Summer events and parks go hand in hand with festivals, community events, concerts, and art and cultural happenings making our green spaces come alive.
Toronto has very cool park options for staging corporate outings, marketing activations, large-crowd events and more. Keep in mind that most park event inquiries begin with the City of Toronto. Use its Event Planning Guide and Event Support Unit to help navigate your way around guidelines, applications, permits and resources.
Check out these urban gems:
Where: Underpass Park, between Cherry Street and Bayview Avenue, below the overpass junctures of the Don Valley Parkway.
The Setting: The once derelict tract beneath hulking concrete girders is now a 2.5-acre pedestrian-friendly park with expansive playground, recreational area with a tricked-out skateboard zone, and flexible spaces for public and community events. Public art energizes the space. Vibrant graffiti by local artists wraps beams and columns; a stunning octagonal mirror installation by Paul Raff reflects light and movement. Night-time uplighting washes the area in colour.
Event Notes: The undercarriage of the various overpasses above provides a protective ceiling on the park below making it weather resilient year round.
Where: Sherbourne Common, at the foot of Lower Sherbourne Street along Lake Shore Boulevard, straddles both sides of Queen’s Quay East.
The Setting: A rising star for music and open-air events, including the 2016 Toronto Festival of Beer’s Spring Sessions, this 3.6-acre multi-purpose park runs parallel to Lake Ontario. A scenic waterfront promenade connects to Canada’s Sugar Beach in the west. Well laid out, there’s a generous lawn/amphitheater area, splash pad-skating rink, and playground. A 240-metre water channel slices through the park. The water feature is part of an ingenious stormwater filtration system located beneath an on-site multi-use Pavilion. Three striking art sculptures — Light Showers by Jill Anholt — release the cleaned water in cascading veils into the channel which feeds it back into the lake.
Event Notes: If environmental green colours your event, Sherbourne Common scores additional sustainable-practices points for easy public transportation access, light-pollution reduction, water-efficient landscaping and renewable energy resources.
Where: Roundhouse Park at Bremner Boulevard and Rees Street.
The Setting: Designated a National Historic Site, the 3.8-acre park wraps around the preserved grounds and surviving structures of what was once a main railway hub for the city. Along with green parkland, the space is now home to the Toronto Railway Museum with vintage train cars and locomotives on display in and around the John Street Roundhouse, a former train-repair facility. There’s even a miniature train ride for kids. Prime real estate, five of the city’s top attractions are neighbours: CN Tower, Metro Convention Centre, Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.
Event Notes: Partner with park tenant Steam Whistle Brewing for indoor-outdoor events. The park is also the future setting for the Rec Room, Cineplex’s new super-sized dining and gaming concept opening in 2017.
Where: Guild Park and Gardens on Guildwood Parkway in Scarborough.
The Setting: Perched atop the Scarborough Bluffs, stunning landscaped and sculptural gardens, woodland trails and Lake Ontario views await at this historic 88-acre site, a former artists colony. Historic stone sculptures, artifacts and majestic architectural facades, including an old Greek stage, beautify the gardens and lawns making it a popular photography location. The site is currently undergoing a major revitalization by the City of Toronto with volunteer support from the Friends of Guild Park and Gardens.
Event Notes: Dynamic Hospitality and Entertainment, the park’s redevelopment partner, is overseeing the restoration and management of the 1914 Guild Inn Estate plus construction of a new event venue and restaurant slated to open later this year.
The Setting: The 1936 Art Deco-inspired Bandshell Stage, modelled after the Hollywood Bowl, is the centre attraction of the surrounding 3.6-acre park. Ideal for live performances, there’s the option to add seating in front of the stage. Ample green space around the bandshell accommodates corporate picnics and vendor kiosks for festivals and community events. Standing room capacity is 10,000 people. The lake is just a stone’s throw away.
Where: Trinity Bellwoods Park, bordered by Queen Street West, Dundas West and Shaw Street.
The Setting: This lively inner-city park takes its ultra-cool social cue from the surrounding Queen West-Little Italy neighbourhoods. In addition to softball diamonds, tennis courts, ice rink and playground, the 37-acre green space sports the Trinity Community Recreation Centre with four multi-purpose rooms among its amenities. In the park’s north-west end, a grassy hilltop gently slopes down into a bowl forming a natural amphitheater for concerts and spectator events.
Event Notes: Dundas West and Queen streetcar lines give easy TTC access. Tap local restos and food providers for community-aligned catering options.
Where: Earl Bales Park at Bathurst and Sheppard in North York.
The Setting: There is much to do at the fourth largest park in the city. Once home to farmland and a golf course, the 162-acre site boasts the 1,500-seat Barry Zukerman Amphitheatre and, in winter, downhill and cross-country skiing. Unique is the Sarah and Morris Feldman Sensory Garden and Water Playground, an all-ages and abilities area filled with multiple visual and tactile features – an added entertainment bonus for corporate family outings. Earl Bales Community Centre is also located in the park, offering a gallery and banquet hall for event rental.
Event Notes: The park’s wooded area is a great place to stage scavenger hunts and teambuilding exercises.