August 2, 2016

As an employee of one of Toronto’s landmarks, Casa Loma, I can’t help but be on top of all of the Castle’s events, including the Symphony in the Gardens performances that run every Tuesday this summer (until August 30th).

Toronto is infamous for nights out, day outings and exquisite restaurants, and here is just one way to spend your spare time in the summer months.

Casa Loma: A Day Of Pure Bliss

Symphony in the Gardens: A Night at Casa Loma

When I first heard Pandora Topp – an Édith Piaf tribute artist – was coming to perform, I immediately had to book the day off so that I could come to the gorgeous Castle as a guest, and not just as a worker.

I decided to bring my eight-year-old cousin to accompany me for the show and dinner, a gift for her birthday… with her, came my aunt, her other younger daughter and a family friend.

In short, it became quite the family excursion.

I began our visit to Casa Loma by taking them through the grounds I know like the back of my hand: two floors of ornately furnished rooms, a third floor military exhibit (of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum), the narrow towers with stunning views, our damp and dim underground tunnel leading out to stables still pungent with the scents of hay and old wood, and ending in our flourishingly colourful gardens and terrace.

The gardens were where the adventurous escapades ended, as that is where the evening performances would be taking place. The area was filling up quickly by the time we got ourselves seated at around 5:45pm.

With access to Casa Loma’s Monday (Soul in the City running until August 29th) and Tuesday concert nights being included in the general admission ticket price, it’s no wonder that our events are always packed tight with people.

Wining and Dining In Toronto’s Best Spot

Symphony in the Gardens: A Night at Casa Loma

As opposed to sitting in the glass pavilion where the performance would be taking place, we opted to sit directly outside of it and watch from the al fresco dining area; here, tables and chairs are set up in a bistro-style seating arrangement where guests can dine and drink while watching the performance taking place just inside the nearby pavilion.

It was difficult to choose a single item for ourselves off of a menu filled with such amazing and diverse choices, so we opted to order many items to share.

Hand cut fries, rosemary and garlic lamb chops, lobster poutine, lemon chicken, prosciutto and formaggio, and a bottle of white wine (for the adults only, of course). As a side note, the lemon chicken was so good, that I ordered it when a friend and I went to dinner at Spice Route the following week, one of the restaurants owned by Liberty Entertainment Group, the organisation of individuals currently in charge of maintaining Casa Loma.

We ate slowly, chatting and enjoying both one another’s company as well as the scenic gardens surrounding us. To keep our table throughout the whole night, I ordered several gin and tonics and ended with a delicious sweetened green tea.

When the performance began at 7:30pm, I was enraptured from the beginning, from the opening song L’Accordéoniste until the final notes of her closing song at around 9:30pm. Perhaps my favourite part of the evening was how much my youngest cousin seemed to adore the French music, despite being the one I thought would be the least interested.

I was so elated to see her adoringly watching the singer and her small orchestra, doe-eyed at the lulling sound of the music, and turning to me at the intermission to say, “Oh, Emily… I love this music. It’s so beautiful, and I don’t even know what they’re saying! I can’t wait to start learning French in grade one.”

Truly, that is the power of music, especially when coming from such a talented and passionate artist: comprehension of the language of the music is not always necessary when the emotion is conveyed through the passion in which it is sung in.

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