Free Summer Fun for Families in the GTA

Summer Fun

When school is out, free events and activities for kids are a great way to have a fun-filled summer without breaking the budget. And lucky for us, the Toronto summer schedule is filled to the brim with free festivals, movies, celebrations, and active outdoor fun.

When in doubt try your local library branch, Harbourfront Centre, Yonge-Dundas Square, or just head toward your local park and make good use of all the splash pads and green spaces Toronto has to offer.

Take a look at the list below of all the free things to do with the family this summer in the GTA. Click on any that strike your fancy for more info!

Also, be sure to check our Free Event Listings for daily updates.

Outdoor Movies

Toronto and the GTA have tons of great outdoor summer film screenings, and many of them are family-friendly. Thanks to the informal nature of watching a movie under the stars in the middle of a city park (bring your own blankets, lawn chairs, and snacks!), these events are almost always free! Take a look at our list of Free Family-Friendly Outdoor Movies in Toronto to find one near you!

Music, Theatre, and Culture

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor music and theatre, so take advantage of all the amazing culture available in Toronto and the GTA. Don’t forget about the Museum + Arts Pass, which allows you to “borrow” passes to Toronto museums and galleries from your local library branch. Also, every Wednesday and Sunday you can enjoy a free ROMwalks tour and learn more about the history of different Toronto neighbourhoods. The AGO is free after 6 pm every Wednesday, and Todmorden Mills hosts Summer Thursday Evenings events for free. Finally, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario has free Family Fun Fridays and Weekend Explorers.
Here is a list of some more great family-friendly events to experience this summer:

Singing Ambassador’s on Toronto’s Waterfront  Thurs-Mon, June 23–Sept 5
Kids’ CBC Days  July 20–21
Dancing on the Pier at Harbourfront Centre  Thursdays, June 23–Sept 1
Intersection Dance at Burlington Centre for Performing Arts  July 30, Aug 6 
Solar Observing at the Ontario Science Centre
 Aug 6
Summer on the Plaza in Burlington  Aug 7, 14, 21
Children’s Concerts in the Park at Richmond Green  Aug 7

Festivals and Celebrations

The never-ending stream of free festivals and celebrations can seem daunting, but look at it this way: There’s always something awesome going on! With no chance of being bored this summer, the kids will have so much fun dancing, eating, playing, and being entertained at one of these cool summer festivals:

Beaches International Jazz and Street Festival  July 21–23
Shield to Shore at Harbourfront Centre  July 22–24
Persian Family Day at Mel Lastman Square  July 23
Big on Bloor Festival of Arts and Culture  July 23–24
Unity Festival 2016  July 23
Youth Day at Yonge-Dundas Square  July 24
Toronto International BrazilFest  July 24
Island Soul at Harbourfront  July 29–Aug 1
TD IRIE Music Festival  July 30–31
AlohaFest Toronto at Mel Lastman Square  July 30
African Music Extravaganza at Yonge-Dundas Square  July 30
Victorious Festival at Yonge-Dundas Square  July 31
Humber Bay Shores Waterfront Festival  Aug 6
Habari African Festival at Harbourfront  Aug 12–14
Yonge-Eglinton International Street Fest  Aug 13–14
Corso Italia Street Fest and Cinema Under the Stars  Aug 13
Scarborough Afro-Carib Fest  Aug 20–21
Suburban Steam: A Steampunk Fair for the Whole Family  Aug 20
The City of Burlington’s Children’s Festival  Aug 21
TAIWANfest: A Cultural Tango with Hong Kong at Harbourfront  Aug 26–28
Markham-Milliken Children’s Festival  Aug 27
Coconut Festival Canada at David Pecaut Square  Aug 27
Toronto International Buskerfest at Woodbine Park  Sept 2–5
Ashkenaz Festival at Harbourfront  Sept 3-5

Food, Food, Food!

What better way to spend the summer than tasting all that Toronto has to offer? There are so many great foodie festivals, tours, and celebrations that will be providing free (or cheap) food. Leave the house hungry and bon appetite!

Farmers’ Markets in Toronto and the GTA
Ribfest at Richmond Green Park  July 22–24
Toronto Food Truck Festival  July 29–31
Scarborough RibFest  July 29–31
Pickering Food Truck Festival  Aug 5–7
JerkFest: Jerk Food Festival at Centennial Park  Aug 5–7
Pan American Food Festival at Yonge-Dundas Square  Aug 13–14
Hot & Spicy Food Festival at Harbourfront  Aug 19–21
Sweets Food Festival at David Pecaut Square  Aug 20–21
Garlic is Great Festival in Newmarket  Aug 20
Richmond Hill Food Truck Festival  Sept 3–4
Veg Food Fest at Harbourfront  Sept 9–10

Arts and Crafts

A great way to keep the kids entertained is to keep their hands busy with creative projects. These free art workshops are fun, educational, and a great way to spend a few hours out of the heat. The Toronto Public Library is another great resource for free kid-friendly crafting projects—check your local branch for more info. Also, don’t forget that almost all family-friendly festivals have craft tables and hands-on fun!

TSA at Big on Bloor  July 23–24
Power Kids Arts and Crafts Workshop  July 24, Aug 14, Aug 28
HarbourKIDS Arts and Crafts  July 30–Aug 1
Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic for Kids  Aug 13

Parks, Gardens, and Farms

Summer in Ontario never lasts as long as we want it to, so make sure you get outside and enjoy all the sunshine and beautiful weather. You can spend entire days hiking, swimming, playing, biking, and picnicking at one of the many parks, gardens, and farms in the GTA. Aside from your neighbourhood park, here are a few ideas to get you outside:

High Park Zoo
Toronto Botanical Garden and Edwards Gardens
Riverdale Farm
Family Fun Nights At Earl Bales Park
Far Enough Farm and Franklin Children’s Garden on Toronto Island
Rouge Park
Humber Arboretum

Swimming and Active Fun

It can be hard to motivate the kids to get off the couch when school’s out, but one of the best incentives to get active on a hot day is a nice refreshing swim! Head to one of the great swimming pools in the GTA, a nearby splash pad or wading pool, or make a day of it by driving to one of the awesome Blue Flag beaches in Ontario, or to Kidstown in Scarborough, the only water park run by the city of Toronto.

And if your little fishes are tired of being waterlogged, head to a park (or your backyard) and play some yard games, or fun summer sports instead; you’ll have just as much fun!

Animal Lover Events

When all else fails, getting their favourite pet involved is great incentive to get kids out of the house and having fun. Purina PawsWay often hosts free events, and a lot of local parks have dog day meet and greets with fun activities. Check out some fun on offer for pet lovers in Toronto and the GTA:

DogLoversDays  July 30–31
WoofJocks Canine All-Stars  July 30–Aug 1
HorseCapades at the CNE  July 31–Aug 18

To find more fun free events in Toronto, check our Free Event Listings, updated daily.


Stay up-to-date on all the awesome free events in Toronto and the GTA by checking our Free Event Listings or by searching our Fun For Free directory.

Sign up for our newsletters to get parenting and family fun articles delivered to you!

Leave a Reply


Nothing yet.