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.
The Luminato Festival kick-off is on June 10 and a common comment I’ve heard from those who don’t frequent the arts world, is: “What the hell is Luminato.”
The Luminato Festival takes over the Toronto streets for 10 days of fabulous creativity, featuring all artistic disciplines (theatre, dance, art, music, lit, visual art, etc.) and invites anyone and everyone to attend. It boasts a huge roster of events, including heaps of FREE events and it’s all VERY well organized on their website: luminato.com. Their website is ridiculously user-friendly.
And before you say it, Luminato is not just for arts enthusiasts; you don’t have to be well-versed on long-dead classical music composers or the most recent post-whatever movement in sculpture. You can go and witness cool circus performers, outdoor jam sessions, film screenings and fashion shows; there is so much going on you can’t possibly see it all. So how does one unfamiliar to the Luminato scene navigate it? I’ll tell you.
DO visit luminato.com ASAP. From there, scroll through the ‘All Events’ page and find pieces that interest you OR: pick a date(s) that you’re available and pick events happening that day OR: choose an area of the city and concentrate your efforts on a few city blocks so transport is simple. Who knows what you might see on your route? If you’re die-hard on a particular event, buy the tickets in advance; the festival is popular and you don’t want to be disappointed!
DON'T overbook yourself. I’ve done that and the last few events didn’t get my full attention because I was pooped and some of the others weren’t fully enjoyed as I was stressed about getting to the next venue. (This is a very" me" thing to do and I don’t recommend it.)
Any free events are clearly labelled on the website with a green icon that says FREE!
There are loads of family-friendly events too so bring the wee ones and they’ll love it. The band "They Might Be Giants" is playing a free event and they’re guaranteed to be hilarious, silly and educational. For reals.
Theatrical highlights: Necessary Angel’s "Andromache" and "Tout Comme Elle (Just Like Her)", "One Thousand and One Nights", "Taj", the National Ballet's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", etc.
Luminato is a unique extravaganza in the city of Toronto and its well worth taking advantage of.
So do it!
And, as always, if you've got any questions about it, please feel free to contact me! I'm more than happy to help.