Stage Door News

Toronto: Family-friendly JUNIOR Festival runs May 20-22 at Harbourfront

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Harbourfront Centre presents Toronto’s annual international children’s festival, JUNIOR, taking place over the May long weekend, from May 20–22, 2023. Featuring a full range of performances, workshops and inclusive events for the entire family, ticketed and free programming will take place at indoor and outdoor venues across Harbourfront Centre’s 10-acre waterfront location. JUNIOR’s 2023 programming invites children of all ages to step off the beaten path to discover the many adventures of growing up. Follow stories of resilience, revel in cultural celebrations and experience the limitless possibilities of movement and creativity, led by local and international artists and storytellers. JUNIOR is co-curated by Nathalie Bonjour, Harbourfront Centre’s Director, Performing Arts and Lisa Marie DiLiberto, an award-winning director, advocate for artist caregivers and Artistic Director of Theatre Direct, one of Canada’s leading theatres for young audiences.

“As we grow up, we explore the land on which we live, the stories that surround us, the cultures that educate and speak to us – in short, we discover who we are,” says Lisa Marie DiLiberto, JUNIOR co-curator. “JUNIOR offers an unparalleled opportunity for children and their families to explore how expanding our minds and perspectives is life’s greatest adventure. The artistically diverse and multidisciplinary festival line-up offers a wide range of free and accessible activities where children can make their own discoveries."

“We are thrilled to welcome back children and families to our annual JUNIOR Festival at Harbourfront Centre this May long weekend,” adds Nathalie Bonjour, JUNIOR co-curator and Harbourfront Centre’s Director, Performing Arts. “Our central mission is to make JUNIOR a welcoming space for young audiences to ask big questions about life and the world around them through the arts, while leaving lots of room for joy and fun! We are committed to our continued efforts to make the festival more accessible and we look forward to inviting both new and returning families to explore this transformative festival experience together.”

Accessibility additions this year include a primarily free program line-up; accessible pricing on ticketed performances; a designated quiet zone; free, professional daycare for families who may need additional support and enhanced accessibility on May 21 on select programming, including ASL/DSL interpretation, audio description, tactile stations and a relaxed performance.

The multidisciplinary festival program features a comprehensive line-up of ticketed and free performances, workshops and interactive activities, including various disciplines of theatre, dance, music, circus, culinary arts, storytelling and film. Spotlight performances include the visually stunning Pinocchio from Copenhagen’s award-winning Teater Patrasket; the interactive performance ZOOOM, inspired by the iconic children’s book Harold and The Purple Crayon, from Australia’s Patch Theatre; the participatory experience Bees, in which Australia’s Polyglot Theatre will map delicate patterns across the festival grounds in collaboration with its young audiences and the moving video installation Family Portrait from Scotland’s Barrowland Ballet, which follows Artistic Director Natasha Gilmore and her three children through choreographed sequences across Scotland’s majestic landscapes.

Additional free programming includes a performance and interactive workshop from dancer and TV star Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli; a daily parade from the eccentric and entertaining Lemon Bucket Orkestra; a food program from Black chefs commissioned to cook up creations with kids while sharing culinary and cultural knowledge; a giant, interactive map of the ocean; art workshops that explore the Humber River, learn about Tipis before crafting their own, and collaborate on an eye-catching banner; a Jam Zone where kids can try out an array of instruments including mandolins, banjos and more alongside musicians; demonstrations from Indigenous pow wow dancers, a Persian percussion ensemble and so much more!

JUNIOR’s indoor ticketed performances range from $10 (child) to $20 (adult) per ticket. Pre-registration is required for some of the festival’s free programming, including Storybook Search and the Noir Experience culinary workshops. To learn more about programming and for tickets, visit