Press Release:
What’s New & Happening in Toronto – Spring & Summer 2016

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

Contact info + PDF Version

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Destination Toronto Media Relations:
Office: 416-203-3812
Fax – 416-203-6753

Download a PDF version of this press release: What’s New & Happening in Toronto, Ontario Canada – Spring/Summer 2016 (PDF).

TORONTO, CANADA (February 25, 2016) – 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year in Toronto with extremely special events (we recently welcomed the NBA All-Star Weekend) and returning favourites from grand art installations, global sports events, and major milestones, such as the CN Tower’s 40th anniversary.

Whether you fancy theatre, art or sports, Toronto has something for everyone! Check out the special exhibits at the ROM, watch a Mirvish show or catch a foul ball during the Jays’ 40th season! Don’t miss a beat; Toronto is full of action this season.

Read on and find out the updates and latest news happening in Toronto or visit:


Thompson Toronto Hotel is continuing its evolution as one of the premiere entertainment, accommodation and events destination at the heart of trendy King West Village with the renovation of its Lobby Bar, updating its meeting spaces and creating new guestrooms, at a total cost of over $1.5 million. The re-imagined Lobby Bar, which debuted February 2016, reflects Thompson’s refined edge, with contemporary décor and a lively atmosphere targeting creative professionals and visitors alike. Programming includes ongoing events and after-work promotions, with the bar highlighting Canadian Whisky and serving classic cocktails with a modern flare, while a seasonal dining menu will deliver simple-yet-elegant tapas and shareable plates with modern accents. New to the Lobby Bar is a high-tech, private event space, featuring an enormous 60 square foot multi-functional HD media wall. This convertible space, which can be completely private or open to the main bar, can accommodate over 100 people.

To update the Thompson Toronto Hotel’s meeting spaces, the third floor Portland Meeting Room, which opens onto the hotel’s expansive third floor terrace, is being updated with décor, furnishing and technology to accommodate meetings of up to 40 attendees. Also on the third floor are three newly constructed guest rooms complete with Thompson’s trademark ultra-modern design and furnishings, as well as private terraces.

Courtyard Marriott Toronto Downtown is undergoing a $14.5 million transformation. When complete in May 2016, the hotel will offer redesigned guest rooms with a residential feel, tone-on-tone décor offering relaxation and abundant comfort along with stylish bathrooms, new corridors, new Marriott beds, in-room safes, mini fridges, 60 TV channels and free Wi-Fi.

The redesigned contemporary meeting space will come available the first half of 2016, starting with the transformed Courtyard Hall. This conference and event space accommodates up to 400 guests. There will be new, expanded meeting rooms that provide additional space for meeting and dining events for up to 200 people. Guests will appreciate the refreshed lobby and new lobby Bistro.

Nouvelle Maria Spa in the Omni King Edward Hotel will undergo a dramatic upgrade by 2017. After 27 years, the rejuvenated Spa will complement the new look and feel of the refurbished King Eddie Hotel and provide first-class spa services to hotel guests and locals alike. The Spa is introducing a new product, La Peau, the new anti-aging reave from Switzerland. Its revolutionary BeCell molecular complex steams from years of skin research by Swiss scientist.


Saks Fifth Avenue opened its first store in Canada at Toronto’s Eaton Centre (163,000 square feet) on February 18, 2016. The second store will open at Sherway Gardens (150,000 square feet) on February 25, 2016. Both stores introduce The Fifth Avenue Club, Saks Fifth Avenue’s personal shopping and styling service, and also feature the renowned luxury hair and beauty salon, John Barrett. As part of the landmark launch of the brand in Toronto, Pusateri’s Fine Foods will be integrating a world-class food experience at both stores.

On March 1, 2016 Square One will open its Luxury Wing, which will be home to many luxury and aspirational brands, including kate spade new york, Stuart Weitzman, Marc Cain, Ben Sherman, Rolex by Raffi Jewellers, Wolford, Michael Kors, BCBG, Alex & Ani, Papyrus, and Club Monaco among others. The wing will play host to Harry Rosen, which is relocating to a new flagship space, as well as Canada’s leading luxury brand Holt Renfrew, which will be joining Square One’s premium roster with a 130,000 square foot store opening in summer 2016. Rounding out the great roster of Canadian retailers joining Square One, the first ever Simons in Ontario will open on March 17, 2016.

Nordstrom will open a flagship three-level store in the fall of 2016 at Toronto’s Eaton Centre. This will be the first of three Nordstorms set to open in the Greater Toronto Area. The Yorkdale Shopping Centre location (191,000 square feet) is scheduled to open in October 2016 and a third Toronto location at Toronto’s Sherway Gardens (138,000 square feet) is set to open summer of 2017.


Spacious and exclusive, The VUE Event Venues newest acquisition is the Royal Woodbine Golf Club and Lounge. This newly renovated space marks the city’s only access to the stunning greens of the Royal Woodbine Golf Course in this 9,000 square foot, million dollar project. Both The Vue and VUE Walkout event spaces are sexy, innovative, and exclusive. Dual spaces with separate entrances, feature multiple bars, floor to ceiling windows walking out to the luxurious multi-purpose 4000 square foot patio, with banquettes, cool dining options, a fireplace and soft, lounge furnishings.


What better way to welcome spring than to come and meet the Toronto Zoo‘s giant panda cubs, white lion cubs and polar bear cub. Canada’s first two giant panda cubs were born on October 13, 2015 and both are now exploring their new habitat within the Zoo’s Giant Panda Experience with mom Er Shun. Visit the panda cubs on display to the public on March 12, 2016. And of course don’t forget about the Zoo’s four male white lion cubs which can be viewed in the African Lion Habitat in the African Savanna, and the female polar cub which can be viewed in the Polar Bear Maternity Den in the Tundra Trek.

Yoga at Ripley’s Aquarium has returned. Transport yourself to the tropical islands as you mountain pose in front of Rainbow Reef. Watch the graceful stingrays glide through the water in Ray Bay as you perfect your warrior pose. Join the Aquarium for their yoga sessions alternating between their Rainbow Reef and Ray Bay exhibits running from March to August.

American and Canadian artists of the 1960s and ’70s changed the feel and appearance of abstract painting, and you can appreciate this at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s A New Look: 1960s and ’70s Abstract Painting exhibit until March 26, 2016. They soaked pigment directly into the canvas, which enabled them to move beyond the thickly painted and dramatically brushed work of the previous generation.

Drawings are among the most personal, immediate and experimental works of art and you can experience this at the Drawing, Je t’aime: Selections from the AGO Vaults exhibit. This special exhibition, on until March 26, 2016, gathers together drawings from across time and place from all the AGO’s collecting areas. Drawing, Je t’aime has been curated by members of the newly formed Print & Drawing Council (comprised of staff in the curatorial, conservation and programming departments). Working collaboratively, they have made some surprising finds in the boxes in the Print & Drawing vaults. Their discoveries include over 100 rarely seen drawings by Jacopo Tintoretto, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Robert Motherwell, Joyce Wieland and Annie Pootoogook; extraordinary sketchbooks by William Cruikshank, given to the AGO by the artist in 1909; and a series of vivid impressions of the Apollo 13 space voyage sketched by K.M. Graham in 1970.

Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard, on at the Art Gallery of Ontario from January 30–July 17, 2016, invites visitors to lose themselves inside a unique installation of 100 vintage Chinese wardrobe doors which transforms the exhibition space into a series of snaking walkways and small rooms reminiscent of Beijing’s traditional communal living spaces. Evocative of the contemporary urban experience from Beijing to Toronto, in which traditional architectures and ways of living together are being threatened by rapid growth, this thoughtful, playful installation invites audiences to reconsider how we might hold onto some elements of tradition while radically reimagining them for the present.

The Art Gallery of Ontario presents the Hurvin Anderson: Backdrop exhibit from May 19 – August 21, 2016. Best known for his paintings of lush Caribbean landscapes and urban barbershops, British artist Hurvin Anderson portrays charged social histories and shifting notions of cultural identity with poignancy and great beauty. The child of Jamaican parents who settled in Birmingham, Anderson creates large-scale landscapes and interiors that are brightly hued meditations on place, memory and inclusion.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is partnering with the Hammer Museum to introduce Lawren Harris’s iconic landscapes. The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris will be the first major solo exhibition of his work to be shown in the United States, and will arrive in Toronto in July 1 – September 11, 2016. The core of the exhibition features more than 30 of Harris’ most significant and rare northern landscapes from the 1920s and 1930s, drawn from major public and private collections across Canada.

Enter the visually stunning world of The Kirwin Collection: Legacy of an Exploration Geologist at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). With over 21,000 specimens, this truly is a rock collection of epic proportions. Amassed over the past 40 years by exploratory geologist Douglas Kirwin, the collection is made up of minerals and ores from around the world, with a special focus on the Asia-Pacific region. This extraordinary addition to the museum’s Earth Sciences collection makes the ROM home to a distinguished and important geological collection.

The ROM is taking over an entire gallery to showcase a collection of Mexican textiles with the ¡Viva México! Clothing and Culture exhibit. It’s one of the largest and most important in the world, yet few textiles from this remarkable collection have ever been displayed. Vibrant expressions of creativity, the pieces in this exhibition combine remarkable technical skill with exquisite artistry. Over 150 stunning historic and contemporary pieces are on display, including complete costume ensembles, sarapes, rebozos, textiles, embroidery, beadwork and more.

Try to Escape from the Tower at Casa Loma. This is the first installation of the Casa Loma Escape Series, a fictional experience based on historical facts. You have 60 minutes to complete your missions. In 1941, Casa Loma was used as an undercover research centre for anti–submarine detection technology. William Corman was commissioned to continue the anti–submarine detection research after the original centre was bombed in the London Blitz. The newest game, King of the Bootleggers, will take players through this tunnel to experience the 1920s and the mysterious disappearance of a key criminal suspect.

McMichael Canadian Art Collection turns 50 in 2016. To celebrate, McMichael will feature a special exhibition, A Foundation for Fifty Years: McMichael Masterwork until May 1, 2016. The McMichael owes its existence and collection to the generosity of donors. A Foundation for Fifty Years will present some of the most significant donations made for the McMichael gallery’s founding year, 1966, by Signe and Robert McMichael, as well as their peers, who were all excited to make Canadian masterworks a gift to the public of Ontario. Installed in the McMichael’s principle gallery on the ground floor, this collection of masterworks celebrates their core artists – the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. Artists on show include Tom Thomson, Lawren Harris, David Milne, and Emily Carr, to name a few. The exhibition space has been restored to its 1960s modernist style, in a manner that the McMichaels intended: traditional materials with modern lines.

Cineplex is bringing its latest venture, The Rec Room, to Toronto in the form of an entertainment complex that will focus on arcade games and live entertainment. Moving into the Leon’s Furniture store in Roundhouse Park in early 2017, this 40,000 square-foot space will feature an upscale casual restaurant, a bar with multiple high- definition screens, games, shuffleboard courts, pool tables, ping pong tables and an entertainment venue.

Playdium is the ultimate high-tech, interactive, virtual and physical entertainment center. The 40,000 square foot indoor complex features more than 200 of today’s newest and most popular attractions, simulators and games. The newest featured attractions and games at Playdium include Crossy Roads, Kung Fu Panda, Black Hole, Grand Piano Keys, Star Wars Battle Pods, Jurassic Park and Time Crisis 5.

TruExperiences Tours is adding a new small-group Toronto city tour in May 2016. The Toronto city tour features a maximum of just 15 guests per tour, transportation in a deluxe Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, one driver, and one expert tour guide.

Below the beating heart of Toronto’s downtown Yonge and Dundas shopping district twinkles a little art gallery with a big, warm aboriginal welcome. Newly opened, Northern Expressions Art Gallery is an exciting integration of Canadian aboriginal art within contemporary culture. The 21st century design features carefully selected contemporary and traditional art forms, combined with cool aesthetics and photography from Canada’s far North to provide an authentic shopping experience for veteran art buyers, new collectors and fans of Canada’s north.

2016 marks the Toronto Blue Jays 40th Season. The Blue Jays kick off their 40th season at the Home Opener at the Rogers Centre on April 8, 2016 against the Boston Red Sox. The Toronto Blue Jays brought playoff baseball excitement back to Toronto in 2015 – selling out Rogers Centre almost every game in the second half of the season and ending a 22 year playoff drought.

Dining & Entertainment

Toronto food writer, Amy Rosen, is set to open a gourmet cinnamon bun shop later this year. The tentative name for the shop is Rosen’s Cinnamon Buns, and the place will be fashioned after an old Kensington market Jewish bakery. It will feature two main items: large and mini buns and cinnamon bun bread pudding.

The first-ever Saks Food Hall by Pusateri’s, opening at Sherway Gardens on February 25, 2016 is a mélange of premium creative food experiences, poised to excite the palates of locals and tourists alike. Featuring 18,500 square feet of inspiring culinary stations, exclusive products, fine food services and a deluxe grocery assortment, Pusateri’s will engage patrons in sights, flavours and aromas from around the globe.

Toronto Congress Centre (TCC), a division of Congress Centres Inc., announced world-renowned Chef Mark McEwan as their consulting chef for their in-house culinary operations. Chef McEwan will consult on all culinary activities for the one million square foot operation within the convention facility. TCC guests will be able to experience chef McEwan’s renowned taste and artistry within the many settings including the restaurants and menu planning for conferences, galas, meetings and events.

Luc “Bim” Lafontaine, the former head brewer of Montreal’s famed Dieu du Ciel! microbrewery, has announced that he’s opening a brewpub on Toronto’s east side by the end of 2016. The 6,000 square foot space will feature a 20-hectolitre brewery, a 140-seat pub complemented by what Lafontaine calls an “unpretentious kitchen” and a retail store that will sell beer to-go. Lafontaine has been brewing beer for 23 years and recently returned to Canada after helping launch Japan’s Kyoto Brewing Co.

FAB Restaurant Concepts has a new restaurant, Dominion Pub & Kitchen. The restaurant space was purchased in mid-2015, and renovated with a strong appreciation and respect for Corktown’s local history. The new restaurant opened in November 2015 as a contemporary pub with a focus on craft beer and unique, fresh food offerings. FAB Restaurant Concepts Inc. is an independently owned, multiple concept, hospitality company with over ten locations operating in the Greater Toronto Area.

Signs Restaurant and Bar, the first Canadian restaurant that is staffed with deaf servers, bartenders, kitchen staff and hosts, is now available for private events. The restaurant has set up in-bar big screen television screens for guests of private functions to use vis-a-vis Chrome Cast and similar technologies. Further, they are proud to announce that they now deliver food to hotels, condos, apartments, houses, and places of business.

CASA manila restaurant, celebrating their fifth year anniversary, has completed multiple upgrades and renovations, including new decor and features. The dining area has been enhanced to provide more space for comfortable family dining, while implementing decor to depict their authentic Filipino history. These renovations total an estimated $30,000 all to allow this establishment to provide quality and efficient service while still maintaining the culture, character and essence of authentic Filipino cuisine.

Events & Festivals

March 6 – 31, 2016 Myseum of Toronto is launching its first annual festival of exhibits exploring the intersecting perspectives of the city’s natural, cultural, and historical diversity. The festival will present a wide range of programming that will help Torontonians gain a deeper appreciation of the richness of their city. Myseum Intersections invites the public to explore the ways in which Toronto’s cultures converge and interact to create new understanding. Participants will include major cultural institutions, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, alongside more recent entities, such as Neilson Park Creative Centre and Heritage Toronto. Programming ranges from historic to contemporary issues presented via exhibits, events, and interactive community experiences.

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival celebrates 20 years in May 2016. CONTACT is a premiere cultural event in Canada held month-long each May in Toronto with well over 1,500 Canadian and international artists and photographers exhibiting at more than 175 venues throughout the Greater Toronto Area. As a leading proponent of photography, the Festival increases exposure and recognition for local, Canadian and international artists and is committed to advancing knowledge, creativity and innovation in photography.

Doors Open Toronto is Canada’s largest Doors Open event and one of the three largest Doors Open events in the world. The 17th annual Doors Open Toronto is scheduled for May 28-29, 2016 and will offer residents and visitors an opportunity to take a peek behind the doors of more than 100 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across the city. The Doors Open Toronto 2016 theme of Re-used, Re-visited and Revised will explore the adaptive re-use of buildings throughout Toronto’s architectural history.

Launching June 1, Pride Month in Toronto will feature extended programming and provocative events throughout the city, culminating with the 10-day Pride Toronto festival, June 24-July 3. Pride Month will begin with its inaugural city proclamation and the raising of the Rainbow flag at Toronto City Hall, set to occur for the first-time at the beginning of June. On July 3, Pride Toronto will make Canadian history with the first time a sitting Prime Minister participates in the annual Pride Parade. 2016 also marks the 35th anniversary of the infamous Bathhouse Raids that incited mass protests and spurred the development of Pride in Toronto. The Festival will reflect on the community’s victories since 1981 and explore the issues that still require change, commitment and focus.

Luminato Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary. Luminato is Toronto’s global multi-arts festival for the wildly curious showcasing performance, art, music, theatre, dance and more. The Festival will run June 10-26, 2016 with a free and ticketed program of local and international artists delivering adventurous art in adventurous places. In its first decade, Luminato has become one of the preeminent arts festivals in North America, having commissioned close to 100 new works of art, with more than 3,000 performances featuring 11,000 artists from over 40 countries. This year, Luminato will transform the Hearn Generating Station, an epic decommissioned power plant and one of Toronto’s unique industrial landmarks, into a public art centre with a theatre, music stage, site-specific performance space, restaurants, bars and more.

From June 15-19 2016, Toronto hosts the North by Northeast Festival (NXNE), one of Canada’s most anticipated summer music events. This year marks 22 years of celebrating not only up and coming local musicians, but some of the hottest acts on the global scene today. Programming also includes film, comedy, and art for industry folk and culture enthusiasts alike. Some of the headliners this year include Blonde Redhead, Atlas Sound, and Willow Smith. The performances and events take place in venues all over the city, with a couple of concerts free to the public happening at Yonge-Dundas square to add to the five-day party.

Taste of Toronto, featuring Toronto’s most celebrated chefs and rising stars, foodie entertainment and a boutique food and drink market, is back for the third year from June 23-26, 2016. The event will take place over four days inside the historic walls of Fort York. Comprised of six half-day sessions, featuring some of the city’s latest, greatest and most unique restaurants, top local and international chefs, over 50 local artisan exhibitors, and a range of interactive culinary features.

Bud Light Digital Dreams is the largest electronic music festival in Canada. Set on the shoreline of Toronto with one of North America’s most iconic skylines in the background, Digital Dreams Music Festival and the Flats at Ontario Place offer party goers a sophisticated festival experience, July 2-3, 2016.

The Redpath Waterfront Festival is an annual summer event that provides on-land and on-water programming for people of all ages and interests with the goal of promoting Toronto locally and internationally as a premiere waterfront destination. From July 1-3, 2016 enjoy music, food, nautical programs and entertainment, the Festival has something for everyone.

The TD Toronto Jazz Festival is one of North America’s premier jazz festivals, not just for music lovers but for some of the greatest jazz celebrities in the world. The hub is in the heart of the city at Nathan Phillips Square and with 1,500 musicians performing at 40 venues, downtown will be groovin’, swingin’ and jumpin’ for 10 days, from June 24-July 3, 2016.

Unfolding from July 8-24, 2016 in the heart of the lakeside neighbourhood, the Beaches International Jazz Festival celebration of music features a dynamic musical roster, multiple stages, and an enticing line-up of gourmet food trucks.

The Salsa in Toronto Festival is taking place July 9-10, 2016. The street festival is a free celebration of Latin culture that transforms a stretch of St. Clair Avenue West into a salsa party featuring live music, dance lessons, Latin food and family fun.

The Honda Indy Toronto takes place on the streets surrounding Exhibition Place near Lake Ontario and downtown Toronto from July 15-17, 2016. This is among the most respected motorsports events in North America and features a week-long festival-like atmosphere that includes the fastest racing series on the planet, celebrity athletes, live entertainment and interactive activities.

Toronto’s Festival of Beer is a celebration of Canada’s rich brewing history, hosted by experts of the brewing craft from around the world. Join the fun which features 300+ brands onsite at Bandshell Park Exhibition Place, July 22-24, 2016.

The Toronto Caribbean Carnival is an exciting three-week cultural explosion of Caribbean music, cuisine, and revelry as well as visual and performing arts with a Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade & Carnival Island grand finale celebration July 24-25, 2016.

The 2016 Ontario Summer Games are coming to Mississauga. Taking place August 11-14, 2016 athletes ages 13 to 17 from all regions of Ontario will compete against their fellow provincial athletes. The Games provide athletes with development and competitive opportunities that will prepare them for national and international sports competitions. The event roster now includes nine events from the Ontario Winter Games program making the 2016 Summer Games the largest in history. More than 4,000 athletes, coaches, managers and major officials participating in more than 32 different sport events including former winter sport events, Boxing, Diving, Karate, Kickboxing, Sledge Hockey, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Women’s Hockey, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

Celebrate the fun flavours of Greece at Krinos Taste of the Danforth from August 5-7, 2016. Every year in August, visitors and residents flock to GreekTown on the Danforth. There are a number of exhibitors offering contests, prizes and free samples and, of course, dozens and dozens of tasty food stations from Danforth’s amazing array of multi-ethnic restaurants.

A popular end-of summer ritual, the Canadian National Exhibition offers a wide variety of colourful interactive experiences. From August 19-September 5, 2016 take in all the attractions including concerts, celebrity chef demonstrations, international performances plus comedy and animal shows. Interact with park entertainers, farm animals, colourful characters in Kids World and so much more. All the excitement culminates on Labour Day Weekend in a three-day air show.

Expect comedy, spontaneity and a dash of the unbelievable: four days and four nights of non-stop, action- packed, fun-filled entertainment at Toronto International BuskerFest from August 25-28, 2016. Comedians, contortionists, musicians, magicians, fire jugglers, acrobats, aerial artists, clowns and daredevils all come together for North America’s largest street performer festival, the largest epilepsy awareness event in the world.

Fan Expo Canada is the largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event in Canada and the 3rd largest Pop Culture event in North America. Celebrating its 22nd year September 1-4, 2016 Fan Expo Canada has grown from a small comic book convention attracting 1,500 fans into a multi-faceted, 4-day citywide event that attracts over 129,000 people from around the world.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is the biggest and brightest public film festival. World premieres, galas, and parties comprise this illustrious event where stars, directors and industry honchos make the rounds. Join the can’t-miss festival from September 8-18, 2016.

Just For Laughs (JFL42) is a pass-based interactive comedy festival. It features the most hilarious, riveting and relevant comedy acts you can find over a 10-day period in Toronto. Dates for 2016 TBD.


About Destination Toronto

Destination Toronto, Toronto’s Convention and Visitors Association, is an industry association of more than 1,100 members established to sell and market the greater Toronto region as a remarkable destination for tourists, convention delegates and business travellers around the globe. Destination Toronto operates in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and the Greater Toronto Hotel Association. For more information please visit