Ten unmissable cultural road trips within two hours of Toronto

Ten unmissable cultural road trips within two hours of Toronto
Photograph by Daniel Neuhaus
The Camping Trip

Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, Oro-Medonte. July 22 to 24. Diehard music fans pitch tents at this summer carnival, which features outdoor art installations and sets from Arcade Fire and the Killers. A $600 VIP package buys coddled urbanites raised and shaded seating, custom cocktails, access to late-night parties, and, for the sore and stinky, luxe massages and shower services. PIT STOP: Dickey Bee Honey in Innisfil for apiary tours and wildflower honey.


Stratford Festival
Stratford’s Festival Theatre. Photograph courtesy of Stratford Festival
The Drama Destination

Stratford. To Oct. 30. The Bard bonanza goes meta this year with the North American premiere of Shakespeare in Love, a stage adaptation of Tom Stoppard’s sweet and salty costume drama. Also worth checking out: the Stratford Summer Music Festival, which features outdoor sunrise concerts and music on a barge. PIT STOP: The Berlin, a new farm-to-table spot in Kitchener from ex–Langdon Hall super-chef Jonathan Gushue.


Western Barn
Westben Barn. Photograph courtesy of Westben Arts Festival
The Bucolic Concert Hall

6698 County Rd. 30 N., Campbellford. July 1 to 31. The stunningly rustic timber-frame barn was designed with acoustics in mind. This summer, it hosts the premiere of The Pencil Salesman, a whimsical chamber opera starring Met baritone John Fanning. PIT STOP: The Mary Poppins–esque antique carousel in Roseneath, which holds 40 basswood horses and dates back to 1906.


Havelock Jamboree
Havelock Jamboree. Photograph courtesy of Havelock
The Hootenanny

10 Country Rd. 48, Havelock. Aug. 18 to 21. The annual hoedown is more Deep South than southern Ontario. RVs, steel-toed boots and line dancing prevail, along with performances from sibling trio the Band Perry and American Idol superstar Scotty McCreery. PIT STOP: Oshawa’s Hollywood Cone for a Mutant Milkshake (they’re blended with Skor bars, pie slices, funnel cakes and other delicious monstrosities).



Drake Devonshire
Drake Devonshire. Photograph courtesy of Drake Devonshire
The Art Party

24 Wharf St., Wellington. To Oct. 30. True to its Queen West roots, the quaint and quirky Prince Edward County hotel hosts an outdoor art extravaganza, featuring giant murals, interactive installations and playful steel sculptures scattered all over the grounds. PIT STOP: A romp through the fields at Prince Edward County Lavender. The on-site boutique sells luscious soaps and lotions.


Trius Winery
Movie Night in the Vineyard. Photograph courtesy of Trius
The Boozy Film Festival

1249 Niagara Stone Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake. Various dates. The classiest movie theatre in Ontario is at Trius Winery, where guests chill on lawn chairs and sip rosé. The 2016 schedule includes Spectre for Bond fans and The Force Awakens for BB-8 groupies. PIT STOP: A dip in the swimming hole at DeCew Falls, a secluded Shangri-La with a 70-foot waterfall.


Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre
Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre. Photograph courtesy of the Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre
The Can-Rock Cathedral

2145 Niagara Stone Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake. June 9 to Sept. 9. At the winery’s glowing coliseum, showgoers drink pinot while taking in mellow sets. Among them: renaissance man Bahamas, troubadour Dan Mangan and indie faves Stars. PIT STOP: The Ice House Winery, which serves up wildly refreshing icewine slushies.


A 4th Line Theatre show.
A 4th Line Theatre show. Photograph by Wayne Eardley/Brookside.
The Rural Revue

779 Zion Line, Millbroo. Aug. 2 to 27. This theatre troupe stages original Canadian dramas on a patch of farmland, using the barns and paddocks for scenery. The standout is The Bad Luck Bank Robbers, which recreates a real-life TD Bank heist from 1961. PIT STOP: Mercury Chocolates in Port Hope, which makes truffles in such fab flavours as pink peppercorn, key lime and cherry shiraz.


Shaw Festival
Shaw Festival. Photograph courtesy of courtesy Shaw Festival
The Edwardian Spectacle

Niagara-on-the-Lake. To Oct. 23. This year, the picturesque theatre fest breaks away from George Bernard Shaw’s prim comedies of manners with a production of Stephen Sondheim’s gruesome gorefest Sweeney Todd and a trippy new take on Alice in Wonderland.
PIT STOP: The Kowalik family’s roadside market for bushels of just-picked cherries, apricots and peaches.



Hayloft DanceHall
Hayloft Dancehall. Photograph courtesy of Hayloft
The Barn Bash

344 Salmon St., Picton. Various dates. Last year, the owners of the Dakota Tavern on Ossington transformed an abandoned barn in Picton into a fairy-lit country fantasy with craft beer and live music. On the roster this summer: shows from indie stalwarts the Sadies, Yukon Blonde and Mounties. PIT STOP: Dead People’s Stuff, a weird and wonderful antique shop in Bloomfield stocked with kitschy Canadiana.


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June 16, 2016

An earlier version of this post contained an incorrect closing date for the Westben Arts Festival Theatre.


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