Starlight Cinema

This summer you can either pay $15 to see a summer blockbuster in a megaplex or you can head outdoors to catch a flick under the stars (or whatever passes for stars in Toronto). Toronto is hosting a slew of outdoor, often free, public screenings throughout July and August, and we’ve put together a quick and easy guide.

Yonge-Dundas Square
Sometimes it can be hard to decide just which screen to watch, but Yonge-Dundas Square has been putting on a solid free movie series for the last few years. This year’s theme, “Dancing in the Dark”, highlights classical musicals and music-related films like Dirty Dancing (July 12), West Side Story (July 26) and Saturday Night Fever (August 9). Pay no attention to the passing cars. Every Tuesday at sunset, Yonge-Dundas Square.

Harbourfront Centre
Toronto’s other best-known (and likely best-attended) outdoor screening series plays in direct competition to Yonge-Dundas Square’s and similarly organizes itself by theme. Harbourfront Centre’s series is shorter, but more interestingly themed. City Flicks: Six in the City showcases six films that use the setting almost as a de facto character. Highlights include Annie Hall (July 12), Paris Je T’aime (July 19) and Lost In Translation (August 2), but if you want to catch the true cool geek parade, you’ll want to be there tomorrow for the Toronto love letter, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Every Tuesday at dusk, Westjet Stage, Harbourfront Centre.

Open Roof Film Festival
It’s not free, but Amsterdam Brewery’s Open Roof Film Festival punches up the spectacle a bit. Each night features not only a film screening, but also a purposefully paired live music performance beforehand. Highlights include National Parks Project with Catl (July 14) and Nowhere Boy with Wilderness of Manitoba (August 4). But the biggest benefit? You can drink. Every Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Amsterdam Brewery, 21 Bathurst St.

TIFF in the Park
It’s hard not to trust the TIFF Group when it comes to classic film programming. Like Yonge-Dundas this open-air fest presents musicals, though sticks mostly to the “golden era”, with films like The Sound of Music (July 27), Fiddler on the Roof (August 10) and Singin’ in the Rain (August 17). If you want to see celluloid singing, you have no shortage of chances this summer. Wednesdays, approximately 9 p.m. in July and 8:30 pm in August, Metro Square, King St. & Simcoe Ave.

Movies Under the Stars
It’s a bit of a hike, but if you have kids (or if you’re just immature and/or a Disney or Pixar fan) Downsview Park has an age-appropriate series. Highlights include Up (August 5), Beauty and the Beast (August 19) and the quasi-classic Michael Jordan-inexplicably-meets-Bugs Bunny flick, Space Jam (July 29). Every Friday at dusk, Downsview Park.

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Image courtesy of Chad Miller.

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