Ontario’s top summer theatre festivals
Find out what’s on at the Stratford Festival and Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Shaw Festival, two of Ontario’s most famous theatre destinations. And discover even more exciting theatre experiences staged in beautiful locations and landscapes across the province.
The Stratford Festival is North America’s largest classical repertory theatre company showcasing classics, contemporary and musical productions with an emphasis on the works of Shakespeare. Each season features a different theme, and fittingly the 2022 season explores how to start afresh with ‘New Beginnings’. The high calibre of performances and production make the Stratford Festival one of the best summer festivals in Canada. The Stratford Festival offers bus service to and from downtown Toronto on the Stratford Direct Bus.
The Shaw Festival
What began as a four-weekend festival experiment in the heart of Ontario’s wine country, the Shaw Festival is now celebrating its 60th season. Plays by quick-witted, social satirist, Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries grace the stage in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The 2022 season includes the Oscar Wilde classic, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and the entertaining ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’.
Rural Ontario takes centre stage at the annual Blyth Festival in Goderich. For 44 years, this local theatre has been hosting stirring and vibrant stories from a Canadian country and farm life perspective.
Drayton Entertainment Theatre Company
Award-winning Drayton Entertainment operates six unique theatre festival experiences that host an eclectic mix of Broadway musicals, farces, homespun comedies and musical revues. The 2022 season marks the 50th anniversary of the Huron Country Playhouse, which takes place in a converted rustic barn on the outskirts of Grand Bend, one of Ontario’s most popular summertime destinations.
A 25-minute drive north of St. Jacobs in the rural crossroads community of Drayton, the Drayton Festival Theatre was built as an Opera Hall in 1902 and became a popular attraction during the vaudeville era in the 30s.
Nestled within Discovery Harbour on the shores of Georgian Bay in Penetanguishene, The King’s Wharf Theatre is flanked by majestic tall ships and the historic buildings of a 19th century British naval and military base.
Located in St. Jacobs Market District and set in an intimate, 398-seat, 1867 village schoolhouse, St. Jacobs Country Playhouse is known for its high-quality and original Canadian programming.
Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge is in historic Old Galt, an area renowned for its Dickensian architecture and old-world charm.
4th Line Theatre
Embrace the Canadian narrative at 4th Line Theatre with two summer plays that focus on Canadian culture, local history and regional themes. The outdoor theatre is set under a historic barn on the idyllic Winslow Farm in Millbrook, just south of Peterborough.
1,000 Islands Playhouse
Nestled on the banks of the St. Lawrence River waterway in Gananoque, the 1,000 Islands Playhouse is a dockside professional live theatre entering its 40th season with eight stellar shows that span comedy, drama, music and song.
Port Hope’s community-engaged Capitol Theatre is the last remaining ‘atmospheric’ theatre in Canada, an intimate design style made popular in the late 1920s. It was designated as a National Historic Site in 2016. Choose from three entertaining headliner summer productions.
The Simcoe County Theatre Festival
Barrie welcomes a brand-new community theatre festival in 2022. The Simcoe County Theatre Festival will set the stage for local writers, directors and performers to showcase their talent to the region. The festival will begin in June and will be hosted at the downtown Five Points Theatre.
Located at the Lakeview Arts Barn near Bobcaygeon, Globus Theatre delivers an array of new shows each summer. Once a working cattle barn, this rustic venue now serves as a comfortable and contemporary theatre for eclectic and entertaining comedy, music and drama.
Lighthouse Theatre Festival
Enjoy professional and amateur live theatre with a focus on home-grown Canadian content at three different theatres in Port Dover, Simcoe and Port Colborne. Be prepared to laugh, the Lighthouse Festival is known to excel in the development and production of entertaining comedies that deliver on fun.
Theatre in Toronto
Explore the diverse live theatre opportunities in Toronto from Broadway productions at one of the Mirvish Theatre venues to performances by SummerWorks and Soulpepper Theatre Company. Catch contemporary and thought-provoking shows hosted by Canadian Stage and exciting indie theatre during Luminato Festival in June and the Toronto Fringe Festival in July. And don’t forget the kids! The Young People’s Theatre offers plays that will engage the imaginations of your little ones.
Theatre in Ottawa
The name says it all at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. This Ottawa-based theatre group is the city’s largest, professional, independent theatre that produces a selection of mainstage plays, as well as unique experiences for young audiences, workshops and other events. The oldest continuous community theatre in North America, the Ottawa Little Theatre is a vital part of Ottawa’s art scene. Agatha Christie’s courtroom mystery, ‘Witness For the Prosecution’ will be one of the performances scheduled to run during the summer in 2022. The Burning Passions Theatre makes summer brighter at Ottawa’s Arts Court Theatre with its Classic Theatre Festival, which features classic shows made popular on Broadway and the London stage in the UK.
Theatre in London
London’s heritage Grand Theatre hosts plays, musicals and events. The building dates back to 1901 and boasts a proscenium arch, a rare architectural feature, as well as original art. The Palace Theatre Arts Commons (PTAC) encompasses London Fringe, London Community Players, London Youth Theatre Education and New Stage, so there is always something exciting on stage at this historic venue.
Enjoy the magic of live performances set outdoors. Bring a blanket and a picnic to the High Park Amphitheatre in Toronto for the Dream in High Park series. Dedicated to delivering accessible, live theatre to all audiences, Driftwood Theatre has developed enchanting picnic + play events. The professional cast from Guild Festival Theatre perform new adaptions of beloved classics under the stars at The Greek Theatre in Guild Park & Gardens. Located near the Scarborough Bluffs, the historic park offers the perfect ambience to enjoy outdoor entertainment. Prescott’s riverside amphitheatre showcases Shakespearean intrigue at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.
Last updated: January 20, 2023