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The best live music bars & lounges in Toronto

Updated Spring 2024

No matter what genre of music gets you moving, Toronto is the place to enjoy it. Experience the hottest local and touring international acts at these top live music venues.

The Cameron House

Located in a historic hotel building on Queen West, the Cameron House is full of character and one of the best places to see live music in Toronto – 7 nights a week! Soaring, mural-ed ceilings and carefully curated wall art give the popular venue a distinctly bohemian feel. Some of the biggest Canadian acts have played on its multiple stages, including Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies and Ron Sexsmith.

Photo credit: @the.cameronhouse on Instagram

Photo credit: @the.cameronhouse on Instagram

Building on the success of its live shows, the venue launched its own independent record label Cameron House Records. It’s a move that will widen its influence in the music scene (the label is connected to industry giant Warner) and reflects the eye for budding talent the Cameron House is known for. Follow them on Instagram @the.cameronhouse for new announcements and upcoming shows!

Dakota Tavern

The Dakota, as it’s known to regulars, attracts serious music lovers with its rock, roots, bluegrass and country shows and old-time saloon vibe. The Ossington Street hotspot is styled as a typical hometown bar with kitschy memorabilia and a long wooden bar. Although it has only been around for a few years, the venue is already a mainstay on the Toronto live music scene.

Photo credit: https://www.dakotatavern.ca/

Photo credit: https://www.dakotatavern.ca/

The bar list is refreshingly simple and priced accordingly — it’s a place for pints rather than complicated cocktails. The kitchen serves up tasty southern-inspired cuisine until late, or you can come in for the popular all-you-can-eat “Bluegrass Brunch” on the weekends. Lastly, if you’re a sucker for a good concert poster and want to stay up to date on new shows, follow them on Instagram @thedakotatavern!

The Axis Club

Originally known as the Mod Club Theatre, the Axis Club is a popular live music venue in Little Italy, hosting concerts, DJ nights and other performances. With a capacity of 600, the venue falls in the “not-too-big, not-too-small” category; it manages to feel spacious yet intimate with its unique layout and comfortable lounge area.

Photo credit: @theaxisclub on Instagram

Photo credit: @theaxisclub on Instagram

You can watch the stage from the floor or the balcony, and great lighting, pro acoustics and clear sightlines throughout make it a great place to see a show. Quick, professional bar service and sleek décor complete the vibe – be sure to check them out on Instagram @theaxisclub for pop-up announcements!

The Horseshoe Tavern

This is truly a musical institution not just for downtown Toronto, but for all of Canada. Opening in 1947, it’s still open 7 days a week with live music and an unpretentious neighbourhood pub atmosphere that caters to all music lovers alike. Read the full history here, and be amazed at the progression of this incredible venue.

Photo credit: @horseshowtavern on Instagram

Photo credit: @horseshowtavern on Instagram

Tickets are usually priced modestly, ensuring that everyone has access to support local talent, and they regularly update their Instagram @horseshoetavern with upcoming events and call-outs for new artists.

These legendary live music bars are more than great venues — they’re integral to Toronto’s thriving culture and music scenes!

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