Cosmopolitan Toronto’s Vibrant Arts & Culture Scene

By Laura Goldstein

A multicultural vibe permeates the soul of Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Dotted with lush, expansive parks, avant- garde public art and cutting-edge architecture, its diverse neighborhoods and over 250 ethnicities, make Toronto one of the most desirable and best walkable cities in the world. It boasts a vast subway system to transport you across the city. You may already know it’s Drake’s hometown and Justin Bieber’s favorite place to chill but hundreds of galleries, festivals and immersive exhibitions await to pique your every interest.

Fairmont Royal York Hotel Rolls-Out the Red Carpet 
For 93 years the luxurious Fairmont Royal York across from Union Station in downtown Toronto has rolled out the red carpet for heads of state and celebrities. Perhaps it’s best known for its royal guests: HRH Queen Elizabeth II reserved an entire floor for her entourage. Prince Harry (and then girlfriend, Meghan Markle,) were guests when he hosted the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017. Although it’s undergone a contemporary refurbishment in 2019 including the sumptuous Fairmont Gold Suites, it retains many of its elegant historical Art Deco features. Juxtaposed beside modern glam are the hand-painted ceilings and the gilded clock in The Clockwork Lobby Bar, the latter a gift from HRH Queen Elizabeth II. 

The Show Must Go On 
From Broadway musicals at the Mirvish Theatre, Shakespeare In the Park to small indie productions, Toronto is a huge live theater town. In fact, many productions like the Tony Award – winning Canadian musical, “Come From Away” the story of how American travellers landed in Newfoundland during 9/11, premiered in Toronto before opening internationally. 

Harbourfront Centre: Arts & Culture For the Whole Family
As one of Toronto’s liveliest cultural destinations Harbourfront Centre provides year round music, theater and film programming with a multicultural vibe. Overlooking scenic Lake Ontario, the annual outdoor entertainment includes the Ashkenaz Music Festival, Music Masala, African Dance and Music and celebrations for National Indigenous Day. Nearby The Power Plant art gallery showcases exhibitions by contemporary visual artists. And in winter, you can skate (or take a lesson) on the Ice Loop Waterfront Rink. Helmets and skate rentals onsite.

A little further east along the waterfront, spend a day at Ontario Place where the Cinesphere and catwalks to art exhibition pods resemble a set from a sci-fi film. Designed by Toronto architect, Eberhard Zeidler, it was the first IMAX Theater in the world when constructed in 1971.  Imagine watching “Top Gun: Maverick” from the 614 seats (527 in 3D.) Then take a Segway tour around the West and East Island with Go Tours Canada – it’s easier than you think!

Living Art With Immersive “King Tut”
With the explosive trend of fine art immersive productions world-wide, Toronto is no exception. Floor-to-ceiling moving screens visually transport you into paintings at Lighthouse ArtSpace Immersive. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of his tomb, the Immersive King Tut takes you on a mystical journey following the boy king into the underworld.

Toronto is a city where great art and architecture go hand-in-hand. You’ll be mesmerized by Canadian architect, Frank Gehry’s cutting edge redesign at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario.) Showcasing over 90,000 works of art from European and African masterpieces to Contemporary collections and pivotal works by Canadian artists, the AGO boasts one of the finest Inuit collections in the world.

“These Boots are Made For Walkin’”: The Bata Shoe Museum: 
Fashionistas make your way down tony Bloor Street for a fascinating cultural tribute to some of the most precious and outrageous footwear in history. Designed like a gigantic shoe box by renowned Canadian architect, the late Raymond Moriyama, The Bata Shoe Museum showcases over 1,000 pairs of shoes, sneakers, boots and 15,000 related artifacts from Chinese-bound foot shoes to Elton John’s glamorous platforms, are displayed. 

“Jurassic Park” and “Fantastic Beasts” at the ROM
Jutting out to the sidewalk like a gigantic polished diamond is architect, Daniel Libeskind’s Crystal Wing at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM.) It’s the closest Toronto gets to “Jurassic Park ” as it’s the lair of Gordo, the 27-metre-long Barosaurus skeleton and boney friends. With the goal to entice learning through art, culture and natural history, the ROM presents imaginative interactive exhibits and programs for young people. Running to January 2023, “Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature” based on the Netflix series, encourages visitors to step into character Newt Scamander’s magical suitcase to explore  conjured creatures and the wizardry world.