The Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian Festival is back for its 25th anniversary from September 17 to 19 with concerts and street eats.
Last year the renowned festival had to move online due to COVID-19 but this year will take place in person on a smaller scale with fewer people and unfortunately no parade.
The festival will also be available online to stream if you can't get your hands on a ticket.
Instead of taking over Bloor Street with approximately 800,000 plus festival visitors like it did in 2019, this year the festival is throwing it back to its original roots and hosting it at the Bloor and Jane Street parking lot, which hosted the first-ever festival 25 years ago, with an estimated 500 to 600 guests per day.
Narcity spoke with the chair and founder of the festival Jurij R. Klufas about what festival-goers can expect this year.
Saturday and Sunday of the festival will host five to six, hour and a half concerts with 30-minute breaks in-between acts.
Klufas says a Friday evening concert is still on the table but hasn't been confirmed yet.
The performer's setlist has not yet been released but according to Klufas, the performers will range throughout a variety of genres like jazz, rock and roll, and more with a Ukrainian twist.
"We have a whole series of performers mostly right now from the Toronto area that are staple, staple performers, various dance groups, various choir singers, and bands that normally perform for us," Klufas told Narcity.
"We're still finalizing like the whole group of performances and we will be releasing that information I'd say within the next two weeks."
Klufas says each concert will host up to 100 people and tickets will be available on their website to reserve. After each concert, a new group of people or those who reserved tickets for the following concert will be ushered into the festival as the previous group exits.
As for price, the festival is usually free but this year Klufas says tickets may range from $1 to $5 to contain crowds. Festival-goers will also have to sign in when they arrive for COVID-19 contact tracing similar to how they would at a restaurant says Klufas.
While previous years have had up to 100 food vendors this year it's looking like five to ten with their minimized space.
This year Klufas says they will focus on vendors that do a variety of foods to broaden the options at the festival so you'll be sure to get a wide taste of different Ukrainian eats.
Klufas must-try items for festival-goers are Holubtsy, similar to cabbage rolls, Varenyky, which he describes as a Ukrainian ravioli, and Sauerkraut, "which is basically just cabbage but chopped up and cooked and flavoured with all kinds of sauces and are very tasty either as a side to sausage or to any of above with sausage."
The festival will also host a number of cultural pavilions where festival-goers can learn more about Ukrainian culture.
Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian Festival
Price: $1 to $5 for Tickets
Address: Bloor and Jane Street parking lot
When: September 17 to 19
Why You Need To Go: To soak up some culture and listen to live music while snacking on good food.