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Discover Ontario’s Summer Festivals


Every summer Ontario hosts some of the world’s best festivals. From indulging your taste buds at Summerlicious in Toronto to laughing until you cry at Ottawa’s Fringe Festival, there’s an occasion to suit all tastes. With the summer festival season kicking off with events including Toronto’s Luminato Festival on June 6, now is the perfect time to visit. To help you decide which to attend, here’s a round-up of the best summer festivals in Ontario.

Attend some of the most delectable festivals in the world: Summerlicious will return to the city from July 6-22 offering a vast array of delicious and highly Instagrammable treats with food from some of the city’s greatest restaurants and world famous chefs. It offers affordable fine dining experiences with fixed price menus at nearly 200 restaurants. This year, 22 new restaurants, including Jamie’s Italian have been added to the Summerlicious offering which means even more opportunities to indulge in superior 3-course dining, at exceptional prices. Lunch menus are priced at $18, $23 or $28, and dinners at $28, $38 or $48.

Those who love the Canadian classic of poutine, can say hello to Toronto’s first ever festival dedicated to the dish this May. Visitors to the city will find nine of the finest food trucks in Dundas Square serving gourmet poutine, inspired by recipes from around the world. Unique recipes have been exclusively created for The Poutine festival so those attending will be able to experience first-hand the best poutine around. The festival will take place from May 24 – 27 and is free to attend.

The Peach Festival

In celebration of the local peach harvest, the annual Peach Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake will take place on the August 12 this year along Queen Street. The festival will feature an array of merchants selling a host of ‘peachy’ delights from local bakeries, restaurants and local growers as well as live music and street performers to provide entertainment for all ages. Admission is free.

For cheese fans, the Great Canadian Cheese Festival on June 7 in Prince Edward County, just 2.5 hours east of Toronto, is one festival they Gouda go to. Now in its eighth year, the festival showcases the finest cheese from Canadian artisans across the country and is the biggest artisan cheese festival in North America.

Toronto’s Luminato Festival

Explore the artistic talents of Toronto: Toronto’s Luminato Festival is one of the leading arts festivals in North America and returns this year from 6th – 24th June. Close to 100 new works of art will be on show this year with more than 3,000 performances featuring 11,000 artists from over 40 countries for revellers to enjoy. The arts festival is dedicated to performance, media and visual arts, and digital programming that crosses the boundaries of traditional art. The festival body works closely with Canadian artists to support the development and creation of distinctive new work as well as presenting today’s most exciting artists from around the world. Now in its 11th year, the festival takes place at a number of locations across the city including the Elgin Theatre, Brookfield Place and Nathan Phillips Square. Festival event tickets start at $25.

The Ottawa Fringe Festival is the ultimate stage for performing artists, both emerging and established, to produce and perfect their on-stage performances. The festival provides a rare opportunity to see stars on the road to success and get a sneak peek at new material from world class comedians. The Ottawa Fringe Festival’s mission is to empower audiences and to encourage artists to take risks, pursue their visions and develop their skills. This year’s festival will take place from June 14-24, so get ready to laugh until you cry. Tickets are offered on a lottery basis with a $25 fee.

Comedy Of Errors and the Stratford Festival

No trip to Ontario would be complete without a visit to the internationally recognised Stratford Festival for those with a love of theatre. Located just two hours’ drive from Toronto, this is North America’s largest annual theatre festival and features everything from Shakespeare to the Rocky Horror Show. Visitors to the festival will have the opportunity to meet cast members and take part in theatrical workshops to develop their own acting skills. The Stratford Festival takes place this year from April – October with some fantastic performances and workshops taking place this summer. Ticket prices vary for each performance.

Treat your ears to the sweet sounds of Ontario’s music festivals: Taking place in Ottawa this year is Glowfair, a two-day light, music and art festival taking over 10 blocks on downtown Bank Street. Visitors can try their hand at yoga and put their best foot forward at the wildly popular ‘Silent Disco’. An incredible line-up awaits music enthusiasts at one of the trendiest summer festivals in Ontario and is a one-of-a-kind, immersive experience not to be missed. This year’s festival will take place from 14th – 16th June and is free to attend.

Alternatively, Jazz enthusiasts should mark the Prince Edward County Jazz Festivals in their calendar. From international Jazz musicians to local, niche artists, this festival is a jazz-lover’s dream. For families with children, free activities will be on hand to keep the youngsters entertained so you can sit back and enjoy the classic sounds from the talented musicians. This year’s festival will take place from August 14-19 at a number of locations throughout the area including TC Regent Theatre and Huff Estates Winery. Standard tickets are $34 or $20 for families and students.

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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