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Celebrating its 25th year, Toronto’s Taste of the Danforth festival is returning this summer with more entertainment and even more delicious food.
Beginning in 1994 with just 5,000 attendees, the annual street festival has grown to the largest in Canada, hosting more than 1.5 million people each year to celebrate the Danforth’s Greek heritage, as well as Canada’s multiculturalism, with local food vendors and free entertainment.
Thinking of attending the festival? Here’s what you can expect at this year’s Taste of the Danforth.
As the name implies, Taste of the Danforth is held on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue in the Greektown neighbourhood, just east of downtown. The festival runs between Broadview Avenue and Jones Avenue from August 10 to 12 this year.
It’s not called “Taste” of the Danforth for nothing. With 150 vendors this year, the main draw of the event is, of course, the delicious food. Most restaurants in the area come up with a selection of tasting menus that are easy to eat while walking or standing and will serve them from a table or cart on the sidewalk. There will be lines for food—don’t worry—they usually move fairly quickly so you’ll be eating in no time.
While the festival is held in the heart of Toronto’s Greektown, you’ll find dishes from all different kinds of restaurants and cultures here. You can expect lots of options for gyros, souvlaki, Greek-loaded fries (that means lots of gooey feta), and spanakopita, but in addition to the Greek fare, you’ll also find cuisine from other parts of the world, such as Japan, Italy, Thailand, India, Mexico, and more.
Don’t forget to save room for dessert. Sweet treats like traditional baklava are readily available to finish off your full day of eating. There are also usually a few stands with carnival/fair food such as ice cream, funnel cakes, and churros. While Taste of the Danforth does focus on Greek culture, you never know what interesting culinary finds you might come across.
Food isn’t the only thing going on at Taste of the Danforth. With three outdoor stages, there’s a lot of entertainment to choose from. One stage focuses on Greek culture and music, while the other two showcase a variety of programming. Performances range from local live music, such as rock, pop, jazz, and R&B, to showcases from Bollywood, Flamenco, and Afro-Caribbean dancers. You can also join in on the fun by getting a cultural dance lesson from these groups.
In addition, Toronto-based alt-rock band Billy Talent will be hosting a benefit concert for the victims of last month’s tragic shooting on the Danforth Avenue. The concert will take place on August 11 at The Danforth Music Hall and will see Billy Talent joined by Dallas Green’s City and Colour, punk rockers PUP, and members of Sum41.
If the festival has really gotten you in the Greek spirit, you might want to take part in some plate smashing. Breaking plates after a meal is an ancient Greek tradition and at this year’s festival you’ll be able to let out some tension and experience the pleasure of the event with the help of BattleSports’ Rage Room.
More into sports? Check out the festival’s sports zone and take on challenges from the Leafs, Argos, Raptors, Toronto FC, and Toronto Rock. You might even run into some star athletes from these teams. There’s also a kids zone with fun interactive activities, in addition to a selection of licensed patio seating where you can watch the festivities unfold over cold drinks.
Now that you’ve mapped out your day at the Taste of the Danforth, you have to figure out how to get there. There are a few ways to get to the festival, but the best way to get there is by subway. Broadview, Chester, and Pape Station will all get you right into the action. You can also bike to the Taste of the Danforth using the Don Valley Trail or the Jones Avenue bike lane, but keep in mind that manoeuvring your bike in the crowd will be tough. You’ll likely want to lock it up outside of the festival area.
While driving isn’t recommended, there are several Green P parking lots in the Danforth area. Just remember you won’t be able to use Danforth Avenue to get to them and might be rerouted a few times due to road closures.