Toronto’s distinct neighborhoods and vibrant artisan scene make it the perfect city to consider when planning your next summer getaway. The city’s 6 million+ residents comprise more than 200 ethnic groups, making it one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Whether you're visiting the galleries and restaurants in the Distillery District or watching an IMAX movie at the Ontario Science Center, Toronto has the activities to satisfy any interest.
The BIG on Bloor Festival is one of the largest summer art and music events in Toronto, attracting more than 100,000 people annually. It will take place July 22-23, covering seven blocks along Bloor Street in the Downtown area. Visitors will encounter an art extravaganza complete with more than 100 artists who will host outdoor exhibitions, paint murals, project video art, and more. Artists will also hold workshops where patrons can create unique arts and crafts of their own while learning about different cultural subjects. A variety of musical acts will perform on three stages including OBUXUM, Mas Aya, Scott Ramirez, and Tim Moxam. A marketplace will feature more than 100 vendors selling various items, and food vendors will offer meals and refreshments for every taste. We got the chance to interview Jessica J Cimó, publicist for the event, to learn more about this family-friendly celebration.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
JC: The festival is celebrating its 10th year (2007-2017).
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
JC: Organizers expect around 100,000 attendees.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
JC: The event is for all ages and attracts a wide demographic including families, singles, and couples. The 2017 BIG on Bloor Festival welcomes a range of art and culture lovers, as well as those wanting to connect with their community, others curious to discover Bloordale, and those wanting to enjoy a vibrant afternoon. Of the attendees, nearly 70% said they would return, and close to 30% replied that they would probably attend again.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
JC: A historical focus on arts and culture, and a commitment to accessible programming through free exhibitions, live music, and participatory arts and crafts. BIG on Bloor Festival has a strong community following, and its support of local Bloordale shops and businesses makes it worth experiencing.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
JC: The event will feature Card Yard, a participatory art activity that uses recycled and upcycled materials. This year marks the inaugural appearance of FIGMENT Toronto at BIG on Bloor, which is an inclusive family-friendly and participatory installation-based project. The event will also have live painting, music programming, video and performance art, an outdoor art exhibition, murals, and hands-on workshops (including ecology focused interactions with How We Live In Cities).
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
JC: The musicians that will grace the Celebrate Here Main Stage, and the Fixie Fest BIG X Stage include OBUXUM, Tim Moxam, Mas Aya, MALOO (Maylee Todd), Scott Ramirez, Phèdre, and more. There will also be a third stage with programming by Justin Schwab (Holy Oak), and Finn & Wolf Sonic Media under the auspices of Jouez Participatory/Performance Art Projects.
RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?
JC: The most diverse treats and eats in one festival with options from East African to South Asian.
RAL: Tell me about the atmosphere.
JC: It's a pedestrian take-over of Bloor Street between Dufferin and Lansdowne, which animates West of Lansdowne along Bloor Street to the West Toronto Railpath. Different stations and booths with over 100 artists and more than 100 vendors, as well as the vibrant streetscape that is Bloordale. The 10th edition includes a special green lawn takeover at the Celebrate Here Main Stage.
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
JC: Absolutely, over 70% of 2016 festival attendees patronized Bloordale businesses during the festival.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
JC: There is a vast range of offerings, created specifically for the festival. The art installations are beautiful, yet temporary, and three curators will program the live music. Attendees have a chance to purchase art outside the gallery, support local performances, and be part of the community for a free, car-free weekend.
For more information about the BIG on Bloor Festival, please visit the event website.