Pop-Up Dining, Little Big Top, Eid Celebrations & More Set for 18th Annual Toronto International BuskerFest

Pop-Up Dining, Little Big Top, Eid Celebrations & More Set for 18th Annual Toronto International BuskerFest

The 18th annual Toronto International BuskerFest for Epilepsy is happening this Labour Day Weekend, September 1-4 at Woodbine Park in The Beach neighbourhood (1695 Queen Street East).

The festival returns to the park for a second year, and brings with it over 100 world-class performers, more than 50 different awe-inspiring acts and some exciting new elements!

New for 2017: Step right up to the Little Big Top! This tented performance stage featuring exclusive shows by festival performers that won't be seen on any other stage (and a few special performers not appearing anywhere else in the festival). Combining a classic circus sideshow with some the most amazing modern talent you'll find anywhere, these shows can get a little wild, filled with magic and mayhem!

See sideshow celebrity The Space Cowboy who performs some of the stunts he is best known for, including swallowing a LED tube and lifting weights with hooks in his eye sockets (!). On Saturday, take in The Sentimentalists, stars of the Bell TV Fibe show Something Strange; a world renowned mentalist Mysterion teaming up with Canada's only female mentalist, Steffi Kay, to create a two-person mind-reading experience that is truly breathtaking!

The Little Big Top tent includes seating, air-conditioning and spectacular 15-minute performances all for the upfront price of $5. Running from 1pm to close of the festival each day, this brand of quick wit and quick turn-around shows, already extremely popular at festivals across Australia, in New Zealand and the U.S., are now, for the first time, coming to Toronto!

Also this year, on Friday September 1, BuskerFest is partnering with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) to create a truly unique Eid Festival in Toronto. Eid al-Adha, known as the 'Feast of the Sacrifice,' is the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide each year, and considered the holier of the two. MAC has hosted the largest Eid festival in the GTA for the past 42 years, attracting over 15,000 people to the prayers and celebration. This year, MAC, which will be hosting Eid Celebrations on Friday, September 1 in major cities across Canada as well, brings the largest Eid celebration in the GTA to BuskerFest. After prayer services, which take place on the east side of Woodbine Park at 10:00am that morning, thousands of Muslims from diverse backgrounds will join the festivities to take in rides, artisans, food vendors and over 100 performers from around the globe at BuskerFest 2017.

"This year our theme for our Eid Celebrations is 'diversity is our strength,' and where better to celebrate that than at Toronto's BuskerFest. The multicultural essence of Islam is reflected in this Eid festival and the makeup of Canadian society. It is an opportunity for the wider community to observe and celebrate Eid with us," says Akram Abdelrahman, Head of the Toronto Chapter of MAC. "This truly unique partnership between MAC and Epilepsy Toronto promises to create a new experience for the Eid Celebration."

Foodies rejoice! Pop-Up Dining comes to Woodbine Park! BuskerFest has teamed up with Chef Jagger Gordon to present a unique dining experience right in the heart of the festival. Gordon, the executive chef and brains behind Feed It Forward, launched The Soup Bar, the first 'Pay What You Can' restaurant in Toronto this year, and is now bringing his fresh, locally sourced, internationally inspired dining to BuskerFest for dinner on Saturday night as well as a Sunday Brunch that's perfect for the whole family! While enjoying Gordon's culinary creations, guests will be able to watch performances from their prime vantage point of seating right in the large Gazebo.

Additionally, BuskerFest attendees can relax in the park while watching a great busking show and enjoy a beer! This year's Beer Garden is located right on the Gazebo platform and looks out over the CTV/CP24 stage to the east and the entire festival to the west. The Beer Garden is sponsored by Ace Hill and right in the heart of the action.

The popular Family Fun Zone returns! Face-painting, balloon twisting, giant games, new sponsor CUPE Ontario's Photobooth VW Van, Bébe Station (an all-purpose tent for parents who need to nurse, bottle-feed or change their little ones while at an event) and the ever-popular Be A Busker area (an interactive area for kids to get hands-on experience in a few of the many busking arts) awaits the younger set. From aerial arts with the Circus Academy and hoola-hooping with Dispatch Talent, to balance and magic with The Magic of Balance, and the new trampoline area with SpringFree, the Family Fun Zone is meant for hands (and feet)-on fun! For those seeking a little thrill ride, a Midway with rides, games and bouncy castles will be located in the parking lot adjacent to the Family Fun Zone.

Come night fall, in addition to the great fire performers featured at the festival, guests will be treated to a dazzling display of laser graphics, cool beam effects and animations, projected right onto the large gazebo roof, presented by the festival's largest supporter, the Toronto Education Workers (CUPE Local 4400). "Epilepsy Toronto supports a cause close to the hearts of many of our members," said John Weatherup, President of the Toronto Education Workers. "A number of our members work closely with students who have epilepsy in TDSB schools. BuskerFest has become an important Toronto tradition and a great way to support people living with epilepsy in our community."

Epilepsy Toronto is working to ensure all visitors enjoy the festival with ease. At the BuskerAccess Tent, located at the Wheel-Trans drop off area, on Eastern just east of Coxwell, visitors with disabilities are provided with assistance - such as an escort to one of the accessible stages - by accessibility volunteers wearing an identifiable accessibility symbol on their shirts. Non-verbal performances by Diogo Alvares, Duo ComicCasa and Fraser Hooper take place daily throughout the festival. Additionally, on Friday, September 1 from 5pm to 8pm, three performances are accompanied by ASL interpretation.

BuskerFest's Group Benefit Shows are always a lively and spontaneous collaboration featuring performances by an outstanding collection of festival performers. This year there will be two of them. The first takes place on Saturday, September 2 at 7:30pm, hosted by Shay Horay (a.k.a The Famous Rubberband Boy) and features a collection of performers from the festival's line-up and a fiery finale! The second, on Monday, September 4 at 5pm, includes the announcement of this year's People's Choice Award Winner. Thanks to the generosity of the performers, the hat from these shows will be donated entirely to Epilepsy Toronto.

Festival admission is by donation to Epilepsy Toronto, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping more than 40,000 Torontonians with epilepsy and their families through counselling, employment support, advocacy and education. Tips collected by the performers in their hats goes to the performers, except at designated benefit shows. Donations at the gate and collected by volunteers wearing Epilepsy Toronto T-shirts, go to Epilepsy Toronto.

"Thanks to the generosity of BuskerFest visitors who donate to Epilepsy Toronto, we are able to provide much needed support to the 1-in-100 people in Toronto living with epilepsy," says Geoff Bobb, Executive Director of Epilepsy Toronto. "This is one of the most amazing festivals in Canada. We are incredibly excited about all of the international and Canadian performers who make this festival come alive and who share their talents at the festival in support of Epilepsy Toronto."

Visit www.torontobuskerfest.com for information on all the wonderful acts and events at the festival.

IF YOU GO:

18th Annual Toronto International BuskerFest for Epilepsy
Friday, September 1 - Monday, September 4, 2017
At Woodbine Park in The Beach (1695 Queen Street East - Coxwell Ave. at Lakeshore Blvd. & Eastern Ave.)
Friday, noon - 11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Monday, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Admission by donation to Epilepsy Toronto
For more information, visit: www.torontobuskerfest.com, or follow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BuskerFestToronto, and Instagram & Twitter: @BuskerFestTO.

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