All About Taste of the Danforth

About The Festival

Canada’s favourite Festival is back! Come join us as we celebrate the 24th anniversary of Canada’s largest street Festival (approximately 1.65 million attendees) as well as Canada & Ontario’s 150th birthday on Friday August 11th, Saturday August 12th, and Sunday August 13th.

The GTA lays claim to more than 200,000 residents of Greek ancestry, the third largest Hellenic community outside of Greece. At the Festival, visitors have the opportunity to experience being ‘Greek for the Day’. But the Festival is much more than the celebration of the Danforth's Greek heritage -- it is also a celebration of Canada’s multiculturalism. Our Celebrity stage includes performances by Bollywood dancers, Latin American band, not to mentioned the chance to see the contestants from the Mr. & Mrs. Asia pageant compete. You can join our “Learn a Little” program and learn how to dance from seven different ethnic groups as part of our Celebrating Canada and Ontario 150th activations!

Restaurateurs from along the Danforth will be offering “Tasting Menus” for no more than $6 so that attendees can enjoy a multitude of tasty treats.

Yes, there is food, food, and more food – but Taste of the Danforth is so much more! There is loads of free entertainment on our Celebrity Stage, Greek Stage, and Showcase Stage, programmed this year by NXNE. Don’t miss the Toronto Star Kids’ Fun Zone, the Sports Zone, the Canada 150 experience, the “It’s All Greek To Me” Zone and Hollywood on the Danforth Zone presented by 20th Century Fox.

To top it off, the Festival is all about the spirit of giving back - Constantine Voidonicolas, Chair of the Greektown Danforth BIA, confirmed that once again all proceeds from the Festival go to supporting a number of charities.

HISTORY of the Festival and the Organization that runs it

People are always surprised when we tell them that the Festival is run by a Board of Directors consisting of volunteers from the local community. There is only one full-time staff member. They're also fascinated by the fact that the concept began 24 years ago when a number of competitors decided to get together to participate in what is now known as co-op or coalition advertising.

The Festival is organized by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA, a not-for-profit organization, run by a volunteer Board, and chaired by Constantine Voidonicolas. The GreekTown on the Danforth BIA is an excellent example of how a BIA can unite local restaurateurs and retailers along a street to promote businesses.

The Festival began as a celebration of Hellenic cuisine and culture. It has grown to become a celebration of both its Greek heritage and the multicultural nature of the City of Toronto. While a number of the events and programs are reflective of the area's Greek roots, the Festival programming and its audience have grown to encompass a much broader spectrum of the Toronto community.

The Festival began in 1994 when a group of restaurateurs on the Danforth tried to find new ways to entice people to come to the Danforth and enjoy their amazing Greek cuisine. They decided that rather than advertising individually, they would be better off pooling their resources and advertising together. The idea was to set up "tasting tables” - so that individuals could try food fare from a number of restaurants, and thus the Taste of the Danforth began. In order to encourage people to try various dishes, the prices were kept very low and even today, no tasting item costs more than $6.

In the first year, approximately 5,000 people attended the Festival. Twenty-three restaurateurs participated, selling an eclectic mix of "tastes" from tasting tables. The following year, attendance grew to 100,000. By 1996, the Festival was so large that Danforth Avenue had to be officially closed to vehicular traffic in order to accommodate over 500,000 visitors. Today, the Festival has grown to approximately 1.6 million visitors, during the course of three nights and two days. They come to enjoy food, entertainment, and culture. The Taste of the Danforth is one of Toronto’s signature events, showcasing the best of what our multicultural city has to offer - music and the arts, sports and -- of course -- food.

GreekTown Gives Back to the Community - Profits donated to Charity

The Festival combines exquisite food, culture, and music with extraordinary philanthropy to benefit the local community. Profits from the Festival are donated every year back to the community by the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA.

Over the years, GreekTown has donated more than $2 million to Toronto East General Hospital (now renamed Michael Garron Hospital). In 2015, GreekTown made a commitment to a joint hospital project between Sick Kids and a children’s hospital in Greece - Agia Sofia.

The Festival and GreekTown have also supported additional charities and causes such as Prostate Cancer, and Athletics Ontario among others. GreekTown has donated to a number of other local charities, including Toronto Crime Stoppers, 55 Division’s Youth Scholarship Fund, Riverdale Share Community Association, The East York Seniors’ Foundation, local soccer clubs and to Dr. Phyllis Billia’s cancer research at Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals.

GreekTown naturally supports a number of Greek initiatives, including donating to the Greek Community of Toronto to help families and schools, SOS Villages which gives orphans a mother and a home, the Smile of a Child, University of Toronto’s Greek studies program, the Hellenic Canadian Federation of Ontario, Nefeli (theatre and dance), Greek Community of Mississauga, and the Hellenic Home for the Aged.

As part of GreekTown’s annual “March of the Santas”, monies are raised for Princess Margaret Hospital through the sale of Toronto Firefighters’ Calendars, and toys and donations are gathered for the CP24/CHUM Christmas Wish.

Big Economic Impact for Toronto

The Festival and GreekTown on the Danforth BIA contribute significant impact to the Province and City. In 2016, the Festival’s single weekend economic impact was- $94.1 million. These numbers are based on governmental economic models tied to tourism. They don’t take into account the great economic impact that the Festival has on the GreekTown on the Danforth BIA’s members, which consist primarily of small retailers and restaurateurs. The Festival is a tourist magnet: 39% of attendees travelled 40 kilometres or more to attend the Taste of the Danforth last summer. The primary reason for visiting the Toronto region for 98% of visitors was the Festival. For a significant 39%, their sole reason for coming to Toronto was the Festival.

Equally important to the province’s economy is the fact that 95% of out-of-towners plan to return this year.

People continue to love the Festival – 98% rated it as Good, Very Good or Excellent.