Blissful summer. It's hard to believe that you’re almost tapped out of sunny rays and that soon enough we’ll be replacing our casual flimsy wear with wooly socks and over sized sweaters. Thankfully September always rewards us with a few extra summer weeks so before it’s too late, head to your closest patio or park with friends to reminisce over your favourite memories. Summer’s life span may be short, but this year in Toronto it’s been an eventful one allowing everyone and their mother to experience a slice of culture straight from the streets of our local neighbourhoods. There were more food festivals than any foodie can handle and a variety of brands capitalizing on the impact of experiential. So before we all share a unison moan over the inevitable chill rearing its ugly head here is a recap of five Summer event trends in Toronto.
Free Outdoor Cinema
Dozens of Torontonians are ditching the catcall allure of King St.’s clubs and rather snuggling up with their nearest and dearest to take advantage of a free flick in the park. There were more than ten locations across the GTA offering free movies during almost every day of the week. Companies starting to see the cultural shift towards more intimate and casual experiences tapped into this ‘experience’ this summer by sponsoring or organizing free cinema nights in parks and lots across the GTA. RedBox, being a natural companion to their brand, teamed up with Harbourfront Centre and offered classic movies like Clueless and Funny Girl. Scotiabank also jumped on the bandwagon with their “Cinema Under the Stars” offering free popcorn to the first 100 people who arrived. Not so traditional, but a great marketing tool to bring visitors to an unfinished construction zone that will one day be a park, Downtown Markham created a series of drive-in movie nights, some that even featured cosplay, like their Greece movie night.
Street Food Festivals and Food Festivals in General
Over the past few years’ foodiephiles have been on the upswing, causing a rippling affect across the food industry. There doesn’t seem to be a cuisine we haven’t covered as a handful of restaurants open weekly, gentrifying the many nooks of our city. Food festivals have also raised in popularity and it was hard to go a week without hearing about one. They are so trendy, that in one summer, two large events with almost identical names (Taste of Toronto/Toronto Taste) took place just a month apart. From shutting down streets for a pinxtos event to more food truck events than you can count on your hand to extremely niche food focused events like ribfest, dim sum and burger week it’s a surpise this city hasn’t been fatigued by all the choices. Tickets continue selling out for acclaimed events like TUM, The Stop’s Night Market and Night it UP so it’s clear there is still lots of room for food focused events in Toronto.
Although our roads seem more congested than ever, what is Toronto’s prized transportation mode? No it’s not the TTC. It’s their bikes. And when biking to and from work doesn’t quite cut it, the forward thinking bike citizens of Toronto have imagined a whole new set of excuses to ride your bike; through a series of different events. Art Spin is a multi disciplinary bicycle tour that takes riders on a bike tour to a range of galleries and unconventional locations to view art. Bike Rave, another cycle event, sees over 300 people and counting touring the west of the city, at night via bikes, clad in neon lights, blasting electro tunes and stopping traffic. Of course, there’s the fifth annual Toronto Bicycle Music Festival, which hosts a series of pop up musical concerts in three different parks- all guests travel via bike throughout the day to experience a new party in a park with different bands.
Takeaway Art Installations
Art installations at events have become the new craze at food festivals, condo launches and office parties who are all looking to incorporate a facet of experiential art. A trend that has been building momentum is the takeaway art installation. We first saw this at Luminato’s inaugural launch party Big Bang Bash where guests were encouraged to take a piece of the table’s centre piece - a replica of the Berlin Wall. At RAWS’s annual event, RAW Material transforming a storage locker into design party was not the only innovative experience. Attendees were able to take a piece of a large scale grafitti canvas home with them to remember their night,.
Experiential Pop-up Parties
Brands are beginning to recognize the popularity in social currency. They’re looking to engage their demographic in more tangible and authentic ways, tapping into their core wants and desires. This summer there was an influx of pop up parties hosted by brands to raise their social profile and cool factor. In June ,Perrier hosted a pop-up playground, tapping into the very essense of our childhood wishes. The Burroughs was turned into an astro turf haven with specialty games like Pac Man and pong and a make-your-own fizz bar sure to nurse any nostalgia hangover. TD made a surprising move, by being the first bank ever to put on a summer concert series, but not just any concert series, one with surprise jam sessions that boast the likes of Tegan and Sarah. TD has been sponsoring multiple music festivals over the past decade and this move was to reinforce their support of arts and culture. Rounding out the end of the summer, Pepsi’s pop up bottle-shaped concert venue sees local talent performing for TIFF festival goers and brand ambassadors handing out a slew of pepsi branded merchandise.