The Canadian province of Ontario is loaded with hidden gems. While many prefer to talk about the hulking metropolis of Toronto or Canada’s capital of Ottawa, the rural areas of Ontario are rich in unique things to see and do. One place where Ontario gets it right is its festivals. Ranging from agricultural affairs to massive festivals celebrating music, Ontario’s festival scene has something for everyone. To follow are my top three festivals in the province of Ontario (to make things interesting, I did not consider any festivals based in Toronto or Ottawa).

Stratford Festival

An establishment in the Huron-Perth region, the Stratford Festival was first incorporated in 1952. Though it struggled through some lean years in the early days, it has grown to become an internationally adored festival celebrating William Shakespeare and the brilliant plays he gave to the world. A small city located West of Toronto and Kitchener, Stratford, Ontario is home to just over 30,000 people. It is a cultural hub of the area, drawing in many students annually to help promote drama and arts education. In terms of actors who have graced the stage festival, some highlights include Christopher Plummer, Alec Guinness, Sarah Polley, and William Shatner. The festival traditionally runs from April to October.

Collingwood Elvis Festival

Now to something that’s somehow both more and less dramatic, The Collingwood Elvis Festival is a five-day festival dedicated to The King, Elvis Presley. Taking place at multiple venues around this tranquil Georgian Bay town, the event features countless performances from some of the world’s biggest Elvis tribute acts in addition to markets, food, and other activities. Taking place at the end of July, it’s also a great time to hit nearby Wasaga Beach, one of the most exciting beaches in Ontario. Collingwood is roughly an hour and a half North of Kitchener.

Hillside Festival

A unique Summer music event, Hillside Festival is as much a quaint retreat as it is a rowdy musical event. Set in Guelph, Ontario on a lake within a conservation area. While the musical styles tend to wane from punk to alternative to folk, the experience of Hillside remains a steady calm as you camp out for a weekend on Guelph Lake. In addition to music, visitors are treated to various art shops and workshops, and local merchants.

Guest Author: Keith Holland is the Community Manager for Momentum Travel and is a graduate of Toronto, Ontario, Canada’s Humber College Journalism Program.

Some other Ontario events include:
The Chippewas of Rama First Nation Pow Wow, Orillia, Ontario
A Starry Night with Shine Juice Bar and Streets Alive Orillia