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Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this August

Including a weekend of nerdom, a community dance-athon and a historic novel about forbidden love

Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this August
Photo by Getty Images

1 This month, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival kicks off for five days of magnificent costumes, great music and even better vibes. One of the largest of its kind in North America, the event attracts millions of visitors from around the world. On Saturday, the Grande Parade will fill the waterfront with colourful masqueraders, steel drummers and dancers. Reggae, soca, calypso and dance hall concerts are also taking place across the city. August 3 to 7, various locations

2 Kai Cheng Thom is a Chinese Canadian transgender activist and author who has built her life around the values of justice, love, hope and healing. When she found herself overwhelmed by the violence in the world, she began channelling her despair into letters, poems and prayers dedicated to the outsiders and runaways she identifies with. Falling Back in Love With Being Human: Letters to Lost Souls collects these missives, showing readers—and the author—a path toward compassion, understanding and self-acceptance. Out August 1

Events in Toronto this August, including the Power Plant's exhibition of Ron Terada's headline collage series, We Did This to Ourselves
Photo by Henry Chan, courtesy of the Power Plant

3 Award-winning visual artist Ron Terada is making headlines—but not in the usual sense. Since 2016, the Vancouver-­based artist has been lifting pop-­culture headlines from online news site The Verge, recasting them in the New York Times’ austere font and printing them as massive canvas collages to form a series of 325 works titled TL;DR (web slang for “too long; didn’t read”). The latest edition, We Did This to Ourselves, which tells the story of the year 2020, is included in this exhibition at the Power Plant, along with a new sign sculpture by the artist. Until September 4, The Power Plant

4 Do you remember? The eighth night of August? It may not have the same ring to it, but any evening that soul legend Lionel Richie and famed Chicago funk outfit Earth, Wind & Fire are on the same stage promises to be unforgettable. Their joint Sing a Song All Night Long Tour is something of a victory lap for Richie, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, won several awards—including the Icon Award at the 2022 American Music Awards—and has been touring around Europe since June. Never a cloudy day, indeed. August 8, Scotiabank Arena

Events in Toronto this August, including The National live at Budweiser Stage
Photo by Getty Images

5 American rock band the National broke out in 1999, showering audiences across the globe with an ethereal mix of melancholy lyrics, rock ballads and gorgeous storytelling. In preparation for the release of their ninth studio album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, this past April, the group came out with new merch featuring the slogan “Sad Dads,” leaning in to their downcast dad-rock image. Their latest album includes songs with Sufjan Stevens, Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers, and for this stop on their tour, Patti Smith and U.S. Girls will be joining. It’s the perfect opportunity to rock out—with feeling. August 20, Budweiser Stage

6 Ben Schwartz has starred opposite Steve Carrell in Space Force and faced off against Nicolas Cage in Renfield. But, as the comedy special Middleditch & Schwartz proves, he’s at his best doing long-form improv. The comedian comes to Massey Hall for a show that he and fellow improvisers will create from scratch. August 26, Massey Hall

Events in Toronto this August, including Porch View Dances: Real People Dancing in Real Spaces
Photo by SV Photography

7 Porch View Dances: Real People Dancing in Real Spaces transforms the leafy Seaton Village neighbourhood into a series of stages. Conceived by award–winning Toronto choreographer Karen Kaeja in 2012, the event invites residents to collaborate with dance professionals and perform on their own porches and lawns. August 9 to 13, Seaton Village

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8 Saturated in Caribbean folklore, Zalika Reid-Benta’s debut novel, River Mumma, follows grad student Alicia, who stumbles onto an unexpected quest to find the missing comb of the book’s eponymous Jamaican water deity. Why would River Mumma choose me? Alicia wonders. But, as her childhood visions return and she starts to feel strange connections to those around her, an adventure through the streets of Toronto—and time—sets off. River Mumma is a propulsive read filled with captivating characters, page-­turning mystery, and a thoughtful examination of kinship and ancestral ties. Out August 22

Events in Toronto this August, including a show featuring the music of Detroit by Soulpepper Theatre
Photo by Travis Knights

9 Once the hub of the auto industry and, later, a symbol of urban decay, Detroit has had its ups and downs. But its output of influential music endures, spanning Motown, rock, hip-hop and techno. Detroit: Music of the Motor City features the city’s history via its iconic sounds, including hits by Aretha Franklin, the Jackson 5 and more. August 9 to 20, Young Centre for the Performing Arts

10 Quiet Street is a timely read for a moment when our society is grappling with widespread, deeply rooted inequality. Writer Nick McDonell grew up on New York’s Upper East Side, surrounded by affluence and greed. In this nonfiction account, he returns to his roots, examining the growth of the ruling class, how its wealth and power are accumulated and hoarded, and why outsiders remain excluded. Through McDonell’s careful, compassionate reporting and insight, he offers hope for the possibility of real change. Out August 22

Events in Toronto this August, including Rina Sawayama at History
Photo by Getty Images

11 On the heels of her highly anticipated second studio album, Hold the Girl, Rina Sawayama returns to Toronto. In 2020, Sawayama’s namesake debut studio album was released to critical acclaim. It caught the attention of Elton John, who later appeared on a duet of Sawayama’s re-released single, “Chosen Family.” And the artist’s profile has only continued to rise: earlier this year, she made her big-screen debut in John Wick: Chapter 4 alongside Keanu Reeves. August 9 to 10, History

12 Jimmy Eat World first rocked the mainstream with their 2001 hit, “The Middle.” After three decades in the game, the band has gained a loyal following with their alternative rock sound. This year, the group announced the Amplified Echoes Tour with indie rock band Manchester Orchestra—and the troupes are now bringing the show to 29 cities across North America. August 21, RBC Echo Beach

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Events in Toronto this August, including Fan Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
Photo by CP Images

13 Toronto’s annual weekend of glorious nerdom returns with a special guest: Anakin Skywalker—known IRL as Hayden Christensen. Fresh from reprising his role in Disney’s Kenobi, he headlines this year’s Fan Expo to host a panel and offer photo-ops. Other guests include Gwendoline Christie from Game of Thrones, Spider-Man director Sam Raimi and Chevy Chase of the National Lampoon series. As expo goers know, half the fun is watching the cosplayers, and this year’s event features a kids’ costume contest and a red carpet lined with photographers. August 24 to 27, Metro Toronto Convention Centre

14 The dora award–winning Guild Theatre Festival takes to the water this month. Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome’s classic Victorian travelogue, makes its way to the Guild’s outdoor theatre in a hit adaptation by playwright Mark Brownell. Jay, George and Harris, along with Montmorency the dog, set out on a boat tour of the River Thames—only to encounter a series of comic mishaps. July 27 to August 13, Guild Park and Gardens

Events in Toronto this August, including RuPaul's Drag Race Werk the World
Photo by Marco Ovando

15 Get ready, Toronto—the biggest and baddest drag show on earth is coming to town. RuPaul’s Drag Race Werq the World is a sci-fi extravaganza set in a dystopian future in which stars must figure out what is real and what is merely perception. Featuring such iconic queens as Sasha Colby, Mistress Isabelle Brooks, Daya Betty and more, this multimillion-dollar production promises music, fashion and choreography like nothing fans of drag have seen before. It’s a high bar, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s RuPaul. August 20, Scotiabank Arena

16 From the bestselling author of Room and The Wonder, the latest novel by Emma Donoghue, Learned by Heart, is based on the true story of Eliza Raine and Anne Lister. In 1805, when the girls meet at the Manor School for young ladies in York, a deep and secret love emerges between them. The novel draws on years of research as well as Anne’s secret journal to craft a dangerous and passionate love story. Out August 29


What Torontonians are loving right now

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What Torontonians are loving right now, including The Riverton Rifle by Reggie Leach
Barnes by Red Works Photography
The Riverton Rifle by Reggie Leach

Recommended by Herbie Barnes, artistic director, Young People’s Theatre

Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this August

“I’ve been enjoying this autobiography by famous Canadian hockey player Reggie Leach. A Stanley Cup winner of Ojibwe descent, Leach traces his rise from poverty to becoming one of the best shooters in the sport—earning the nickname ‘the Riverton Rifle.’”


What Torontonians are loving right now, including Tour de France: Unchained on Netflix
Tour de France: Unchained (Netflix)

Recommended by Heather Dixon, author, Burlington

Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this August

“I love suspense and high stakes, and even if you know nothing about professional biking (like me), you’ll be entertained by this docuseries. It follows riders and managers from cycling teams as they compete in the 2022 Tour de France. The show has drama, disaster and triumph.”


What Torontonians are loving right now, including "Skicinuwihkuk" by Jeremy Dutcher
“Skicinuwihkuk” by Jeremy Dutcher

Recommended by Stephanie Sinclair, publisher, McClelland and Stewart

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Sixteen things to see, do, read and hear in Toronto this August

“I can’t stop listening to Jeremy Dutcher’s new single. Both an act of preservation and an invitation to think differently about our country’s future, it’s a beautiful, haunting song that embraces listeners while challenging us to face the truth about Canada’s history.”

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