Ashkenaz Foundation

ashkenaz festival
Leonard Cohen Tribute, Feb 2017, © Avital Zemer

The Ashkenaz Festival is one of the largest and most prestigious showcases of Jewish music and culture anywhere in the world.  Since 1995, the festival has taken place biennially at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto’s premier venue for the presentation of world and folk culture and for the meeting of diverse communities through the arts. Originally founded as a showcase for Klezmer and Yiddish music and culture, the Ashkenaz Festival has evolved over the years into an eclectic showcase of global Jewish art and culture, encompassing not merely the traditions of eastern Europe, but also Sephardic, Mizrachi and Israeli culture, and all manner of cross-cultural fusion. The Festival is offered 90% free to the public and attracts a multicultural audience of over 60,000 people. Nowhere else in the world does so large and diverse an audience come together to experience Jewish cultural arts. Though strongly focused on music, Ashkenaz is a multidisciplinary festival, including dance, theatre, film, literature and talk, visual arts, and kids/family programs. Ashkenaz usually features over 80 performances and 200+ individual artists, hailing from across Canada and around the world. Over the years, Ashkenaz has presented artists from over 25 countries and 6 continents.

ashkenaz festival

Related Events


December 17, 2022

IGNITE! opens with a community-wide Havdalah for all ages, then breaks into a choose-your-own-adventure of arts-based workshops, performances, and Jewish study sessions.


November 10, 2022

This project is about women. Creative, strong, breaking social taboos, and in some ways… invisible. Join us during HEW for a beautiful, multi-media theatrical concert.


September 3, 2022

to September 4, 2022

Cabaret meets The Producers in this uproariously edgy new show from New York Times bestselling author Michael Wex. 


August 31, 2022

to September 2, 2022

Ashkenaz 2022 will feature the North American premiere of Henekh Kon’s “Bas-Sheve,” the only known pre-Holocaust Yiddish opera.


August 30, 2022

This special concert will celebrate female voices, the principles of equality, and the continuing development of Jewish liturgical tradition. 


July 1, 2022

Described as the “Lebron James of Klezmer” Winograd is one of the leading klezmer musicians of his generation.


May 15, 2022

Combining his Ethiopian musical roots with soul, reggae, funk and jazz, Gili Yalo is sure to get you moving and grooving!


May 8, 2022

Come celebrate women the world over this Mother’s Day with the release of an album that sets to music poems of Lenka’s own family matriarch.


February 15, 2022

to March 8, 2022

A four-part virtual event series exploring the relationship between Jews and country music.


October 7, 2021

to October 28, 2021

Eric Stein explores this long-overlooked history through rare photographs, ephemera, and recordings from a number of Jewish mandolin legends, placing the Jewish affinity for the instrument in the context of broader cultural trends.


October 10, 2021

to October 24, 2021

In July 2021, Ashkenaz presented its first official concerts with a live audience since the global pandemic began. This magical week of concerts was documented with multiple cameras and mics and will be streamed in four episodes, on Sundays at 8pm ET throughout October.


September 17, 2021

to September 18, 2021

BLOK: Slavic Music Meet is a first-of-its-kind gathering devoted to east European music, featuring live performances by Canadian acts and virtual shows from artists located in Eastern Europe.


September 4, 2021

to September 5, 2021

These two virtual concerts pay tribute to our history and to our past artistic leaders, with beautifully filmed pre-recorded performances.


August 28, 2021

Join FENTSTER and Ashkenaz live-streamed on the KlezKanada Facebook page featuring an array of programming produced in Toronto and New York.


July 28, 2021

Based on last summer’s 25th anniversary online exhibition, this interactive, multimedia presentation will trace Ashkenaz’s history and evolution, including video excerpts from memorable performances over the first 25 years, as well as pandemic-era adaptations.


July 26, 2021

to July 30, 2021

Ashkenaz is pleased to join with dozens of other international Yiddish culture organizations in supporting this virtual concert honoring Zalmen Mlotek’s 50-year career dedicated to Yiddish music and theatre … on the occasion of his 70th Birthday!


July 11, 2021

Featuring a dozen artists from around the globe performing Yiddish songs of social justice, including labor anthems, protest songs, humanitarian odes, songs of struggle, and songs based in Yiddish poetry and Jewish scripture.


May 24, 2021

Hosted and curated by our friend Seth Rogovoy, the event takes a deep dive into Dylan’s music to reveal its Jewish roots and mystical branches, with performances by Joshua “Socalled” Dolgin, Daniel Kahn, Niki Jacobs, and Lail Arad.


April 18, 2021

FestivALT co-directors Michael Rubenfeld and Adam Schorin take you on a live, virtual, critical tour that will open the door to some of Kazimierz’s hidden narratives and encourage you to see beyond the visible exterior.


March 21, 2021

A global audience of thousands will again log in to celebrate Passover with a unique re-telling of the Passover story, interwoven with the eternal Jewish story of striving for freedom, dignity and equality, as told in the thousand year old language and culture of Yiddish. 


February 26, 2021

Ashkenaz premieres archival video from the 1998 Purim Shpiel and celebration at the old Bloor JCC, featuring Michael Wex, David Wall, David Buchbinder, Shadowland Theatre, and hundreds of community members.


February 10, 2021

This hourlong 2014 documentary weaves the life story of NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award winner, Flory Jagoda z”l, with her 2013 Celebration Concert at the US Library of Congress.


January 31, 2021

to February 3, 2021

Ashkenaz and Yiddish Summer Weimar mark this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a very special performance by the first ‘supergroup’ of the Klezmer Revival.


January 18, 2021

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s livestream concert presented on the US national holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Soul to Soul marks the historical connections between two peoples and two cultures whose destinies have so often intersected. 


January 19, 2021

to March 2, 2021

Join Artistic Director of the Ashkenaz Festival, Eric Stein, as he shares his knowledge and passion for Klezmer Music in our new virtual Guided Listening series.


December 27, 2020

This annual event was created in honour of the late great singer and researcher Adrienne Cooper z”l (1946-2011), who was a towering figure in the Yiddish revival and graced Ashkenaz stages so many times.


December 13, 2020

A newly-commissioned composition by renowned Polish composer Marcin Masecki, created in tribute to the rich tradition of mandolin orchestras and mandolin music in Polish-Jewish life.


October 27, 2020

This all-new video podcast brings to life the pages of Mandel’s lovingly researched story, with renowned actor Alon Nashman stepping into the author’s persona as narrator of the original text.


October 27, 2020

to December 8, 2020

From ragtime and jazz, to bluegrass and country, as well as pop, classical and multiple forms of ethnic folk music, new musical treasures await you.


September 1, 2020

to September 7, 2020

A virtual celebration of Ashkenaz’s 25th anniversary with a series of new performances, and a selection of archival performances from past Festivals.


September 15, 2020

The music of clarinetists Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras is iconic of American klezmer music. Their legacy has had an enduring impact on the development of the popular world music genre.


August 24, 2020

As Toronto begins to re-open, leaders from performing arts organizations will discuss how they adapted their programming for the pandemic, and what they see as the future of the performing arts as we move forward into the “new normal.”

Related Exhibitions

Window Gallery

September 3, 2022

to September 5, 2022

Discover the history and myriad interactions of two historic peoples living side by side on Ukrainian lands, through texts, maps, graphics, paintings, photographs and other images.


August 19, 2020

to September 18, 2020

Celebrate 25 years of the Ashkenaz Festival by exploring the festival’s archives in this virtual exhibition at the MNjcc Virtual Gallery.
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