After an unusually mild winter in Toronto, the first day of spring has officially arrived (although it doesn't quite feel like the first spring day). With the changing of the season, the world is fresh again. There's renewed interest in getting out and about for activities and events.
Ditch the jacket and shed winter with our top five picks of things to see and do this spring on Toronto's east side.
GET YOUR FILL OF EVENTS
Toronto’s spring lineup of events, concerts and festivals includes annual favourites and one-off spectacles, and there are a few sure-shots taking place in the east end. Doors Open, which always features a look inside several east side buildings, runs May 27 to 29. Showcasing Riverside’s food spots and unique small town in the big city atmosphere, Eats & Beats Streetfest is happening June 4. The second editon of music extravaganza Bestival is coming to Woodbine Park on June 11 and 12. Luminato kicks off mid-June and will host Unsound Toronto at the Hearn in the Port Lands. Finally, NXNE returns on June 15 with its usual mix of music and arts-related programming, but its adding a weekend-long outdoor music festival in the Port Lands, which is an untapped venue for the event.
HIT UP YOUR LOCAL FARMERS' MARKET
For fresh, local products and chance to get outside, it's hard to pass up the delicious eats and airy vibes of a farmers' market. There are several markets on the east side operating on various days of the week starting in May or June and going through the fall. The Leslieville Farmers’ Market turns every Sunday into fun day and it all starts May 22. East Lynn Farmers' Market returns every Thursday starting June 4. The year-round Evergreen Brick Works Farmer's Market heads back outdoors June 18.
TAKE A TRIP ON A MUSICAL JOURNEY
April 16 is Record Store Day, a time to show your support for the independent record shop and celebrate the rebirth of vinyl culture. Whether you're a serious music collector or just want to get turned on to some new tunes, the east side has plenty of humble and hardworking record shops to discover. Riverside's Tiny Record Shop and the recently opened Kops Records on East Danforth are both participating in the event, offering promos and special releases.
SEE SPRING IN BLOOM ON LESLIE STREET SPIT
The Leslie Street Spit is easily one of Toronto's (and perhaps Canada's) most remarkable public urban wilderness areas. The 5 km peninsula, built by man-made lakefilling, that juts into Lake Ontario is one the largest existing natural habitats on the city's waterfront, and its spring state is awesome to behold by bike or foot. Cottonwood and poplar trees, wildflower meadows and coastal marshes come alive. The cobble beaches and sand dunes are just waiting to be explored for signs of wildlife, especially birds, and relic construction artifacts of Toronto's past. The spit is an active construction site, therefore the park is only open on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A no-dogs policy is in place. For more info, visit Tommy Thompson Park's website.
PLANT A GARDEN OR HAVE ONE PLANTED FOR YOU
Basking in the sunshine and running dirt through your hands is a primal experience and an annual ritual which starts around May 24 weekend when crowds rush for green thumb institutions like East End Garden Centre en masse. Getting down and dirty in the spring ensures local gardeners can enjoy a vibrant splash of colour while beating the heat with a cold drink when summer comes. Let's face it: Green space and time are both at a premium in the city, so Toronto-based startup, At Home Organic Farms, will take the guesswork out of gardening by setting up cedar boxes and planting them with organic veggies (they'll even help you maintain it). Have no space to spare? Consider planting a community garden that gives land stewardship to urban dwellers, and provides an opportunity to grow culturally diverse food and plants, beautify vacant lots and connect with neighbours.