Discover your new favourite indie band
Toronto is the home of indie music (shhh! don’t tell that to Montreal!) and there are no shortage of bands that are giving free performances on any given night of the week. One of the best free gigs in the city happens Tuesdays from 8.30pm at the Horseshoe Tavern hosted by infamous Toronto radio DJ Bookie from Edge 102.1 Other good places to look for gig listings is the free local papers, EYE Weekly and NOW Magazine.
Take in a free flick under the stars
Every summer there are a host of, well hosts, that open up their parks and offer free outdoor movie viewings. Some have themes (Retro Movie Night, Action/Adventure) some set up snack vendors to help with the authentic film experience, while others are more geared towards family-friendly (read: animated) selections. Whatever the movie is, you’re sure to have a good time; bring a blanket and some popcorn and you’re on your way to a freebie day out! Screenings are, for obvious reasons, a seasonal activity; watch this space for updates regarding venues announcing their film line ups as summer approaches. The usual venues are Dundas Square, Harbourfront and Downsview Park.
Host a potluck picnic in the park
Choose from any of Toronto’s gorgeous parks (personal favourites are High Park, Trinity-Bellwoods, and almost anywhere on Toronto Island, although for the last one you’ll need to pay for the ferry, so not exactly free). Invite your friends, colleagues, neighbours and bring a frisbee or soccer ball and pass the afternoon away eating and basking in the sun. If you’re the adventurous type, bring a BBQ and some beers; just try not to sell yourself out by being too rowdy. Public drinking without a license is not legal in Ontario.
Take in some culture
The Art Gallery of Ontario offers free admissions to the gallery every Wednesday after 6pm. The AGO has done some renovations in the last few years, and the new Galleria Italia is a gorgeous addition that should not be missed. Bring your camera. The Canadian Opera Company offers a free concert series where you can take in an eclectic array of artists on most Wednesday and Thursday afternoons at 12 pm. Tickets are first come, first serve so arrive early and join the line. And if it is a long wait, don’t complain! It’s free opera for crying out loud! Ticket prices start at $70 for most performances.
Explore the Historic Distillery District
Easily one of my favourite places in the city, but then again I am a history major and have an affinity to large, well-maintained industrial-era buildings. But surely it can’t just be me, as the Distillery District attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. From the cobblestone pedestrian streets (completely closed to traffic, yay!), the beautifully restored buildings, and gasp!- it’s also home to the Mill Street Brewery makers of the delicious Mill St Organic- the area is visually stunning. If you tire of the relentless charm, there are galleries, live theatres, unique cafes, jewellery, clothing and design boutiques that are more than willing to sell you their wares.
Overall, Toronto can be an expensive city, so you need to be crafty to seek out the freebies (and cheapies) as they come along. Luckily I’m a frugal ninja, so check back regularly for my other glorious inexpensive finds!