Video New Stratford Tom Patterson Theatre Opening Spring 2020 | Courtesy Stratford Festival

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Stratford News & Information®  |  Stratford.Rocks ® |  StratfordOntario.net ®
Named for Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford has grown to become Canada’s premier arts centre. In addition to the Stratford Festival, Stratford is filled with unique business opportunities, music, culinary treats and visual arts.  The preserved 19th-century architecture and acres of parks and gardens are certain to charm. Stratford has gained a reputation for culinary creativity, showcased at some of the finest restaurants in the country.  The Stratford Festival includes: Stratford Festival, Avon Theatre, Studio Theatre and New Tom Patterson Theatre opening Spring of 2020. Toll Free All Theatres: 1-800-567-1600  |  Stratford Tourism: 1-800-561-7926  |  Bookmark: stratford.rocks

Stratford County Courthouse

Stratford’s Perth County Court House

On May 9, 1887 the doors opened to one of Ontario’s magnificent court houses. It was determined that the original site was too small for the new building so 2 ¼ acres of land was purchased in 1885 for $3500 from John Corry Wilson Daly, one of the first settlers. The young architect-artist, George F Durand designed this great example of High Victorian architecture, with a medieval tower, multiple small paned windows, heavy doors, terra cotta Romanesque motifs and brick chimneys. Durand considered architecture a form of art which is evident in the terra cotta panel near the right entrance where his name ‘Geo.F. Durand, architect’ appears. Frowned upon by the Ontario Association of Architects for signing his name on the building, it is a reminder to visitors of his artistic style.

Stratford Swan Parade

Stratford Swan Parade

If there’s one image that says Stratford to everyone who visits, it is our swans. Regal, graceful, majestic—these are all words that describe these noble birds. Stratford’s honorary ambassadors set the pace for the city. But beware—they can be cranky, and one should keep one’s distance. These birds are, after all, royalty! The presence of this Royal Family is one of our oldest and proudest traditions. The swans have been lovingly guarded and raised here in Stratford since 1918. We don’t consider spring officially launched until their annual release, the first Sunday in April. Join the feathery herd as it waddles along to the Avon River, as people watch and cheer them on. The Stratford Police Services Pipes and Drums Band provides the musical lead. But beware—you’ll be observed, too: the swans have been penned up all winter, so you can be sure they’ll stretch their curious heads to take a gander at you!

Stratford Avon Theatre

Stratford Avon Theatre

As the Festival expanded its program, it became necessary to find new performance spaces in Stratford. Starting in 1956, the Festival rented the Avon Theatre on Downie Street. The Avon was originally opened in 1901 as a vaudeville house known as the Theatre Albert. It became the Majestic movie theatre in the 1930s andwas renamed the Avon about 1941. Located in the heart of downtown at 99 Downie Street, this one-time vaudeville theatre has been rejuvenated but still retains its old world charm.

Stratford Art in the Park

Stratford Art in the Park

The Stratford Art in the Park Association celebrates its 51th season. Art in the Park is open (weather permitting) 10–5pm every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from May (Victoria Day weekend) to the last weekend in September. Please note that Stratford hosts a Dragon Boat Race on the second or third Saturday in September. Stratford Art in the Park is not permitted to set up an exhibition on that day. We hope you can visit us on the Sunday following. Richard Beaty, one of the organization’s executive members says “We’re still out and about and we love to show our stuff and talk about it. Just people from all over,” said Beaty, who is in his fourth season with Art in the Park. “We have people who come every year from London and Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph area. They’re always here and chatting. It’s good.” They currently have just fewer than 60 members, which is around the ideal number, he said. “Some of them have done quite well. We’re really happy for them,” said Beaty, a Stratford painter who mainly uses oils, acrylics and watercolour. “It’s very nice.” All artists are juried and must follow certain guidelines to maintain memberships.

Stratford Festival Shakespearean Theatre

Stratford Festival Shakespearean Theatre

Named for Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford has grown to become Canada’s premier arts town and is always filled with theatre, music and visual arts. The preserved 19th-century architecture and acres of parks and gardens (along its own Avon River, no less) are certain to charm. Stratford has also gained a reputation for culinary creativity, showcased at some of the finest restaurants in the country. North America’s finest repertory company. It’s hard to believe that the very first performance featured Sir Alec Guinness performing in a tent on the banks of the Avon River. What followed has been over 60 years of remarkable productions and performances, with the Festival’s stages graced by an international Who’s Who of the theatre world. The Stratford Festival is, quite simply, Canada’s premier theatre arts festival. Stretching from late April until early November, the Festival invites you to immerse yourself in all things theatrical. With four stages, each season offers visitors up to eight productions a day, appealing to all styles and tastes.

Stratford Island Bridge

Stratford Island Bridge

The Stratford Island Bridge dubbed simply “the island” by most Stratford residents is actually called The Tom Patterson Island. Tom Patterson had a major role in Stratford. Patterson became a member of the ORDER OF CANADA in 1967 and was promoted to officer in 1977. He held honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario, and was a recipient of the Canadian Centennial Medal, the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Medal and the Order of Ontario. In 1978 the City of Stratford dedicated Tom Patterson Island in the Avon River, and in 1991 the Stratford Festival renamed its Third Stage as the Tom Patterson Theatre.

Stratford Boat House & Patio Restaurant

Stratford Boat House & Restaurant

The historic Stratford boat house has been around for a very long time and has morphed many times through the decades. Today you can rent canoes or paddleboats or go for a cruise on the Juliette that will take you from the boat house along the river drive to the Festival Theatre. The boat house now sports a very nice patio restaurant where one can get sandwiches, burgers, drinks and ice cream and sit by and enjoy the river and view. By the way, it sounds simple…but it is really oh so good. The Boat House does an over the top simple menu with little delicacies added and at an unbelievably attractive price. Quite surprising. Want a quick nibble, visit the Boat House, super friendly, super great experience!

Stratford Studio Theatre

Stratford Studio Theatre

The Studio Theatre is home to some of the most interesting, thought-provoking, and diverse productions. It is evident even from the promotional photos that the Studio Theatre offers something different. Located in downtown Stratford at 34 George Street East, the Studio Theatre opened during the 50th season celebrations in 2002. The theatre has special access seating available on the main floor just a feet away from the stage. The location also offers limited metered parking and Special Access spaces are located on George and Downie Streets at 40 cents per hour for a maximum of four hours. For Motor Coaches/Buses, please do not load/unload or park in front of the theatre. Loading zones are available on the north side of George Street.

Stratford City Hall

Stratford City Hall

Stratford City Hall is the city hall of Stratford, Ontario, and a National Historic Site of Canada. It sits amidst the city’s business district, on a triangular town square. The original town hall was built in 1856 and incorporated space for market stalls and other stores, in addition to providing space for a concert hall, police station, fire department, and council chambers. The building was destroyed by fire in 1897. A competition was held for the design of a new city hall, with two winners announced, one incorporating the remains of the previous structure, one for a wholly new building. The latter was selected, and was completed in 1900. The building was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1976.

Stratford Festival | Four Theatres

Stratford Festival | Four Theatres

A behind-the-scenes Festival Theatre tour lets you wander through the theatre’s “underworld,” an affectionate term for the warren of tunnels and workshops beneath the 1,800-seat auditorium. Here you can peer into the workrooms, wardrobes, wig-makers’ studios and more to see these artistic experts, problem-solvers and magic-makers at work. You will find thousands of costumes and hundreds of props, ranging from a chariot inspired by a peacock’s tail, a series of glowing fantasy planets and a replica of a 1960s futuristic ray gun. A favourite stop on the tour is “the cage,” although it might more aptly be called a cave of wonders. Inside you will find rolls of fabrics in every shade and pattern imaginable, imported from all over the world, along with shelves stacked with trim, lace and braid, all grouped by colour.

Stratford’s New Tom Patterson Theatre

Stratford’s New Tom Patterson Theatre

The “New” Tom Patterson Theatre Centre, located at 111 Lakeside Drive in Stratford, replacing the old Tom Patterson Theatre, will be officially opened 2020. The theatre was designed by Siamak Hariri, of Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini, an architect who is passionate about the transformative potential of architecture. Winner of more than 50 architectural awards, including the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, Mr. Hariri is the architect behind the breathtaking Baha’i Temple of South America, and, closer to home, the Richard Ivey Building at Western University in London, as well as the Schulich School of Business at York University. His design will give Stratford a treasured landmark for generations to come. Tom Patterson is a local hero who, by daring to dream, changed the face of his country and the economy of his hometown. In 1952, with a $125 grant from City Council, Tom set out to establish a six-week Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. Now, 66 years later, the Stratford Festival operates year round and has welcomed 28 million theatre goers, generating billions of dollars’ worth of economic activity for the city.

Stratford Picnics

Enjoy Stratford Picnics

Having a picnic along both shores of the Avon River or in the parks etc is one of the biggest draws for people coming to Stratford. Its so nice to pack a picnic and come and enjoy a lunch by the river as you wait for the theatre to begin. If you did not have a chance to pack a lunch, many little shops provide picnic lunches for you. There can be nothing more peacefull than sitting at a picnic table or on a blanket at some very unique spot in Stratford and there are countless numbers of fantastic spots…like the little island in the middle of the river, or adjacent to Art in the Park. If you are looking for a family low cost outing that is peaceful, quiet and beautiful swans everywhere, put Stratford on your list of must go places. Alternatively, Stratford has an abundance of first class restaurants from top of the line culinary delights to exquisite sandwich shops everywhere you look.