Ontario’s top 100 festivals

The colourful Rogers Chinese Lantern Festival returning to Ontario Place in July has been named one...

The colourful Rogers Chinese Lantern Festival returning to Ontario Place in July has been named one of this year's Top 100 Ontario festivals. (Photos by Jim Fox)


, Last Updated: 12:45 PM ET

Ever heard of Chinese Lanterns, IlluminAqua, Festival of Fire, Carassauga, Gregor's Crossing, Luminato or Carrousel?

In this province of an estimated 3,000 annual festivals and community events, these are among the pick of the crop for the coming year.

Festivals and Events Ontario has named its Top 100 list -- a helpful guide for planning "one-tank trips."

Its latest guidebook includes other events, ranging from Dunn-ville's Mudcat Festival, Palmerston's Handcar Racing Championships and the Launch of the Butter Tart Trail Weekend in Kenilworth, so there's something for every taste and everywhere.

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Many will be pleased to learn the popular and colourful Roger's Chinese Lantern Festival (www.chineselanternfestival.ca) returns, July 31 through Oct. 12, to Ontario Place on the Lake Ontario waterfront in Toronto.

Among the Top 100, this is going to be an "all new" show with 30 grand-scale lanterns of scenes from around the world.

Lighting up the waterfront nightly, these are the creations of master craftsmen from the China Colour Lantern Museum of Zigong.

Their illuminated, intricately designed scenes depict landmarks and mythology, with last year's featured lanterns highlighting China's Qin, Tang and Song dynasties.

There's also nightly entertainment, a Chinese marketplace with handicrafts and food, as well as China-themed IMAX movies at the Cinesphere.

(If this year's events aren't up on the website, go to www.chineselanternfestival.ca/e/index.html for a look at 2007.)

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Also brightening the night will be "elements of fire and water" along the Welland Recreational Waterway at IlluminAqua (www.illuminaqua.com) in Welland June 27-28; July 24-26; and Aug. 22-23.

During musical performances on a floating stage, 60 pods of fire "dance, reflect and illuminate" the historic old canal from sunset well into the summer nights.

Arrive early for the lighting of the floating fire pods, with free admission for seating on the grass, while grandstand reserved seats ($20) are also available.

Fire-eaters, stilt-walkers and face-painters also entertain, and there is also a wine garden.

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Look, up in the sky, it's the Canada Dry Festival of Fire (www.ontarioplace.com) for four nights of spectacular fireworks choreographed to music from around the world on June 28, July 1, 3 and 5.

Based at Ontario Place, each night will feature a different international theme.

South Asia leads off June 28, followed by Canada on July 1, Latin America on July 3 and the grand finale on July 5.

Fireworks begin at 10:30 p.m., weather permitting, and reserved waterfront seats are available.

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Here's a look at other events among the esteemed Top 100:

- Tour the world without leaving home at the Carassauga Festival (www.carassauga.com) in Mississauga, next Friday through Sunday (May 23-25).

A festival passport provides unlimited access to cultural pavilions, where each has a "blend of music, fashion and food with a focus on celebrating the city's cultural diversity."

- Back to 530 AD when spring fever hits the hamlet of Gregor's Crossing," recreated at Thames Grove Conservation Area, Chatham for the Medieval Faire, (www.gregorscrossing.com) May 29 to June. 1.

Cheer on the Knights of Valour at jousting tournaments, test your skills with period games, enjoy a "king's feast," stroll in the marketplace with period artisans at work or relax at the pub listening to the Tartan Terrors.

- For 10 days, Luminato (www.luminato.com), the Toronto Festival of Arts and Creativity illuminates the city's streets June 6-15.

Back for its second year, this is billed as a "multi-disciplinary celebration of theatre, dance, classical and contemporary music, film literature, visual arts, design and more."

- Carrousel of the Nations (www.themcc.com/events.htm) is a popular summertime event showcasing Windsor's diverse population more than 30 years.

Held weekends June 13 to 29, this is an outdoor family fest at Riverfront Festival Plaza and features international food and bazaar vendors, live entertainment with music, dance and tradition along with children's activities.

- Other top events for June include the Welland Rose Festival, Dundas Buskerfest, Burlington's Sound of Music Festival, Mississauga Waterfront Festival and the Canadian International Military Tattoo in Hamilton.

There's also Oshawa Fiesta Week, Thorold's Italia in Festa, Oakville Waterfront Festival, Toronto and Ottawa International Jazz Festivals, Toronto Pride Week, Fort Erie Friendship Festival and Hamilton's It's Your Festival.

Other winning festivals from July through the end of the year will be featured later.



To find out more about the Top 100 Ontario festivals and all the events across the province, go to www.festivalsandeventsontario.ca

The 2008 Festivals and Events in Ontario Guide can be downloaded at the website above and at www.ontariotravel.net. It is available at Ontario Tourism centres or call 1-800-ONTARIO; (519) 756-3359; E-mail: info@festivalsandeventsontario

Choice Hotels, with 55 participating locations across Ontario, offers the Festivals and Events special rate with a 15-per-cent discount: 1-800-424-6423.