Autumn is a lovely time to get out and explore. It’s still nice enough to wander about, but not so hot that you’re sweltering in the sun. The outdoor colours are beautiful and the air is breathable. With the winter holidays approaching, it would nice to be able to save a bit of cash while exploring your fabulous city. Don’t worry, because there are lots of things to do in Toronto this fall for free!
Of course, there are always many places within our borders to discover and experience throughout the year—our many parks, the Distillery District, Kensington Market, the Beach, Harbourfront, St. Lawrence Market, the Islands. And we’ve gathered some events and happenings that will add a destination to your wanderings.
Fall Festivals and Events
Fall brings a flurry of harvest festivals, art and culture festivals, and street festivals—experience it all before the winter freeze!
Harvest Apple Festival
Local bluegrass band the Unseen Strangers perform during this celebration of Ontario apples at Evergreen Brick Works. It will also feature a children’s bike maze, games, a scavenger hunt, and farmers, local food vendors, and baked goods vendors with special apple products. September 28–29. Read more.
The Word on the Street
The vaunted written word festival returns for its 29th year, featuring 200 Canadian authors and 17 stages at the Harbourfront Centre, including TD Kidstreet, with family fun like children’s author readings, music, games, a comic-creation workshop, and interactive science experiments. September 21–22. Read more.
Todmorden Mills Harvest Festival
Celebrate the harvest season at Todmorden Mills Heritage Site in East York by sampling 19th-century recipes, creating crafts, and touring the Wildflower Preserve. September 22. Read more.
Culture Days brings a flurry of unique pop-up performances, interactive art installations, poetry slams, and all sorts of other cultural happenings to community locations throughout Canada. Experience free hands-on, interactive activities in your city or town and discover the creative people in your community. Find all scheduled Culture Days events in Toronto. September 27–29. Read more.
Enjoy a night of art, fun, and interaction at Nuit Blanche. With 80 art installations in numerous indoor and outdoor venues across the city, families can have a special night out. October 5. Read more.
High Park Harvest Festival
High Park celebrates the season with local food, music, dance, pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, hands-on crafting and making, and roast potatoes and apple cider at Colborne Lodge. October 6. Read more.
The Salmon Festival at Highland Creek
Watch the salmon run upstream in Scarborough’s Morningside Park and enjoy wildlife displays, live performances, local food, nature walks, and more. October 6. Read more.
Downsview Park’s Pumpkinfest has music, rides, games, food trucks, and more. Entry is free, but rides require passes. Enter the costume or pumpkin pie eating contest and wander through the inflatable corn maze this Thanksgiving weekend. October 12–14. Read more.
Baby It’s Cold Outside
Baby Point hosts its annual sidewalk sale in mid-November, featuring entertainment, strolling carollers, a petting zoo, and a chance to meet Santa. November 16. Read more.
The Original Santa Claus Parade
Yes, already! Santa starts making appearances well before winter arrives. Catch him early—and arrive early to snag a good viewing spot—at the city’s premier holiday parade along Bloor Street West and Spadina Avenue. It’s a must-do at least once! November 17. Read more.
Exhibits, Concerts, and Cultural Programs
Fall is a great time to check off items on your art, music, and culture bucket list as new seasons begin at most cultural institutions and people head indoors as the weather cools down.
AGO Free Wednesday Nights
Explore the galleries and discover art from a variety of times, styles, and origins. Admission is free on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 pm. Or you can pick up free tickets from select Toronto Public Library branches on a first come, first served basis, courtesy of the Museum + Arts Pass program. Wednesday evenings, or anytime with a MAP pass. Read more.
MAP Family Saturdays at the Library
Museums and cultural institutions that participate in the Museum + Arts Pass program at the Toronto Public Library visit local branches throughout the fall, offering fun art and culture sessions for kids—from drama programs to hands-on ceramic arts and more. Registration applies for some programs. Saturdays in October and November. Read more.
Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series
Artists share their talent as chamber and world music, vocal, piano, and jazz musicians on select dates at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Some Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at noon (check website for upcoming dates). Read more.
TD Gallery Exhibits
The Toronto Reference Library’s TD Gallery hosts their current exhibit exploring selections from the Chinese Canadian Archive, and the upcoming “You, Me, Us: Outstanding Books for and about Young People with Disabilities” is there annual family-focused exhibit highlighting “the best of the best” from The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Collection for Young People with Disabilities. Plum Blossom Through the Bitter Cold through October 27; You, Me, Us, November 16–January 26. Read more.
Farmers’ markets across the city offer a cheery indoor or outdoor atmosphere to explore organic and/or local food and drink offerings while enjoying entertainment. Following are five of the most popular farmer’s markets around the city.
Montgomery’s Inn Farmer’s Market – September 5–December 19, 2019; Wednesdays 2–6 pm
Leslieville Farmer’s Market – Through October 27; Sundays 9 am–2 pm
The Junction Market – Through November 3, 2018; Saturdays, 9 am–1 pm
The Stop Farmer’s Market – Year-round, Saturdays 8 am–1 pm
Parks and Outdoor Attractions
Fall is the favourite season for many Torontonians, since you can enjoy outdoor activities without melting and you’ve got some lovely fall colours right here on our tree-lined streets and especially in our parks. Here are some city green spaces (or rather yellow, red, and orange spaces) worth a visit this fall.
City kids can feel right at home with country farm animals when they visit the only working farm in the city, in Cabbagetown. With cows, sheep, rabbits, turkeys, donkeys, and more, there are chances to get up close with, and watch the farmer interact with the animals at Riverdale Farm. Year-round, daily 9 am–5 pm. Read more.
Rouge Park Guided Walks
Parks Canada volunteers lead themed walks through Canada’s first urban national park. Learn about plants, the Mast Trail, First Nations, archeology, and more, all in the context of Rouge Park, in Scarborough. Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays through October 31; times vary. Read more.
Solar Observing at the Ontario Science Centre
The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada helps attendees safely observe the sun with specially filtered telescopes. Here’s a chance to spot sunspots, spicules, and prominences on our nearest star. Takes place outside the main entrance of the science centre (parking fees apply). October 5, November 2, December 7 at 10 am. Read more.
Family Nature Walks
The High Park Nature Centre leads biweekly kid-friendly nature walks with themes like All You Need Is Bugs and Nature Journaling. These are all-ages, drop-in events. A $2–$5 donation is suggested. Every other Saturday, September 22–November 30, 1:30–3 pm. Read more.