16 Free Things to do in Toronto

I would love to make this blog more interactive so please comment with other suggestions of free things to do in Toronto or write a blog about free things to do in your own city and post a link. Thanks!

1. Street art. Toronto has an abundance of highly talented local street artists that have transformed the city into a beautiful, free and inspirational art gallery accessible to all. You can find examples of street art almost anywhere in the city but Kensington market and Queen West are great places to start. Be sure to keep your eyes open and explore the side alleys. Related Post: Toronto Street Art Part 1 IMG_1549
2. Enjoy Toronto’s Harbourfront. The Harbourfront centre organizes many free events, festivals and music concerts throughout the summer months. A particular favourite of mine is the Taiwan festival held in August.TaiwanCheck out the Harbourfront Centre website for more information on events. When you can’t find anything interesting there is always the option of running, cycling or roller-blading along the lake shore.
3. Soak up the atmosphere at one of Toronto’s many festivals. You’ve probably heard of the big ones like Nuit Blanche and Caribana along with numerous parades throughout the year (Pride, Santa Clause, St. Patricks day) but don’t forget about the free events at the smaller ones such as LUMINATO.
4. One of the best ways to enjoy Toronto on a hot summer’s day is at one of many outdoor swimming pools. My top picks are Sunnyside Gus Ryder and High Park but check out this post from Blog TO for more suggestions.
5. Are you a soccer fanatic or do you just want to get some exercise and make some new friends? There are always plenty of pick-up soccer games going on around Toronto. There are free outdoor turf pitches at Bay and Bloor, Front and Spadina and Yonge and St. Clair but they tend to get busy once the warmer weather comes. Like Toronto Soccer Connection on Facebook to stay informed about free pick-up soccer games around the city and meet a great bunch of people.
6. Well Toronto isn’t exactly the Caribbean but it does have some great beaches to explore. Take a trip to Woodbine or Sunnyside beach or if you don’t mind splashing out on a ferry trip to Ward island you won’t be disappointed!
7. Toronto has a multitude of parks and green spaces to explore. Two of the most popular are High Park and Edwards Gardens. Spring and fall are particularly popular times to visit when you can enjoy the cherry blossoms or leaves changing colour.
Related Post: Cherry Blossoms in High Park
IMG_13308. Toronto has a beautiful mix of old and new architecture and a wealth of culturally diverse neighbourhoods means that there is always something new to discover and photograph. If you are new to the city Jane’s Walks are highly recommended. There are also a series of walks offered by the ROM and on May24th-May25th the 15th annual Doors Open Toronto will offer free access to 155 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city. Related Post: Toronto in Black and White

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9. The winter is long and cold in Toronto but Ice skating is one of the best ways to stay active and it’s free if you have your own skates. The rink at Nathan Phillips Square is always very popular and busy so I would highly recommend taking a trip down to the harbourfront especially if you have kids. There is also a small rink outside Ryerson University near Dundas Square that you can use if you have your own skates.
10. If you love your food Toronto is the city for you. The cultural diversity means you can always find something new and interesting to eat. Take the time to explore the food markets at Kensington and St. Lawrence which are full of wonderful fresh products.
11. Toronto’s Skyline is dominated by the CN tower and you can get great view from many places around the city. Check out this article from Blog TO for some suggestions or enjoy the view and a cocktail and Panorama Lounge.

Toronto1Check out this post for some unique views of Toronto’s skyline

12. Here is a recommendation from my dad for those times you are feeling in need of some political stimulation and education. It’s free to attend the legislative assembly of Ontario at Queens Park circle. Follow this link for more details.

13. There are a number of free music concerts that you can attend in Toronto. In the summer months Toronto Music Garden at Spadina and Queens Quay holds a wonderful classical music series. More details here. The Canadian Opera Company also holds a series of free lunchtime concerts at the Four Seasons Centre. 

14. The Art Gallery Ontario (AGO) is free to attend from 6pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday nights. However there are a number of interesting exhibits on at smaller galleries throughout the city. For example there is currently an exhibition by street artist Anser at Hashtag Gallery and earlier in the year Japanese artist Tomori Nagamoto held a highly recommended exhibition called Sweet Art at Art Barrage, Spadina Avenue. Toronto Public Library also offers a pass for free access to the AGO and ROM among other tourist attractions. Find out more details here.

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15. It’s your birthday! Time to celebrate but what can you do for free? From free ice cream at Baskin Robbins to celebrating your birthday at Medieval Times there are a number of free things you can do or get on your birthday. Here is a comprehensive list.

16. Finally if you have young children check out this information on Ontario Early Years Centres. There are a number of free baby clubs held throughout the city. We are taking my daughter to a very fun, interactive and popular baby club where she enjoys interacting with other children, playing with new toys and having music time.

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Reverse Graffiti

Welcome to the world of reverse graffiti, where the artist’s weapons are cleaning materials and where the enemy is the elements: wind, rain, pollution and decay. It’s an art form that removes dust or dirt rather than adding paint. Some find it intriguing, beguiling, beautiful and imaginative, whereas others look upon it in much the same way as traditional graffiti – a complete lack of respect for the law. Reverse graffiti challenges ideals and perceptions while at the same time shapes and changes the environment in which we live, whether people think for the better, or not.

Credit to Linda at Environmental Graffiti  for compiling a collection of some of the most incredible works of reverse graffiti and the artists behind them for your viewing pleasure.

Moose: The Original Reverse Graffiti Artist

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Real name, Paul Curtis, Moose is the grand-daddy of reverse graffiti. He’s been cleaning the streets of the UK and beyond for around ten years.

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Reverse Graffiti Project, San Francisco.

Using detergent and a wire brush, the tools of many a cleaner, graffiti artist Moose works with advertisers to create innovative clean messages and slogans that inevitably turn into works of art.

A nice video by Moose on the origin and inspiration behind reverse graffiti

Scott Wade: Reverse Graffiti on Cars

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The one and only, Einstein.

Taking the scribbles of many a budding graffiti artist to new heights, Scott Wade decorates the back of dusty car windows with much more intricate works of art than the usual ‘Wash Me’.

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Alexandre Orion – Skulls in Sao Paolo

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Etching skulls on the side of the tunnel with nothing but water and a cloth.

Hailing from Brazil, Alexandre sees his art work as a way of getting an environmental message across to those who ordinarily wouldn’t listen.

Sebastião Salgado on GENESIS at the ROM

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Photographs by Sebastião SALGADO / Amazonas images

World renowned photojournalist Sebastião Salgado in a rare appearance comes to the ROM to discuss GENESIS, a photographic essay eight years in the making.

Genesis is about our planet earth, nature and its beauty, and what remains of it today despite the manifold destruction caused by human activity. It is an attempt to portray the beauty and the majesty of regions that are still in a pristine condition, areas where landscapes and wildlife are still unspoiled, places where human communities continue to live according to their ancient culture and traditions.

Genesis is about seeing and marveling, about understanding the necessity for the protection of all this; and finally it is about inspiring action for this preservation.

This will be the first in a series of events and programs presented by ROM Contemporary Culture that explore the issues surrounding conservation and climate change and ask:

How does the landscape change a culture?

How does a culture change the landscape?

Speaker Bio: Sebastião Salgado was born on 8 February 1944 in Aimorés, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He lives in Paris, France.

Salgado has travelled to over 100 countries for his photographic projects and been widely published.

Salgado has been awarded numerous major photographic prizes in recognition of his accomplishments. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and an honorary member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States.

Date and Time: Thursday, May 2, 2013, 6:30 – 9 pm

Location: Royal Ontario Museum, Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery, Level 1

Tickets: Public: $25, Students: $15, Members: $20

Get your tickets here. See you there!