Main Street Unionville and All That Jazz in Markham

Posted : August 23, 2013

Our blog is chock full of great ideas for fun things to see and do in York Durham and Headwaters. We are always adding new content and updating old posts, but sometimes you might stumble upon something from our vault. If this article has inspired you to hit the road, be sure to double-check that the featured stops in this post are still welcoming visitors.

Main Street Unionville is one of my favourite summer pleasures in Central Counties. On a normal summer’s day a walk down Main Street Unionville offers great eateries, some shopping, an outdoor concert or movie and gourmet ice cream courtesy of the Old Firehall Confectionary. I was not aware that in addition to all this, Unionville also played host to the Markham Jazz Festival each year. So I decided to meet a friend there on Friday night and loved it so much I came back for more free music on Saturday!
Main Street Unionville was shut down all weekend to car traffic but I got lucky and found a spot in the Unionville Go Station. I made the very short walk to the Millennium Bandstand which was all lit up for the festival. My friend and I decided to go for a stroll up the street to check out all the action. The street was filled with people walking to and from the many stages set up along the street offering some of Canada’s top jazz musicians.
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As I walked down the street exploring the action and searching for the locations of all the stages, I heard the sweet sounds of saxophones, trumpets and clarinets coming out of the many restaurants and cafes. Most of the eateries participated in the Markham Jazz Festival with their own live musicians playing in their dining halls. All their patios were filled to the rim with festival goers who enjoyed a bite to eat between performances.
On Saturday the festival kicked into high gear. There were three main stages featuring Canadian Juno winners and Jazz royalty – the Varley Art Gallery Patio, the McKey Art Centre Beer & Wine Garden and the Millennium bandstand. In addition to the big stages, small tents were set up along the street where small jazz bands played to people walking along the street or enjoying a coffee at one of the cafes. It doesn’t matter if you are a crazed jazz fan or just a lover of the outdoors, it was hard not to sit back on a cafe chair and enjoy the smooth groove.
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In addition to all the free jazz music available on the streets, there were also free historical tours of Main Street running throughout the weekend. The Varley Art Gallery and other galleries on the street also opened their doors to festival goers at no charge.
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Behind the McKay Art Centre, Sunlife Financial hosted the Beer and Wine Garden Stage. I walked down the stairs behind the building and was delighted to find myself in a little jazz hideaway. I enjoyed an awesome performance by the Roberto López Afro-Columbian Jazz Orchestra and of course you can’t sit in a beer & wine garden without enjoying a glass of wine!
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Back at the Millennium Bandstand I took shelter from the sun under one of the tents set up in front of the stage and stayed for one more performance. Ok I was hooked! ¡DO! was the name of this band and they were really entertaining. It was a really great experience for me a first time jazz festival goer that will definitely be coming back for more next year!
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Sharon M is a travel blogger and writer at an online travel blog based in Thornhill, Ontario.

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