Harbourfront Centre: Toronto's all-season lakeshore entertainment destination
Though things are changing for the better, Toronto traditionally hasn't made the best use of its Lake Ontario shoreline when it comes to people who take holidays to Canada. But the one major exception for the past 38 years has been Harbourfront Centre.
The non-profit cultural organization oversees 10 acres of facilities (including three marinas) at 235 Queens Quay West, directly south of the downtown core. It attracts 12 million visits annually for more than 4,000 events presented with some 450 partner community and cultural groups. It showcases works in contemporary visual arts, crafts, literature, music, dance and theatre for adults and children.
Perhaps the highest profile Harbourfront events are its weekly World Routes Summer Festivals, which showcase a diverse range of cultures, entertainment and food. This season's events include: Barbados On The Water (May 28-29); Franco-Fete (June 12); Canada Day (July 1), featuring a performance by my favourite local band, The Sadies; The Hot Spot (July 2-4); Break, Beats & Culture (July 9-11); Expressions of Brazil (July 16-18); Love, Saskatchewan (July 23-25); Island Soul (July 30-Aug. 2); What is Classical? (Aug. 6-8); Hot & Spicy Food Festival (Aug. 13-15); Fortune Cooking Food Festival (Aug. 20-22); Telus TaiwanFest Crossover (Aug. 27-29); and Ashkenaz (Sept. 4-6).
HarbourKIDS' freee programming, dedicated to children ranging in age from five to 12, will include the HarbourKIDS: Circus from May 22-24. The Free Flicks program will feature films at the Sirius Stage on the edge of the lake. Look for tall ships in port as part of the Great Lakes United Tall Ships Challenge from June 30-July 4.
There are a number of places to eat, drink and shop. A variety of boat cruises leave from Harbourfront, and the ferries to the Toronto Islands are also nearby. Or you can just take a pleasant stroll and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the lake and its environs extending west through Ann Tindal and HTO parks to Toronto Music Garden. There are five parking lots and the centre is well-served by public transportation.
Art exhibitions, plays and other performances are held year-round, and the Natrel Rink offers what is (with apologies to Nathan Phillips Square) probably Toronto's most entertaining and picturesque place to skate for free during the winter.
Visit the Harbourfront Centre web site for more information.