Who says you have to leave the country to go on a fantastic school trip? Heck, don’t even worry about leaving the province (this being if you are currently in Ontario).
I know what you’re thinking, “Alright, so Toronto, Ottawa, or maybe even Algonquin.”
Touche, but c’mon guys. Read the title. You don’t need to go to big cities to make the most of your group adventure; sometimes the smaller ones have the most charm.
Enter Stratford. It is sister cities with the better-known ‘Stratford-Upon-Avon’ in England, and they both have a Shakespeare Festival that are equally world-renowned. But why in the whole wide world should you even consider going?
Food, Glorious Food
I’m going to be honest, I don’t know how many restaurants there are in Stratford. I don’t even think Stratford knows how many restaurants it has. It only knows that they are delicious. From Italian, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese, to home-cooked meals in cozy diners and even the occasional chain restaurant: you will never run out of something to eat here. Most restaurants make sure to provide an experience with their meal, and some even have a view of the river. Stratford is also home to one of the most prestigious Chef schools in North America. The Stratford Chefs School hosts eager students from around the globe, and often holds student meal events. This means you get professional quality food for a fraction of the price. Whether you have time to look around and book in advance, or you just want to go with the flow and eat as you please: there will always be something waiting for you in Stratford.
Holy Goodness Theatre
SO. MUCH. THEATRE. I don’t know how Stratford handles it. They have the Avon Theatre, the Festival Theatre, and the Studio Theatre producing everything from Shakespeare, musicals, and newer, avant-garde plays. In 2015, the line-up is SOund of Music, Hamlet, Taming of the Shrew, The Physicists, and many more. Check out their website for more up to date information here.
The festival also regularly holds forums, workshops, musical and comedy shows, and information sessions. You can decide how deep you want to get with the Festival, but no matter what level you get to, it will be a rewarding one.
The Avon River
It may not be as clear as it once was, but it is still charmingly beautiful, and the perfect spot for those “wish-you-were-here” pictures. You can rent paddle boats, head to Tom Patterson Island to relax, and take a scenic walk around the river’s edge. Bonus: a lot of the Summer Music Programming is either around the river, or on it. It’s like a two for one deal. But so much better in so many ways that I can’t even begin to describe so don’t ask me to.
Bluesfest? Got it. Ribfest? Oh yeah. A slew of summer music programming, some free and some for money? ABSOLUTELY. There are holiday parades, a local fair, and even an entire weekend welcoming the swans into the river. The amount of local talent that Stratford has created, and continues to share, is just mind-blowing at the same time that it is heart-warming. The best part of the festivals? They’re big, but not crazily big. There aren’t one hundred thousand people preventing you from getting to the washroom, but you can still talk to everyone you see all night, and have fresh faces to meet in the morning.
Well, that’s it for now. I’m off to Stratford.