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Bringing Toronto’s Waterfront to Life with Arts and Culture

Jan 29, 2016

Nuit Blanche 2015 helped people experience Toronto's waterfront in a completely new way.

Arts and cultural events are enticing Torontonians to revisit their waterfront. Last year’s edition of Nuit Blanche, in particular, was an extraordinary success.

By Christopher McKinnon

Last October, Toronto’s all-night celebration of contemporary art, Nuit Blanche, came to the waterfront for the very first time. Curator Christine Shaw’s exhibition, The Work of the Wind, brought thirteen temporary art installations to Queens Quay spanning from Parliament Street to Harbourfront Centre.

In many ways, it was a perfect storm. The cold, the wind, and the rain helped these thirteen art projects showcase the striking contrasts between former industrial sites like the Victoria Soya Mills Silos at the foot of Parliament Street, the rapidly changing landscape of East Bayfront around George Brown College’s waterfront campus, and the more established neighbourhood around Harbourfront Centre. We thought those contrasts were transformed into something truly magical. If you missed it, check out this video recap to see what we mean.

Watch this video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/YVBune9fwag

During Nuit Blanche, tens of thousands of visitors experienced the waterfront in a completely new way – and in the process they had a chance to imagine how programming like this can transform the way we think about public space. You can see even more in our Facebook photo album from the night. It was truly an exciting prelude to what lies ahead.

Part of our approach to revitalizing the waterfront is leading with parks and the public realm. That’s why places like Canada’s Sugar Beach (one of the city’s most requested parks for event permits) and Corktown Common (only a few years old and already a favourite in Toronto’s east end) were finished before residents began to move in to our new neighbourhoods. As we look toward the reopening of the West Don Lands this spring, our thoughts are increasingly turning to how events can really bring these spaces to life.

In the coming years, more events both large and small will showcase our waterfront. Whether it is the prospect of reprising Nuit Blanche at the water's edge or Luminato’s exciting plans for the Hearn Generating Station in the Port Lands, you can expect to have plenty of opportunities to get re-acquainted with your waterfront.

Tell us what events you’d like to see on Toronto’s waterfront. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter – and join the conversation using the #TOtheWaterfront hashtag.



post contributor

  • Christopher McKinnon

    Christopher McKinnon was previously a communications and public engagement Manager at Waterfront Toronto. He’s passionate about art, cycling in the city, public transit and building really amazing parks.