As July winds down and the temperatures notch up, the east end of Toronto gets ready to host the world renowned Beaches International Jazz Festival. It kicks off today (July 19, 2013) and runs until July 28. If you are wondering what to do in Toronto that is fun for the entire family, Jazz Fest is the place to be. The Beaches International Jazz Festival has grown to include a few events that take place over a two week period, but the most popular event is Street Fest. Our family has been attending JazzFest for years and we would love to share our top tips for attending the Beaches International Jazz Festival with kids.
What to do in Toronto: Tips for Taking Kids to Jazz Fest
Check the Weather – If the weather report is calling for things to be hot and humid, then dress the whole family appropriately. Jazz Fest is a street festival…the temperature is always a little warmer on street level. If there is a heat alert in effect, you might want to leave the kids at home.
Go Early – The street festival runs from 7pm to 11pm…if you have kids, the earlier you get there, the better. The crowds tend to be a little thinner in the early evening.
Leave the Dog at Home – The Beach is a super dog-friendly community…but leave the dog at home. Even if you have the friendliest dog ever – there are just too many people, too much loud noise and too much heat for a dog to walk comfortably down the street.
Know Your Kid – The festival is not only hot, but it is loud. As you walk down the street you will come across a wide variety of bands. If your kid doesn’t like loud music, grab a pair of sound suppression headphones for her to wear. The festival takes place in the evening, make sure your kids are well rested and ready to go.
Bring Your Patience – As the night goes on, the street will get a lot busier. Pushing a stroller down a crowded street is going to require patience. Take your time and enjoy the leisurely stroll.
Enjoy the Good Eats – The bands are on the street and so is the food. Most restaurants along Queen Street sell food at sidewalk food stands. You will also find a variety of food stands lining the street at Kew Gardens. Bring cash…credit cards are rarely accepted at the street food stands.
Don’t Forget Your Camera – There is nothing worse than watching your child dance along to the music and realizing that you left the camera at home. Jazz Fest brings out the inner dancer in most kids, and adults, be ready to capture all the moves.
Go East – The bands are set up along Queen Street from Woodbine Avenue to Beech Avenue. If you can, hang out around Beech Avenue. The crowd is always a little thinner at the east end of the festival…and the ice cream trucks tend to set up in the east end.
Take Transit – Finding street parking is a real challenge. Between road closures for the festival itself and road closures due to construction, street parking spots are at a premium. The festival is totally accessible by transit; bus and subway are the way to go.
Saturday and Sunday in the Park – If daytime viewing is what to do in Toronto for your family then for head to Kew Gardens park on Saturday and Sunday. Bands play from 11am to 6pm in the big gazebo. Be sure to bring sunblock, hats and a blanket to sit on.
Head to the Boardwalk – If the crowds along Queen Street start to overwhelm your kids, or mom and dad, take a quick walk down to the beach boardwalk. You’ll find latin inspired music playing along the boardwalk…it’s a lot cooler and less busy down at the beach.
The bottom line is the Beaches International Jazz Festival is a great answer for what to do in Toronto on a hot summer evening with your entire family. If you come prepared it will be a night to remember. If you are worried that you aren’t that in to jazz music…fear not…the variety of music you will hear is stellar. You can expect to hear Cuban music, Latin music, big band music, traditional jazz, experimental jazz, folk music and blues music. The jazz festival is a fabulous way to introduce your children to a wide array of music genres. Don’t forget your dancing shoes.