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Luminato Best Bets: Free Events

The 8th annual Luminato Festival is days away and we want to make sure you hit all the best events this year. In the second of a two-part “Best Bets” series, we’re highlighting some of the don’t-miss ticketed events. Part 1 featured the must-see ticketed events.

Luminato Festival takes place over 10 days each June and is one of Toronto’s most inclusive and wide-ranging festivals. Spanning across disciplines, Luminato transforms Toronto’s theatres, parks and public spaces with performing arts, music, literature, food, visual arts, magic, film, and more. This year’s festival takes place June 6-15 all over the city with the Festival Hub occupying David Pecaut Square.

Here are some of the best bets for FREE events. Tell us what event excites you in the comment section below.

Slaight Music Series | June 6-15 | Festival Hub Lounge Stage
Enjoy a showcase of Canadian talent, live on the Luminato Lounge Stage at the Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square. Come down to the Luminato Lounge after work and on the weekends to grab a drink and enjoy the music. More info on the Slaight Music Series.

June 6 – Eva Avila
June 7 – More or Les
June 8 – Theo Tams, Molly Thomason
June 9 – Liz Coyles, Luanda Jones
June 10 – Nick Sherman, Digging Roots
June 11 – Jessica Mitchell, Liam Titcomb
June 12 – Jill Godin, Quique Escamilla
June 13 – Lemon Bucket Orkestra
June 14 – The Arsenals
June 15 – Stacey Kay

tomorrow’s snow and a way to the light | June 6-15 | McMichael Canadian Art Collection
“Tomorrow’s Snow”, an ephemeral yet enduringly powerful new concept by Beijing-born, Canadian-raised artist Terence Koh, began to take shape a year ago with a poetic email from Koh to Luminato Festival artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt:

“deer jorn, i just had an idea for the piece at the luminato festival. its based on a margaret atwood novel i remember reading when i was 8 years old. take a public square in toronto that has trees in it. fill the plaza with tapiaco powder so it looks like freshly fallen snow in summer. have an 8-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl holding hands and dressed simply in all white. they make snow angels for eight minutes.”

A bus to the McMichael Gallery will leave nightly at 7PM from the steps of the Metro Centre Wellington Tower( 200 Wellington St.) and will return downtown after the event. Buy tickets for the shuttle here.

Taste of the Beach | June 7 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
Highlighting the Cardboard Beach, ten local chefs will be paired with ten Festival artists to create a unique and delectable summertime dish that explores the flavours of eating at the beach – all hot off the barbecue! Cocktails, DJs Sound Culture (Chicago) and Richard Blair of Sidestepper (Bogotá) will add to the pulsating heat at the Festival Hub, creating a true culinary exhibition. Admission is free, culinary treats are $5 each.

The Hidden Cameras | June 8 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
Since their emergence in 2001, The Hidden Cameras, founded by singer-songwriter Joel Gibb, have emerged as Toronto’s sharpest, sagest and most outrageously savvy indie band. Their brand of “gay church folk music” has filled eight albums, including the recently released Age. Gibb’s gutsiest release to date, it is, he says, “no longer concerned with who he is but rather with how he came to be.”

LiV Warfield | June 8 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
One of the most distinctive and promising voices in R&B/Soul, LiV Warfield has performed alongside a host of legendary artists such as Al Green, B.B. King, Dave Matthews Band and The Roots, and is a current member of Prince’s infamous band New Power Generation, with the NPG Hornz featured in her electrifying live show. Her latest album, The Unexpected, was released earlier this year and features Prince as Executive Producer.

Music Mob: Play Maurice Ravel’s Boléro with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra | June 8 | Air Canada Centre
Ever dreamed of playing on centre court, headlining an arena concert or starring with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra? Here’s your chance to do it all! Music Mob goes major league this year at the Air Canada Centre – perform side-by-side with members of the TSO, conducted by Music Director Peter Oundjian. Everyone is welcome, from novice to experienced musician. All you need is plenty of enthusiasm, a keen sense of adventure and, of course, an instrument. No blades or balls required, just bring your violin, trumpet, spoons or sitar and celebrate the triumphant orchestral crescendo that is Ravel’s Boléro. Spectators are welcome, indeed encouraged, to cheer on our wonderfully eclectic mob. Let’s make this the biggest orchestra Toronto has ever seen!

Brazilian Samba Soul: Aline Morales, Bebel Gilberto | June 9 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
Arguably the most accomplished Brazilian musician in Canada, Aline Morales built her reputation as a percussionist and bandleader. With the 2011 release of her Juno-nominated Flores, Tambores e Amores she also revealed her prowess as a vocalist and composer while demonstrating the breadth of her interpretive brilliance.

Among Brazilian jazz artists, Bebel Gilberto is true royalty. She is the daughter of legendary guitarist and vocalist João Gilberto and esteemed singer Miúcha. But Bebel, who has been performing since childhood, is a full-fledged star in her own right, putting her uniquely vibrant spin on bossa nova traditions.

Northern Lights & Music: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tanya Tagaq | June 10 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
Two musicians, growing up in the mid-20th century in very different corners of Saskatchewan: in the 1960s, they cross paths in Toronto’s Yorkville district and in Greenwich Village. Ultimately they emerge as the most iconic, female Canadian singer-songwriters of their, or any, era. One is Joni Mitchell; the other is Buffy Sainte-Marie. Though much of her work, spanning nearly two-dozen albums, focus on her Cree heritage and the glories and woes of Indigenous people across the Americas, she, like Mitchell, paints on the broadest of music canvases, unfailingly, unflinchingly speaking truth to power.

Keys on the Street, Alejandra Ribera, Angela Hewitt with choreography by Tre Armstrong | June 11 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
Artistically speaking, it’s difficult to imagine a less likely union than classical music and urban dance, but two outstanding Canadian artists—pianist Angela Hewitt and choreographer Tré Armstrong—prove they can make this marvelous mixed marriage work. Armstrong, most recognizable as So You Can Dance Canadajudge but internationally celebrated for her work on feature films, TV hits and awards shows.

Columbian Cumbia Dub Club: The Souljazz Orchestra, Sidestepper | June 12 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
EVENT_souljazz_orchestra_11 Photo Alexandre Mattar
Their claim to be “Canada’s hardest working combo” is no exaggeration. Founded in Ottawa, the scorching sextet—keyboards, percussion, drums, flute, triple saxes and six voices—serves up the hottest, sweatiest blend of jazz, soul, Afro, Latin and Caribbean rhythms. Their five albums have garnered multiple Juno nominations, and include 2007’s Freedom No Go Die, which spawned the boldly political single “Mista President,” and their brand new album Inner Fire. Stylistically, it is their most adventurous outing to date, adding Eastern influences and elements of spiritual jazz to their remarkable sound.

New Orleans Funky Brass: The Heavyweights Brass Band, The Soul Rebels | June 14 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
Inspired by New Orleans’ glorious brass band tradition, Toronto’s Heavyweights Brass Band has shared stages with Trombone Shorty, and fellow Luminato Festival headliners The Roots. Their debut album, Don’t Bring Me Down, was a knockout, as is their seismic new Brasstronomical.

Strings are the Thing: Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, Toronto Symphony Orchestra | June 15 | Festival Hub at David Peacaut Square
Aptly known as the “Queen of the Harp,” Cardiff’s Catrin Finch graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2002. But her regal connections don’t end there. She subsequently revived a British tradition, dormant for a century-and-a-half, when she was named Royal Harpist to the Prince of Wales. Though Finch’s solo and orchestral work has earned her worldwide accolades, never has her playing been more stunningly showcased than in tandem with Senegal-born Seckou Keita, master of the harp-like kora. The beauty, and passion, of their musical and cultural twining is inimitably exquisite.

A Literary Picnic | June 15 | Trinity Bellwoods Park
A Literary Picnic is the heart and soul and apogee of Luminato’s Day of Literary Activity. Forty-five of the city’s finest writers will be gathered in Trinity Bellwoods Park, where they will present their thoughts and views and read from their own and other authors’ work during the Luminato Festival’s daylong celebration of Toronto, the Unseen.

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