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!
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 22–23
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 23
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 23
Celebrate the Autumn harvest by touring Downsview Park’s orchard, enjoying snacks, apple cider, and a campfire, and picking your own veggies, herbs, and flowers. All this and more family-friendly activities. September 23
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 28–30
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. September 29
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. September 30
Watch the salmon run upstream in Scarborough’s Morningside Park and enjoy wildlife displays, live performances, local food, nature walks, and more. September 30
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 6–8
Baby Point hosts its annual sidewalk sale in mid-November, featuring entertainment, strolling carollers, a petting zoo, and a chance to meet Santa. November 17
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
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.
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.
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
Discover a different 19th-century activity each week at Gibson House, like spinning, hearth cooking, and community quilting, and learn more about the lives of the Gibson family. Pay what you can! Thursdays 5–8 pm, until December 27
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)
The Toronto Reference Library’s TD Gallery hosts their current exhibit exploring Indigenous Ontario land and water routes, Pathways, and the upcoming Alice Opens the Door, with displays of first editions, artwork, toys, and games relating to Alice in Wonderland. Pathways through October 28; Alice Opens the Door, November 17–January 27.
After a summer hiatus, Solar Stage at Wychwood Barns is launching a new season of its free Dance Jams, Story James, Music Jams, and Play Café with guest artists. Kids of all ages are welcome. Select Sunday mornings at 11 am.
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, 2018; Wednesdays 2–6 pm
Withrow Park Farmers’ Market – Through October 13, 2018; Saturdays 9 am–1 pm
Leslieville Farmer’s Market – Year-round; 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
Toronto Botanical Garden Organic Farmers’ Market – Year-round; Thursdays 2–7 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.
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.
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 27, November 24, December 22 at 10 am.
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–December 1, 1:30–3 pm