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Weekend events in Toronto: TIFF, dragon boats and a pug race

Last Updated Sep 7, 2018 at 6:19 am EDT

The 25th annual Dragon Boat Challenge takes place at Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto on Sept. 8 and 9, 2018. HANDOUT/Facebook/GWN Dragon Boat

This weekend’s events in Toronto are a little artsy, a little sporty and a lot Hollywood.

Plus, there are a number of road closures and TTC service disruptions to be aware of. Scroll down to see the list.



The city rolls out the red carpet for A-list stars Ryan Gosling, Julia Roberts and the like, in town for the Toronto International Film Festival. Highlights include one-on-one interviews, a women’s rally and of course, the films. King Street will be closed from University Avenue to Peter Street for the first weekend of the fest, which runs from Wednesday until Sept. 16.

Dragon boat race

More than 100 crews from across North America will be in Toronto this weekend for the 25th annual Dragon Boat Challenge. Boats of 20 paddlers square off during the race, which raises money for the Canadian Cancer Society. The event features food trucks, an artisan village, a beer garden and live music. It takes place Saturday and Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Marilyn Bell Park. Admission is free.

Riverdale Farm’s Fall Festival

Corn roasts, hog calling and a cow-flap toss at one of the city’s gems: Riverdale Farm. The working farm in downtown Toronto — home to goats, pigs, cows and horses — is hosting its annual fall festival this weekend. Learn more about the animals at “meet the farmer” sessions throughout the weekend, and show up early Sunday for the $5 pancake breakfast.

Cabbagetown Festival

The family-friendly Cabbagetown Festival takes over Parliament Street from Wellesley to Gerrard, and Carlton from Ontario to Parliament, this weekend. It will feature food, live music and a kids zone, and takes place Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It’s free to attend. Also happening in the neighbourhood: the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts sale just down the street at Riverdale Park West.

Black Panther under the stars

Watch one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters under the stars — for free — Friday night. This year’s season of Movies in Liberty Village Park closes out with a screening of Black Panther. There will be prizes and refreshments. The event gets going at 7:30 p.m. Showtime is 8 p.m.

Canadian Pet Expo

Unlike at many events, your furry — and scaly — friends will be welcome at the Canadian Pet Expo in Mississauga’s International Centre this weekend. The Lincoln County Humane Society will run a microchipping clinic on site so you can track your pet if it gets lost. With a pug race, parrot parade and hedgehog show planned, you’re pretty much guaranteed a fun, if wacky, time.

Sunset paddle around the islands

It’s the last weekend to join this group on a night paddle around the islands. The Toronto Island Night SUP Adventure includes a stand-up paddleboarding lesson, a guided tour through the island’s waterways, and an illuminated torch paddle to use when the sun goes down. All skill levels are welcome.

Transit service

Line 1 closure

This weekend there will be no service between Lawrence and St Clair stations due to work on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. Shuttle buses will run.

Line 2 late opening

This Sunday, there service between St. George and Broadview stations will start at noon due to beam replacement on the Prince Edward Viaduct. Shuttle buses will run.

Road closures

TIFF Festival Street

King Street West, between Spadina and University avenues, and John Street, between King and Wellington, from Thursday at 5 a.m. until Monday at 5 a.m.

Taste of the Kingsway

Bloor Street West, from Prince Edward Drive to Montgomery Road, from Friday at 12 a.m. to Sunday at 11 p.m.

Cabbagetown Festival

Parliament Street, from Wellesley to Gerrard, and Carlton, from Ontario to Parliament, from Saturday at 6 a.m. to Sunday at 9 p.m.

Jesus in the City parade

Northbound lanes of Queens Park Crescent East between College and Bloor streets on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Yorkville Run

A series of closures in the area bounded by Davenport Road to the north, University Avenue/Queen’s Park/Avenue Road to the west, Dundas Street West to the south and Bay Street to the east on Sunday, from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Toronto 5K for SickKids Foundation

A series of closures in the area bounded by St. Clair Avenue West to the north, Christie Street to the west, Davenport Road to the south and Russell Hill Road/Boulton Drive to the east on Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.