Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of June 20–22

Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of June 20–22

The Flaming Lips play Yonge-Dundas Square during NXNE 2012. (Image: JasonParis)

In this edition of The Weekender, free concerts in Yonge-Dundas Square, a Gatsby-themed garden party and three other things to do in Toronto this weekend.


NXNE at Yonge-Dundas Square (FREE!)
Yonge-Dundas Square rarely delivers on its potential. Pretty much the only time you’ll ever see it packed to capacity is during NXNE’s annual free outdoor concert series, which gets underway this year on Thursday, June 19. Major international acts will be performing throughout the weekend, and no wristbands are required: just show up and stake out a prime spot before someone else does. Don’t miss Friday-night headliner St. Vincent. Until June 22. FREE. Yonge-Dundas Square,


Toronto Jazz Festival
Chaka Khan, Melissa Etheridge and Earth, Wind and Fire headline at this year’s Toronto Jazz Festival, making it a perfect refuge for baby boomers who can no longer hang with NXNE crowds. This year’s lineup also includes a vast repertoire of lesser-known jazz acts, for the aficionados. There will be free concerts in Nathan Phillips Square throughout the week. Until June 28. Various prices. Various locations,


Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival
To commemorate the suicide of an ancient Chinese poet (it’s a long story) teams of rowers will be racing long, dragon-shaped boats in the Toronto Islands’ waterways. In addition to the main attraction, there will be food booths and a grandstand. The annual event, now in its 26th year, doubles as a fundraiser for SickKids, so there’s that, too. June 21–22. FREE to watch. Centre Island,


Gatsby Garden Party
Anyone looking for an excuse to wear their three-piece suit or flapper dress might want to check out Spadina Museum’s Gatsby Garden Party, an outdoor soiree on the grounds of a fully restored turn-of-the-century mansion. There’s a prize for the best period costume, plus era-appropriate music and a “ukulele jam.” June 22. $5. Spadina House Museum, 285 Spadina Rd.,


Steam on Queen (FREE!)
Spadina House isn’t the only historical museum with something weird planned this weekend. At Campbell House, steampunk aficionados will be gathering in full regalia (meaning, lots of goggles, long coats, gears, funny hats and other clothing items that are vaguely evocative of a sci-fi geek’s fantasy version of the 19th century) for a day of performances. Subject-appropriate vendors will be on hand, making this a great opportunity to stock up on pocket watches and monocles. June 21. FREE. Campbell House Museum, 160 Queen St. W.