6 Reasons to Hit Luminato Festival

It’s finally here.

Starting today, Luminato Festival will take Toronto all the way until midnight on the 15th. If you’re kicking around downtown, the festival will reassure you that you that there’s nothing wrong with being stuck in the city on a beautiful weekend.

Luminato Festival pretty much encompasses all that we love about Toronto: food, performance arts, film, literature and every excuse possible for a party. The 10-day international multi-arts festival transforms Toronto’s theatres, parks and public spaces with hundreds of creative events.

It all begins today.   

Why are we excited about it?

The food and drinks.

Luminato Festival offers a way to try some of the city’s best food without making a reservation.

Rain or shine, the hottest spot throughout the festival will definitely be Cardboard Beach. Found at the festival hub, David Pecaut Square, this faux beach is made completely out of cardboard and was designed by the internationally acclaimed art collective Los Carpinteros. The space will be transformed into a massive booze-filled urban oasis (aka: the largest temporary fully-licensed outdoor space in downtown Toronto) for the entire festival. An added perk? A daily Mexican block party-themed menu from Parts & Labour.

For one day only, this Saturday, Taste of the Beach is a much-loved mass food event held at Cardboard Beach. New this year is the collaboration between local chefs and Festival artists for a special BBQ-themed menu. Need a cheap date idea? Each item is only $5. (Saturday, June 7, noon to 5pm).

The mysterious The Lost Train promises to entice festivalgoers with an unforgettable train-themed food adventure, a special project by DJ Kid Koala and Chef Fred Morin (of Joe Beef). Although location details remain a secret, we can tell you that it departs from the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. It marks the first time that Luminato Festival has ever done a ticketed food event. (Tuesday, June 10, to Thursday, June 12, various times).

The music.

It wouldn’t be a Toronto festival without live music.

This means performances by top musicians like The RootsZiggy Marley and TV On The Radio. Speaking of these three favourites, we have a pair of tickets up for grabs for each. You’re welcome.

Other performers include acts like Buffy Sainte-MarieThe Heavyweights Brass Band and The Souljazz Orchestra, among many others. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra will also treat the city with a free concert (speaking of that cheap date night).

There’s also a lot of talk around Rufus Wainright’s If I Loved You: Gentlemen Prefer Broadway – An Evening of Love Duets. It brings together Boy George, Steven Page, Josh Groban, Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koening and David Byrne. The musicians unite to perform classic Broadway love songs that are usually performed by a man and a woman… or by a man about a woman.

The reads.

If you appreciate a good or old-fashioned (or not) piece of literature, you’ll find it at Luminato Festival.  

Sadly, it was rained out last year (there is a backup plan this year), but the Literary Picnic is a must-attend for book-lovers and writers. Why? With a theme of “Toronto, the Unseen,” literature lovers will gather at Trinity Bellwoods next Sunday (June 15, 12-3:30pm) to experience the works of over 60 authors, book exchanges, and one-on-one writer consultations.

The art. 

Prepare for ample Instagram activity: there’ll be no shortage of photo-worthy art installations and exhibitions throughout the festival.

Among our top picks is artist Terence Koh. The vibrant (and sometimes outrageously over-the-top) Canadian celebrity artist, who once called himself the Naomi Campbell of the art world, will premiere two new works at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg in his first-ever solo exhibit in Canada. (Friday, June 6, to Friday, June 13, 9:30pm). Kleinburg? We know, but, especially if you’ve had a couple after-work cocktails, there’s a shuttle bus that leaves from 200 Wellington each evening.

Who said jocks and the artsy type can’t mix? Hit the Art Gallery of Ontario to see how art-making is parallel to athletic training. Select video works from Matthew Barney’s acclaimed series Drawing Restraint, where each piece is part of a long-term project, will show that in art, like athletics, the development of form occurs through resistance. (Friday-Sunday 10am-5:30pm at AGO). If you miss it at the festival, it continues throughout the summer.

Speaking of art, Cardboard Beach will be a work in itself.

The party.

If last night’s Luminato Festival and Yves Saint Laurent Opening Night Party was any indication, all of the city’s party regulars will be out in full-force during the festival. It wasn’t just any party. Once the cab drivers finally found it, guests experienced a massive, raw, industrial Berlin underground-themed event at The Hearn Generating Station. It was the first time the Toronto Port Lands space had been used for an event. Though there aren’t a ton of other official parties, we are willing to bet that the city’s bars and restaurants will be livelier than usual. Based on convos with Toronto’s party staples, the unofficial place to end the evening throughout the festival will be the Drake Hotel.

The networking.

Luminato Festival attracts a mixed bag of young professionals from all industries. This means it could be an investment in your future – both personally and professionally. 

If you’re heading to the cottage this weekend, you can still check it out. The Luminato Festival runs June 6-15, 2014. 

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)


Images from: Luminato

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