When winters can be as treacherous as the frigid season found in Canada, you learn to make the most of the short but beautiful summer months. The Canadian Civic Holiday weekend is known by many names: Regatta Day (Newfoundland), Heritage Day (Alberta), and Simcoe Day (Toronto) to mention a few. But regardless of what you call it, the long weekend that falls on the first Monday in August is among the busiest for events, festivals and the perfect time to plan a trip – particularly to the Greater Toronto Area.
Whether you love new experiences, special events or music festivals, the Civic Holiday weekend in Toronto offers something for everyone. Below are the top five activities to take part in during the last long weekend of the Canadian summer.
1) Check out Caribana
The Toronto Caribbean Carnival is a festival of Caribbean culture which is visited by almost 2 million visitors yearly. Introduced by immigrants from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and many other Caribbean locations, Caribana runs for two weeks and culminates in the Grand Parade of Bands on Ontario’s Civic Holiday. Arguably the biggest party in the nation come the August long weekend, Caribana is the place to be for food, music and Caribbean culture.
2) Feed your curiosity at Maker Festival
If you love to get those creative juices flowing and be around like-minded people, then Maker Festival is for you. Some of the most imaginative people and their projects gather at Toronto Reference Library August 1st and 2nd to show off their projects and participate in interactive workshops. Maker Festival is a great celebration with tours, jams, sessions and networking that will challenge, perplex and entertain even the wildest of imaginations. What’s even better: tickets are free online.
3) Attend OVO (October’s Very Own) Fest
Whether you’re a fan of Toronto-born rapper Drake or not, his homecoming and annual OVO music festival is a yearly who’s who of the biggest artists in the hip hop and R&B industry. From Stevie Wonder to Jay-Z, Kanye West and Rihanna, many of the world’s biggest stars have graced the stage of the Molson Amphitheatre to do a mini-set for the thousands of fans who turn up yearly. Lawn seats are affordable and offer a beautiful view of the Exhibition Place fairgrounds in the distance.
4) Get excited for the Parapan Games
This year’s August long weekend will be home to more tourists than ever because it falls in between the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. The largest ever Parapan Am Games kicks off on August 7th, the same week of the Civic Holiday weekend. 1,608 athletes from 28 countries will make their way to Toronto to compete in 15 sports, all of which will be Paralympic qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Proud fans are rampant, tickets are affordable, and the excitement is palpable.
5) Enjoy the VELD Music Festival
Finally, if you’re a fan of electronic music, there is nowhere else in the world you would rather be this August long weekend. The VELD Music Festival is a two-day extravaganza in Toronto’s picturesque Downsview Park. VELD is Canada’s largest electronic dance music festival, featuring some of the world’s greatest entertainers. If last year’s lineup is any indication, the festival is growing in prominence and momentum with every pound of the bass. The 2014 VELD festival attracted performances by Nero, Ingrosso, DVBBS, Zedd, Knife Party and headliners included Calvin Harris and Armin van Buuren.
Whether you’re a sports fan, a music fan, or looking to soak up some culture, there’s plenty to do in and around Toronto come the first Monday in August. Pack your sunscreen and enjoy what Ontario’s capital has to offer.