Best of the Fests

There used to be a time when summer meant eating slushies with your friends and cooling down with a water balloon or two, but this has changed quickly. Toronto has grown to be a hub for having some of the best food trucks and now, the increasingly popular food festivals. I feel pretty confident that the summer of 2019 will be the year when Toronto’s summer food fests fully hit their stride. Here’s a rundown of the best fests happening this upcoming season.

  1. 1. Taco Fest

    When: June 14-16

    Price: $9.95 - $19.95

    Where: Ontario Place

     

    Taco Fest is returning to Ontario Place with over a hundred varieties of tacos. Some of the city’s top tacos will be coming together to create their finest at this fest, including Fonda Lola, The Food Dudes and Los Vietnamita. You can also expect creative takes on the taco (like generous scoops of ice cream served in a waffle taco from Booyah) as well as a hot sauce bar that will offer over a hundred bottles of the peppery stuff, from locally-made concoctions to imported favorites from Mexico, to turn up the tongue-numbing sizzle factor. Once you’ve had your fill, make room for more with the free salsa dancing lessons and a piñata-smashing contest.

     

  2. 2. Pizza Fest

    When: July 19-21

    Price: $7.95

    Where: Ontario Place

    Toronto has undoubtedly raised the pizza bar in recent years, with trendy sit-down restaurants, ovens tucked into the back of dive bars, and even the elusive deep dish slices making their way to our fine city by way of both Detroit and Chicago. The obsession deepens with Pizza Fest, the festival  that plans to showcase pizza vendors alongside small-scale makers of classic Italian fare like fresh pasta, handmade meatballs, risotto and tiramisu. Expect some boundary-pushing offerings, like fried pizza from Fidel Gastro’s, along with pizza-making workshops, wine tastings, and the opportunity to help crown the city’s best slice.

  3. 3. Toronto's Festival of Beer

    When: July 26-28th

    Price: $40-$470

    Where: Bandshell Park (CNE)

     

    Of all the beer festivals in our calendars this summer (trust me, there are a ton of them), Toronto’s Festival of Beer takes the cake. There are over 400 beers from close to a hundred breweries to try at this fest, ranging from local craft operations to international favorites. Haughty hop-heads should venture to the New Brews section, home to breweries exhibiting at TFOB for the first time, then venture to spotlight pavilions dedicated to beer with a specific theme. If the brews aren’t enough to keep you satisfied, each day of the fest features an impressive headlining act – each show is included in the ticket price for that particular day.

     

  4. 4. Taste of the Middle East

    When: July 27th

    Price: Free

    Where: Yonge-Dundas Square

     

    Toronto’s food festival circuit makes it possible to sample authentic eats from all parts of the globe. The newest to enter the mix is the Taste of the Middle East – a food festival highlighting not only culinary delights but culture and traditions from countries in this region. A dozen food vendors will be serving up tasty bites (expect eats like Turkish pide, halloumi, kabobs and baklava) along with a licensed area showcasing Middle Eastern spirits. Cultural vendors selling clothing and jewellery from the region will also be on hand. Hitting all of the senses, guests will be treated to entertainment like live musical performances and, of course, belly dancing.

     

  5. 5. Jerk Festival

    When: August 9-11

    Price: Free Admission

    Where: Centennial Park

     

    While Caribana is the major event in our summer calendars for celebrating the island life, the good times continue east of the city at the Jerk Festival. This event might be named for the iconically spicy style of Jamaican cooking but really, the Jerk Festival showcases all manner of Caribbean eats and creative takes on jerk (there will even be a vendor selling jerk ice cream this year). The festival is also a chance to dig into some out-of-city restaurants that serve up delicious island foods. Home Restaurant & Patties and Dawn’s Catering (Brampton), Taste of Jamaica (Mississauga) and Willy’s Jerk Restaurant (North York) will all be making the pilgrimage to Centennial Park this year. The event is also known for its live acts. While this year’s set is yet to be revealed, last year’s notable R&B performers (Brian McKnight, Maxi Priest) give you a taste of what to expect.

     

  6. 6. Vegandale

    When: August 10

    Price: $10-20

    Where: Garrison Common

     

    Navigating the city as a plant-based person can feel like a difficult chore but there’s at least one food festival this summer where vegans can eat everything without fear. Vegandale, formerly known as the Vegan Food & Drink Festival, brings together over a hundred vendors with a focus on hot food, drinks and dessert as well as merchandise aligned with the earth-friendly lifestyle. Organizers of this fest are the same group rebranding a Parkdale strip of vegan restaurants and cruelty-free establishments on Queen West into the catchy-sounding Vegandale Village.

     

Toronto has been growing in terms of its food. By bringing in food from all over the world, Toronto creates a sense of unity within its citizens. One of the biggest factor in this is the use of food festivals during the summer as they bring people together and allows a chance for people to try cuisines from all parts of the world. Summer 2019 is sure to be a hot, fun and tasty one. Let us know which festivals you hit by tagging your pictures with #HerCampusYorkU!