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> Monday, May 11th, 2009 > Lifestyles > Summer festival guide
Summer festival guide
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Kate Slade
Published: Monday, May 11th, 2009
If you live in Southwestern Ontario, you know that summer is a time when cities come alive with street performers, great outdoor cooking and concerts in the park. As the days get warmer, you know its festival season!
Summer festivals are a tradition in Ontario, from small town folk festivals to live theatre in downtown Toronto; culture, art and cuisine come together to create unique events that are clever, stimulating, educational and usually fairly easy on the wallet.
Many of these street festivals feature fantastic local talent that you might not otherwise be exposed to. Dragging your boy/girlfriend to Sunfest or taking the family to Festa Italiana can be both intellectually engaging and economically friendly. As the temperature rises and the nights get longer, you can easily find yourself standing in Victoria Park as the sun sets, surrounded by friends, fresh food and live music enjoying the best things this city has to offerÖ for free! Below is a list of some of the best festivals going on in London this summer along with a few out of town events that are definitely worth the road trip. Enjoy!
Since 1995, London has been hosting Canadaís Premier Celebration of World Cultures; Sunfest! This festival celebrates music, food, dance and crafts representing countries from around the world. Over 25 bands, dancers and jazz ensembles from across the world gather in Londonís Victoria Park, and provide four days of live entertainment.
Sunfest brings over 200,000 people from different cultures together for four days to celebrate art and music. If you donít visit for the entertainment, then itís worth attending for the food!
The festival gives you an opportunity to eat your way around the world; with offerings from over 35 multicultural vendors. Everything from Vietnamese to Nicaraguan cuisine is available to taste in downtown London!
Where: Victoria Park, Wellington & Dufferin, London Ontario
When: July 9th to July 12th
Londonís Annual Ribfest is celebrating its 20th finger-licking Anniversary! The event is the largest festival of its kind in all of Canada and the second largest in North America! Each year, over 120,000 people flock to Victoria Park in downtown London to enjoy the five-day event. Itís estimated that 35,000 pounds of ribs are eaten each year, with a portion of this years proceeds donated to childhood cancer.
This year, the festival boasts plenty of live entertainment throughout the day, one beer garden and a new wine and beer tasting tent. Craft vendors, kiddie rides and face painting round out the events to create a great day for friends, music and fantastic food!
When: July 30th to August 3rd (Civic Holiday Weekend)
Home County Folk Festival
Londonís longest running festival; the Folk Festival is a musical extravaganza! Not as hokey as it sounds, the Home County Folk Festival features five stages with musical performances throughout the day and into the evening at the band shell in Victoria Park. A crafters delight, this event showcases over 100 booths with a juried craft show and demonstrations.
The line-up of artists is clever and refreshing and the talent is plentiful. Itís a great weekend to spend with a group of friends or with children. Childrenís performers are featured in the day along with face painting and other activities for the whole family.
When: July 17th to 19th
Where: Victoria Park, Wellington & Dufferin, London, Ontario
London International Childrenís Festival
This year, the London International Childrenís Festival is celebrating its 19th anniversary. This three-day event promises children a hands-on experience with arts from around the globe.
The festival is held in various locations in the core of downtown London. Performances are set up at the Covent Garden Market, the Central Library and the Art Project on Dundas Street.
Each year, over 20,000 visitors are entertained through performance, workshops and hands-on arts activities.
This yearís features include storytelling by celebrity readers, live theatre performances, arts and crafts centres and hundreds of live performances from local dancers and musicians. The festival is crawling with jugglers, musicians and magicians too.
Donít miss the hilarious performance by Circo Comedia; a Montreal duo who perform hilarious acrobatic tricks, daring feats and magic with slapstick finesse. Unforgettable entertainment for the whole family.
Where: Covent Garden Market, 130 King Street London Ontario
When: June 4th to June 6th
London Fringe Festival
Looking for great theatre in London this summer? The Fringe Festival offers unique, original performances in venues throughout the city. The term ďFringe TheatreĒ is used to describe alternative theatre, similar to New Yorkís off-Broadway. The London festival features poetry, plays, films and more. The festival runs for 10 days and features almost 100 performing companies, visual artists and films. Prices vary, but most performances are under $10.00/ticket. Visit the website www.londonfringe.ca for a complete program lineup one month before the festival.
Where: various location around the city, call 519-434-0606, visit the website or email email@example.com for details
When: June 18th to June 28th
This three-day festival celebrates all that is Italian in one of Londonís liveliest festivals! This event brings over 35,000 people to the downtown core to enjoy Italian art, food, music and dance in Londonís Covent Garden Market. Highlights include; evening entertainment with Italian operas and a fashion show and The Italian brunch; guaranteed to delight the whole family!
When: August 14th, 15th and 16th
Where: Convent Garden Market, 130 King Street, London, Ontario, 519-434-3921
Great Events Outside of London
Every August, for four days, a parade of inspiring performers gathers in the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto Ontario. Some of the most talented street artists in the world come together for one weekend to showcase their abilities. Spectators are treated to performances from comedians, contortionists, musicians, sword swallowers, magicians, fire jugglers, acrobats and so much more! Itís a thrilling presentation that draws crowds of over 350,000 each year. Money raised from the Toronto Buskerfest is donated to Epilepsy Toronto.
Where: Between Church and Jarvis, adjacent to the St. Lawrence Market, Toronto, Ontario.
When: August 27th to 30th
Definitely worth the trip to Toronto, the Luminato Festival showcases the cityís eclectic downtown core. Celebrating Torontoís cultural tapestry through artistic expression, this 10-day event transforms the cityís concert halls, galleries and city streets for an unprecedented experience.
Now in its third year, the festival combines theatre, dance, live music, literature, film, visual arts and design. The festival promises widely accessible events and ďaccidental encounters with artĒ. Audiences are encouraged to explore, celebrate and revive their own creative spirit.
The festival strives to create unforgettable moments by promoting various artists with diverse cultural origins and supports a wide array of genres and mediums in its displays and performances. Donít miss the closing weekend ceremonies featuring a performance created by Montrealís own Cirque de Soleil.
Celebrate the joys of living this close to one of the greatest cities in the world; the Luminato Festival lights up Toronto with diverse talent that will make you proud to be Canadian.
Where: Toronto Ontario, visit the website www.luminato.com for performance schedules and maps. Note: some events require tickets, not all events are free.
When: June 5th to 14th
Beamsville Strawberry Festival
This event has all of the small town charm youíd expect to find in a summer strawberry festival.
For 33 years, this one-day festival has been celebrated at the Beamsville Fairgrounds. Featuring live music, over 100 vendors and mix of exciting and hilarious activities, this festival has something to offer the entire family.
One of the main attractions, of course, is the big, juicy red strawberries harvested in Beamsville each summer. Many vendors serve fantastic original strawberry-inspired delights as well as homestyle favourites to please everyoneís palette.
Aside from the delicious food, the festival presents terrific entertainment with their 16th Annual Charity Bed Race and Grand National Recliner Race. Two events that are as silly as they sound and cannot be missed! The day is wrapped up with the Strawberry Idol competition, a showcase of local talent, and a late evening grand fireworks display.
This event is well worth the drive to Beamsville for a yummy and entertaining day for the whole family.
Where: Located between Hamilton and St. Catharines, about a 90-minute drive from London. Visit http://www.strawberryfest.ca/ for more info.
When: Saturday, June 20th