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Your Guide to Toronto Venues for Events, Concerts and Theatres
Your Guide to Toronto Venues for Events, Concerts and Theatres
Published Date: 4 November 2022
Seeing a theatrical show or musical performance is often the highlight of a trip to Toronto. Whether you’re planning your own visit, or you have friends or family coming into town – an evening of live music, comedy, theatre, or checking out a local fair or exhibit as daytime activity – they are great way to create lasting memories together.
It’s been a little while, for most of us since we’ve attended live performances, so even if you live here, you might have forgotten about all the amazing Toronto concert venues and theatres. We can help with our guide to Toronto event spaces and some tips on getting there with UP Express. Our safe, convenient and stress-free service can take you from Pearson Airport to the show or to your hotel so you can relax before your night out. At just $12.35, our affordable travel keeps plenty of cash in your pocket to spend on dinner or drinks before the performance.
If you have a long layover in Toronto that is more than 4 hours, a theatre performance or comedy show is a great way to pass the time. Use our UP Express Long Layover Return Ticket for easy travel from Pearson Airport to Union Station and back - and take advantage of admission discounts to select popular major attractions. Our convenient train service runs frequently, 7 days a week, so it’s easy to have a little fun and then make it back to the airport for your connecting flight.
Iconic Theatres in Toronto
Toronto is home to some truly beautiful and historic theatres. Seeing the inside of these iconic theatres is almost as exciting as watching the world-class performances that are hosted there!
Ed Mirvish Theatre
Opened in 1920, the Ed Mirvish Theatre is a fixture in the Toronto theatre scene. It’s been renamed several times, and was originally built for vaudeville and cinema, but became a venue for theatre productions in 1989. Currently, you can catch a magical performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Royal Alexandra Theatre
Often referred to as the Royal Alex, this national historic landmark is the oldest continuously operating theatre in North America. It was the first steel-framed structure in Toronto, and almost 3400 theatrical productions have been performed on its stage. When you visit the Royal Alex, you are truly stepping into theatre history.
Princess of Wales Theatre
Located in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district, the Princess of Wales theatre opened in 1993 and was the first privately built, stand-alone theatre in North America in over 50 years. Its wide, deep stage makes it a prime venue for spectacular productions.
Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre
The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is the last operating Edwardian stacked theatre in the world! Originally built for vaudeville, the centre now hosts a variety of events and also offers tours so you can have a look inside this double-decker theatre even if you’re not attending a performance. In November, you can see Skinnamarink: A Celebration of Sharon, Lois & Bram – take a trip down memory lane and get a rare opportunity to see Bram perform again.
Smaller Toronto Theatres
These theatres might not be as familiar to you, but they are definitely worth a visit – especially since they’re so easy to get to with UP Express!
Bluma Appel Theatre
The Bluma Appel Theatre, located inside the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, is an easy walk from UP Express Union Station. This season you can watch Choir Boy, a coming-of-age play featuring a capella gospel hymns, in this elegant Toronto event venue.
The Factory Theatre is known as the “Home of the Canadian Playwright” and exclusively produces Canadian plays. The Factory Theatre is also committed to focusing on works by diverse theatrical voices. Tickets are sold on a sliding scale to allow everyone the opportunity to experience a theatre performance. Located in Toronto’s Fashion District, you can browse the boutiques before your show.
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Located on the west side of the Exhibition Grounds, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is a short local streetcar ride or a GO train ride from Union Station. It was renovated in 2019 and now features state-of-the-art sound and new seating. If you’re looking for a fun way to kick off the holiday season, check out the Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show on November 25 at the QET!
Young People’s Theatre
Photo credit: Young People’s Theatre
If you’re looking to see a show that’s perfect for kids, look no further than the Young People’s Theatre. It’s Canada’s largest and oldest professional theatre for young people, and they pride themselves on diverse and accessible theatrical performances for young audiences. On your walk from UP Express Union Station, you’ll pass other Toronto sightseeing spots like The Gooderham (Flatiron) Building, St. Lawrence Market, and The Hockey Hall of Fame. Check out the Young People’s Theatre season calendar to see what’s playing during your visit.
Cinemas in Toronto
You can go to a regular movie theatre anywhere, but these cinemas are unique to Toronto!
TIFF Bell Lightbox
The Toronto International Film Festival might only be a 10-day event every September, but the TIFF Bell Lightbox has year-round screenings to satisfy your need for great cinema. Located at 350 King St. West, it’s a 17-minute walk from UP Express Union Station, or you can hop on the TTC.
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema
If you’re a fan of documentaries, head to the Annex neighbourhood and check out Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. Located at 506 Bloor St. W. – a quick hop to TTC subway from UP Express Bloor Station – this historic cinema showcases the work of both Canadian and international documentary filmmakers.
Revue Cinema is Toronto’s oldest standing movie theatre that is still in use for movies. If you’re a film history buff, this is a must-do on your list of Toronto activities. Before you catch a show, take some time to walk around on Roncesvalles Ave – known locally as “Roncy” – or spend the whole day exploring the Bloor Street West area. You’ll find cool shops and hip restaurants – just a few minutes’ walk from UP Express Bloor Station.
Venues for Comedy Shows in Toronto
In need of a laugh? We’ve got the scoop on the venues where you can see the funniest comedians in Toronto!
Bad Dog Comedy Theatre
Visit the Bad Dog Comedy Theatre and this award-winning theatre company will keep you in stitches all night with unscripted comedy and improv. The Bad Dog Comedy Theatre is located in Kensington Market - a great place to do some shopping!
John Bassett Theatre
The John Bassett Theatre at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre hosts a variety of events and performing arts productions. In November, you can tickle your funny bone at two stand-up comedy shows – Abhishek Upmanyu on November 5, and Hamed Ahangi on November 12. It’s so easy to get to the John Bassett Theatre via the SkyWalk from UP Union Station!
Toronto’s Stadium Concert Venues
Do you love being part of a huge crowd when you attend a live performance? There can be something amazing about sharing an experience with that many other people. You’ll find all your fellow fans at Toronto’s large concert venues.
From UP Express Union Station, you’re literally steps away from Scotiabank Arena, where you can see some of the biggest names in music. During the month of November, they’ll host Marc Anthony, Luke Combs, and Eros Ramazzotti.
You can also experience the thrill of a stadium concert experience at the Rogers Centre, which is just a quick 9-minute walk from UP Express Union Station. Take the Skywalk to the end, and then as you continue outside, you’ll get up close views of Ripley’s Aquarium, CN Tower, and Roundhouse Park – a great place for some Instagrammable photos!
In warm weather, this outdoor concert venue is a great place to experience live music. Budweiser Stage is located close to Exhibition Place – hop on a TTC 509 streetcar from UP Express Union Station, or take a relaxing GO train ride to Exhibition GO Station, and you’ll be part of the action in just a few minutes.
Historic Concert Venues in Toronto
Experience live music in one of these Toronto venues that are steeped in history.
Built in 1894, the iconic Massey Hall has hosted legendary musicians over its many years and is known for its amazing acoustics. Attend a performance and check out the recent renovations that restored the historic arches and stained-glass windows and improved its accessibility.
Danforth Music Hall
The Danforth Music Hall was originally built as a movie theatre in 1919! This cool, historic building is now a major venue for a variety of musical performers. Find it in the Riverdale neighbourhood of Toronto.
The Opera House
The Opera House is also located in Riverdale. This historic building is over 100 years old and has been used as a cinema and a live theatre venue in the past. In 1989, it became the world-class music venue that it is today. The Opera House has hosted some legendary bands over the years, including Nirvana, Metallica, Green Day, The Black Eyed Peas, and many more.
Classical Music & Cultural Performance Venues in Toronto
If classical music is more your taste, Toronto has world-class musical performance venues for you to enjoy.
Roy Thomson Hall
Photo credit: Benson Kua
At Roy Thomson Hall, your eyes will be amazed by the outstanding architecture and your ears will be delighted by the sounds of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Roy Thomson Hall is located at 60 Simcoe Street, just a 7-minute walk from UP Express Union Station.
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
Photo credit: Sam Javanrouh
The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is home to both the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. Fill your cup with a dose of culture at this beautiful venue that was built to have the finest level of acoustics and features a unique glass staircase. It’s just a 12-minute walk from UP Express Union Station.
Intimate Concert Venues in Toronto
Do you love a more up-close and personal feel to your live music experiences? Toronto also has many smaller venues where you won’t feel lost in the crowd.
The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground in Queen West has been part of the Toronto music scene for decades. A former industrial club, The Velvet Underground was renovated and reopened in 2016 as a venue for live music and DJs.
The Cameron House
Another historic Queen West music venue is The Cameron House. It has been a home to local music artists since 1981, but it was built in the late 1800s. You’ll find an eclectic assortment of bands hosted at The Cameron. Check their calendar to see who’s playing while you’re in town.
The renowned Horseshoe Tavern is yet another Queen West fixture. It’s been a live music venue since its opening in 1947, hosting such legendary bands as The Ramones, The Tragically Hip, The Rolling Stones, the Police, and the Talking Heads. Don’t skip on attending a show at this historic bar and music venue.
Photo credit: Mykola Swarnyk
Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, and other ground-breaking alternative bands have graced the stage at Lee’s Palace on Bloor St. West in the Annex neighbourhood. Get there via quick transfer ride on local subway at Dundas West Station from UP Bloor Station. You can find their current calendar of musical performances here.
The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar
The Rex is Toronto’s longest running jazz club and has hosted some of the best musicians in the world. The cover charge at The Rex is only $10, so if you’re looking for an affordable night out in a chill atmosphere with amazing music, this is the place to go!
Check Out Live Entertainment at Niagara’s Casinos
If you’ll be visiting Toronto for more than a couple days, consider planning a day trip to Niagara Falls. In addition to admiring the beauty of the Falls, Niagara’s casinos are a great place to watch live entertainment.
From UP Express Union Station, you can travel to the Niagara region with GO Transit’s year-round train service on weekends and holidays, or bus service on weekdays. With a GO/WEGO combo ticket – just $25/person or $62.50/group – you get round-trip GO travel to Niagara Falls plus hop-on/hop-off local WEGO bus service to get to all the Niagara Falls attractions.
Entertainment is currently paused at Casino Niagara, but keep checking their website to find out when their weekly live entertainment will resume.
Fallsview Casino Niagara
Fallsview Casino isn’t just about gaming tables and slot machines. It’s also a major venue for live entertainment. In November you can see performances by Drake White and Joey Yung. Find out all the details on tickets here!
Go See a Show!
With so many great concert venues and theatres in Toronto, make sure to check out one or more of them during your trip here. We can’t wait to welcome you to Toronto with a quick and easy 25-minute UP Express ride into downtown, and we know that an evening of live music or theatre will make your visit here a memorable one!