Toronto Nightlife – Why We Love It
Toronto has one of the world’s most vibrant nightlife scenes. Being the largest city in Canada, it has a full range of nightspots and themed events that run the range from celebrated dance clubs and major concert venues to quaint cocktail lounges and hole-in-the-wall bars that burst with character. You can even spend the entire evening laughing: Toronto has excellent comedy clubs where Mike Myers and other stars perfected their careers.
When you visit Toronto, you’ll have to find time to sleep, although you really won’t want to. Each night when the sun sets, the city is waiting for you to come out and stay out.
If listening to live music is your favourite way to spend a Friday or Saturday night, you won’t be disappointed in the Big Smoke. Some clubs and concert halls have been around for ages, their stages hosting big name acts as well as inspiring indie artists. If you live in Toronto or plan to spend a lot of time here, don’t miss these unforgettable venues:
- The Garrison is, for many locals and visitors, an essential part of nightlife in Toronto, Canada. The décor isn’t especially fancy but the acoustics are first-rate and there is a regular line-up of quality bands and DJs. On occasion, the Garrison even hosts book launch parties for Coach House Books.
- The Cameron House is the crown jewel of the trendy Queen West neighbourhood. It hosts the some of the best indie acts that the city has to offer: Past headliners include the Barenaked Ladies, Holly Cole, and Blue Rodeo.
- The Horseshoe Tavern at 370 Queen Street West is where you want to be if you want to experience the history of Toronto nightlife. In business since 1947, The Horseshoe’s stage has hosted a stream of famous acts, like The Rolling Stones, the Police, and Willie Nelson. Today, you can enjoy anything from country to blues to indie and beyond.
- Ready to go big or go home? Then don’t miss The Phoenix at 410 Sherbourne Street. With two floors consisting of over 18,000 square feet of space, it is one of the biggest concert clubs in the city as well as a key venue during NXNE (North by Northeast) and Canadian Music Week.
- CODA on Bathurst Street is locally famous for its high-energy dance parties featuring DJs from around the world. Grab a glowstick, order a cocktail, and get ready to party until daylight.
Cocktail bars are sophisticated, civilized and, yes, fun. The downtown Toronto nightlife scene is full of these trendy lounges, where the bartenders lift your spirits by mixing your favourite ones with fresh juices, unique ingredients, and mini-art garnishes. For the ultimate cocktail experience, don’t miss these popular bars:
- Civil Liberties is located near Bloor and Ossington. Its philosophy is “Let the people decide,” which is probably why this bar has no cocktail menu. Order your favourite cocktail or let the bartenders know your preferences and let them surprise you. You’ll be impressed by all the rare liquors and ingredients on display.
- Cocktail Bar is the place to be on a warm summer evening in Toronto. The patio is alight with flickering candles every night and the menu is a combination of quirky humour and mixed ingenuity. Try a seasonal cocktail, like the Lavender Hound or Absinthe Whip, or something slightly daring, such as the Gold Fashioned or Corpse Reviver No.2.
- BarChef enjoys a citywide fame for its trendy molecular cocktails. Home of the “Vanilla and Hickory Smoked Manhattan,” BarChef has superior sipping beverages, like the ultra-spicy Evening at The Bazaar and the highly botanical Smooth Operator. Modernists will love the Black Truffle, which packs a savoury bite.
- Bar Raval is located in Little Italy. It has a distinct Barcelona feel with its rich wood panels and Spanish-themed food and drink menu. Its signature beverage is the Tinto Fino, a tart and rich blend of dry sherry and freshly squeezed lime juice. The Canada’s 100 Best website even named it the number one cocktail bar in Canada!
Comedy clubs are an essential part of Toronto, Canada, nightlife. The city offers some of the most celebrated humour palaces in the industry, from large venues that host household-name comedians to smaller improv outlets and even informal ‘comedy schools’. Be sure to bring an extra shirt, in case you try to eat and laugh at the same time. (It happens ‒ a lot.)
- Absolute Comedy is one of those places where everyone is always in a great mood. You can enjoy quality comedy at a surprisingly affordable price, which is why so many people go all out and buy the ‘Dinner & Show’ package. Some nights feature top-name talent, such as International Emmy-nominated comedian Conrad Koch, while others are dedicated to the best up-and-comers.
- Bad Dog Theatre is home to Theatresports, Toronto’s longest-running improv show. It’s a smaller venue, which means that you are able to enjoy affordable and excellent improv up close and personal. If you or someone you know is an aspiring comedian, the Bad Dog Theatre offers improv training for all age groups.
- Comedy Bar is another improv hotspot that believes in spreading the magic. Not only are live comedy shows available seven nights a week, but it also offers classes in stand-up comedy, improv, writing for television, and screenwriting. Come by, enjoy a plate of ‘stoner chips’, and prepare to be entertained and educated!
- Yuk Yuk’s is arguably the place to be if you want to catch the famous before they become famous. Dave Chappelle, Mike Myers, and Dustin Diamond are only a sample of the big names who performed here. The shows are as affordable as they are entertaining, so end your Toronto evening on a good note by taking in a performance or two.
When you’re contemplating a night out on the town, it’s not always easy to decide which place to go to. Whether you’re a regular clubber, planning a birthday celebration, or wanting to enjoy a casual night out, we’re confident that at least one of the nightspots in this article will have the style, music, and atmosphere you’re looking for.