Toronto’s top cultural festivals this summer

by José Gonzalez

Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, so it's no surprise that its many cultural communities fill the summer with special festivals. It’s the perfect chance to travel the world without leaving the city, because each of these festivals offers authentic sights, sounds and flavours (the food, the glorious food!) from their respective cultures. Here are Toronto’s top cultural festivals this summer! [Photo credit: courtesy of Salsa on St. Clair]

Toronto’s top cultural festivals this summer

Muhtadi Drum Festival
The drum has crossed musical boundaries around the world, and this festival features many of those interpretations to the stage. As part of Canada 150, this year’s fest features a tribute to the drumming traditions of many First Nations peoples. Also, this year there is a special Let the Children Play event that invites children to drum alongside the Muhtadi World Drummers.

African Music Week
In its second year, this week of music brings together the many sounds of the African continent in a series of concerts and special events. Presented alongside the music is a film night, a music conference and special themed nights of music, including a night of electronic music, and a night spotlighting female African talent.

Taste of Asia
A festival to celebrate the many Asian communities within Toronto, this is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the country. This year Cambodia is the featured country, with a royal palace pavilion you can explore, and its many foods and entertainment.

  • When: June 23 to 25
  • Admission: Free
  • Where: Kennedy Road, just North of Steeles Avenue East
  • More information

This fest is one of the brightest celebrations in the city, with a number of events that let you party like you're in the Caribbean. The ever-popular parade returns, alongside a competition to find the king and queen of Caribana. There are nightlife events for those looking for a dance party, and family-friendly events, including live music and a carnival village.

  • When: July 5 to August 7
  • Admission: Varies by event
  • Where: Various locations
  • More information

Cultura Festival
The many cultural communities within Toronto share the spotlight in this festival bringing together musicians, street food, buskers, dancers, art activities and film screenings. Running every Friday in July, there are four chances to catch this festival, or you can hit all four to sample the unique offerings on each day.

Afro Fest
Billing itself as the largest free festival of African music in North America, it certainly backs up the claim with two days filled with music at one of the city's largest outdoor venues. This year includes headliner X Maleya.

Salsa in Toronto
One of the largest Latino celebrations in the country gives visitors a chance to sample the rich Hispanic cultures throughout the city, whether it's enjoying some ceviche or dancing a mambo. This year they're welcoming several bands from across Latin America and serving authentic dishes from restaurants around the city.

  • When: July 8 and 9
  • Admission: Free
  • Where: St. Clair Ave. West from Winona to Christie
  • More information

Tirgan Festival
Celebrating one of the oldest civilizations of the world, this festival is named after the ancient Persian Festival. Experience the many classic and contemporary charms of Iranian culture, including its music, food, theatre, cinema and visual art. This year will see more than 200 artists and 100 performers to entertain.

Taste of the Danforth
Experience a taste of Greece in the east end of the city, and take part in one of the biggest festivals of the year. While making your way from souvlaki stand to gyros stand, you can enjoy live music, dancers and vendors from the many shops along Danforth.

  • When: August 11 to 13
  • Admission: Free
  • Where: Danforth Avenue, starting at Broadview
  • More information

Hispanic Fiesta
A celebration of Spanish and Latin-American culture, complete with the food and music that make those cultures so flavourful. Over 20 Spanish speaking countries are being represented with over 300 performers and over a dozen different food booths.

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