As Canada’s largest city, there is undoubtedly no lack of things to do in this bustling metropolis during the month of May. A smorgasbord of Canadian culture, shopping, live performances, cuisine and more, it’s easy to empty your pockets fast in Toronto. However, try seeking out alternatives to the typical tourist attractions and sights. This way you can get the full metropolitan experience without worrying about your wallet. Furthermore, visiting in May means you can enjoy outdoor events and public spaces without wading through throngs of summertime tourists.
April 25th-May 5th: Hot Docs International Documentary Festival
As the biggest film festival in North America, Hot Docs is nothing short of a cinematic cornucopia. The festival’s roster of thought-provoking films includes an impressive variety of subjects and issues. These range from human and animal rights, gender, politics, ecology, religion, mental health, racism and technology. If you’re a student or senior, show a piece of valid ID to get free admission to films that start before 5 pm. If you’re planning on attending multiple screenings, save a few dollars with their 6-film bundle for $99.
May 6th-12th: Canadian Music Week
Catch all the best of Canada’s top acts during this combined industry event and music festival. Take in workshops, discussion panels and a huge selection of live shows at over 40 different venues. There’s bound to be something you won’t want to miss. Also, be sure to get yourself a wristband to get the best value out of this talent-packed event!
May 10th-12th: Tastemakers Toronto
Ever wanted to get up close and personal with the chefs behind your favourite fancy restaurant? You’re in luck! Indulge in unique dishes exclusively prepared for this gourmet event by a pair of talented chefs. The hardest part will be deciding which culinary session to attend. The relaxed atmosphere spills over from the kitchen into the bar. Here, you can sip on the creative concoctions of Toronto’s top mixologists. And don’t worry, your bar tab is included in the cost of your ticket for this event! The participation of local restaurants, musicians and artisans rounds out this fine dining experience.
May 18th-20th: Artfest Toronto
Looking for some great curated art? This festival showcases the work of over 80 Canadian artists, including sculptures, paintings, photography, pottery, glass art and more. This is all topped off with gourmet food, live music and a free art workshop at the Artfest Kids pavilion. This event is held in the pedestrian-only, historical Distillery District, which features well-preserved Victorian industrial architecture. Filled with character, this village has been one of Canada’s National Historic Sites since 1988.
May 24th-May 26th: Toronto Poutine Fest
Looking to indulge in some carbs to help recover from a fun night out? Dig in at the Toronto Poutine Fest, which runs for the entire last weekend in May. This festival is held in Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto’s equivalent of Times Square. Enjoy over 50 varieties of poutine — okay, not all of them, maybe just pick and choose between a few! They’re all served up by popular food trucks in a festive atmosphere filled with live music.
May 2nd, 8th, 9th, 22nd and 23rd: Canadian Opera Company
See a professional concert…for free! Yes, you read that right. Attend one of their lunch-hour shows without paying a cent. They offer much more than just opera — experience a variety of musical performances held within the impressive, naturally-lit Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. In May, this will include various chamber music performances as well as a vocal performance. The amphitheater’s glass façade allows audience members a full view of the bustling University Avenue.