Beaches, parks, rooftops and six other weird and wonderful places to watch outdoor movies this summer
Sure, you could pay $15 to see one of this summer’s blockbusters in a multiplex, or you could grab a picnic blanket and enjoy one under the stars. Toronto has no shortage of community-driven, outdoor movie screenings happening throughout July and August. Here’s your guide to some of the best:
A nostalgic flick in Trinity Bellwoods
1 The sloping hill of the Trinity Bellwoods Dog Bowl is the pleasant setting for the (free) screening of a nostalgia-lover favourite, Back to the Future, on July 3. A bike valet with 200 spaces will be available from 7 to 11:15 p.m. Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Music, movies and beer in the Junction
2 Pairing film with music performances and beer, Open Roof Festival takes over the Lower Junction on Wednesdays nights (June 20–August 22) for a multi-sensory evening’s worth of entertainment. Highlights include screenings of Emmy-award winner Armando Iannucci’s new dark comedy, The Death of Stalin (July 25), and the latest film from The Fault in Our Stars’ producers, Love, Simon (July 11). As a volunteer-run not-for-profit, Open Roof Festival donates its proceeds to support Canada’s independent film and music industry. Lower Junction.
Family-friendly movies in St. James Park
3 Find free screenings on the last Thursday of every month in St. James Park throughout the summer. In July, catch Pixar’s Academy Award winner Coco, and in August, the beloved coming-of-age favourite, Breaking Away. St. James Park.
Rock ’n’ roll Tuesdays in Yonge-Dundas Square
4 “Rockumentaries” are the theme at this year’s Y&D series, with headbanger classics preceded by shorts featuring the next generation of Canadian musicians. Screenings happen every Tuesday, featuring icons like Jimmy Page and Jack White (It Might Get Loud, July 3), Amy Winehouse (Amy, August 7) the Rolling Stones (Shine a Light, August 14), and for the grand finale, The Tragically Hip (Long Time Running, August 28). Yonge-Dundas Square.
All-time favourites in the Beach
5 Nostalgia is the word on Wednesday nights at the Beach Village (July 5 to 30) with a lineup heavy on VHS staples: Uncle Buck, Mrs. Doubtfire, Ghostbusters, Mean Girls, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Rounding out the schedule are kid-friendly hits Sing, Moana and The Secret Life of Pets. Kew Gardens and Ivan Forrest Gardens.
A film festival in Christie Pits
6 As part of a “Cinematic Cities” theme, Christie Pits’ Sunday-night series (June 24 to August 19) travels from Baltimore to Hong Kong to Paris to Toronto for a cinephile-friendly lineup. Catch the locally shot Porch Stories (July 1), the dependable Casablanca (July 8) and Wong Kar-wai’s exquisite In the Mood for Love (July 15). Christie Pits.
A trip around the world in Corktown
7 The “Cinematic Cities” theme is also coming to Corktown Common Park. Things kick off in Rome with the Gregory Peck–Audrey Hepburn romance Roman Holiday (July 5) before stopping off in Toronto (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, July 12), Berlin (Cabaret, July 19), and Selma (Selma, July 26). Screenings are preceded by Toronto-shot short films. Corktown Common Park.
A diverse lineup in Regent Park
8 Regent Park’s series begins with the Brandy and Whitney Houston version of Cinderella (July 11) and closes with the quintessential Whoopi Goldberg film, Sister Act (August 15). In between, find Japanese animated film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya (July 18), Canadian “Sixties Scoop” documentary Birth of a Family (July 25), Pixar’s Coco (August 1), and Deepa Mehta’s Bollywood/Hollywood (August 8). Regent Park.
A movie on the beach
9 Toronto has plenty of outdoor screenings, but only one that you can attend from the comfort of your yacht. Sail-In Cinema returns to Sugar Beach with two popcorn classics (August 10 and 11) chosen by an online vote (polls close July 12). Cuddle up in a blanket on the shore, or drop anchor in Toronto Harbour and enjoy a movie under the stars on a two-sided screen. Sugar Beach.