If you’ve always wanted to visit Toronto, but never really had a reason to go, now’s the time to head north by northeast, in more ways than one. The so-called little brother to SXSW, NXNE is a full week’s worth of nonstop live indie bands, film programs, and much less attitude than many other music-fueled juggernauts. Happening from June 11-17, NXNE also overlaps with LuminaTO, another Toronto-based arts festival that focuses on the latest creativity coming from the biggest city in Canada.
I’m heading up to Toronto on the weekend to take in the events around the annual Luminato festival, which is now in its third year as a ten-day celebration of the arts — filling Toronto’s stages, streets, and public spaces with theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, film, literature, visual arts, and design. It’ll be an interesting few days, especially given that part of the experience of attending Luminato is to have ‘accidental encounters with art’. Hmmm, hmmm. The event is designed to showcase Toronto’s thriving downtown area which is driving the city’s ongoing cultural renaissance.
Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller have brought their experimental art to the masses with an installation housed in a salvaged, thirty-foot Chinese junk ship in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park.
I visited Toronto for the first time a couple of weekends back to check out the Luminato Festival and explore the city itself, which is being promoted as a more socially progressive and cultural alternative to other Canadian hotspots such as Montreal and Vancouver. And for good reason. Toronto is a fascinating place on many levels: from the architecture in the city center, which seamlessly combines the ornate majesty of pre-1940 buildings with the glistening facades of more contemporary designs; to the long, straight roads which defines movement though the city and contains an assortment of hidden gems; to the overall cleanliness of the streets and the overwhelming sense that a bustling creative community is doing all it can to foster the careers of others around them. It was an eye-opening experience. I left the city with a feeling that Toronto is very much on the rise, casting aside its wintry persona and thriving on the back of what is clearly a dynamic and exciting creative scene. Photos by Alison Zavos