15 things to do this February in Toronto

By Erica Salyi-Pannozzo

Ditch any thoughts of hibernation – there are plenty of events and things to do in Toronto this February! Winter weather isn’t slowing anything down, there’s music festivals, art exhibits, film festivals, free events and more to explore. Don’t miss Black History Month celebrations, Valentine’s Day dining and Family Day fun. Here’s 15 things to do that will keep you busy all month long! [Image credit: Erica Salyi-Pannozzo]

15 things to do this February in Toronto

Chinese New Year’s events

Celebrations to usher in the year of the Rooster continue into February with LunarFest taking over Metro Hall February 4 and 5. The event brings multiple performances to the stage for a brilliant display of Chinese arts and culture. Best of all, the event is free!

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra also pays tribute to Chinese New Year with The Year of the Rooster: A Chinese New Year Celebration. The program is led by Long Yu, Artistic Director of the China Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra featuring the world premiere of Canadian composer Vincent Ho’s work performed by the renowned pipa virtuoso Wu Man.

Book a romantic table for two

Woo your sweetheart with a glamorous table at one of Toronto’s top romantic restaurants. You’ll impress your date with a reservation at Auberge du Pommier, George or Colette Grand Café – these Toronto mainstays are the ultimate upscale dining experience. For more chic and elegant options, you can’t go wrong with Scaramouche, F’Amelia or Cluny Bistro. These popular Valentine’s Day hotspots have the winning combination of atmosphere and amazing eats; they’re always booked solid for the holiday.

Cozy up to a champagne brunch

Torontonians love brunch, and there’s lots of amazing brunch spots to try at every price point, but there’s nothing like a champagne brunch to take your breakfast/lunch combo to another level. You can dine on lobster Benedict, wagyu croque-madame and other delicacies, with a side (or two) of bubbly at top restaurants across the city. These elegant eateries make brunch a culinary experience: Café Boulud, Colette Grand Café, America, Toca, Buca Yorkville, La Societe, Patria and Bosk.

Family Day fun

Family Day long weekend is full of fun events and things to do to keep the kids busy. Head to the Harbourfront Centre February 20 for the free (!) Harbourkids North Festival with performances, arts and crafts, and interactive activities for the family. Major attractions like the ROM, AGO and the Ontario Science Centre all have special Family Day programming as well. Check official websites for more details.

Head to the beach

The annual Winter Stations art exhibit and competition is back for another season, transforming six lifeguard stations into large-scale art installations. The works of art are on display at Kew, Balmy and Ashbridges Bay beaches beginning February 20 until March 27.

Free DJ Skate Nights

If you’re minding your wallet post-holiday season, you’re in luck. DJ Skate Nights at the Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Rink offer a fun evening of music and ice skating under the stars. Every Saturday, the block party on ice features a different DJ spinning the tunes from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Runs until February 18.

Tropical staycation destinations

If you aren’t one of the lucky ones with a plane ticket to a warm locale, you can still enjoy some tropical delights right here in Toronto. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada features enough exotic, brightly coloured fish, sea turtles and coral reefs to make you forget all about the winter weather. It’s also warm inside Allan Gardens, Toronto’s botanical gem, filled with plants and flowers from around the world, including palms, banana trees, orchids and other lush varieties. And, if you need even more island inspiration, hit up one of Toronto’s tiki bars (yes, this is a thing). Sip fruity cocktails on bamboo and thatch bars in places like Shameful Tiki Room, Miss Thing’s and The Shore Leave.

IceFest

The annual IceFest takes over the Bloor-Yorkville BIA February 25 and 26, with ice carving competitions, live performances and refreshments from local restaurants and businesses. The festival is free!

Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival

Get ready to sip some suds and savour some local eats at this annual outdoor beer festival in Roundhouse Park. The first 500 visitors on site will get a free toque and everyone has the chance to sample beers from several craft brewers including Amsterdam Brewery, Steam Whistle, Flying Monkeys and High Park Brewery. Food on site is provided by Smoke’s Poutinerie, The Pie Commission and Chimney Stax. Tickets at the door are $30.

Winter music festivals

Indie music lovers take over The Garrison Family Day weekend for the Wavelength Music Festival. An all-access pass will get you into shows by Tops, Diana and Fake Palms and daytime programming at the Monarch and the Gladstone.

Folk music lovers will get a kick out of the Winter Folk music festival showcasing blues and roots music performances at venues across the city. The fest runs February 17 to 19. Wristbands are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Break the ice

The Waterfront BIA and the founders of Winter Stations have joined forces to bring the new Ice Breakers outdoor art exhibition to five stops along Queens Quay from the Harbourfront Centre to the Toronto Music Garden. Each location features a temporary art installation with a winter theme. The idea is to get everyone out and about exploring the city even in the middle of a deep freeze.

Spend a night at the museum

Popular parties Friday Night Live at the ROM and AGO’s First Thursdays are back for more themed events, dancing, DJs, live performances, food and after hours tours of the venues. The ROM kicks off its winter series February 3 with Afro Fete in celebration of Black History Month, while the AGO launches with Shapeshifters, featuring artists who are shaping the future.

Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair

250 contemporary artists from Canada and abroad showcase their work in this annual art fair at the Better Living Centre. Visitors can browse the latest and greatest offerings, discover new artists and purchase artwork directly from the creators. The fair runs February 23 to 26, with tickets $14 in advance and $15 at the door.

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