10 Reasons You’ll Feel Something New in Toronto

If you’re looking for a new perspective you’ve come to the right place. Toronto’s art and culture scene is guaranteed to inspire.

Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Toronto
Immersive Van Gogh is custom designed to the historic space that housed the Toronto Star’s printing presses at 1 Yonge Street

Home to more artists than any other city in Canada and one of North America’s leading economies for entertainment and media, Toronto exudes culture and creativity. Discover Toronto’s art and culture scene through its destination museums and venues, and countless off-the-radar gems. From block parties infused with tastes and sounds inspired by the world to public art installations that make outdoor spaces come alive, here are 10 reasons you’ll feel something new in Toronto.

1. Landmark Museums with Acclaimed Collections and Exciting Exhibits

Toronto’s landmark museums are destinations in and of themselves—and whether it’s your first visit or your dozenth, there’s something new to discover. It’s easy to lose yourself among the 13 million pieces of art, ancient artifacts and natural history remnants at the Royal Ontario Museum—the institution is Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum.

While more recent entrants to the museum scene, such as the Aga Khan, showcase more than 1,000 years of artistic accomplishment from Muslim civilizations, along with spectacular architecture. Another new addition this year, Toronto welcomed the world premiere of the new Immersive Van Gogh exhibit.

2. The Vibrant and Very Walkable Bloor Street Cultural Corridor

Lining a mile-long (1.5 kilometre) stretch of Toronto’s downtown, the Bloor Street Cultural Corridor is one of the city’s most walkable cultural districts. Bound by Bay and Bathurst Streets, the corridor includes venues to pique any and every interest. From the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of footwear at the Bata Shoe Museum to the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, which aims to celebrate and preserve the rich traditions of Canada’s First Peoples, there’s an impressive array of offerings packed into this vibrant, utterly accessible zone (it’s served by five subway stations).

3. Its Cinematic Claim to Fame—All Year Round

Hollywood may descend on the city each September for the Toronto International Film Festival, but the city offers a terrific cinematic escape any time of year. From the century-old Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, dedicated to first-run documentaries from Canada and around the world, to the TIFF Bell Lightbox, film festival HQ and a theatre that screens curated picks and retrospectives year-round, Toronto offers movie-lovers a serious edge on the local multiplex.

4. The Renowned Broadway and Underground Theatre

It’s one of the worst-kept secrets among theatre buffs: to catch the next biggest Broadway hit, skip the lineup in Times Square and head to Toronto. Tony-award-winning shows, from Come From Away to Hairspray, frequently take the stage in Toronto months ahead of their New York debuts alongside perennial hits (Mirvish Productions is the name to watch for extravaganzas such as Hamilton and Cats).

While the Mirvish theatres (and others) remain closed, you can still stay connected with the company with their online magazine Meanwhile and Check in from Away, a video chat show that checks in with theatre professionals—actors, writers, directors and musicians—about what they are doing in these interesting times.

If your tastes run more indie and experimental, check out the Toronto Fringe every July or immersive only-in-Toronto productions such as those by Outside the March.

5. The Outdoor Urban Art Scene in Some Unexpected Places

With 8,000 hectares of green space, you’re never far from parkland in Toronto—even when you’re in the city core. But in true Toronto style, the great outdoors become the great art-doors thanks to initiatives such as the Pan Am Path, an 80-kilometre multi-use trail, and the Bentway underneath the Gardiner Expressway, which complement public urban spaces with the works of local and international artists.

6. Because it’s a Small, Amazing World

To immerse yourself in the sounds, sights and flavours of the many communities that make up this diverse city, hit up one of the 140 neighbourhoods. Although cultural festivals and events went virtual and online this year, there’s always cultural celebration happening that lets you feel just how small the world can be. Consider indulging your senses with a self-guided food crawl inspired by overseas flavours or sample street food from around the world.

7. A Chance to Peek into the Historical Architecture and Unique Spaces

Toronto’s exploding skyline is a sight to behold—but it belies the countless unique and historical buildings (and their remarkable contents) that are tucked all over town. The annual Doors Open weekend is usually the best opportunity to see hundreds of these remarkable venues—but visitors don’t have to wait until next spring to get inside some popular favourites. You can check out some of the traditional sites without leaving home through Digital Doors Open Toronto.

Through the city’s HistoricTO program, you can travel back in time with walking tours spotlighting the Toronto History Museums, 10 museums owned and operated by the City of Toronto. The extensive Toronto History Museums Artifact Collection is also available online.

8. You’ll Hear the World

Toronto will get your toes tapping to tunes from all over: while the city’s huge range of venues means you can catch a show from up-and-coming and well-known musicians any night of the week, there’s no better place to expand your aural horizons than the city’s international music festivals. From the largest free African music festival in North America to Small World, which celebrates music from across Asia, a visit to Toronto lets you travel the world with your ears.

While nothing beats watching live performances and attending festivals in person, during an unprecedented year, Toronto’s creative community worked to bring imaginative and artful live entertainment right into your home.

9. You Can Celebrate our Craftiest

Pair the opportunity to support the city’s craftiest residents with some souvenir shopping at events such as the Queen West Art Crawl and the One of a Kind Show, which showcase some of Toronto’s most talented makers. From handcrafted clothes to jewellery to other works, you can also find original made-in-Toronto creations at many local boutiques and galleries such as those in the Kensington Market and West Queen West neighbourhoods.   

10. The Art Scene Never Sleeps

Toronto’s creativity never stops—but it stays up extra late every year for the city’s annual Nuit Blanche event. For one night every fall, the sunset to sunrise celebration transforms the city into a free all-night art gallery, with dozens of immersive, interactive and often surprising installations encompassing any and every type of medium you can think of.

This year, Nuit Blanche 2020 will move online with expanded digital content and special online events on the night of October 3, continuing with its two-year curatorial theme, The Space Between Us.

A person looks through a light tunnel art installation at Toronto's Nuit Blanche
Toronto’s annual Nuit Blanche is a sunset to sunrise celebration of art

See it. Snap it. Share it. In every neighbourhood, around every corner, through every door there's something that begs to be discovered in Toronto.

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