Over 3,000 Ontario festivals and events keep tourists and locals partying annually. If you’re looking for reasons to celebrate, you will find more than enough to keep you happy here.
Some of the greatest festivals occur during summer, when outside events take center stage.
Summer outdoor music festivals are enormous. The biggies include the Toronto Jazz Festival, Festival of the Sound in Parry Sound, the Sound of Music Festival in Burlington, Barrie Jazz and Blues Festival, Sunfest in London, and Festival of Friends in Hamilton. A number of these festivals feature free entry or provide free concerts together with the paid ones. So they are very easy on your wallet.
Summer outdoor art festivals are also a big attraction in great weather. The free-admission Toronto Outdoor Art show features over 500 of Canada’s and the world’s top contemporary artists and artisans and attracts about 100,000 visitors. Stratford also has craft displays across the river, and Barrie has a big arts and crafts festival named Kempenfest.
Fall is jam-packed with festivals also. Ontario’s biggest fruit harvest is berry, and September is grape harvest time. The Niagara Region toasts the new crop with the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. Kitchener-Waterloo places on the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany. The Balls Falls Thanksgiving Festival features food, crafts and family fun. Halloween fans can combine the “Howlin’ Hootenany” in the Black Creek Pioneer Village just north of Toronto for scary fun and autumn treats such as pumpkin tarts, candied apples, and apple cider. Readers and writers will love the free Word on the Street Festival in Toronto where they could meet their favorite authors and hear them read from their works. And then there is the granddaddy of all literary festivals, the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. Wait – don’t overlook the Toronto International Film Festival! (Are you running out of weekends)
Ontario festivals and events do not stop in winter. Ontario residents embrace the cold season with Ottawa’s Winterlude, Toronto’s Wintercity and of course the New Year’s festivals including the mad Polar Bear Dip festival in Oakville. The giant glowing animated characters of Niagara Falls’ Festival of Lights are certain to make you smile and warm you up on a frosty winter day. Another sure bet is that the Niagara Ice Wine Festival in the Niagara area.
Spring festivals are the best of all, since they welcome the return of good weather. Some renowned Ontario festivals are the Maple Syrup parties that pop up all over Southern Ontario. Bronte Creek at Oakville has a great one with guided tours, candy and syrup sampling, a pancake breakfast and so forth. The Ottawa Tulip Festival is more than just flowers. It includes concerts, one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, lectures and much more (and the outside concerts are free). Want the actual scent of spring? Go to the Lilac Festival in Hamilton’s Royal Botanical Gardens, and explore the biggest, dizzying lilac dell on Earth.
If you are a neighborhood, Ontario festivals and events are a terrific way to satisfy your neighbors. If you are a tourist, why not plan your trip around one of these occasions?