­

Nightlife

Nightlife

Toronto is known for its vibrant nightlife in comparison to other major cities in Canada and throughout the U.S.

The variety in nightlife makes Toronto vibrant and unique. There are different venues that offer something for everyone.

The following are different atmospheres or categories of nightlife in the city that Toronto has demand for and that can be found for someone eager to hit the streets.

  • Singles ready to mingle
  • Lively gay scenes
  • Cocktail and martini socialites
  • Upscale rock clubs
  • Grunge rock clubs
  • Great little hole-in-the-wall bars and pubs
  • Flashy dance clubs
  • Live music (rock, jazz, piano, open mike nights)
  • Hookah bars
  • Irish taverns
  • Sports bars
  • Pool halls
  • Comedy clubs
  • Karaoke bars

The above list of entertainment venues can be found across the downtown core of Toronto and beyond into the Greater Toronto Area. Many venues often have something different or unique experiences to offer clientele visting these establishments.

The most general and basic guide to Toronto nightlife would be to break it down into regions of the city. Specific areas of Toronto attract specific demographics and types of entertainment venues when the sun goes down.

The following consists of 4 major downtown regions of Toronto that offer different nightlife experiences.

  • The Clubbing District of Toronto is roughly in and around Richmond Street, running both east and west of Toronto’s main artery of Yonge Street. Richmond Street is not much to look at during the day, but on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, it is transformed as the streets become filled with eager club-goers.

This is the main area of downtown Toronto where one can find nightlife enthusiasts in high-heels, short skirts, slicked back hair, and open dress shirts. Richmond Street is Toronto’s Mecca for flashy large dance clubs.

Many of these buildings are large warehouses turned into clubs, with names and ownerships changing faster than the blink of an eye. For those who enjoy loud dance, techno, or top 40 beats, strobe lights, and atmosphere fog, than Richmond Street is for you.

Most places in this district require a cover charge for entry, although typically less for ladies, and drinks are often on the pricey side depending on the establishment. Those who frequent this area the most however are not downtown dwellers, but people from the suburbs of Toronto enjoying a night out.

The clientele is also often on the younger side, the majority being 19 to their early twenties, although there are places that require the miniumum age of 21 or even older. A point to follow if you are coming from outside the downtown area with a large group, take a limo. Arriving in a limo almost always guarantees line cuts outside your desired club.

  • King Street West is another district in Toronto worth visiting for the nightlife. A lot less dance oriented clubs are located here with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 establishments. It is exciting all the same and caters to a slightly older and more mature crowd compared to the larger clubs of Richmond Street.

There are a variety of different and interesting night establishments to find here, from martini bars to places specializing in imported beers. King Street is overall a very classy nightlife area of Toronto where people can enjoy good music, drinks, and conversation. It’s ideal for couples, large groups of friends, and the slightly older crowd who wants to dress upscale casual.

  • The next area to mention are the bars along Ossington Avenue in downtown Toronto. People who frequent this area are typically the city dwellers themselves, and those who want the opposite of what the clubbing district offers.

The nightlife establishments along Ossington are arguably less classy than what you might find on King Street West, yet has experienced improvements over recent years as it once was a run-down street to avoid.

Many different people find themselves partying on Ossington as there are now artsy alternative bars, dance venues, lounges, and profitable hole-in-the-wall pubs and bars. There is a reputation for the majority of night-lifers being “hipsters with trust funds”; simply meaning, people who like the “street creed” of Ossington, but have the money to party.

One will not see the same attire worn in the clubbing district on Ossington Avenue. People out for the night here will be more dressed down, with the grunge, or casual attire being very trendy.

  • Church Street and Wellesley Street or known as Church and Wellesley is home to Toronto’s Gay Village and are some lively places to visit at night for people of all sexual orientation. This is obviously the place to find your local gay and/or lesbian bar.

Venturing to the Gay Village is a must if one has never visited for both residents and tourists alike of Toronto. Most likely because it is where everyone can fit in regardless of one’s partying preference, financial situation, style, gender, or sexuality. Church and Wellesley also offers variety from your regular sit-down bar, lounges, and dance clubs.

Bars

When it comes to bars, Toronto certainly does not suffer from any shortage in number or variety.

While there locations scattered all over the city, they tend be clustered along main arteries such as Yonge Street, Bloor Avenue, Spadina Avenue, College Street, King Street and Queen Street.

A wide range of drinking establishments is to be found in the city, from hole-in-the-wall bars to classy martini lounges. Just as bars tend to be located along certain specific roads in Toronto, certain neighbourhoods in Toronto tend attract specific types of establishments.

Locations

Yorkville is known for higher-end restaurants, bars and clubs, with wider selections of pricey wine, beers and spirits. Located in the area north of Bloor Street between Avenue Road and Yonge Street, Yorkville is a fashionable location for visiting celebrities and dignitaries. Popular bars include the Pilot Tavern, Hemmingway’s, and Ciao Wine Bar.

Moving west along Bloor Street leads to the more student-oriented neighbourhood of The Annex. Here the bars tend to be less expensive, with a range of low-key lounges, pubs, karaoke bars and music venues.

The iconic Toronto music venue Lee’s Palace is here, hosting popular and up-and-coming bands from around the world, particularly alternative rock. Upstairs there is a separate bar called the Dance Cave, which is popular place for students to go dancing.

Further west in Mirvish Village, the Victory Café has a popular patio and selection of Ontario microbrews on tap.

For students and others looking for fun bars that range on the less-expensive side, the areas around the intersection of College Street & Bathurst Street and Kensington Market are also a great place to check out.

Kensington tends to feature a number of quirky and interesting watering holes, including Supermarket, The Boat, and Ronnie’s Local 069. Meanwhile, moving west along College Street leads you into Little Italy, with bars and lounges including the classic Toronto establishment Café Diplomatico.

On any given weekend, some of the city’s busiest and most popular bars can be found along Queen Street West, running from downtown all the way to Lansdowne Avenue in the west end of the city.

Closer to downtown, bars that double as music venues are common, including Toronto mainstays such as the Horseshoe Tavern, the Rivoli, Cameron House, and The Hideout.

Further west on that street leads into the city’s Fashion District, where the density of bars and lounges remains nearly constant. The area around the intersection of Ossington Avenue and Queen Street is another up-and-coming nightlife district, particularly north on Ossington and west on Queen.

This neighbourhood features smaller bars, art galleries and music venues that are geared towards a hipper, trendier crowd.

King Street West, itself once considered an “up-and-coming” area, now features a well-developed nightlife. It features bars and clubs where the prime directive is dancing, drinking and party late into the night, spots like Biermarket, the Wheat Sheaf (Toronto’s oldest bar) and The Underground, tend to lean towards a more mature demographic than the clubs of the Richmond Street Club District.

Located downtown in the Church and Wellesley area is Toronto’s Gay Village, another popular spot for bars and clubs which are frequented by partiers regardless of sexual orientation.

The best time of year to check the area out is the end of June, when Pride Week turns the neighbourhood into a massive non-stop party that draws hundreds of thousands of people to the city. Popular spots include Woody’s and O’Grady’s Pub.

Districts outside of the downtown/west end feature their own concentrations of bars as well. East of the Don Valley, The Danforth features a number of quality pubs and bars scattered among its famous Greek Restaurants, including The Only Café and Allen’s.

Major intersections along Yonge Street heading north also have significant clusters of bars, although the majority tend to be pub-style establishments.

St. Clair Avenue and Eglinton Avenue each have many options, including Unicorn Pub and Philthy McNastys on Eglinton, and Fox and Fiddle on Yonge near St. Clair.

For those looking for a place to have a drink and watch the game, Toronto has many sports bars as well. Although they can be found throughout the city, many are located around Front and King Streets close to the sports venues downtown.

Real Sports Bar & Grill located at Maple Leaf Square next to Air Canada Centre, was recently rated the best sports bar in North America. Wayne Gretzky’s, on Blue Jays Way downtown, is another popular spot which features one of the best patios in the city.

City also has a lively comedy scene, with several bars and comedy clubs and many others with dedicated nights. Yuk Yuks, with one location on King Street downtown and north at Yonge and Eglinton, is a well-known chain and features mainly professional comedians.

Located on Bloor Street West, Comedy Bar features more sketch comedy and improv, and attracts many up-and-coming acts. Second City Theatre is a Toronto comedy mainstay, having been putting on comedy shows for over 50 years.

Another popular night time activity in the city is singing karaoke, that occasionally embarrassing but always entertaining pastime of wannabe crooners.

Many pubs and bars offer karaoke nights, but your best bet is to check out one of the city’s dedicated karaoke bars. Several are located just west of The Annex on Bloor Street West, including XO Karaoke and BMB Karaoke.

Check out more on Toronto nightlife through TotallyToronto!

Sketchy Bars in Toronto
Trendy Bars
Wine Bars/div>div>

Nightlife Things To Do

Toronto nightlife top things to do range from visiting bars, pubs, dancing, music, concerts and late night restaurants.

While it may not be the city that never sleeps, Toronto certainly loves to stay up late. Toronto is known for its energetic nightlife that offers options for a wide range of tastes.

Bars and Pubs

When it comes to bars and pubs, Toronto certainly does not suffer from any shortage. Locations all over Toronto are popular spots for bars and pubs but they tend be found along the main streets of the city and various major intersections.

Yonge and Bloor Streets
Yonge and Eglinton
Bloor and Spadina

Queen and Ossington
 
King and Spadina
 
Church and Wellesley

A wide range of drinking establishments are found in the city, from hole-in-the-wall bars, to booming clubs, to classy martini lounges. Irish style pubs are particularly popular in the city, and can be found just about anywhere. Go there for a pint or two, and don’t forget to enjoy pub food favourites like wings, nachos and sweet potato fries. Live music and karaoke are often featured as well.

Cheap Drinks

For those looking for bars with cheap drinks, they tend to be outside of the downtown area, especially west of the city centre. The areas around College and Bathurst and Queen West have some very popular pubs and bars that have cheap drinks.

Sports Bars

For those looking for a place to have a drink and watch the game, Toronto has many sports bars as well. Although they can also found throughout the city, many are located along Front and King Streets close to the sports venues downtown. Just be aware that if there is a hockey game on television, it will likely trump any other sports.

Dancing and Going to the Club

Toronto has many clubs that cater to those who want to have a night out dancing and partying. Toronto’s unofficial “club district” is located downtown along Richmond Street, where revelers flock on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights to dance to top-40 beats. Meanwhile, King Street West is another neighbourhood known for its bustling nightlife. Bars and clubs pack the area, with a focus on a (slightly) more mature demographic.

Another popular area for bars and clubs is located in the west end along Ossington Avenue and where it meets Queen Street West. This neighbourhood features smaller bars, art galleries and music venues that are geared towards a hipper, trendier crowd.

Meanwhile, located downtown in the Church and Wellesley area is Toronto’s Gay Village, another popular spot for bars and clubs which are frequented by those looking to party regardless of sexual orientation. Every year at the end of June, Pride Week turns the neighbourhood into a massive non-stop party that draws hundreds of thousands of people.

Music and Concerts

Toronto has a booming music scene, and on any given night there are numerous shows to check out. Big name artists and tours regularly pass through Toronto, but there are also so many good local bands to check out. Local shows tend to be featured in clubs along College Street and Queen Street West, while bigger shows are often held in venues in the downtown core, such as the Air Canada Centre and the Molson Amphitheatre.

During the year, there are also many great music festivals that occur across the city that attract bands from around the world. Canada Music Week in March and the North by Northeast Festival in June are two of the biggest such events, with shows spread out over dozens of venues across the city. As an added bonus, during those events many bars have extended hours, with some serving drinks until 4 a.m.

Toronto Jazz

If you’re looking for the jazz scene, Toronto has that too. The Reservoir Lounge and The Rex Jazz and Blues Bar are two of the most popular jazz and blues venues in the city. Meanwhile, in the summer the city hosts the Beaches International Jazz Festival, a huge event where bands line the streets for over 2 kilometers along Queen Street East.

Movie Festivals

One of the city’s most well-known festivals is the Toronto International Film Festival. Known in the city as “TIFF“, this yearly film festival takes over the city for 11 days every September. The event is one of the biggest film festivals in the world (Time Magazine called it, “the most influential film festival, period”), but it has become more of a celebration than just about movies. Gala events and parties dominate the city during that time, and people go about the hobby of spotting one of the hundreds of celebrities that flocks to the city.

There are also dozens of smaller movie festivals that occur throughout the year, and focus on more specific tastes. The Toronto After Dark Film Festival is an event that has been growing in popularity, and it features horror, sci-fi, action, and cult films. Another big movie festival is Hot Docs, a documentary film festival that takes place in May, and is North America’s largest such event.

Late Night Restaurants

A busy night out in Toronto is always better with a little late night eating, of which there are no shortage in the city. Late night food options tend to be conveniently clustered in the same areas as bars and clubs, where choices include 24 hour diners, pizza, burritos, Jamaican patties and poutine. Of course, the reigning champion of late night food is Toronto’s Chinatown, centered on the area of Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street just west of downtown. Many restaurants there continue serving favourites like chow mein and crispy beef until 4 and 5 in the morning.

Toronto Club Guide

Toronto has a bustling club scene, perfect for those looking for a night of dancing and partying. This is Totally Toronto’s Club Guide for the city, if you are looking for a place to party then you have come to the right place.

In general, when visiting a Toronto club one can expect cover charges of $10 to $20. The standard set-up has DJs playing house, top-40 and hip-hop music; with large dance floors and VIP booths set up for those who want to enjoy bottle service with a group.

Richmond Street and Club District

This is London: Large club geared towards a young but over-21 crowd. Plays primarily house, R&B, hip hop. Known for having large third-floor women’s washroom completed with hairdresser and makeup artist.

CIRCA: Created by club king Peter Gatien, this massive 55,000 square foot nightclub attracts big name DJs and artists. It has been used for movie and music video shoots, but was closed for some time so check their website.

XS Nightclub: Highly-rated club at the base of Scotiabank Theatre geared more towards the alternative rock‎ and hip-hop set.

Crocodile Rock: A more casual downtown club with cheap drinks and large patio. Here university students mingle with newly-employed bankers fresh out of school.

The Fifth Social Nightclub: Twenty-somethings continue to flock to this spot thanks to a large dance-floor, top-40 music and regular special events.

Embassy Nightclub: Standard Club District venue with top-40, house and dance beats, bottle service and VIP booths.

Toronto East and Waterfront

Guvernment: One of the city’s most popular and highest profile clubs. They regularly attract internationally-acclaimed DJs, and stay open until well after the sun has risen. Special events attract thousands of partiers, especially in the summer.

Sound Academy: Concert hall and dance club that regularly attracts big name Canadian and international musicians and DJs.

Phoenix Concert Theatre: Hip east-downtown music venue and club that features rock, hip-hop, electronic artists and popular DJ nights. Saturday is their big club night.

King Street West

Mink Nightclub: Busy two-floor nightclub and lounge with a celebrated heated two-tier patio.

Brant House: Bar lounge located in a spacious former factory. DJs spin lounge and house beats while partiers mingle by candlelight.

Devil’s Martini: King Street pick-up spot for young people that features standard musical selection of Top 40, Hip Hop, dance and 80’s classics.

Rockwood Nightclub: Popular with the later-twenties crowd. It features a top-floor patio with a palm tree/tiki bar theme.

Century Room: Trendy King West bar located in an old warehouse, with high ceilings and hardwood floors. Is only open three nights a week, but is busy when it is.

Cheval: Cocktail lounge and nightclub aimed at young, upscale professionals. International cosmopolitan décor, with regular special events including appearances by world-famous DJs.

Queen Street West

Drake Hotel and Underground: Hotel, restaurant, lounge and nightclub. One of the best patio’s in the city on the top floor, and a club/music venue in the basement.

Wicked Club Toronto: Hedonistic club aimed at couples. A great time for those looking for that particularly risqué type of evening.

Stone’s Place: Rolling Stones themed bar and lounge in the west-end Parkdale neighbourhood. Dress is “rock and roll casual,” and the place is almost always packed on weekends.

Nocturne Nightclub: Small club and cocktail lounge with special in-house drinks. Unique interior design with classic street lamps, park benches and cobblestone floors.

College Street and Toronto West

Lula Lounge: Dundas West hotspot for Latin food and music. Featuring regular live salsa, jazz, Brazilian, and reggae bands, as well as club nights with DJs.

Mod Club: Popular two-floor nightclub and venue for concerts located in Little Italy. They regularly host trendy bands and artists, as well as host DJ nights.

Musik: Upscale nightclub located on the grounds of Exhibition Place. Focus is on luxury and service, with private suites, VIP services and dedicated hostesses.

The Midtown: Relatively small Little Italy resto-bar that turns into a nightclub as the evening moves on. DJs play top 40, retro and rock hits.

Downtown North and Midtown

Empire Nightclub: Upscale Yorkville nightclub with a focus on VIP booths and bottle service.

Club V: Exclusive Yorkville club is designed with the A-list set in mind. Expensive, but great if that’s what you’re looking for.

Crews & Tango: Two-in-one club located in a Victorian house in the heart of the Church and Wellesley Gay Village.

Fly Nightclub: Large club located just off Yonge Street. One of the city’s favourite dance clubs, it was featured on the television show Queer as Folk.

Surrounding Area

Sugar Daddy’s: One of Mississauga’s most popular dance clubs. Playing top-40, hip-hop/rap‎ and R&B.

Luxy Club: Large club located north of the city in Vaughan, close to Highways 407 and 400. Aims to bring a downtown Club District feel to the 905 region.

Berlin: European-themed nightclub that feature live performers such as belly dancers, bongo players, acrobats and jugglers. Located in Vaughan.

My Apartment: Mississauga establishment that was mentioned in Maxim Magazine as one of the hottest clubs in the Toronto area. A 21+ dance club that plays R&B, house, top-40 dance, and old-school.

Toronto knows how to party, and our clubs are some of the best in Canada. Browse around our website for more information on Toronto nightlife.