A snapshot of Toronto’s live music and nightlife
Toronto is a gem of a city if you're studying abroad. It is bustling, vibrant, and beautiful, tucked away in southeastern Canada, and right next to the natural splendors of Lake Ontario. Another major player in Toronto is its music, so we’re here to lay out some of the best options that await you.
You know how it goes. After a day of lectures, seminars, and trips to the library, you’re ready to unwind. Or you’re ready to get among it. Either way, if clubbing isn’t your go-to, then live music may well be the way forward. Two-steppers, moshers and swayers: whatever you like, there's plenty to look forward to in Toronto.
Here are some of the best locations for live music and a night out if you study at the University of Toronto.
These are some of the mainstays of Toronto’s music scene, with everything from big-ticket hip-hop artists to pop superstars, folk heroes, and old-school favorites.
- The Danforth Music Hall — An iconic venue, known for its intimate atmosphere and excellent acoustics, it hosts some of the biggest names in music; think Tame Impala, Janelle Monáe, Tyler, the Creator, and Billie Eilish.
- The Horseshoe Tavern — A legendary fixture of Toronto's live music scene since 1947. Catch up-and-coming artists as well as established acts. Oh, and The Rolling Stones graced its stage once upon a time.
- The Phoenix Concert Theatre — With a capacity of 1,300+, there’s something for everyone here, from indie rock to electronic dance music. Some major players of the past include Childish Gambino, Bon Iver, and The Weeknd. Not bad!
- The Rivoli — A popular multi-level venue with a restaurant, bar, and unique performance space. It’s not just got incredible music line-ups, either, putting on comedy acts and raucous burlesque shows throughout the year.
- The Dakota Tavern — An intimate number in the trendy Ossington neighborhood with live music seven nights a week. Its focus is more on country, bluegrass, and roots music, so if that’s your vibe, get yourself down.
Niche, But Equally Awesome
For something a little more hip, the following spots are good for catching up-and-comers. Many are smaller, so you might want to visit once you’re settled in Toronto and ready to explore:
- The Cameron House — A kooky, cozy bar in Toronto's Queen West neighborhood, it is known for its live music and friendly, laid-back atmosphere.
- The Smiling Buddha — A cozy, quirky spot in Toronto's West End; it does a good line in fast-rising indie and punk rock acts, as well as comedy and karaoke nights.
- The Tranzac Club — This non-profit arts organization and performance space is in the Annex neighborhood. A great spot for live music events, it also has smaller-scale theater nights and literary readings.
- The Piston — An intimate venue in the city's West End, where you’ll fall in love with new indie rock, jazz, and hip-hop artists that come to show what they’ve got.
There are also some major gig events and festivals throughout the year, from Canadian Music week — five days of live music, networking, and educational sessions from 1000+ artists — through to North by Northeast, Toronto Jazz Festival, and much much more.