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9 Must-See Fall Events Where You Can Experience Ontario's Epic Arts & Culture Scene

Live music, Indigenous culture, fall fairs and more.

A fairgoer sits on a pumpkin. Right: The Regent Theatre in Prince Edward County.
Sponsored Content Contributing Writer, Studio

A fair goer sits on a pumpkin. Right: The Regent Theatre in Prince Edward County.

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Fall is right around the corner, but before you bundle up, don't miss your shot to enjoy some of the best that Ontario has on offer.

In autumn, towns and cities across the province are bursting with fun and enriching vibes. From world-class museums and art galleries to vibrant festivals, fairs, live music and historic sites, Ontario is packed with cultural gems.

Whether you're an art aficionado, a history buff, a live music fan or a nature lover, there's something for everyone. For a taste of what's on this fall, here are nine fall must-sees in Ontario.

Get your art fix at a National Gallery of Canada exhibition

.Price: $20 for adults, $10 for students, free on Thursdays after 5 p.m.

When: Tuesday-Sunday during fall

Address: 380 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON

Why You Need To Go: Delve into Canada's rich and fraught history through art at the National Gallery. During fall, you can check out special exhibits like Riopelle: Crossroads In Time, which looks back on the life and works of this Canadian art icon.

The gallery's permanent collection includes the Indigenous and Canadian Art Gallery, which highlights iconic artwork from Indigenous and Canadian artists like Emily Carr and Tim Pitsiulak. A must for anyone looking to soak up some culture.

Accessibility: Strollers allowed, wheelchair accessible, service animals welcome, adapted tours (using sensory-based strategies) for visitors with disabilities.

Top Art Galleries In Ontario on Destination Ontario

Take a ghost tour of Ottawa, Toronto or Kingston

\u200bTwo Haunted Walk guides.

Two Haunted Walk guides.

Courtesy of The Haunted Walk Kingston

Price: $24.99 for adults, $19.99 for youth

When: Various times

Address: 46 ½ Sparks St., Ottawa; 11 Gristmill Lane, Toronto; 200 Ontario St., Kingston, ON

Why You Need To Go: Embrace the spooky season and explore your city from a different perspective by taking a darker, deep dive into the historic buildings and famous creepy goings-on from back in the day.

You'll hear about ghosts, executions, graveyards and haunted hotels as you tour some of the most haunted spots in each city, like the Ottawa Jail, Kingston’s Queen's University and the Distillery District in Toronto.

Accessibility: This tour makes use of sidewalks, street crossings and other city infrastructure. While most areas are fully accessible, occasionally we run into construction or other unpredictable situations where we need to alter our route. For that reason, we recommend this tour be considered accessible with assistance.

The Haunted Walk website

Celebrate the arrival of autumn at Mādahòkì Farm

Price: It's free to visit Mādahòkì Farm. Some events are ticketed with varying prices.

When: September and October 2023

Address: 4420 W. Hunt Club Rd., Nepean, ON

Why You Need To Go: Located on the traditional and unceded territories of the Algonquin Nation, Mādahòkì Farm welcomes visitors to engage with local Indigenous cultures and traditions. The meaning of Mādahòkì is "to share the land" in the Anishinaabe language.

Visit the marketplace featuring unique products from Indigenous makers, artists, farmers and businesses; meet the rare herd of endangered Ojibwe Spirit Horses; or take part in their regular workshops and tours. Don't miss the Tagwàgi (Autumn) Festival if you want to give fall the welcome it deserves.

Accessibility: Limited accessibility for wheelchairs.

Mādahòkì Farm website

Get some fresh air at an urban oasis

Price: Free entry

When: Open daily from sunrise until 11 p.m.

Address: Kariya Park, 3620 Kariya Dr., Mississauga, ON

Why You Need To Go: Named for Mississauga's sister city in Japan (which has its own Mississauga Park), this Japanese garden is a charming spot to take a break from the city bustle while learning about Japanese culture.

You can hit pause on your day to go enjoy the beautiful trees and wildlife in an urban setting before the winter chill hits.

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible

Kariya Park website

Get in the autumn spirit by visiting a fall fair

\u200bFair goers in Ontario.

Fair goers in Ontario.

Courtesy of Destination Ontario

Price: Varies by fair, usually around $8 to $15 for admission

When: From mid-September to mid-October

Address: In towns across 15 regions in Ontario

Why You Need To Go: Fall is fair season in Ontario, and you can enjoy more than 30 of them across the province between September and October, including Carp, Port Elgin and Bracebridge. Some have even been running since the 1800s.

There are so many events and activities like tractor pulls, cider tastings, giant vegetable contests, horse and cattle shows, pie-eating contests and more. It's the perfect spot for a date, friend hangs or family outing.

Accessibility: Varies by fair, visit the local fair website for more information.

Destination Ontario fall fair page

Check out your favourite Canadian musicians at the Ontario Festival of Small Halls

Price: Between $30 to $45 plus tax and service fee

When: October 5 to 22, 2023

Address: Various locations across Eastern Ontario

Why You Need To Go: The Ontario Festival of Small Halls began in 2014 as a way to enjoy live music in historic and sometimes-overlooked venues across Eastern Ontario like farms, churches and community halls.

Great acts like Corb Lund, Terra Lightfoot, The Arrogant Worms and Matthew Good have performed intimate shows as part of the festival. Check it out and you just might find your new favourite artist.

Accessibility: Varies by venue, contact the venue for more information.

Ontario Festival of Small Halls website

Take a historical tour of a former fur-trade hub

Price: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors or students (free for Indigenous Peoples)

When: Open 7 days a week

Address: 1350 King Rd., Thunder Bay, ON

Why You Need To Go: Fort William Historical Park is one of Canada's most important heritage sites and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. You'll be transported back to the 1800s to learn all about the fur trade and French-Canadian culture.

You can watch a birchbark canoe being made, try some traditional bannock and see what it was like to live during that time. Perfect for Francophiles and history buffs alike.

Accessibility: Service animals are welcome

Fort William Historical Park website

Celebrate cinema excellence at Cinéfest

Price: 4 tickets for $50 including tax

When: September 16-24, 2023

Address: SilverCity Sudbury Cinemas, 355 Barrydowne Rd., Sudbury, ON

Why You Need To Go: Celebrating its 35th year, Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival brings top-tier films, documentaries, animations and shorts to an audience of more than 35,000 movie fans every fall.

Their nine-day program takes care to highlight films made by and for diverse audiences, including Indigenous and Francophone voices in Ontario. Tickets are sold by the book, four for $50 or 10 for $100. To get full access, check out the Cinéfest Passport for $275.

Accessibility: SilverCity Sudbury is wheelchair accessible and offers assistive technology including closed captions and audio descriptions. Sensory-friendly screenings are available for some releases.

Fall Film Festivals 2023 That You Shouldn't Miss on Destination Ontario

Stuff your face with some classic Canadian cuisine

Price: Free entry

When: October 12 to 15, 2023

Address: 100 Sparks St., Ottawa

Why You Need To Go: Poutinefest is a week-long celebration of this French-Canadian culinary classic and Canada's favourite food in all its forms.

Whether you're looking for the best version of a classic poutine or interested in trying a new take on the carby staple (Thai poutine anyone?), there's something for every visitor with both food trucks and sit-down restaurants.

Accessibility: Stroller and wheelchair accessible

Poutinefest website

These are just a few of the activities and events Ontario's arts and culture scene has to offer.

This fall, take a staycation and explore your town through a new lens or road trip to visit one of the many vibrant spots across the province.

To get started, check out Destination Ontario to see just what adventures await.

To learn more about Ontario's vibrant arts and culture scene, check out Destination Ontario's website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

Elisha Barry
Sponsored Content Contributing Writer, Studio
Elisha Barry is a Sponsored Content Contributing Writer for the Studio department focused on sponsored content and is based in Ottawa, Canada.
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