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'Welcome back Toronto:' City confirms return of major summer festivals
March 7, 2022

“Welcome back Toronto.”

That was the message from Mayor John Tory on Friday morning as he announced the official return of a long list of major spring and summer events that have either been cancelled or held virtually throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

After previously suspending the issuing of permits for virtually all of Toronto’s biggest events, Tory said that the city has been working with organizers over the last few months to ensure that residents have a full calendar of street festivals and other special events to look forward to in 2022, beginning with the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 20 and continuing with the Pride parade and the Toronto Caribbean Carnival this summer.

The Canadian National Exhibition wasn’t included in the city announcement but an organizer with the event later confirmed to reporters that it is “absolutely” on track to return with a “bigger and better” fair scheduled for Aug 19 to Sept. 5.

The city has also said that it is "gearing up" to also launch its slate of city-led events, which would potentially include in-person Canada Day celebrations for the first time since 2019.

“It's been a very long and dark winter that lasted for a couple of years and it's been filled with more than its fair share of tragedy, frustration and hurt. But as with all winters it does come to an end and it's followed by the hope that is brought by spring and in this case the wonderful events that we're so used to that make our city such a great place to be,” Tory said in announcing the return of the events. “We are saying loudly and clearly with today’s message and all the events to follow welcome back Toronto and welcome back to Toronto.”

Tory announced the return of nearly a dozen major events on Friday but said that the city remains “very optimistic” that a number of other major events will soon confirm plans to return in 2022 as well.

In the meantime, he said that he wants to thank residents for their patience during the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage them to get out to some of the city’s premier events following a years-long hiatus that was necessitated by the pandemic.

“This is the reward for the incredible efforts Torontonians have made getting vaccinated and having patience with public health restrictions over the last two years,” he said. “It’s a tremendous sign that we have made great progress in fighting COVID and that we're getting into the process seriously of reopening our city and welcoming people back.”

Return of events a shot in the arm for struggling tourism industry

Most public health restrictions were lifted last summer as transmission of COVID-19 waned but prohibitions on large gatherings still made it impossible for large-scale events like the Taste of the Danforth to proceed.

The return of those events this summer should be good news for a hospitality sector that has endured a challenging two years, as well as the broader tourism sector.

Pride Toronto, for example, has said that tourists visiting the festival typically spend an average of $46 million in the city.

“Over the last couple of years urban destinations have actually lagged well behind in the recovery from others. In the summer we have seen people going to resort communities and trying to get away but what we offer here in the city is a lot of people together, celebrating together and meeting together so urban recovery has lagged behind and it will continue to lag behind. That's why today's such an important announcement, such an important day,” Destination Toronto's Executive Vice President Andrew Weir said during Friday’s news conference. “We're going to see a flurry of announcements over the next couple of weeks and months about events coming back and meetings and conventions coming back.”

St Patrick’s Day Parade- March 20
Doors Open Toronto – May 28 to May 29
Pride Month – June 1 to June 26
TD Toronto Jazz Festival – June 24 to July 3
Luminato Festival – June 9 to June 19
TD Salsa on St. Clair – July 9 to July 10
Taste of Lawrence – July 8 to July 10
Toronto Caribbean Carnival – July 7 to August 1
TD JerkFest – August 4 to August 7
Taste of the Danforth – August 5 to August 7
Toronto International Film Festival – September 8 to September 18