Toronto Music Scene

Toronto offers a vast array of choices on the live music scene with every genre from rock, pop, rap, jazz, folk, blues, country and alternative. As well as attracting the major players on the tour circuit scene, Toronto is an incubator for new talent. Toronto hosts Canadian Music Week in March but at the top of the must attend music events are the three major festivals held in Toronto each year that attract people from across the city and around the globe.

2015 Toronto Music Festivals
NX NENorth by Northeast  June 17 to 21, 2015 showcases 800 bands in over 50 venues across the city and is the premier Canadian summer music festival dedicated to new and upcoming indie music. In its 21st year, NXNE is expected to draw over 350,000 fans, artists and industry people to this years event.
td jazz festivalAlso in June the TD Jazz Festival  June 18 to 27, 2015 features the biggest names in Jazz at various venues across the city. With over 350 performances and more than 1500 musicians performing in 40 locations across the city.  The expectation is for about 500,000 people attending this annual event.

beaches jazzBeach International Jazz Festival July 10-26, 2015 is a grassroots festival which happens annually at Woodbine Park with over 100 bands. Admission is FREE for 3 weeks of entertainment in The Beach. Location: Queen St. East and Woodbine Park.  Additionally this year in honour of the PanAmerican Games the festival is also celebrating PanAm Fiesta July 10-13, 2015.

Closer to home: You can enjoy the classic sounds of brass, wood and percussive instruments as the Harbourfront Centre annual Summer Music in the Garden series returns for 2015. FREE concerts will take place in the Toronto Music Garden from July 2nd through September 13 on most Thursdays at 7pm and Sundays at 4pm and are approximately one hour in length. Bench seating is available but limited, so ask us for a blanket or a lawn chair. Located just 250 feet down the dock from the Boatel.

But that’s not all – in addition to the festivals the Toronto Live Music Scene is alive and strong.
Jazz, Blues and Folk – There are a number of small jazz, blues and folk bars all around the city. To see a full listing go to to see what’s on. You may also want to check out what is playing at Massey Hall which is a legendary jazz institution that has been around since 1953.

Here are a few popular places that offer jazz, blues and country:
The Rex Jazz and Blues Bar on 194 Queen Street West (east of Spadina) is one of your best bets if jazz is your thing. The Rex has been around since the late 1980s and is a gathering place for jazz affectionatos with outstanding live jazz and blues music every night and a pub-grub menu.
The Reservoir Lounge 52 Wellington Street East (east of Yonge) with swing jazz and jumping blues and their southern fusion cuisine (dinner reservations recommended).
Hugh’s Room 2261 Dundas Street offers a range of genres but specializes mainly in folk but also has rock music concerts and dinner. Tickets in advance (cheaper) or at the door.
Lula Lounge – 1585 Dundas Street West (west of Bathurst) Lula offers lively bands and DJs that play Jazz, Salsa and Latin. They offers dinner shows and even dance lessons.
Dakota Tavern -249 Ossington (at Dundas Street West) Dakota is small local Toronto bar tucked into the heart of Little Portugal and is a must stop for an alternative country / bluegrass mix of local Toronto talent. Recently voted NOW Magazine’s Best Blues Bar award.

Live Music Bars – The list is long but we will shorten it to some of the local favorites.
Horsehoe Tavern 368 Queen Street (just east of Spadina) The Horsehoe has been around since 1947, is a music landmark in Toronto and has promoted many great Canadian bands including Tragically Hip, Willie Nelson, Blue Rodeo and the infamous Stoppin’ Tom Connors. Not just a hometown hero, the Horseshoe has played host to kickoffs for the Rolling Stone 1997 world tour as well as The Police and Sting. The Horeshoe continues to support local indie rock bands like Juno award winning July Talk. 

Lee’s Palace 529 Bloor Street West (west of Bathurst) Another Toronto music landmark, this legendary gritty ear-throbbing rock venue has been attracting top talent for decades.

El Macambo 464 Spadina Ave (south of College) The El Macambo rounds out the trio of legionary bars in Toronto serving up rock, folk and funk.

Rivoli 334 Queen Street (just east of Spadina) If you are bar hopping from the Horseshoe Tavern and looking for a good dinner then the next stop is the Rivoli with nightly live music (indie and rock).

No matter what your music style you are sure to find live music in Toronto to suit your taste.

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About Diane Greene

Diane Greene stepped off the corporate treadmill in 2004 for pursue a life of traveling and adventure. 10 years later she is still operating Toronto's only Boat Bed and Breakfast and travelling with her husband on Boatel, their 65 foot trawler in the US and Bahamas during the winter. Diane has three wonderful children and 3 grandbabies. Diane loves photography, travel and scuba diving.

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