While November typically sees Torontonians turning to indoor activities to escape the chilly weather, this year promises an extraordinary outdoor East European music festival. BLOK, curated by Toronto’s own Mark Marczyk, the ringleader of Lemon Bucket Orkestra, will come alive on Nov. 18 at The Bentway under the Gardiner Expressway near Fort York.
BLOK is an all-ages festival perfect for families, offering a music-forward extravaganza featuring a diverse lineup of international talents. Headliners include Ukrainian pop sensation KAZKA, Estonian folk enchantress Mari Kalkun, Detroit Party Marching Band with their 18-piece brass punk ensemble, Macedonian-Romani trumpet virtuoso Nizo Alimov from Kocani Orkestar, and the hyper-folk-noir trio Balaklava Blues with special pan-Slavic guest singers Blisk. The festival boasts three meticulously designed stages by ABSRTKT and an immersive 360-degree sound system at The Bentway, promising an unparalleled auditory experience.
We had the chance to catch Marczyk’s new band Balaclava Blues, one of the festival headlines, this past summer, and if that performance is any indication of what might happen Nov. 18, then Toronto is in for a spectacular day of music.
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In addition to the music, the festival will feature installation artist Daria Alyoshkina, known for her large paper-cut artworks exploring Ukrainian traditions. Alyoshkina will also conduct a free workshop earlier in the day, thanks to the support of St Volodymyr Institute.
For food and beverage enthusiasts, BLOK will offer a variety of delectable cuisines and a fully licensed area, with a bustling market featuring vendors offering Balkan to Baltic delicacies and clothing. Additionally, a silent auction organized by the Second Front Foundation Ukraine aims to raise funds for female battalions in Ukraine.
BLOK is making a triumphant return after its initial debut in September 2019. The festival took a hiatus to focus on supporting Ukraine during the war. Its success is due to the generous support of the Ministry of Canadian Heritage and the Ontario Arts Council, as well as numerous community partners, including St Volodymyr Institute, Estonian Music Week, City of Toronto, Small World Music, Toronto Jazz Festival, Polski Piknik, and more.
To ensure a smooth event, BLOK kindly requests patrons to register and make a donation via Eventbrite, allowing for efficient management of capacity and contributions to this remarkable celebration of East European music and culture.
The festival’s schedule, including performance times, will be announced soon.