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It’s Show Time

By Ilona Kauremszky | @mycompasstv

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Long hot summer days in T.O. are best enjoyed outdoors with crowds so big you’d swear Joni Mitchell or Harry Connick Jr. were in the house.

You wouldn’t be wrong thinking this either.

Every summer the city hosts an A-list of events that attract a huge international following and rightly so.

In Toronto it’s easy. Whether you’re down by the lakeshore for The Ex or rubbing shoulders with likeminded souls at The Beaches (or, as the area’s residents prefer, The Beach), the energy is fierce and the summer events: monumental.

Here’s what not to miss:

Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival

Before the lawn chairs come out I like to hang with photogs in late spring. These visual artists mount some scintillating shows in public spaces and avant-garde galleries. While this photography festival is relatively new to the city’s art scene it has already attracted a world buzz with a coterie of international photographers vying for prominent downtown wall space. This year Canadian iconic artist Michael Snow reveals six new works, a must-see.

Takeaway: The photo show makes a great ice breaker for young and old. ScotiabankContactPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of Luminato

Luminato Festival

One word: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. For culture scribes it can’t get any better than indulging in a visual and intellectual picnic. Catch an art performance, hang with an author or attend the summer-concert-of-summer concerts: Joni: a Portrait in Song. The legendary songstress is Luminato’s big marquee draw this year as Joni turns 70 years young.

Takeaway: Another festival fairly new to the Toronto scene but boy does it have legs. Plenty of free events featuring big names like performance artist Laurie Anderson and singer Roseanne Cash are billed with others. LuminatoFestival.com

Toronto Beaches International Jazz Festival

Toronto’s biggest free music street party takes over the east end in the Beach for 10 music-filled days. But things have come a long way for this fest once devoted to jazz. Celebrating world music, R&B, Rock’n’Roll, fusion, jazz you name it you can thank the founders and artistic director Bill King at the helm. The accomplished artist who’s played with greats like Janis Joplin, Linda Rondstadt and the Pointer Sisters to namedrop a few is planning for another huge mega music celebration. So get ready for show time.

Takeaway: Grab the lawn chairs and head to Woodbine Park and Kew Gardens for this alfresco crowd pleaser. beachesjazz.com

Canadian National Exhibition

Discover your inner kid or better yet take your family to Canada’s largest annual fair for ultimate fun in the sun stuff. I love the midway, the zillion rides, the cotton candy, and hearing the infectious laughter. You can’t help but put a huge grin on your face for this one.

Takeaway: The Exhibition or the ‘Ex’ to locals has always been a fixture in the final days of summer, ending its glorious three weeks of thrills on Labour Day. That’s when the grand finale happens: The Canadian International Air Show. Planes from around the world come to show off. But the real favourite is the squadron of Snowbirds from the Canadian Air Force as they perform amazing aerial acrobatics. Basically it’s the last big hurrah before the new school year. TheEx.com

Ilona Kauremszky covers the travel industry for leading consumer and trade publications and her writing is published in a wide variety of media outlets worldwide. A syndicated travel columnist Ilona is also a blogger and web producer of MyCompass.ca. She has appeared as a travel expert on TV and radio for NPR, CBC News Now and Egyptian National Television to name a few. Ilona recently received the coveted Discover America Travel Writer Award presented by the US Travel Association for her editorial work. A self-confessed travel scribe Ilona admits she’s forever on the prowl for the next cool story especially when it involves her home turf, Toronto.

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