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The Best of Ontario Spring Festivals and Events

By MEGHAN WILSON-SMITH

Canadian Tulip Festival (Photo: John Talbot)

As the weather warms in March and April in Ontario, there is a bit more spring in our steps, a renewed bustle on sidewalks and park trails and a general loosening of the scarves.

It’s not just the weather that’s got us grinning, though: numerous festivals herald the season as tulips start to bloom, syrup starts to run and water starts to thaw!

Events are listed in chronological order.

PaddyFest 2012
Listowel (about an hour northwest of Kitchener)
March 3–17

If you’re proud to be Irish or just enjoy a good ceilidh or meat-and-potatoes meal, then head to Paddyfest 2012. Irish stew dinners, bowling, badminton tournaments, pot-o’-gold treasure hunts and Kim Mitchell are just some of the exciting adventures awaiting your arrival.

Rooftop garden concept, Canada Blooms (Photo: Angela Barber)

Canada Blooms
Toronto
March 16–25

It wouldn’t be a true welcoming of spring without a flower festival here or there. Canada Blooms brings scent of spring March 16-25 by taking over the Direct Energy center with a menagerie of workshops, tips and tools for gardening and a Canadian Idol winner performance!

Canadian Music Fest
Toronto
March 21–25

The Canadian Music Fest, part of Canadian Music Week, showcases indie, French Canadian, jazz and rock musicians—more than 900 musicians in total from 40 countries. This year, a huge envoy of Portuguese musicians, called Mission: Canada, is a featured part of the event on March 22.

Janelle Moané at Canadian Music Fest 2011 (Photo: Zack Lovatt)

Maple Syrup Festivals
Throughout Ontario
March–April

No matter where you are in Ontario, you have plenty of opportunities to sample the sweet life.

Maple taffy at Wheeler's (Photo: Katy Watts)

The Saugeen Bluffs Maple Syrup Festival, on the shores of Lake Huron (don’t miss the sunsets!) is attempting a Guinness Book record for the largest sap bucket in the world this year and will have chainsaw carving, wagon rides and sheep shearing. Mar. 24 & 25

At Picton’s Maple in the Country learn about maple syrup farming, watch glass-blowing demonstrations and sample gourmet maple grilled cheeses and maple mulled wines. Mar. 31–Apr. 1

The Holstein Maplefest (1.5 hours north of Guelph) includes an animal show, fire-starting demonstrations, music and a dog show. Apr. 14 & 15

At Wheelers Maple Syrup Pancake House and Sugar Camp near Ottawa, experience a working “sugar shack.” Learn how syrup is collected and tuck into a full pancake meal. Daily 9–5

Major League Baseball Season
Toronto
April 9–October 3

For many, spring means baseball. The diamond is holy ground, and especially at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, home of the Blue Jays, Ontario’s MLB team. It’s a time when families travel to the heart of Toronto with high hopes, giant hot dogs and rally towels ready to kick off another exciting season.

2011 Shaw Festival performance of My Fair Lady, based on Shaw

Shaw Festival
Niagara-on-the-Lake
April 10–October 28

The Shaw Festival is the high point of the year in this small southern Ontario town. Eleven plays—musicals and classics by George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries—are mounted in the town’s three theaters. It’s also a beautiful time to tour the nearby wineries.

Canadian Tulip Festival
Ottawa
May 4–21

For 60 years the Canadian Tulip Festival has celebrated the simple tulip. The largest tulip festival in the world owes its start to the 20,000 tulip bulbs that were given to the nation’s capital as a thank-you from Princess Juliana of the Netherlands in 1945 for housing the Royal family during WWII. Each year brings a different theme: in 2011 it was Kaleidescope.

Fleetwood Country Cruize-In
London
June 1 & 2

The season isn’t complete without an oldies car and rock show. Check out the Fleetwood Country Cruize-In for the best in classic cars, tractors, amphibious cars and performances by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Amphibious car at the Fleetwood Country Cruize-In (Photo: Mac Armstrong)

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