Spring Festivals & Events
There are plenty of fun activities to take part in at the spring festivals and events in Ontario’s Highlands. Visit in April and dip into the sweet celebration known as the Festival of the Maples in Perth. This festival takes place the last Saturday of the month to mark the end of the maple season and offers everything from stage entertainment to maple products for sale to a pancake breakfast – complete with maple syrup, of course.
If you’d rather stop and smell the flowers, come to Lanark County for the Orchids in Bloom Festival. This festival offers a great chance for you to see thousands and thousands of Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchids in bloom at the Purdon Conservation Area, one of the Seven Wonders of Lanark County. During the festival you’ll also have the chance to visit the county’s distinctive boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and other businesses as they delight guests and visitors with festival sales and treats.
Looking for a spring festival that will give you a real rush? MACKfest in Marmora brings paddlers together from all across Ontario and beyond for a weekend of kayaking, camping, live entertainment, and nighttime festivities. Even those who don’t paddle will enjoy the fun to be had at this festival brought to you by the Kawartha Whitewater Paddlers.
For a day of family activity, check out the Stirling Truck Show in Stirling. You’ll have the chance to get a close look at all the latest and shiniest big rigs as well as classic trucks. There’s something for everyone at this festival, including many kid’s activities such as face painting, bouncy castles, contests, and a climbing wall.
Summer Festivals & Events
Summertime is festival time in the region, when you can experience the vibrant culture and thriving community spirit at the various events that feature live entertainment, exhibitions, art, competitions, and family fun. Art enthusiasts will want to mark their calendars for July, when the Haliburton Tour de Forest takes place throughout the Haliburton Highlands. This self-guided driving tour takes you throughout the region’s picturesque countryside of rolling hills and lush forests. Along the way, stop at the featured art and artisan studios to examine and purchase works ranging from pottery glass, jewellery, paintings, woodworks, sculpture, photography, and even percussion instruments.
In late July, gear up for the annual Tweed Stampede and Jamboree, in Tweed of course, where you can have a rowdy good time with the other cowboys and cowgirls. See horses buck and watch bulls flail at the rodeo. Or stamp your own feet to the beat of the jamboree performers. The Stampede and Jamboree also features a kid’s zone and camping area for those who want to enjoy the festivities into the later hours of the night.
Geological fun can be found at the annual Rockhound Gemboree in Bancroft, the Mineral Capital of Canada. The Rockhound Gemboree is the largest gem and mineral show in Canada, with mineral specimens, gemstone jewellery, and lapidary supplies from more than 100 dealers that travel far and wide to attend this July/August event.
Another fun summer event is Puppets Up!, an international puppet festival that takes place in Almonte over the course of a weekend in August. You’ll experience amazing puppet shows that will have small children, older kids, adults, and grandparents alike smiling and laughing at the puppet antics and performances.
Get ready to hum along, tap your toes, and sing out loud at the various music festivals happening throughout the spring and summer. Elvis “lives” in Tweed at the Tweed Tribute to Elvis Festival in August. Come and watch the tribute artist competitions with talented Elvis impersonators singing their hearts out. You also won’t want to miss the tribute parade and the collectible display and sale.
Also in August, for a mixture of performing arts and concerts in amazing settings such as the Bone Lake Amphitheatre, a lakeside amphitheatre where you can watch musical artists perform on the water, and the Historic Logging Museum, drop into The Forest Festival in Haliburton. This outdoor music festival features an array of diverse performers, from around the world.
In the mood for some blues? Blues artists and ribbers from across Canada and the US gather at Calabogie Peaks Resort in August to celebrate the annual Calabogie Blues & Ribfest – a weekend long celebration of all things ribs and blues! In addition of a full schedule of live blues music, you’ll also enjoy a beer garden, a vendor’s area, a kids’ zone with face painting and rides, and Canadian and US ribbers vying for the best ribs in town.
The Ottawa Valley Music Festival takes on a more classical approach, holding a Concert Series, and other special concerts at various times throughout the year, including the favourite Festival Christmas Concert. There are a number of concerts to choose from featuring various artists and taking pace in several locations throughout the Upper Ottawa Valley.
Taste the best the region has to offer at the food festivals of Ontario’s Highlands. Palate pleasers and tasty delights abound and are sure to leave your taste buds asking for more. Looking for a place to start exploring our culinary offerings? Visit the Stirling-Rawdon Water Buffalo Food Festival, in Stirling. The festival provides a unique opportunity for you to taste fresh buffalo mozzarella and ricotta cheese products made from local water buffalo milk. The festival brings together many vendors and chefs, so you can eat your little heart out and enjoy the local fare.
Pack up your breath mints and head over to one of our local garlic festivals in August. The Perth Garlic Festival is rated as one of the world’s top 10 garlic festivals. Plan to visit, and you’ll find yourself learning all about the health benefits of garlic and taking home some great recipe ideas too. There’s also the Haliburton Garlic Festival, hosted by the Haliburton County Garlic Growers’ Association, in Carnarvon. At this festival, garlic lovers are able to sample and purchase a wide variety of local garlic and preserves, as well as jams, honeys, and other baked goods.
Taste of the Valley in Upper Ottawa Valley is anther annual food festival in Ontario’s Highlands, that’s fun for the whole family. You’ll find lots of wholesome local foods to sample and buy, including organic and natural produce, meats, and baking mixes. Enjoy a snack of ready-to-eat baked treats and coffee. This is a great opportunity to sample and purchase all sorts of foods produced locally in the Ottawa Valley, along with many different types of arts and crafts.
Join our local residents as they celebrate and take pride in their communities with a wide variety of festivals offered throughout the year. In Almonte, you can have fun at the Almonte Fair during July. Not only are there midway rides and a baked beans cook-off, but the Highlands Games are a real treat, too. At the Games you can hear the grand music resonating from twenty pipe bands, see 100 dancers perform, and watch champion heavyweight athletes compete for the year’s title.
The Stewart Park Festival takes place in downtown Perth and offers three days of free music, workshops, an artisan market, children’s activities, and after hours concerts. If you enjoy folk, jazz, blues, and world music, this festival is for you.
For a signature event featuring around 130 artists and artisans from across the province, there’s the Haliburton Art and Craft Festival in Haliburton. Not only is this a great opportunity to see what local artists have been working on, but you can also purchase arts and crafts from this even that takes place in late July.
And don’t forget the Canada Day celebrations on July 1! There are celebrations throughout our region that include food, music, and family activities – and of course, fireworks! Bancroft, Barry’s Bay, Coe Hill, Haliburton, and Minden are just some of the towns that feature special festivities.
Looking for something the whole family can enjoy, including the little ones? We have lots of affordable local events that make it easy for everyone to have a fun and memorable day. In the spring, your family will enjoy taking part in the annual Giant Easter Egg Hunt at Logos Land Resort in Cobden. The Smiths Falls Canal Railway Festival takes place over the course of three days in July, and offers extensive children’s programs and activities that include entertainers, family puppet workshops, balloon twisting, and more.
Do your kids like movies? Then you’ll want to bring them to one of our outdoor movie screenings that can be found throughout our region over the summer, many with free or low-cost admission. You can choose from events such as Movies Under the Stars in Smiths Falls, which presents free movies all summer long under the Smiths Falls water tower on the historic Rideau Canal. Or choose Family Movie Night in the Park at Arts Centre Hastings in Madoc, which offers you free admission for great family films. Lots of these screenings offer fun activities before the show, as well as a selection of concessions to satisfy your sweet tooth.