (<2 m), unprotected contact with an infected individual(s). Based on the epidemiology of COVID-19, transmission predominantly occurs via respiratory droplets from symptomatic, presymptomatic or less commonly, asymptomatic individuals.  Transmission over longer distances (>2 m) is less common, but possible under certain conditions such as prolonged exposure in a poorly ventilated space. Under these conditions, inhalation of small particle respiratory droplets and aerosols can occur. SARS-CoV-2 is likely an opportunistic airborne pathogen, as non-airborne transmission is most common, but aerosols may result in transmission under favourable conditions. In household settings, people are in close proximity to one another, thereby increasing the risk of infection. The consensus among systematic reviews is that most infections are occurring in household settings where physical distancing is not feasible and household secondary attack rates are higher than in casual-contact settings (e.g., shopping)."

From Toronto's website, "The City of Toronto has extended the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted outdoor major events through March 31, 2021 and all outdoor special event permits during this time period are cancelled. This includes festivals and other large gatherings held at outdoor sites managed by the City or other public locations, such as roads, parks and Civic Squares."

You can stay inside, alone, and try some virtual events (very available now) or put some puzzles together. If you need to get outside to prevent mental health issues, try to enjoy the outdoors and keep away from crowds, keep your mask on, maintain social distancing and practice good hygiene. I know it will be awhile before I go to a movie, eat in a restaurant and hope to minimize my public transit use. 

In Jan 15 to Feb 7 we got to experience the Festival of Cool at Harbourfront with two major audio and illuminated exhibits - Iceberg and the Sonic Runway. It was cool by the way, tres cool. 

There is also Light Up Leslieville installation on the south side of Queen St E, east of Leslie Street: Leslieville BIA Facebook page says "We invite you all to enjoy this installation with safe distances in mind (East of Leslie on Queen). Just in time for Valentines Day - it makes for a perfect photo op with a loved one. So if you’re out and stretching your legs, pay a visit."
Light Up Leslieville

Other possible light festivals include the following.
Winter Light Exhibition on the west island at Ontario Place?
Toronto Light Fest in the historic Distillery District?

As the year goes on and vaccines become available to all, more and more activities will open up once again. Here are some events that are actually planned to happen. 

The public art installation called 'Garrison Creek Lotuses' will be completed in mid-March near the Bentway Park at 500 Lake Shore Boulevard West. The illuminated flowers are situated under the Gardiner Expressway.

The Beach presents Luminosity - March 13 to April 11. Along 3 km of Queen Street East from Coxwell Avenue to Neville Park. 8 light installations are in place.

Winter Stations at the Beach. The annual architectural/art installations based around beach lifeguard stations is planning to return in 2021 - just after Toronto's lockdown is lifted. They usually start on Family Day (Monday, Feb 15 in 2021) but lockdown is on until Feb 22, so hopefully the weekend following the lift will be the new start. 
Spring Stations 2021

Update: The lockdown delay will move the installations off of the beaches and instead will be placed in the Distillery District and on Parliament Street from May 21 to June with a name change to Spring Stations. Then in July the installations will be moved to the Beach BIA area for what will be called Summer Stations. 

World Naked Bike Ride 2021 - Toronto Edition: Saturday, June 12 at Coronation Park. Gather before noon, ride at 1pm. See photos from the 2021 ride on my post here.

ArtworxTO: Over Floe floating art installation at Ontario Place.

Honda Indy Toronto 2021: Friday, July 9 to Sunday, July 11. NOW CANCELLED

Ontario Place Summer Live Music Festival:  Thurs, July 29th to Mon, Sept 6. Performances will be Thursdays to Sundays with the finale happening Friday to Monday of Labor Day weekend, with Canadian artists and musicians performing a wide range of  musical genres. Takes place on East Island adjacent to Vista Eatery.

Friday the 13th Motorcycle Rally in Port Dover: Fri, August 13. No vender permits, no beer tents but hopefully there will be a few motorcycles this year. Note the next rally is Friday, May 13, 2022.

Canadian National Exhibition 2021: Fri, August 20 to Mon, Sept 6. NOW CANCELLED (but the airshow is still a go)

Photo by Joe Hamilton

Canadian International Airshow 2021: Saturday, Sept 4 to Sunday, Sept 5. The snowbirds have released their schedule and they are in Toronto for the annual long weekend show. Update: the CIAS is back on for 2021!
Snowbirds photo by Joe Hamilton

Toronto International Film Festival (tiff): Thurs to Sat, Sept 9-18. The 46th annual festival will be a mix of in-person and virtual events - including screenings and red-carpet events.

Redpath Waterfront Festival / Redpath Waterfront Trail: Fri, Sept 17 to Sunday, Oct 3. "For two weeks in September, we invite you to take your imagination for a walk on Toronto’s waterfront. This socially distanced waterfront trail will include unique Augmented Reality stops (AR), public art and a number of local promotions at waterfront businesses. From Lower Spadina to Lower Sherbourne Street."

Toronto Ukrainian Festival: Fri to Sun, Sept 17-19 in the Bloor West Village.

Fall Beerfest T.O.: Fri to Sat, Sept 24-25. A celebration of beer at Bandshell Park in Exhibition Place.

ActiveArtsTO: Sun, Sept 26 from 10am to 4pm. A street festival on Lake Shore Boulevard West.

Bike Rave: Nuit Blanche Art Ride cruise: Sat, Oct 2 from 7pm to midnight.

Luminato Festival: Wed to Sun, Oct 13-17.

Fan Expo Canada: Limited Edition Oct 22-24 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, south building. Comics and cosplay.

After Dark Lantern Tours with Fort York: Thurs to Sun, Oct 28-31. 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Ooooh, scary!

ART / TO: In-person event Fri to Sun, Oct 29-31 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and an Online Fair Thurs, Oct 28 to Sun, Nov 7.

Night of Dread: Sat, Oct 30 "It's here! The night you've all been waiting for. Please have a very careful read about Night of Dread this year. For October 30th, 2021 it will be a PARADE ONLY EVENT from 6pm to 7pm with a different parade route. The parade route can be found in the event description and as a separate image/posting in the event. This is a non-park event and the community is welcome to watch the parade from sidewalks and your own front lawn, if you happen to be along the route." New route: "Clay & Paper Theatre presents the 22nd annual NIGHT OF DREAD, a parade of fearful pageantry, revels and mockery on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30TH, staged from Crawford St (at the top of Christie Pits Park) to Westmoreland Ave (beside Dovercourt Park), from 6:00 to 7:00pm."

Trinity Bellwoods Park Pumpkin Parade: Mon, Nov 1 display 6-9pm "It’s back! Yay! Bring your pumpkin out for a display along the usual path. Pandemic protocols will be in place and volunteers will be there to assist. Details on this flyer. Rain or shine bring your pumpkin to show it off! ENTER at from Crawford Street at Lobb Street. Please EXIT at the other end just past playground." Followed by the Pumkin Toss at 9:15pm.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and Royal Horse Show 2021: November 5-14 (possible in-person event: That's a big no), Food competitions will still happen.

Holiday Hills at Stackt Market Tue, Nov 23 to Fri, Dec 31. Winter festival.

One of a Kind Show Thurs, Nov 25 to Sun, Dec 5. At Exhibition Place.

Cavalcade of Lights at Toronto City Hall: Saturday, November 27. "Cavalcade of Lights November 27, 2021. During the Cavalcade of Lights, Nathan Phillips Square shows off some impressive Christmas displays. Try nighttime skating surrounded by twinkling lights and enjoy the view of Toronto’s main Christmas tree. Drink some hot chocolate and enjoy live music at a local holiday fair." The light festival will start at 3pm and end at 11pm. You can find more info on my blog post here. The installations will be up until January 2, 2022.

Holiday Magic in Yorkville Sat, Nov 27 to Fri, Dec 31. Official tree lighting and musical performances on the November 27 from 5-7pm in the Village of Yorkville Park (Cumberland at Bellair Streets). Chloe Wilde from E! Canada will host with musical performances by Kiesza with musical guest Carys.

Omicron has impacted life in Toronto as the Province brings in restrictions which will come into effect on 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, December 19, 2021. Included within the Covid-19 restrictions is gathering limits revised down to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Kensington Market Winter Solstice 2021 Tue, Dec 21 from 6-9:30pm. No parade and possibly no Alexandra Park celebrations this year. It will be a neighbourhood wide celebration. NOW CANCELLED.

New Year's Eve Fireworks Fri, Dec 31.  "City of Toronto will ring in 2022 with a New Year’s Eve fireworks show across the waterfront. There will be a 10-minute, high-altitude fireworks display launching simultaneously at midnight across Toronto’s waterfront, viewable from Etobicoke to Scarborough — anywhere across the city with views of Lake Ontario. Ahead of the display on Friday, December 31, the City will have a livestream from the CN Tower with a mix of live and pre-recorded performances from iconic Toronto music and performing arts venues. The free, livestreamed broadcast will be available on the City’s CultureTO YouTube channel "

Don't forget the annual New Year's Day Toronto Polar Bear Dip! Sat, Jan 1. Noon at Sunnyside Beach.
Their facebook page now says that "It appears that the yesterday's restrictions will force us to cancel the event again this year. We'll post confirmation shortly but that seems to be the case" Waiting for updates.


February 24, 2021: City of Toronto extends cancellation of in-person major events to July 1

"To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted major outdoor events to July 1, including Canada Day parades, festivals and fireworks.

Today's announcement includes festivals and other large, in-person gatherings held at outdoor sites managed by the City or other public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares.

Major festivals and events require long lead times for planning, rely on City sites, supports or permissions, and present higher public health risks given limits to physical distancing and exposure to attendees from outside of the area. The need to sustain essential services also limits the City's ability to support third-party event organizers to ensure public safety.

Advance notification of this decision enables event organizers to make sound decisions in support of public health efforts and their business needs, access insurance, support impacted employees, manage sponsors and develop alternative approaches such as virtual events.

This decision, made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service and major event organizers, follows the previous cancellation of all such events up to March 31 and supports the directive that physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The following major events are impacted by this decision (for the most up-to-date status of an event, please contact the organizer):

• Toronto Marathon, half Marathon, 5k, 10k and relay (will be a virtual event)
• Sporting Life 10k (will be a virtual event)
• Canadian Music Week (will be a virtual event)
• Doors Open Toronto (cancelled)
• Juno Awards (will be a virtual event)
• Ride for Heart (will be a virtual event)
• NXNE Music Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Luminato (virtual option to be determined)
• The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer (will be a virtual event)
• TD Toronto Jazz Festival (virtual option to be determined)
• Indigenous Arts Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Trans March, Dyke March & Pride Parade (will be a virtual event)
• Scarborough Canada Day Parade & Celebration (cancelled)
• Canada Day Celebrations at Mel Lastman Square (cancelled)

Event organizers with questions are encouraged to contact the relevant City permitting bodies, Toronto Police Service officers/liaisons or email

More information about supports available to the arts and culture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic are available at

This announcement does not include permits issued by the City's Parks Forestry and Recreation division for activities in parks and other City facilities/sites that are able to be permitted under the province of Ontario's framework for reopening or that may be permitted as we hopefully progress through that framework. Professional sporting events are also not included in this decision – those events rely on permissions from the provincial and federal governments in addition to Toronto Public Health."

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