Five things worth checking out at the 2014 Luminato Festival

Five things worth checking out at the 2014 Luminato Festival

A performance at Jason Collett's Basement Revue at Luminato A performance at Jason Collett’s Basement Revue at Luminato.

After a winter like that, Torontonians have earned a good, long summer-festival season. Kicking it all off this year is the 2014 Luminato Festival, which takes place from Friday, June 6 to Sunday, June 15. It’s the third festival under the helm of artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt, who continues to turn up the event’s star power. (This year’s guests will include actress Isabella Rossellini, visual artist Matthew Barney, dancer Louise Lecavalier and musician Kid Koala.)

The ten-day, multi-arts bash will turn Toronto into a cultural playground. For those unsure where and how to delve in, here are five events to start with.

For night owls: Jason Collett’s Basement Revue at Luminato

Jason Collett’s Basement Revue at Luminato was the sleeper hit of last year’s festival. Now it’s back, beginning every night of the festival at 11 p.m. with a roster of musical acts curated by Collett (a musician and a member of Broken Social Scene), and literature readings curated by poet Damian Rogers. The lineup is kept secret until the day of, so be prepared to act fast. Last year’s attendees were treated to intimate performances from artists like Marina Abramovic, Rufus Wainwright, Patrick Watson and Feist, so this is a good chance to see some familiar faces from this year’s big-ticket shows, up close and personal.

Edward Day Gallery, 952 Queen St. W., details here.

For beach bums: Cardboard Beach


For a fraction of the cost of an all-inclusive resort, Torontonians will have access to a paradise of beach umbrellas, cabanas and patios—all made of cardboard. Havana art collective Los Carpinteros is creating this temporary hideaway at the Luminato Hub, which will also be host to food events and daily free concerts from artists like Tanya Tagaq, Alejandra Ribera and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

David Pecaut Square, details here.

For romantic types: If I Loved You

Andrew Rannells. Andrew Rannells.

In honour of this year’s WorldPride celebrations, Luminato’s musical showcase “If I Loved You: Gentlemen Prefer Broadway—an Evening of Love Duets” is perhaps the most star-studded event of the whole festival. On the roster are David Byrne (The Talking Heads), Boy George, Josh Groban, Steven Page, Andrew Rannells (Girls, The Book of Mormon), Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend), countertenor Brennan Hall and Weisbrodt’s own husband, Rufus Wainwright. Now pair this group of singers with the greatest love songs in Broadway history, and you have the ultimate date night.

Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., details here.

For the not-so-bashful: All the Sex I’ve Ever Had: International Edition


We already know the benefits of listening to our elders when it comes to life, business, or love—but when it comes to sex, well, we tend not to acknowledge that part of growing old. In “All the Sex I’ve Ever Had,” Toronto’s own Mammalian Diving Reflex art collective brings together elderly performers from Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Glasgow, Prague, the United States, and Canada (each country where the show has been performed) to reveal their personal sexual histories, including the good, the bad, and the very kinky. As with all Mammalian productions, expect this to hit you in unexpected ways.

Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. W., details here.

For bookworms: A Literary Picnic


The heartbreaker of last year’s Luminato Festival was the Literary Picnic, an outdoor extravaganza of readings with over 60 authors, book exchanges and one-on-one writer consultations on red-and-white picnic blankets. Despite a killer lineup, the event was rained out. Fortunately, it returns this year (with an alternate indoor location), under the theme “Toronto, the Unseen.” (A preview video is here.) The 2014 edition of the picnic also features three literary walks through Queen Street West, Kensington Market and along the city’s lost ravines.

Trinity Bellwoods Park, details here.

(Images: courtesy of Luminato)