1. CANADA DAY FIREWORKS (FREE!)
In the interest of easing the decision-making process, here’s a round-up of the ideal spots to catch brightly coloured explosives making pretty patterns in the sky this Canada Day. The city’s official fireworks display kicks off around 10:15 p.m. at Mel Lastman Square; Ashbridge’s Bay Park’s display begins at 9:30 p.m.; Canada’s Wonderland’s light show, set to a soundtrack of Top 40 tunes, kicks off at 10 p.m.; Downsview Park’s fireworks will start at dusk; and Amesbury Park’s show (at Keele and Lawrence) will start around 9:45 p.m. Plus, Ribfest and the CHIN picnic also have light shows. July 1. Admission is free. Various locations and times.
2. SHAKESPEARE IN HIGH PARK: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
The name is slightly different—instead of the poetic Dream in High Park, this annual theatre-under-the-sky experience has been rebranded as the slightly more literal Shakespeare in High Park—but in all other ways, nothing has changed. For its 30th season, Canstage has gone back to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the first of the Bard’s plays to get the High Park treatment. The story follows four young lovers who, while traipsing through the Athenian forest, attract the attention of the fairy king and queen. We assure you that many hijinx and laughs follow. To Sept. 4. PWYC (suggested donation $20). High Park Amphitheatre, 416-367-1652, canadianstage.com.
3. PRIDE PARADE (FREE!)
Sequins? Check. Feather boas? Check. Rainbow accoutrements? Check. Plenty of—excuse the pun!—pride? Double check. It’s time for the biggest party of the city’s annual Pride Week festivities: the parade. Join the LGBT community and their allies/fellow party monsters at this celebration of diversity. July 1. Parade starts at Church and Bloor and heads south along Yonge before pushing east on Gerrard to finish back at Church, pridetoronto.com.
4. DIGITAL DREAMS FESTIVAL
It’s not quite GlobalGathering (or even WEMF), but this newbie electronic music festival is a pretty respectable addition to the circuit. Day One’s performers include Afrojack, Duck Sauce and R3hab. On Day Two, catch Kaskade, Alesso and Major Lazer, among others. June 30–July 1. One-day pass $71-$200; Two-day pass $121–$251. The Flats at Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, 909 Lake Shore Blvd. W., 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca.
5. THAT’S SO GAY: GIRLS WHO ARE BOYS WHO DO BOYS LIKE THEY’RE GIRLS (FREE!)
The Gladstone’s annual Pride-themed art exhibits are always worth checking out. This year, curator Sholem Krishtalka takes on gender. Thought-provoking and beautiful at the same time, the exhibit features artists like Steven Beckly, Johnny Forever, Elisha Lim and Cecilia Berkovic, whose work explores “maleness,” “femaleness,” and what happens when you mess with the signifiers. To June 29 (opening reception on June 28). Admission is free. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., gladstonehotel.com.
6. CANADA DAY AT HARBOURFRONT (FREE!)
Our home and native land turns 145 this year, and Harbourfront is throwing a huge birthday bash to celebrate. Themed around the country’s artistic trailblazers and influencers, the lineup includes a family-friendly break-dancing workshop, concerts by a diverse bill of performers (like the Toronto All-Star Big Band, electro-hip hop outfit The Airplane Boys and South Africa’s Johnny Clegg Band), giant-sized board games and an all-poutine Iron Chef competition. June 29–July 2. Admission is free. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.
7. TORONTO RIBFEST (FREE!)
While meat that’s been grilled to perfection and sauced under the strict guidelines of a secret recipe is the focus of this summertime tradition, there are lots of other reasons to head westward this long weekend. For example, the beer tent, live music and a mini-midway are good reasons to swing by, too. June 29–July 2. Admission is free (donations welcome). Centennial Park, 256 Centennial Park Rd., torontoribfest.com.
8. CHIN PICNIC (FREE!)
For years, this annual picnic/multicultural festival has heralded the start of summer for Torontonians, and it’s comforting to know some things don’t change. There will be live music, performances, his-and-hers swimsuit contests at the Mr. and Miss Chin competitions, and lots of yummy international cuisine. June 30–July 2. Admission is free. Exhibition Place, 200 Princes Blvd., scotiabankchinpicnic.