For the past ten years, Kensington Market has been closing off its streets on the last Sunday of the summer months from May to September, allowing Torontonians and tourists to listen to band music, shop at vintage stores, explore the different cultures of food and roam the streets freely.
Food shopping, bargain adventures and, well, eating are the major reasons to visit Kensington Market. It has dense city streets lined with small shops making a close connection to community an important aspect of this unique neighbourhood, and most of the shops and cafes are along tiny, otherwise unassuming streets such as Augusta Ave, Nassau Street and Kensington Avenue.
By regularly reclaiming the streets from traffic and parking, Kensington Market enjoys the opportunity to express its unique character and become a cultural playground during the warmer months. It’s definitely a great opportunity to get to know the amazing character and heritage of the neighbourhood if you are otherwise unfamiliar!
Eastern European Jewish immigrants founded Kensington Market in the early 1900s. Tailors, synagogues and bakers lined the street in what was then called the “Jewish Market”. During the post WWII era, the area transformed drastically as the Jewish community slowly moved north.
By the 1960s and 70s, Kensington became home to people fleeing war-torn countries and continues to be one of the most diverse communities in Toronto today, filled with students, artists, young professionals, and those eager to live within one of the tightest-knit, friendliest communities in the city.
Pedestrian Sundays are homemade–from the signs, to the music, to the giant piñatas, it’s clear that people from the community really care about the local small businesses and those that make Kensington Market feel like home. Entertainers come not for money, but for the fun of this monthly street festival, and you can definitely feel the exciting energy in the area every last Sunday of the month!
There are so many different activities offered each month, from yoga & capoeira, to cooking and drawing classes, to various food offerings from local vendors. By hosting Pedestrian Sunday, the community aims to take back their common space and celebrates an entire day free from the frustrating gridlock in downtown Toronto.
When we went for Pedestrian Sunday, we wandered around Kensington looking for something yummy and came across a cozy, casual, and authentic Mexican restaurant on Nassau Street called Valentina. On a sunny day last fall we chose to sit outside on the patio, and had some of the most amazing chicken and vegetarian enchiladas for just $10.
Though the restaurant has since closed and been replaced by a new, yet similar, restaurant, it just goes to show how you can get amazing, unique dishes for so cheap and that everything in the neighbourhood is great value.
Every time we have gone to check out Pedestrian Sunday we have always had a great time enjoying what the Market has to offer food and shopping wise. Add in some entertainment and free range to walk anywhere you desire and you’ve got yourself a great fun-filled day!
Have you ever been to Kensington during Pedestrian Sunday? What did you think of it?
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