Best Early Entertainment in Toronto

Early Birds Catch the Fun with Toronto's Early Evening Entertainment

Although there are times for raucous parties in Toronto, there are also times for earlier evenings. You may have to put toddlers to bed or finish a deadline or stick to your early morning marathon training schedule. When your current life is not conducive to the late night, that doesn't mean that you have to kiss your social calendar goodbye.

The notion that every metropolis doesn't sleep at night is very true in Toronto. However, as most human beings do sleep, Toronto accommodates, providing entertainment at unique hours. Whether you want brunch on Tuesday or drinks before 10pm, Toronto has the means to keep you out and about without disrupting your beauty sleep.

Jazz Bistro can offer you a musical brunch on the weekends, giving you a taste of the nightlife without breaking your crucial routine. Or you can watch a baseball game at the Roger's Centre, which sure beats watching it on your well worn couch. There are even late afternoon dance parties at The Drake, for those who still have dancing dreams without the ability to make it into the wee hours.

If you plan on turning into a pumpkin, do so only after you have laughed heartily and lived plenty. These 10 Best choices will help to bring you there.


Rogers Centre

Formerly the SkyDome, this breathtaking facility is home to the Toronto Blue Jays and right in the heart of downtown. The Rogers Centre has the world's fastest retractable dome, which can help keep unexpected rain from dampening your day. Watching a ball game in the afternoon with a chilled beer in your hand feels like pure luxury. Check the weather forecast and if everything is in your favour, pack sunscreen or a sweater. Clear your throat and get prepared to yell. Yell when things go in your favour and yell when they don't. That is the nature of watching a good ball game.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: A good ball game surrounded by rowdy fans will help you to forget that your early bedtime is just around the corner.

Courtney's expert tip: Roger's Centre does allow guests to bring food as long as the items are wrapped. Bring your own picnic spread and save that hard-earned cash for important things, like beer.

Read more about Rogers Centre →

Glenn Gould Studio
Photo courtesy of Glenn Gould Facebook page

What better place to be entertained than the "jewel of the CBC?" Named for the famous Canadian pianist, this venue honours his legacy through high-quality performances. Located on the main floor of the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Glenn Gould studio is a landmark for concert-goers and radio fans. Go to see a live show in action, which keep the audience engaged without a laugh track in sight. The country-wide appreciative audience speaks highly for the quality of the flagship live concert series. The space can also be rented for project seminars or one heck of a birthday party.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Late afternoon and early evening shows with the best-of-the-best of Canadian broadcasting make the CBC Glenn Gould Studio a top choice for early evening entertainment.

Courtney's expert tip: Grab tickets early, as they go fast. Keep engaged with the Glenn Gould Studio Twitter feed to keep abreast of emerging shows.

Read more about Glenn Gould Studio →

Babaluu Supper club in Yorkville is a classy and sassy way to spice up your nightlife routine. Toronto's best salsa supper club starts the experience off with (what else) supper. You can enjoy some tapas or share the fresh dishes made for two or more, like the paella or the mixed seafood platter. Keeping things light is advised as you may want to try your hand at counting your steps to stay in tune with the beat. As the night gets later, the transitions get more complex and the dancers become more professional. It is fun to watch the dance floor but it can be equally fun to try your hand at keeping up. Check their schedule to see when you can grab a free lesson during the week.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Prior to 10pm, this Latin salsa/supper club is less intimidating. You will also have more space to move as you review your fine dance moves.

Courtney's expert tip: Go on Wednesday, when you can get a complimentary dance lesson from 9-10pm, have a drink and then hit the road. Alternatively, try their Sunday afternoon barefoot dance club that goes from 4-6pm.

Read more about Babaluu Supper Club →

The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar
Photo courtesy of The Rex Hotel

Toronto has a thriving jazz scene and The Rex has been at the forefront. Open since the late 1980s, they have more shows than anywhere else with world-renowned musicians and top local talent. The decor is minimal and the vibe is relaxed. Some people do choose to talk over the talent (who seem to be used to it). Go in your jeans, grab a beer and be prepared to cheer for the nuances in each set. There are many free shows that provide solid jazz to appreciative Toronto audiences. The food is standard pub fare with decently priced drinks. During the summer, the patio is sublime.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: An intimate space with more free concerts than you thought possible. Some of them on the weekends start before 7pm. Rejoice, early birds.

Courtney's expert tip: You can pay with plastic, but if there is a cover charge, bring cash. Shows on Fridays and Saturdays start as early as 3:30pm or 4pm, so it is always easy to squeeze in some entertainment no matter what your schedule.

Read more about The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar →

Steam Whistle Brewery makes a Canadian pilsner that they are rightfully proud of. This local beer maker is located right near the Roger's Centre and the CN Tower. It is a perfect stop on the Toronto tourism train. The beer recipe has been exacted using European brewing standards, yet there is a lightheartedness to the company that is all Canadian. The four ingredients of hops, malted barley, spring water and yeast are balanced to perfection. They say that the fifth ingredient is the passion of their staff. There are always events going on, from art shows to lobster bakes. You can also privately rent out the space for tours or even your own (big fat beer) wedding.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Steam Whistle's regular events make this top Toronto attraction a perfect early evening out, with a guaranteed fantastic beer in hand.

Courtney's expert tip: Book a 5pm tour on a day where there is an event. After your clothes gather hops perfume, air them out by mingling and appreciating urban photography, fashion or drinking more beer.

Read more about Steam Whistle Brewery →


Jazz musician J. J. Johnson said, "Jazz is restless. It won't stay put and it never will." For the foreseeable future, Jazz Bistro is staying put to give Toronto a jazz club with style. From hot music to spectacular food, it entertains on all levels. Dinner is incredible, with share plates that satisfy, from beef sliders to Japanese style fried chicken that washes down nicely with a glass of wine. The stage is visible from all angles. Whether you are going to fill your ears with a new and startlingly talented musician, or you are reminding yourself of the soft spot you hold for a revered artist, the music circulates around the room beautifully. That's jazz, man.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The smooth voices and rhythmic instruments at Jazz Bistro will keep your feet tapping, while the mellow vibe will work as a public lullaby.

Courtney's expert tip: Go on a Sunday, when you can catch an early show and have brunch at the same time. If you have brunched at home in your jammies, catch the 7pm show to bid a fond farewell to the weekend.

Read more about Jazz Bistro →

The Canadian Opera Company unveiled its amazing building in 2006 in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. With majestic staircases, grandiose ceilings and the intention for the space to be optimal for opera, it is a dream of an evening in the heart of downtown Toronto. This is Canada's first and only custom built opera house, and the acoustics prove it. Sets and costumes display the romantic themes behind classics such as La Boheme and Aida. Whether you decide to put on your white satin gloves and get swept up by soprano, or you wish to take a breakfast backstage tour of the nooks and crannies of the magnificent building, visiting the COC is an amazing experience.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Whether you choose an afternoon show or a free concert on Wednesday, the Canadian Opera Company is all class at any time of the day.

Courtney's expert tip: The free concert series not only meets any entertainment budget, but also has lovely Wednesday 5:30pm concerts. Check their schedule for free world class talent, leaving money for dinner and drinks.

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You have to love multitasking Toronto. An ever-competitive city, it is not enough to open a restaurant any more. It must be a restaurant slash something else. And the Ballroom certainly has a lot of slashes. It is also a bowling alley, a sports bar and an entertainment centre. It can hold up to 900 people for these varied activities, on the South East corner of John and Richmond (read: very central). Fancy ping pong/pool or foosball? Want to play some XBox or stuff your face with nachos while watching the big game? The Ballroom is nothing but accommodating to all of your varied requests. Should you decide to keep your energy up with some fuel, the food has been called some of the best bar food in Toronto. Popcorn chicken poutine, anyone?

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Low-cost Sunday bowling rates, high-def TVs for the game and some of the best bar food in the city. Time to get off the couch.

Courtney's expert tip: If you usually stay home to watch the afternoon game on the weekends, go to the Ballroom to make the experience bigger and more interactive. What's the fun in rooting for your team alone?

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The Royal Ontario Museum impresses even in the light of day. The exterior is a gigantic crystalline shape that dwarfs surrounding Starbucks locations and yoga studios. Inside, exhibits from centuries past and present connect us to who we were and help us to ponder where we are going. Take this same world class museum in the evening hours, and things get even more intriguing. ROM Friday Nights were designed to be bold and to fuse Toronto nightlife with a cultural experience. Imagine clubbing with world class DJs, standing next to Hollywood filmmakers or tasting the best of the Toronto food scene. The dinosaurs won't be nearly as impressed as you are. They've seen it all.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Last call at this essential Toronto tourism destination is 11pm. You have plenty of time to dance, learn and drink before bedtime.

Courtney's expert tip: If you didn't buy your ticket online, go early. There are only a limited number of tickets at the door. You don't want to be all dressed up with no place to go.

Read more about ROM Friday Night Live →

The Drake is not right in the centre of Toronto, but it sure feels like it is when you arrive. A hub for the fabulous, this revamped space manages to be edgy yet elegant. It offers everything from brunch to late night entertainment with world class musicians, guest DJs and even poetry slams. The sky yard rooftop is always packed to the brim, regardless of the time of year. There is an Apres Work menu from 4 to 7, offering sleek cocktails such as the Brown Butter Maple Old Fashioned. Or visit on a Monday evening for even cheaper drinks. Grab a couple to get you through a night of dancing and schmoozing, even if you are just chatting to your plus one.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: An afternoon dance party in the open air? Sign us up. Weekend revelry without next-day consequences.

Courtney's expert tip: The Drake will help to keep your weekend going on Sunday afternoons, without ruining the rest of your week. The Sky Yard parties will give you the late brunch of your dreams and you can dance to top DJs from 4pm-8pm.

Read more about Drake Hotel Lounge →


Meet Courtney Sunday

Courtney Sunday has lived in England, Switzerland, Canada and the US, finding her way into the professions of freelance writing and yoga teaching in between travel opportunities. She learned...  More About Courtney