Torontonian film connoisseurs are already familiar with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which takes over the city (in the best way possible) every September. But the city offers a rich and varied array of film festivals, which champion everything from shlocky horror to cutting-edge documentaries.
Hot Docs has been bringing well-crafted documentary films to the masses with its budget-friendly tickets and free screenings for students and seniors since 2011. Located in the city’s exciting Annex neighborhood, the century-old (but recently renovated) Hot Docs Cinema is indeed a fitting location for North America’s largest documentary film festival as it continues to screen high-caliber documentaries.
This well-attended annual film festival takes place from late April to early May, the perfect time to enjoy the city’s lovely spring weather.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Regent Park Film Festival
The Regent Park Film Festival showcases the works of promising local and independent filmmakers that appeal to inner-city communities. Some of the best things in life are free, and that adage certainly rings true with this free-of-charge film festival. Standouts from previous years include Meet the Patels (2014), which enjoyed a small commercial release through the film company Alchemy in the USA.
The Regent Park Film Festival is held annually, typically in November.
Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
Toronto holds the distinction of being one of the world’s most multicultural cities. Therefore, it is not surprising that the city hosts the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, a festival solely dedicated to showing off gems from the fast-growing field of contemporary Asian cinema.
The festival is held yearly in early-to-mid November.
European Union Film Festival
Cinephiles who have grown tired of the usual Hollywood fare should look to the European Union Film Festival to rekindle their love of cinema. Showcasing the best contemporary films that Europe has to offer, there is no more suitable location than the historic Royal. This film festival is the epitome of joie de vivre for film junkies.
You can see the crème de la crème of European cinema in mid-November every year.
Toronto After Dark
Just as the name suggests, Toronto After Dark showcases films that have their full cinematic effect when the sun sets and the darkness closes in. It’s a must-visit event for any fan of cult sci-fi and horror films – those who crave films stranger than the usual mainstream fare. This film festival screened the now-infamous The Human Centipede (2009) a few years ago, and everyone knows that’s not one for the fainthearted.
The film festival is held annually in mid-October, just in time to help you get into Halloween mode.
Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival
Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival is the largest of its kind in Canada, celebrating films from Canada and around the world that are geared towards the LGBTQ community. While the works are LGBTQ-centered, diversity in all its forms is the main focus.
The festival usually takes place during June, known the world over as Pride Month.
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Documentary, full-length and short feature films that touch on Jewish culture and community are showcased at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. Last year, TJFF screened 118 films and paid tribute to Rod Serling (of The Twilight Zone fame) and Al Waxman (an actor best known for the sitcom King of Kensington).
The event is held annually in early May.
Toronto Student Film Festival (Take 21)
A number of today’s lauded auteurs learned their craft as film students before mastering the art of film-making. The Toronto Student Film Festival, also known as Take 21, celebrates the works of promising talents who may one day become fixtures at prestigious film festivals. The TSFF accepts entries from aspiring filmmakers from all over the globe who are aged 12–21.
If you are interested in this film festival, mark your calendar in late May, just as students ready for summer after the school year.
Toronto Palestine Film Festival
The Toronto Palestinian Film Festival has managed to create a lot of buzz in a relatively short amount of time. TPFF promotes the vibrancy of Palestinian culture through films and other visual arts. You can’t get any greater taste of socially relevant film than one of this year’s notable documentary entries, On the Bride’s Side (2014), about Syrian and Palestinian refugees who disguise themselves as part of a wedding entourage in order to enter Sweden.
TPFF takes place annually toward the end of September.
Planet in Focus
The award-winning 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, based on former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to shed light on the issue of global warming, may have succeeded in bringing environmental awareness to the fore, but Planet in Focus has been making huge efforts toward achieving that same goal since 1999. Planet in Focus showcases films that present staggering truths about the state of the planet.
You can put your green on in late October every year.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.