ITS. JUNE. Startled? You and me both. Instead of pondering how life is fleeting and how age is already starting to show its years around my eyes, let's take time to smell the artistic roses and examine the LUMINATO Festival that starts, next Friday, June 8, and runs until Sunday, July 17th.
Fortunately none of it takes place at Union Station.
If you don't know what LUMINATO is, you are, indeed, late to the party, but, of course, still welcome to partake. From here on in, let it be known that LUMINATO is an arts + creativity festival held for 10 days every June throughout the city of Toronto. It features a huge range of international and Canadian programming (with emphasis on the international) in literature, dance, theatre, film, visual arts and other creations that can't necessarily be compartmentalized in any of those categories. It's fun! And it's festive!
And it can break the bank.
But there IS a range of FREE activities at LUMINATO which should definitely be checked out.
From transforming David Pecaut Sq. to art along Parliament St. to mobile kitchens where you can actually cook with strangers (love that idea), the city takes on a whole new visual appeal for 10 days.
All Visual Arts listings can be viewed if you click on the red/orange font above.
Music in David Pecaut Square (55 John St)
Every day there is live music in downtown David Pecaut Square. Including Kathleen Edwards, Gil Scott, Rufus Wainwright, K'naan and other international musicians. Word!
Click on the red/orange font above for the complete free music listings.
What else? There's a card cheat who is BLIND and his feats can be viewed for free. There are authors discussing their books, movement workshops at the Parkdale Public Library, and perhaps best of all, on June 14, there will be a public Citizenship Ceremony, complete with photo exhibits, storytelling and visual art displays on what it means to be a newcomer in Canada.
There are also some activities that aren't free but ARE inexpensive.
There is the President's Choice 1000 Tastes of Toronto where there will be an abundance of new street food cooked for tthe selling price of $5.
There's the convo with renowned Montréal Theatre Director Robert Lepage that only costs $20 to attend but will be worth MUCH more than that in experience and memory.
There's a slew of celebrated authors, including Irvine Welsh, discussing their books, also for a $20 admission.
There's a magician who introduces his audience to the feats of magic while they're blindfolded for $35.
There's dance for as low as $35, a late night Shostakovich symphony (#11) by the TSO for $25, and many other events that might tickle your fancy.
Unfortunately the REALLY cool stuff will cost you. Most are large-scale productions not seen 'round these parts too often, so the ticket price can probably be justified, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.
Best bets are Lepage's 3hr epic Playing Cards 1: SPADES, the surefire magical production of La Belle et la Bête: A Contemporary Retelling, and the landmark collaboration production by Phillip Glass and Robert Wilson that the city is abuzz over, Einstein on the Beach.
But don't take my word for it, check the LUMINATO website: www.luminato.com. For a festival that contains an overwhelming number of activities, their website is surprisingly easy to navigate.
LUMINATO starts in a week! It runs until June 17 and takes place in and around Hogtown. Buy tickets or explore at your leisure; there's no wrong way to do it.