Kick off the summer season with an array of Toronto events this week. You can celebrate local talent at the best venues across the city or take an improv class to one stay step foot on stage. There are endless opportunities this week to participate in the arts and once again, we have you covered. Check out the selection of this week’s Best Bets below.

Canadian Music Week

Tune in to celebrate Canada’s rising artists at Canadian Music Week for its 42nd year to celebrate a dynamic range of music with over 250 acts across Toronto. This year will blend iconic and groundbreaking headliners with fresh and emerging talent for the next generation. Notable artists to keep on your radar include Katie Tupper at The Drake Underground, Charlotte Day Wilson at History, and Allie X at the Opera House. Find your next concert this week around the city and get involved with the local music scene. More info.

When: June 1-8

Where: Venues across Toronto

Second City: Free Drop-in Improv Classes

Slip into the warm, passionate, and hilarious embrace of improv with world-renowned comedians. The Second City is offering a week-long series of free 90-minute drop-in classes this month. If commitment is holding you back from giving this a try, don’t worry! There is nothing to sign and no need to commit to a full term, just show up and act. You can boost your confidence, enhance creativity, communicate, and make new friends while trying something new. More info.

When: June 3-9

Where: The Second City

Luminato Festival

See the city’s big, bold contemporary works of art that cut across traditional artistic boundaries of music, dance, theater, and visual art. The program was originally created to help Toronto rebuild after the SARS epidemic , but since then they have intersected artists, spectators, and city spaces to produce once-in-a-lifetime experiences that highlight the very best of the city, region, and country. In the last decade, this festival has featured more than 3,600 performances and 15,000+ artists from over 40 countries. Get your ticket to engage in this creative sanctuary that starts conversations, inspires audiences, and gives the arts a real-world context. More info.

When: June 5-16

Where: Across Toronto

Courtesy of Wants & Able Arts Consulting

Mermaid Ball

Legs are required for swimming and dancing, and for attending the magical Mermaid Ball at the Drake Hotel for its sixth year. This event is Toronto’s summer kick-off costume party that celebrates the brighter days of the summer season. There will be an eclectic spectacle of costumes, music, and imaginative performances for those who dare to come. Each floor of the event carries out different themes and attendees can swim – or walk through each one to meet all the best merfolks. There are no limits or restrictions to where the creative mind can go at this event! More info.

When: June 7 

Where: Drake Hotel

MOTIVE Crime & Mystery Festival

Follow notable crime and mystery authors at the third annual MOTIVE Festival.  There will be in-conversations and readings with Ashley Audrain, Shari Lapena, Yun Ko-eun, and Katrín Júlíusdóttir to name a few. Attendees can put on their detective hats to explore over 40 events and  meet some of the best writers from Canada and around the world. From cozy crime to police procedural reads, these page-turning genres have become celebrated and loved worldwide. More info.

When: June 7-9

Where: Harbourfront Centre

Photo by Joshua Best

Do West Fest

Celebrate Toronto’s most vibrant communities and stop by the annual Do West Fest for their 11th anniversary. The popular festival makes its return and is set to run along Dundas Street from Ossington to Lansdowne. There will be free musical performances, art installations by local businesses, food trucks, artisan vendors and more. This is the perfect weekend activity for families and individuals of all ages as it marks Toronto’s start to summer. More info. 

When: June 7-9 

Where: Along Dundas Street West

Courtesy of TIFF

Women in Action

TIFF’s new marquee series Women in Action celebrates trailblazing women actors and stunt performers who have advanced the action genre both on and off screen. Spanning 70 years with a focus on American and Asian cinema, this 25-film series explores various themes and genres to shine a light on action stars. There will be an extensive lineup of special events, talks, and activities throughout the run of this series. Your favourite influential films and iconic action stars will be recognized so come on out and see all the women who paved their own careers. More info.

When: June 7 – July 31

Where: TIFF Lightbox Theatre

Worldwide Knit in Public Day 

Calling all knitters! Around the world knitters will be gathering to celebrate their craft in public spaces on June 8. . Join them this weekend in Toronto for a Pride-themed knitting event!  Celebrate 2SLGBTQ+ communities by adding to knitted rainbow flag decorations at Gibson House Museum. Though this event is free, attendees are encouraged to bring their own projects, tools, and materials to add to their decorations! More info. 

When: June 8

Where: Gibson House Museum

Beaches Arts and Crafts 

This uniquely Canadian handmade outdoor marketplace in the heart of Toronto’s Beach community features the works of over 150 independent artists, artisans, makers, and designers. The show has long been known as a beloved annual springtime activity. Meet passionate creatives in person, hear their stories, and feel their work first-hand. Come out for this unforgettable experience under the sun and shop for handmade products that are guaranteed to last a lifetime. More info.

When: June 8-9

Where: Key Garden

Ontario Plant Show 

Become one with the world of plants at the Ontario Plant Show with a diverse range of plant-related retailers, nurseries, small hobbyists, and content creators. There will be a diverse array of plant enthusiasts and vendors to ensure a haven for every botanical interest. Whether you are a hobbyist or just starting out, this event offers a unique opportunity to connect, learn, and celebrate the world of plants. There will be 40 amazing vendors to sow their finest selections to elevate your indoor jungle. Don’t miss out on this chance to mingle with fellow plant enthusiasts and enrich your green thumb knowledge. More info.

When: June 9

Where: The Old Mill

Courtesy of Toronto International Storytelling Festival

Toronto International Storytelling Festival

There’s always so many sides to the same story, but what if there was an event to hear them all? Storytelling Toronto announces their 45th annual Toronto International Storytelling Festival with live performances and events across venues throughout Toronto, Mississauga, and Oshawa with online and free offerings. There will be international and local performers, Toronto-based storytelling groups and creative initiatives. However, this event is more than just a gathering, it is a vibrant tapestry with countless tales. More info.

When: June 9-17

Where: Venues across Toronto