Pop, rock and a few bubbles in between
After a string of local talent auditions for the big day, the music buskers are ready to perform and the live acts are booked for the Cobourg Music Experience in the Victoria Park Bandshell. Known for its 19-century architecture and white sand beach, the Lake Ontario town of Cobourg showcases its local talent in a day of non-stop music and arts. Bring a lawn chair to park at the waterfront Victoria Park where this year’s lineup includes wide-ranging acts from the acoustic pop-country singer Sacha to new rock Ravenscode. Join in the karaoke-style fun with the Singing in the Shower competition—complete with shower curtain and bubbles—or sing along to one of the five pianos stationed in the park and along the main street. Watch chalk artist Guy Wales create a trompe l’oeil masterpiece in front of Victoria Hall or create something of your own in the Family Arts Tent and graffiti wall. The day-long celebration on Saturday, May 18, coincides with Savory Celebrations, a dining event in which nine local restaurants offer fixed-price dinner menus between $30 to $35.
The trails and gardens along the Oshawa Creek Valley provide the setting for the city’s ninth annual Peony Festival featuring 300 varieties of the flamboyant flowers—one of Canada’s largest collections—as well as musical performances, artists and demos from gardening experts, June 8 and 9.
Gananoque Gay Pride
The scenic St. Lawrence River town of Gananoque is getting in gear for 2014 when the World Pride event comes to Toronto, positioning themselves as a non-urban family-friendly celebration of diversity this June 21 to 23. This is the heart of the 1,000 Islands so boating is a big part of the fun, whether on a Rocky Horror Picture Show cruise (dress up as your favourite character) or in the festive flotilla, an hour-long parade of decorated water craft departing from Joel Stone Park. No boat of your own? Buy a $15 ticket for the Gananoque Boat Lines ship that will be done up for the event. Wear a costume to join the fun. After the cruise the party continues in the park with dancing and musical tributes to Rihanna and Lady Gaga warming up the audience for headliner Jully Black.
Hillside: Let the band play on
About to celebrate its 30th anniversary year this summer, July 26-28, the friendly Hillside Festival near Guelph has won years of accolades from musicians, audiences and even CBC radio who considered it “one of the world’s most culturally enriching events.” Treat yourself to five stages of music, jam sessions, drumming fests, indie songs, peacemaking and poetry workshops, artisan market and more, including food tents offering healthy fare such as organic ice cream and spicy chili. Headliners this summer include Martha Wainwright, Nashville-based Escondido and local Jim Guthrie with his nine-piece band, but spectators can also participate in activities from yoga and meditation to art-making. An aboriginal circle will provide drumming workshops and keep the sacred fire going. From the Friday night opening session at to the childrens’ march on Sunday eve featuring bagpipes, trumpets and handmade costumes, this island fest on Guelph Lake promises to enlighten and entertain. Tickets sell out fast. Hillside is just one of the Five Fabulous cultural festivals that take place in Guelph this summer. Others focus on dance, jazz, literature and moving media.
Crazy for Carrots
Some of the richest farmland in Ontario, the 7,000-acre Holland Marsh north of Toronto, is famous for its vegetable production, including an estimated $130-million worth of carrots annually, enough to supply every Canadian with four pounds of carrots a year. So when the neighbouring town of Bradford looked for a theme they naturally chose the big orange root. Sure you’ll find a carrot mascot and carrot cake competition at Carrot Fest, but the real highlight is the outstanding lineup of street performers on Saturday August 17.
Mumford and Sons in Norfolk
The acclaimed British folk-rock band plays its only Canadian gig this year at the Norfolk Fairgrounds, August 23 and 24. Their Gentlemen of the Road Stopover may be nearly sold out, but you don’t need a ticket to enjoy their curated street festival featuring local music, food and possible celebrity sightings. This summer, learn more about Norfolk’s long history as a rock ‘n roll dance hall destination—local musician Rick Danko joined up with Ronnie Hawkins and his band here—at the Port Dover Harbour Museum and discover a driving route retracing regional highlights and musical legends.
Keen on Kayaks
When organizers launched the first Great Canadian Kayak Challenge & Festival in 2009, little did they realize that their event would grow into a major event attracting upwards of 300 boats from across North America and Europe, including seldom-seen three-man kayaks. But it’s not just the excitement of racing on the Mattagami River, Aug. 24 and 25, that makes this weekend a hit. Peripheral events including the opening night fiddling contest, Tai Chi demonstrations, Scottish dancers and aboriginal drumming all add to the excitement. Especially popular is the First Nations village with bannock treats, sweat lodge and a healing tent where visitors get a glimpse into indigenous culture.