The Long Weekender: Drake’s October’s Very Own festival, the festival formerly known as Caribana and six other items on our to-do list
1. OVO FEST
We didn’t make it to Drake’s first October’s Very Own festival (and we are so very bitter about it, since Jay-Z, Eminem and Kardinal Offishall were the surprise guests), but we’re not making the same mistake this year. Rick Ross and local up-and-comer The Weeknd will be sharing the stage with Drizzy (that’s Drake, to the new fans), and there’s sure to be some fun surprises. Just as long as it’s not Chris Brown, we’ll be glad we went. Tickets are nearly sold out, but gold VIP seats remain. July 31. $43.25–$300. Molson Amphitheatre, 909 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 416-870-8000, livenation.com.
2. SCOTIABANK TORONTO CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL PARADE ISLAND SOUL FESTIVAL (FREE!)
Caribbean fever takes over Toronto this weekend (see events 4 and 6), but the biggest deal is definitely this Saturday’s parade. While there will still be plenty of jumping, waving and grinding, there are a few changes to be aware of: there’s a new route—that, we feel compelled to state, sounds awfully similar to the old route—and, for the first time, a $15 admission fee to be admitted to a bleacher seat set-up. Other must-see events this weekend include Friday’s Pan Alive steel pan competition and Sunday’s food festival at Ontario Place. July 30. Exhibition Place, 190 Princes Blvd., torontocaribbeancarnival.com.
3. TORONTO ISLANDS VOYAGEUR PADDLE
Sadly, we’ve run out of cottage invitations just in time for the August long weekend, though we’re hopeful someone will step in and offer one up soon. But even if no invites are forthcoming, we’ll still get a little one-on-one time with Mother Nature at this group paddle. This long-weekends-only canoe expedition to the Toronto Islands means paddling through pretty lagoons, a visit to the Donut Island bird sanctuary and a picnic stop on Centre Island. Registration required. Aug. 1. $30. Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre, 283 Queens Quay W., 416-933-4224, canoetoronto.com.
4. ISLAND SOUL FESTIVAL (FREE!)
If the goal is a one-stop spot for Caribbean flavour, this Harbourfront cultural fest is probably the best bet. Musical performances by dub poet Mutabaruka and 3canal, dance, theatre and family-friendly games and activities reflect a variety of Caribbean traditions, like the Jouvay Parade featuring stilt dancing by the Trinidadian Carnival’s Moko Jumbies, a booty-shaking reggae/dancehall dance class and dozens of concerts. July 29 to Aug. 1. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.
Say the word Lego and we automatically think of rainy days spent building epic cities out of brightly coloured plastic bricks (and stepping on the occasional stray that we were sure we’d cleaned up). We moved on to the next toy fairly quickly, but some Lego fans stayed loyal well into adulthood. This Lego-centric convention is for them. Most events are members-only, but this Saturday, the public is allowed inside to meet the builders, check out their creations, race Lego RC cars and see Lego robots compete in tug-of-war and firefighting competitions. July 30. $10. Assembly Hall, 1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Dr., brickfete.com.
6. IRIE MUSIC FESTIVAL (FREE!)
This is likely the most laid-back way to take in some Caribbean culture this weekend, since all that’s required of anyone is to sit back and enjoy some good tunes. We suggest scoping out a good spot early to take in the music and spoken word performances, film screenings and art shows (and saving room for the jerk chicken and other local food on offer). July 29 to Aug. 1. Yonge-Dundas Square, Queen’s Park (111 Wellesley St. W.) and Nathan Phillips Square, www.iriemusicfestival.com.
7. CRAIG FERGUSON
Funnyman Craig Ferguson is taking a break from hosting CBS’s The Late Late Show for his most recent comedy tour, which stops in Toronto this weekend. The Emmy-nominated comedian, whose television show includes a robot skeleton and puppets, is one of our favourites both for his snarky monologues and for his true musical talent. July 29. $49.50–$69.50. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com.
One of the best things about summertime is long, boozy summer nights on a patio somewhere in the city, but outdoor theatre is a close second, and we’re spoiled for choice these days. Take, for example, the Canopy Theatre production of Germaine Greer’s 1972 adaptation Lysistrata, which opened last week. Originally penned by ancient Greek philosopher Aristophanes, this classic play is a comedic take on civil war that sees one woman try to stop the fighting by convincing an entire nation of women to withhold sex from their husbands. To August 6. $10. Philosopher’s Stage, Philospher’s Walk, 80 Queen’s Park, 416-978-8849, canopytheatre.ca.