A chef adds the finishing touches to three rows of dishes

Photography by Brooke Schaal

19 things we’re looking forward to in 2019

Our go-to guide for events in the GTA that will make you feel good while they help you do good

Let’s just say, we’re more than ready for a fresh start and something fun to look forward to in the year ahead. So we did a little research—and now we can’t wait for 2019 to get underway! (You just can’t go wrong with foam-filled obstacle courses, family festivals and concerts for a cause, which are just a few of the things on our to-do list for 2019). Take a look, grab a pen—and mark your calendar.

Lend your voice to Women March on TO

When: January 19
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto
Cost: Free

Show up and shout your support for a safer, more inclusive Toronto—and prepare to be inspired. (Tanya Tagaq, Farrah Khan and the Raging Asian Women drumming group are all scheduled to address the crowd.) All allies are welcome, and accessibility vans and ASL interpretation will be provided at the march.

Dine at the Chefs for Change Mid-Winter Feast

When: January 23 & 30; February 20 & 27, 2019
Where: Propeller Coffee, 50 Wade Avenue, Toronto
Cost: $175/night (ticket buyers will receive a $65 charitable tax receipt)

Skip the takeout and treat yourself to a menu of five courses (plus apps and cocktails). Each night, different top chefs from Toronto and across Canada will collaborate on unique dishes with profits going to Community Food Centres Canada, an organization that supports food programs in low-income communities. (Get more info in our story on last year’s event.)

Dance the night away at the Motion Ball for Special Olympics

When: February 1, 2019
Where: Liberty Grand, Toronto
Cost: From $110

Book your dance partner for an incredible night of philanthropy and fun, all in support of the Special Olympics Canada Foundation. CityTV’s Devo Brown hosts the evening, which also includes more than eight live acts and DJs in two ballrooms. (Be sure to stop by and say “hello” to the awe-inspiring Special Olympics athletes on site.)

Still from a movie of a person wearing a yellow headscarf looking up at a tree

Catch a flick at the Toronto Black Film Festival

When: February 13 to 18
Where: Various locations, downtown Toronto
Cost: Tickets from $12

Get your tickets in advance to see some of the most outstanding—and incredibly powerful—Black film features, shorts and documentaries of the year during TBFF’s seventh season. The six-day event includes special events, workshops and panel discussions; you can also apply to volunteer your time as part of the team.

Get your bowl on at the TRCC Bowlathon

When: Date TBA, March 2019
Where: Etobicoke
Cost: Teams must fundraise $1,200 to participate

Gather your friends, dust off your bowling shoes, pick a fun team name and register your group to participate in this fundraiser for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, which runs a 24-hour crisis hotline as well as offering counseling and support. The more money your team raises, the more chances you have to win cool prizes.

Show your love for the city at the 185th Celebrate Toronto Festival

When: March 9 & 10, 2019
Where: Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto
Cost: Free

Lace up your skates and get ready to celebrate all that our vibrant city has to offer at this annual festival. With a market featuring local vendors, a variety of our best food trucks, a photo contest and a skating rink with live entertainment courtesy of a rockin’ DJ, there’s endless fun (and snacking) to be had for all ages.

Get Crafty at the Craftathon

When: March 16, 2019
Where: Sketch Working Arts at Artscape Youngplace, Toronto
Cost: Teams or individuals must fundraise $100 to attend

Learn to make one-of-a-kind crafts with a team of pals or coworkers, or come on your own or with your family for a day of kid-friendly fun in support of the LGBT Youth Line. The goal is to raise $20,000 and all levels of craftiness are welcome, even if you’re a beginner (on-site Craft Leads will be there to help you with your DIY project).

Bring your kids to Ronald McDonald House Recess

When: March 24, 2019
Where: Heritage Court, Exhibition Place, Toronto
Cost: Tickets from $40 (kids three and under are free)

Round up your family—especially the little ones—for Recess, a day of games, science, space and technology, complete with fun activities, appearances from beloved cartoon characters and dancing. All proceeds support families with ill children at Ronald McDonald House Charities Toronto.

Rock out at the 5th annual Rockin’ for the Cure with I Mother Earth

When: April 6, 2019
Where: Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto
Cost: $55

Witness Canadian music royalty take over the stage, get a chance to win some cool prizes and support the Canadian Cancer Society at this 19+ event, which raised over $10,000 last year for research and patient support.

Check out the proposed Green Line

When: May 25 & 26, 2019 (during Doors Open Toronto)
Where: From Earlscourt Park to Spadina Road, Toronto
Cost: Free

Take advantage of Doors Open Toronto and get a tour of the Green Line, a 5-km hydro corridor that’s being transformed into a park and trail by the city and Park People, an organization that aims to connect diverse neighbourhoods. You’ll discover friendly individuals and creative artist hubs along the corridor.

Take one for the team at the Take a Pie in the Face for Mental Health event

When: May 9, 2019
Where: Various locations in the GTA
Cost: Create your own fundraising goal

Pastry lovers can’t miss this opportunity to raise money for the Mental Health Program at Trillium Health Partners (THP), the largest provider of mental health services in the region. If you’re not sure about taking a face full of pie at an existing event, you can volunteer or donate to the cause—or even host an event of your own.

Celebrate diversity at the Mississauga Carassauga Festival

When: May 25 to 27, 2019
Where: Paramount Fine Foods Centre, Mississauga
Cost: Tickets from $10 (kids 12 and under are free)

Tour 28 pavilions, each representing a different country or continent, at this annual festival presented by Carassauga, a non-profit volunteer community organization. Each pavilion offers something different and diverse, from Polynesian dancing and Croatian folk performers to Vietnamese spring rolls.

Network at the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival

When: May 23 to June 2, 2019
Where: Various locations, Toronto
Cost: Tickets from $8

Inside Out brings Toronto’s LGBT community together in celebration of the best queer films from Canada and around the world. Check out the narrative features, shorts, documentaries and experimental films and take part in the Industry Series’ professional development sessions, panel conversations and networking opportunities.

Sample the fare at The Stop’s Night Market

When: Date TBA, June 2019
Where: Location TBA, Toronto
Cost: $100

This is one you’ll want to fast for: An annual fundraiser that’s an all-you-can-eat-and-drink event, uniting Toronto’s culinary, design, performance and graphic arts scenes to celebrate the community. All proceeds support The Stop Community Food Centre, a nonprofit organization funded by United Way that provides food-based community services in Toronto.

Eat well at Toronto Taste

When: June 9, 2019
Where: Evergreen Brickworks
Cost: $260 (with a $150 tax receipt)

Head to the city’s largest gourmet tasting event ever, featuring some of Toronto’s top chefs and beverage makers, and raise money in support of Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization (or apply to be a volunteer to work behind the scenes and help with organizing, serving and clean-up).

Photo of a woman making a funny face at the camera at the Green Space

Sponsor a child to attend the Mississauga Waterfront Festival

When: June 14 to 16, 2019
Where: Memorial Park, Port Credit, Mississauga
Cost: Free

Reasons to spend the day here: Live outdoor concerts, fun-filled family activities, fabulous food and, best of all, the Sponsor a Child Program, through which 6,000 less-fortunate families are invited to attend as guests (they also receive a free meal and carnival rides). The festival has also partnered with local not-for-profit organizations like Scouts and St. John Ambulance. It’s win-win-win!

Make history at the Guinness Book of World Records Attempt: Largest Group Meditation

When: June 20, 2019
Where: Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto
Cost: Free

Find some serenity now by zenning out in the park—and maybe even making it into the record books! Hosted by Just Be Meditation in Toronto, this group’s goal is all about practicing peace. As they point out: “When 1 percent of a population meditates, there are a number of positive changes on society.” Bring your pals or come solo with a comfy park blanket and an open mind.

Volunteer at the Green Space Festival

When: Official dates TBA, June 2019
Where: Barbara Hall Park, Toronto
Cost: Free

Heading into its 11th year, this festival (featuring world-class DJs and famous drag queens) has raised more than $2.5 million for the 519, a United Way-funded agency committed to the health, happiness and full participation of LGBTQ2+ communities. Volunteer to help or come out to dance and celebrate community, diversity and inclusiveness.

Photo of a young girl running through foam during the 5K Foam Fest

Take on the obstacles at the 5K Foam Fest

When: July 27, 2019
Where: Dagmar Ski Resort, Uxbridge
Cost: From $55

With 22 obstacles, including the world’s largest inflatable waterslide, slip ’n slides and mud pits—plus 2.5 million cubic feet of foam—this festival is kind of a can’t-miss. Kids under seven can play in the free kids’ zone (complete with a mini obstacle course) and anyone who participates is encouraged to start a fundraising team to raise money for Make-A-Wish Canada.

Plus, a bonus event to start training for:

Enjoy the view from the top at UP2019

When: November 2-3, 2019
Where: Toronto’s CN Tower
Cost: A $20 registration fee for adults and $100 fundraising minimum (as of 2018)

United Way’s annual UP CN Tower Climb is a chance to experience a beloved city landmark, boost your heart rate and give back to the community—all just by climbing a few stairs. (OK, 1,776 stairs.) Join a team or climb solo; either way, you’ll be in good company. (Last year, thousands of people took the stairs, raising more than $2 million.) All funds go toward the work of United Way Greater Toronto supporting a network of more than 200 agencies across the region.

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