Toronto has been gearing up for the 2015 Pan American Games for years, with new airport to downtown rapid transit, a revitalized Union Station and completion of gaps in the waterfront trail. Now it’s hard to believe we have less than 2 weeks to go before the official kick-off! Whether you are visiting Toronto especially for the Pan Am Games, or if you happen to be visiting us for any other of the hundreds of reasons this city is awesome, and even if you are a full time resident, there will be a TON of things to keep us busy.
For those of you who haven’t been wrapped up in Pan Am fever for the last five years, the Games are a summer sporting event for the 41 countries in the Americas, which have officially been held since 1951. In 2011 the Games were held in Guadalajara, Mexico and the 2015 Games run in Toronto from July 10 to 26, with the Parapan Am Games for athletes with physical disabilities running from Aug 7 to 15.
Since this is a sporting competition, you’d be remiss not to take in an event or two, especially when tickets start at $20 and 75% are priced under $45. Half price tickets are available for those under 16 years of age or 65 and over. And if that wasn’t enough, all tickets include FREE public transit to and from the event. You can enjoy a variety of sports in venues spanning across the area — soccer in Hamilton, roller skating at the Exhibition Center, synchronized swimming in Scarborough and much more. Full schedules can be found here.
Arts & Culture
With the Pan Am Games comes Panamania, a 35-day arts and culture festival with over 250 unique performances and exhibitions, both free and ticketed, that promise to “showcase the diverse cultures and artistic excellence of Ontario, Canada and the Americas through music, theatre, dance, visual arts and fashion”. Key venues include the Distillery District (already a favourite place to visit), Nathan Phillips Square (which is in the centre of everything), and Exhibition Place (where you can also catch a bunch of sporting events). Here is my pick of absolutely FREE concerts by mainly indie Canadian artists you might want to check out:
- July 11 – Serena Ryder & Wyclef Jean (Nathan Phillips Square, 8:30pm)
- July 11 – Basia Bulat (Distillery District, 7:30pm)
- July 12 – A Tribe Called Red (Exhibition, 9pm – amazing mix of indigenous and electronic sounds from Ottawa based DJ group – check out my last review)
- July 14 – Rich Aucoin at 7:30pm & Cold Specks at 8:15 pm – big dose of Canadian indie combo (Nathan Phillips Square)
- July 19 – Dragonette (Exhibition, 5:45pm)
- July 19 – Kiesza at 7:30pm & The Flaming Lips at 9:30pm (Nathan Phillips Square)
- July 21 – Blind Boys of Alabama (Nathan Phillips Square, 8:15pm)
- July 22 – Littile Miss Higgins at 12:30pm & Stars at 8:15pm (Nathan Phillips Square)
- July 23 – Jully Black (Exhibition, 3:30pm)
- July 25 – The Barra MacNeils – classic East Coast Canadiana (Exhibition, 7pm)
- August 7 – Chromeo (Nathan Phillips Square, 9:45pm)
- August 8 – Tanya Tagaq (renowned Canadian throat singer) at 7:30pm & The Roots at 9pm (Nathan Phillips Square)
- August 11 – Jann Arden (Nathan Phillips Square, 9:45pm)
- August 12 – Austra at 8:15pm & A Tribe Called Red at 9:45pm – if you want to dance, don’t miss this combo (Nathan Phillips Square)
As an added bonus, Nathan Phillips Square will be hosting victory celebrations at 7pm and fireworks nightly. A host of other dance, theater and fashion presentations are in store, with a full guide and schedule found here.
While not an official Pan Am Games event, this year’s Summerlicious will be extended from July 3 to 26 and include some special events. Summerlicious is a chance to try out some great restaurants across the city, serving 3 course meals ranging from $18 to $28 for lunch and $25 to $45 for dinner. Many of the restaurants are near sporting and cultural venues, including the wonderful French bistro Cluny in Distillery District and the great Canadiana spot Bannock right by Nathan Phillips Square (previously reviewed here). One of the standout events this year is A Culinary Celebration of Canada, which includes brunch focused on local ingredients and entrance to the lovely old Casa Loma for $35 with tax and tip.
So there you have it folks, a month of sports, culture and food awaits locals and visitors alike this summer.
What are you looking forward to checking out?