Things To Do at The Stratford Festival
It’s no secret that I absolutely love The Stratford Festival.
For those who may not be familiar, The Stratford Festival is a world-renowned theatre festival. Located in Stratford, Ontario and founded in 1952 by Tom Patterson, the festival runs from April to October, featuring Shakespeare’s works as well as a wide range of plays and musicals.
Stratford is a one and a half hour drive from Toronto, and happens to be one of the best towns for a daytrip or weekend getaway!
This season has an incredible lineup of shows, and a Stratford production is ALWAYS worth the drive, so I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of my favourite things to do in Stratford.
Catch A Show
Of course, no trip to Stratford is complete without enjoying one of their fabulous shows!
Their 2022 Season is currently running and includes: Chicago, Hamlet, The Miser, Little Women, Richard III, All’s Well That Ends Well, Death and the King’s Horseman, Every Little Nookie, Hamlet-911, and 1939.
Stratford Festival Gift Shop
While it’s common for theatres to have merch stands, The Stratford Festival has not one, but two gift shops! One outside The Festival Theatre, and another adjoining to The Avon Theatre. The gift shops at Stratford are an absolute treat, with something truly for everyone, ranging from t-shirts, CDs and filmed performances, houseware and more featuring shows from the season, and Shakespeare’s works. My personal favourite is the wide selection of books available for purchase. With biographies, histories, plays, and more, I can easily lose an hour browsing the shelves.
Archives and Warehouse Tour
Operating since 1952, the Festival has a rich history, and one of the best ways to experience it is by checking out their Archives and Warehouse Tour, an hour long tour through props and costumes used onstage over the years. The tours run from June to October starting at 11 am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and tickets are $12 purchased in advance.
Set Changeover Tour
For $15, you can step behind the scenes at The Festival Theatre to see the crew and tech teams swap out one show’s set for the next one. Tours begin after matinee performances from June to October except Sundays, and last an hour.
Stratford Perth Museum
Step further into the history of Stratford by visiting the Stratford Perth Museum. It has the history of the town, the Festival, and a variety of different exhibits, currently some on Justin Beiber, Anne Frank, Tom Patterson, the Brooks Steam Car, and the Perth Regiment. Admission is $7 for Adults, $6 for Seniors and Students, and $5 for kids.
Walk The Avon River
No trip is complete without a stroll along the Avon River. You can either enjoy it in the afternoon, or in the evening where Lights on Stratford showcases lighting displays along the river.
Art In The Park
Along the Avon River between The Tom Patterson Theatre and The Festival Theatre, Art In The Park, Stratford’s premier art show, runs from late May through the end of September, from 10am to 5pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For over 50 years, the Festival has used this space to showcase the work of local artists who use a variety of mediums from jewellery, carvings, paintings, and more.
The Shakespearean Gardens at The Stratford Festival is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. It’s a beautiful space to walk through and spend some time. Originally, the gardens only had plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s works, but now hosts a wide variety of plants and flowers.
Self-Guided Walking Tours
If guided group tours aren’t your preference, you can check out a variety of self-guided audio walking tours. These include Art Walk, Insta-Worthy Spots, Tom Patterson, Stratford Gardens, Justin Beiber, and so much more!
Food & Drink
Stratford has a wide variety of restaurants and breweries, there’s something truly for everyone when it comes to pre and post show snacks! Everyone is so different when it comes to food, I won’t leave any specific recommendations. That being said, a few sweet spots are Reho Thompson Candies, and my personal favourite Stratford snack spot: Kandy Cakes.
Can’t make it to Stratford, Ontario? Check out the Stratford Festival website to find Stratfest@Home, an online streaming service where you can enjoy these incredible productions from the comfort of your own home.