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Why you shouldn’t feel FOMO in Toronto this fall

Missed something epic in Toronto this fall? Don’t worry about it — so did I. And that’s totally okay. Read on for ideas of what to do instead — even if you’re on a budget.


FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out.

We’ve all been there: something happened, and you didn’t go. Now you’re looking back, and you wish you’d been there. With the advent of social media, we’re all constantly bombarded of images of things other people are doing — and sometimes they do really cool things without you. It’s not a great feeling.

Maybe you didn’t know in time. Maybe you couldn’t make it. Maybe you had another commitment, or the location wasn’t convenient, or it didn’t fit into your budget. Maybe you could have gone, but decided not to, and now you feel this burning sense of regret.

FOMO comes in many forms — but don’t let the things you’ve missed get to you. Nobody can be everywhere at once, so you’re always going to miss something. Instead, I like to embrace the fact that there’s always something else going on. Enjoy where you are, and appreciate that another equally awesome experience is out there!

Missed an event? Don’t sweat it! I’ve got you covered with an equally great alternative.


Photo: Shane Chagpar
Photo courtesy of Shane Chagpar, used with permission

1. Nuit Blanche was really cool this year — at least, that’s what my friends and their social feeds tell me. When ScotiaBank announced that they had dropped their funding of the all-night free art extravaganza this year, many feared the festival would suffer. Apparently, it did not. The city played host to cool literary neon signs, water pools that danced to brainwaves, installations extending all the way north to the Aga Khan Museum, and that really cool glowing moon thing over Nathan Phillips Square, a collaboration with the legendary Director X. And it was all FREE!

Kill your FOMO. Free art is everywhere!

  • If you have a post-secondary student ID, go to the ROM for free on Tuesdays.
  • Wednesday nights are free at the AGO from 6-9PM.
  • If you’re more interested in the late-night party atmosphere, Friday Night Live and First Thursdays are a fun way to check out either institution after hours.
  • The Gardiner Museum is free to post-secondary students on Tuesdays, or any day if you’re under 18.
  • The Aga Khan Museum has free admission on Wednesdays from 4-8PM.
  • The Textile Museum of Canada is pay-what-you-can on Wednesday nights from 5-9.
  • And if you can’t make any of those time slots, you can check out free art every day of the week at the newly-reclaimed Power Plant Museum.
  • Graven Feather is a gallery and workshop space with free access to its curated displays.
  • Nearby #Hashtag is a great spot for art and events, showcasing eclectic new work.
  • XPACE at College/Dovercourt is a space for emerging artists and student talent.
  • If you’re looking for something more central, the galleries of 401 Richmond building are free to the public, including Open Studio, Red Head Gallery, and YYZ Gallery.

Torontonian lifehack: if you have a Toronto Public Library card, look into a MAP Pass for free access to museums across the city. For new Canadians who have had their citizenship for one year or less, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship offers a CAP Pass which provides access to over 1,200 attractions, as well as discounts on travel.


2. It’s all fun and games until someone takes a selfie with Brad Pitt. The star-studded media blitz of Toronto International Film Festival is always a peak time for celebrity sightings, especially before a big premiere. It’s easy to feel left out of the excitement, but let’s not forget the focus of TIFF — celebrating the art of film itself.

If you love movies, Regent Park Film Festival runs from November 23-26 — it’s community-driven, refreshingly diverse, and it’s totally free. They’ll be hosting a fundraising screening tonight [October 19] with Hip Hop Evolution, hosted by a panel of musicians and special guests. The festival operates out of the Daniels Spectrum building on Dundas East, in partnership with Artscape. Remember to come back in the summer for “Under the Stars,” a free outdoor movie series in the park.

A film festival that puts indigenous art-makers at the forefront, ImagineNATIVE is “the world’s largest showcase of film, video, audio and digital media works created by Indigenous artists,” with the world’s cleverest name. The festival runs from October 19-23, and kicks off with Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s Angry Inuk — a documentary that explores the greater ramifications of the anti seal-hunting movement in the north.

If you’re interested in films from diverse perspectives, you’re in the right place: the Syria Film Festival runs for three nights, from November 4-6. The Bloor HotDocs Cinema just hosted a forum on the importance of documentaries, and continues to run their monthly Doc Soup series, as well as the upcoming Podcast Festival from November 18-20. And although the film festival itself is only ten days a year, there’s always something happening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre, which is also host to the Film Reference Library for those who just can’t get enough of film.


3. The International Makeup Artist Trade Show hit Toronto in full force this year, with shopping, demonstrations, and a Battle of the Brushes. Makeup professionals and enthusiasts alike had the opportunity to stock up and share their love of cosmetics.

Fortunately for those of us who didn’t go, makeup expertise and detailed demos are just a few clicks away. YouTube makeup gurus can be an amazing resource, and you don’t even have to battle a crowd to see them. This isn’t my area of expertise, so I’ve asked three friends to recommend a few favourite beauty vloggers. Two picked Kathleen Lights, citing her outgoing personality and humour, and her tendency to showcase drugstore products and not just boutique brands — offering something for everyone. Carli Bybel starts every video with a positive quote, and shows her tricks in detail so viewers can learn exactly how she creates her looks. Farah Dhukai supplements her beauty tips with alternative and home remedies, delivered with quirky humour. And if you find a visual diagram more helpful for learning techniques, making a Pinterest board is a great way to keep all your style tips together.

Did you know that Sephora offers free classes on various techniques? Contouring, lash application, and smoky eyes are among the lessons available. All you need to do is register online.

If you’re willing to trek a bit north for makeup, keep an eye out for Estee Lauder warehouse sales at the Markham Fairgrounds. These sales are amazing for brands like MAC, Smashbox, Origins, Bumble & Bumble, and Bobbi Brown. In the past, I’ve found my shade in concealer, stocked up on my favourite cleanser, invested in cute eyeshadow palettes that I barely know how to use, and snagged a holiday set that included a MAC skunk brush, all for a fraction of the retail cost.


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4. Every year that I don’t make it to Word on the Street adds one to my streak. I went to my first one as part of a “Young Authors” summer camp I found through a newspaper ad over a decade ago, and the experience was genuinely one of the highlights of my dorky preteen years — and yet, somehow I just keep on missing it.

Luckily, there’s tons for a book-lover to do in this city. If you love books, support your local independent bookstores and keep tabs on their events — you don’t have to be at a festival to meet a favourite author!

Type Books, with locations on Queen West and in Forest Hill, regularly hosts new launches, author talks, and even a book club. A Different Booklist is more than a fantastic independent bookstore that showcases multicultural voices — it’s also a cultural hub, hosting readings and exhibitions with a focus on the African & Caribbean diaspora. Another Story in Roncesvalles takes an approach of equity, diversity, and justice when curating their reading lists, which are excellent for for all ages. The list of Toronto bookstores goes on: Good Egg, Swipe, The Beguiling, Glad Day, Coach House Books.

But you can still go to a festival to meet a favourite author! International Festival of Authors is just around the corner, running from October 20-30, with a huge list of participating authors from Atwood to Zipp. The festivities include readings, round tables, and writing workshops.

Meanwhile, CanZine — a free-entry festival showcasing independent zines, books, and comics — is taking place at the AGO on October 29. The programming includes a comics jam-athon, a live book pitch, and a “zine race” where three cartoonists will be put on the spot to create a comic in 30 minutes based on audience suggestions. With a wide range of vendors, it’s a great opportunity to support independent publishing.

5. The end of summer is always benchmarked by the Canadian National Exhibition — aka the CNE, aka The Ex, aka the birthplace of #picsinthe6. Where else can you win stuffed emojis by throwing darts, shop a variety of premium vendors, devour all kinds of ridiculous foods, and take obligatory CN tower pics from the top of a ride?

If you love the CNE’s range of vendors, the One of a Kind Show is a staple at the Exhibition Place, running from November 24 to December 4. You can find tons of makers, designers, and suppliers, all under one roof.

If you regret the missed opportunity to see a fuzzy alpaca at the petting zoo, you’re in luck. The Metro Toronto Zoo is open until November 1, and the High Park zoo is open year-round. Just don’t let that crafty peacock escape… again.

My favourite thing about the CNE is the food. Trying strange and eclectic culinary creations is what I’m all about, and having a ton of them all in one place is overwhelmingly awesome. If you didn’t get to snack on fusion tacos, waffle bowls, or cricket hotdogs this year, don’t feel like you’ve missed out — check out the vendor list and see where you can find these kooky culinary creators the rest of the year.


Image from NASA

6. Every now and then, something happens in the sky and everyone gets excited on social media. The last Hunter’s Moon on October 15 was also a Super Moon, resulting in a large and vibrant yellow moon that shone through the hazy October clouds. Of course, I barely got to see it because I was bundled up in blankets sneezing, but everyone who caught a glimpse on my feeds made it look and sound really cool.

Luckily for any space enthusiast who missed the event, this past Hunter’s Moon was just the first of a series of three super moons set to occur in October, November, and December. Mark your calendars for the Beaver’s Moon on November 14, and the Cold Moon on December 14. We’re also in store for a number of other cosmic events this fall, which you can keep tabs on through the Royal Astronomical Society.

Toronto’s sky is, at best, a giant pile of smog, so you may want to plan ahead to find a clear viewing spot. If you’re ready to drive a bit for the view, the Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve in Gravenhurst is a free vantage point just a few hours north of the city. Turn your car lights off, let your eyes adjust, and enjoy the night sky totally removed of light pollution and distractions. If you’re not keen on a night drive back, make it a mini getaway by booking a nearby stay on Airbnb.


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7. Okay, look — there’s always going to be something cool to do. And if you don’t do that, there’s always something else… but who says you always have to do something?

While running between commitments, I’ve barely had time to see the leaves this fall, except for the couple of times I’ve been out of the city or outside of the core. If I’m too busy to really enjoy what defines the season, what am I actually doing? If we’re always looking for the next thing, we risk completely missing what’s right in front of us.

Sometimes, the solution is a lot simpler: just let it go. Don’t fear missing out. Everyone is doing something different at any given time, and there’s no way for us to always be engaged in everything going on, as much as we want to be connected to it all at once. Maybe you’re not doing the thing that your friend with the visually-appealing feed is doing — but they’re not doing what you’re doing either.

Pick and choose what makes you happy, and the rest of the time, find solace in doing what’s right in the moment.

At the end of the day, FOMO is an irrational fear that only feeds into itself. The only time we’re actually missing out is when we don’t see what’s good about where we already are. Look around — enjoy the view. Don’t miss out on what you already have!

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