Thankfully, there are drops of summer reminders happening all over town that will bring out the sunshine in July and August. Whether it’s testing your taste buds with jerk octopus or allowing yourself to be mind-blown by GZA’s lyricism at Dundas Square, you will definitely find something to enjoy from this list of festivals/outdoor events featuring entertainers in and around the Black community.
• Afro Festival organized by Music Africa, is back again to share the diverse sounds of Africa with Toronto and its visitors. Kassav, San Fan Thomas, Wenge Musica Nouvelle Generation will be among the many performers at the free two-day event. With numerous vendors available, attendants will have a wide range of African literature, craft, food, fashion, and other attractions to explore. Details: July 4- July 5, 2015, at Woodbine Park, Toronto afrofest.ca
• RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest. Known for a line-up that is worth looking forward to and a crowd that grows yearly, Ottawa’s Bluesfest returns with Nas, Chance the Rapper and Kanye expected to perform. Once named by Billboard Magazine as one of the top 10 music festivals in the world, Bluesfest guarantees a respectable list of international and local performers from different musical genres. Details: July 8- July 19, 2015, Lebreton Flats, Ottawa ottawabluesfest.ca
• Beaches International Jazz Festival. Kick-off your shoes, dance to the tunes, or simply relax on the grass as jazz floats through the air at the Beaches Jazz Fest. If you’re not one for sitting still, then roam the streets to discover treats and music from the 40 Canadian bands performing during the three-day StreetFest. Details: July 10-July 26, 2015, Woodbine Park, Toronto beachesjazz.com
• PANAMANIA. Toronto’s first time hosting the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games brings many unique cultural events to the city. With over 250 performances and exhibits--including 40 national and international performances and exhibitions--Torontonians won’t be short of things to see this summer. Janelle Monáe, A Tribe Called Red and The Roots will be gracing the stage during one of many free concerts held at Nathan Phillips Square. Details: July 10-August 15, 2015, various locations in Ontario
• TD IRIE Music Fest is more than the music. Though patrons will get to sing to international reggae star Junior Reid and work up a sweat with Trinidadian ragga soca artiste Bunji Garlin, IRIE Fest is making sure the culture and history of the Canadian-Caribbean and African Diaspora are showcased --through dance, craft, literature and visual art. Details: Mississauga Celebration Square: July 11 –July 12, 2015,/ Fort York: August 1-August 2, 2015 iriemusicfestival.com
• Unity Festival. The festival brings the community together once again with a powerful message. New and renowned musicians, dancers, spoken word artists, and other performers will be entertaining Toronto under an umbrella of positivity and upliftment. Headliner GZA the Genius from Wu-Tang Clan is set to hype the crowd for the UNITY concert at Yonge-Dundas Square. Details: July 22-July 25, 2015, various locations in Toronto unitycharity.com
• WayHome. It’s a mash-up of music, food, art and film like you’ve never experienced before. This new event allows you to camp out for the weekend with fellow music lovers to watch Kendrick Lamar, Run The Jewels, Theophilus London share the stage with an eclectic group of artists. Details: July 24 –July 26, 2015, Burl’s Creek Events Ground, Oro-Medonte wayhome.com
• Island Soul Festival. The Caribbean in all its glory will become alive at Toronto’s waterfront. Not only is this a chance to enjoy different sounds coming out of the islands, but it’s also an opportunity to learn about the history and shaping of Caribbean culture and identity. Details: July 31- August 3, 2015, Harbourfront, Toronto harbourfrontcentre.com/islandsoul
• Caribana Parade. Beautiful floats and costumes decorate Lakeshore once again. Though you may have to squeeze your way through the crowd to get to some fried dumpling, bammy and curry chicken, the music, the excitement in the air and the energy of the people will leave you with great stories to tell. Details: August 1, 2015, Exhibition Place & Lakeshore Boulevard, Toronto caribanatoronto.com
• OVO Fest. For the last five summers, Drake has been bringing some of the latest and biggest Hip Hop names to Toronto, creating a yearly buzz around OVO Fest. This summer the excitement continues with Forest Hill’s Drive Tour with J. Cole, Big Sean etc. Drake and “special guests” perform on day two. Details: August 2 –August 3, 2015, Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto.
• Jerk Festival. This year will be the biggest, if not the tastiest. From Jerk Octopus to the beloved Jerk Chicken, chefs from all over the Caribbean have been experimenting with food to see what your taste buds will let them get away with. You will also be treating your ears to the sound of Morgan Heritage, Jay Harmony & The Groove Sharks, Exco Levi & The High Priest Band, Destiny Band and more as the festival celebrates its 14th year. Details: August 8 -August 9, 2015, Centennial Park, Etobicoke jerkfestival.ca
• Montreal International Reggae Festival. Last year reggae lovers at Montreal Intl Reggae Festival proved that a little rain didn’t matter. No doubt a huge crowd will be out again this year rocking to some of Jamaica’s international superstars: Beres Hammond, Lady Saw, Shabba Rank, Cocoa Tea, Tarrus Riley. Details: August 14- August 16, 2015, Quays of The Old Port, Montreal
• Toronto Reggae Fest. If you can’t make it to Montreal’s Reggae Fest, Toronto has you covered. Catch Beres Hammond, Tarrus Riley, Marcia Griffiths, Beenie Man, Shaggy, Yellow Man and many more celebrated reggae artists perform--with Toronto skyline as their backdrop. Details: August 15-August 16, 2015, Polson Pier, Toronto torontoreggaefest.com
• York-Eglinton International Street Festival. Take back the streets this summer with family and friends. Watch international performers showcase their vocal and dancing skills. From reggae to samba, you’re sure to be dancing as you explore the mouth-watering food and beautiful craft street vendors have for sale. Young and old, there’s something for everyone. Details: August 15 - August 16, 2015, Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto internationalstreetfest.com
• Scarborough Afro-Caribbean Festival. Scarborough has a lot to be proud of, and it’s proving that year after year with its celebration of the culture, arts and heritage of African and Caribbean community. With performances by local and international artists; Afro-Caribbean Visuals and Live Art Display; African and Caribbean food; dance competitions; cultural pageant show; and kid zone, visitors have a lot to experience. Details: August 22- August 23, 2015, Albert Campbell Square, Scarborough scarboroughafrocaribfest.com
• Manifesto. Wrapping up the summer is one of Toronto’s biggest hip hop events designed to unite the community and celebrate the diverse talents of Canadians. Art exhibitions, dance showcases, workshops & panel discussions, as well as a free outdoor concert are highlights that contribute to a larger message being shared by the non-profit. Over 1000 artists have been showcased at the festival since 2007. Some include Jay Electronica, Talib Kwali, Saul Williams. Details: September 2015. See their website to find out dates of events and list of performers. mnfsto.com
Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments below!