Toronto's Top Live Music Venues Beat iTunes Every Time

There are few things as wonderful as watching an amazing band. More guilt-free than gorging on chocolate with a similar joy, a snack of music can feed the soul. Toronto, in all of its culturally diverse glory, has a plethora of places to feed the innate need we all have to listen. In these diverse spaces, we can drown out the sound of our own voices and become wrapped up in someone else's.

There are obviously a lot of choices when it comes to musical flavour. Major headlining acts can be found at any location, but most frequently at Massey Hall or The Horseshoe Tavern. If you are going for more of the music and less of the name, you can pick your favourite genre. Bluegrass fans are right at home with the banjo picking, side stepping crowd at The Dakota Tavern. Jazz aficionados enjoy both food and entertainment at the dazzling Jazz Bistro or the intimate Hugh's Room

Live music captures the heart of the audience in a way that no vinyl could come close to. Whether the venue seats thousands or hundreds, being able to sit close to the person playing the guitar feels personal. Toronto is slightly addicted to it, with amazing musicians serenading us everywhere from sushi bars to subway cars. Take your earbuds out and make a plan to catch a world-class show any night of the week.

The Garrison
Photo courtesy of Regine Hervy


The Garrison is a no-frills place where some of the top acts in the city congregate. It has the two essentials of live music: good acoustics and space to dance (or at least sway without taking someone's eye out). Go into the front room to get an...  Read More



In some ways, Toronto is an underground labyrinth. With subways connected to condos connected to office buildings, there are many months of the year where Torontonians do not see the light of day. Why not celebrate this vampire quality with a...  Read More

West Toronto
The Dakota Tavern
Photo courtesy of The Dakota Tavern Facebook page


Fancy a little bluegrass with your brunch? Dakota Tavern has that. Whether you want to bring your kids along for some foot stomping bacon and eggs, or have an adults-only evening with cocktails and a folk band, Dakota Tavern is a uniquely...  Read More



The Horseshoe has been entertaining Torontonians since 1947. Most people who have lived in Toronto for some time have a Horseshoe Tavern story. An innocuous looking place on Queen Street West, it changes along with the times, providing...  Read More

High Park/Roncesvalles
Hugh's Room
Photo courtesy of Bently Quast


Music is becoming more and more private. Earbuds are stuffed into our eardrums to create an internal symphony. However, remember the concert? The small venues where you felt like you had a relationship with the artist on stage, and there was...  Read More

Adelaide Hall
Photo courtesy of Adelaide Hall Facebook page


Adelaide Hall is the place you go to when you want to actually see the band as well as listen to the music. Going out with the purpose of viewing live music becomes a magical experience when you are within a sight line of the guitar fingering...  Read More



The Danforth music hall, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Your sloped floor allows us to see the stage from almost any vantage point. You are the Goldilocks of concert halls: not too big, not to small. You don't judge music or seem to...  Read More

The Cameron House
Photo courtesy of Cameron House Facebook page


We live in a time where you can say "dive bar" and it isn't necessarily a bad thing. It could mean that it was done intentionally, so you didn't feel any hint of a dress code. You knew you could come there in your comfy clothes and just be...  Read More



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...  Read More



Massey Hall is definitely bigger than the other music venues on our list, but somehow it retains an intimate vibe. The fans of most shows are incredibly enthusiastic and it is as if the musician directly breathes in this energy. This results in...  Read More


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