Top 5 Toronto neighbourhoods for music lovers

Top 5 Toronto neighbourhoods for music lovers

As we all know, Toronto is a vibrant city full of things happening 24/7. For music lovers, no matter what genres they like, the Toronto music scene is sure to keep them busy and entertained. Toronto, being one of the top music cities in all of North America, is filled with venues and other music-related spots in every corner. If you want to live in a neighbourhood where you can be surrounded by music day and night, here are the top 5 neighbourhoods with the best of the best hot spots for music lovers.

Queen West

Kops Records

Via Instagram @kopsrecords

Horseshoe Tavern, one of the most famous bars for live music in Toronto, is located in this very neighbourhood and has featured some of Canada’s favourite bands like The Arkells and Arcade Fire, and the legendary Rolling Stones have also made an appearance here (who’s not a fan of the Stones?). Keep an eye on the performers at Horseshoe, because who knows? They might become chart-topping artists in the near future.

Another must-visit spot for live music fans is the Velvet Underground, which has been transformed from a nightclub into a concert venue for bands, DJs and musicians like Australian R&B singer RUEL.

If you want to enjoy food, games, music, and dancing all in one place, The Rivoli is your best friend. Their great selection of food and drinks, pool tables, and live performances in the back room are sure to keep you busy and entertained for the entire night.

Looking to stock up on some old-school vinyl? From Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars to Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen, Kops Records has them all. This record store—known to be the oldest independent store of its kind in the city—sells mostly vinyl of all genres, but they do have some CDs and cassettes on hand as well. Got some unused vinyl sitting at home? They’ll be happy to take them off your hands!

Queen West hosts the concert series “Queen West Street Stages.” This free event is split into 4 days during July and August and features numerous local artists. Who needs indoor venues when you can stroll along the street and listen to live music? The world is your oyster. Because of COVID, there are currently no plans to bring this event back this year, but fingers crossed that it’ll make its return in 2021!

The Beaches

Musician playing guitar

Via Instagram @beachesjazz

If you’re a festival-lover, then The Beaches is the perfect place to be. Home to Woodbine Beach, this neighbourhood hosts one of the biggest jazz fests in North America: Beaches International Jazz Festival. This festival began in 1989 and has now evolved into a month-long event that brings thousands of music lovers together every year. The festival features around 1000 artists every year on six stages scattered around the area, with most of them being located in Kew Gardens and Woodbine Beach Park, so you can take a stroll through the neighbourhood without having to walk away from music. This year the fest took place online (for obvious reasons), but if all goes well, it’ll be returning to the park next year, so make sure to check their website for any updates.

Are you more of a casual music listener than a festival-goer? Catch one of the free concerts held under the gazebo at Kew Gardens! Last year, they hosted Music in the Park which consisted of free performances by Toronto and Canada’s best musicians of various genres. As with all other fests and concerts, this event isn’t happening this year (sadly), but let’s hope that it makes a strong comeback next year.

The area is also home to the Juno Award-winning rock band, The Beaches. Consisting of four members, the band was formed in 2008 and named after this Toronto neighbourhood where three of the members spent their childhood.

Liberty Village

Budweiser Stage

Via Instagram @budweiserstage

Outdoor venues, intimate clubs, instrument shops, radio stations, recording studios, record labels… you name it, and Liberty Village has them all.

Liberty Village is home to some of the bigger venues in Toronto. Budweiser Stage, previously known as Molson Amphitheatre, is a huge outdoor venue that can seat 16,000 people and has hosted concerts by many world-renowned artists, including Toronto’s very own Daniel Caesar.

Coca Cola Coliseum hosts many events including sports events, animal shows, and of course, concerts. Legendary musical acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Who, and Kraftwerk have performed at the venue in the past. Cool, right?

If you’re looking for a more intimate concert experience, make sure to grab tickets for shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. This 1250-seat venue has hosted shows by everyone’s favourite artists—Jason Mraz and Adele.

If you enjoy lurking at instrument stores, Liberty Village is the place for you. Keyboards, guitars, bass, synthesizers, drums… you can easily find these if you head over to Roland on King St. West. While you’re there, you may be able to take part in workshops, events, and even catch a concert (when they begin hosting them again after COVID gets better, of course). They’ve been temporarily closed since March, but make sure to check their Facebook page for any updates regarding reopening and occasional concert live streams!

Liberty Village is also a radio station hub in Toronto. You can find Jazz FM, Indie 88, and Zoomer Media stations nestled in this neighbourhood. The Post Office Sound recording studio is here, and Universal Music is opening up their new office in the Toronto Carpet Factory.

Trinity Bellwoods

Reposado Bar Patio

Via Instagram @reposadobar

Trinity Bellwoods, along with Little Italy, has been named the biggest music growth centre in Canada by SOCAN, which stands for Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. (We all knew that, right?)

The main musical landmark in this neighbourhood definitely has to be The Dakota Tavern. This cute intimate basement bar features great local artists and bands mostly within the genres of country, folk and rock. The rustic vibes and string lights are perfect for your Instagram feed too!

If you’re more of a rock n’ roll and funk lover, head over to The Painted Lady and watch some groovin’ shows. Feeling brave? Join their Monday open mic sessions to show off your own singing skills (or just to embarrass yourself)!

For indie fanatics, The Garrison is definitely for you. This intimate space has a nice view of the stage from any spot, and it’s one of the only fully accessible venues of this kind in Toronto, so people with disabilities can come join the fun with no issues!

Calling all tequila lovers: Reposado Bar & Lounge on Ossington has a selection of tequila and margarita that never disappoints, and their live performers - ranging from brass trios to jazz/blues bands - will keep your ears entertained.

Take a stroll in Trinity Bellwoods Park, and you may run into some musicians busking. Whether it’s a soloist with an acoustic guitar or a full band with amps, microphones and keyboards, it’s easy to find some live tunes in this popular park.

Little Italy

Monarch Tavern Stage

Via Instagram @monarchtavern

This hip Toronto neighbourhood is full of culture and activities. With numerous bars, clubs, and record shops, music lovers will never get tired of Little Italy.

Start your walking tour by visiting Soundscapes on College, where you can find a well-curated selection of vinyl and CDs. Purchase tickets to a show by a local artist while you’re there, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to catch an in-store live performance by some great artists—perhaps someone like Bon Iver, who performed at Soundscapes back in 2008.

Cross the street and head over to Neurotica Records to check out some more music, and if you’re a musician yourself, browse their collection of audio and studio gear. Have records or musical equipment you want off of your hands? You can also trade or sell your things at Neurotica.

If you want to dance your heart out, visit Mod Club and Revival on College. They host concerts and DJ nights regularly - The Weekend, Justin Timberlake, the Black Eyed Peas and Nelly Furtado have all made appearances there.

If you’re looking to listen to music in a more casual atmosphere, try The Monarch Tavern on Clinton. They have a great selection of craft beers and snacks to munch on while enjoying live performances by local artists. They also have a Thursday karaoke night, so make sure to flaunt your (hopefully) amazing vocals!

If you’re still unsure about which Toronto neighbourhood is perfect for you, talk to a Condo Pro - They know all about the different areas of the city!

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