With Canada’s 150th birthday and summer quickly approaching, here is a round-up of the top 10 free things to do in Hamilton this summer for the big 1-5-0.
Light up the Knight: An Evening Event at Dundurn Castle
Commemorate Dundurn Castle’s 50th anniversary as a historic museum with a night market. Get your tarot cards read in the tarot tent and peruse a fine selection of local vendors like collage artists Group of 7 Billion, Hamilton print makers the Jelly Brothers, Johanna Martin (of @blousesandhouses), Foundry Ice Cream, and vintage house wares from Hoot Furnishings plus a slew of other amazing vendors. Pack a blanket and take in the summer evening with live entertainment and dancing by the Hammer Hoppers, listen to the sweet sounds of musician Aron D’Alesio (of Young Rival) at 8 p.m. and experience a light and sound show illuminating Dundurn Castle’s walls at 9:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.
7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Soaring Spirit Aboriginal Day Festival
Recognize and celebrate the history of the Aboriginal People and their legacy here on this land for the last several thousand years. This weekend at Gage Park, celebrate Aboriginal culture, history, and heritage through Native art, food fair, crafts, educational speakers, and talks. Grand entry Pow Wow dancing and drumming in traditional regalia with demonstration dances will start Saturday at noon (Sunday at 11 a.m.) followed by live music in the evening on Saturday.
June 16th – June 18th
Tall Ships make their return to Hamilton Harbour! This was one of the coolest sights to see (back in 2013 to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812), when these breathtaking ships sailed right into Hamilton harbour. They’re back again for Canada’s 150th. Take in the nautical sights at the Tall-ships Parade of Sail, when 11 ships will show off their seaworthy sails as they glide across the bay before docking at Pier 8. Free deck tours will be available July 1st from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Don’t forget to look up and keep your eyes on the sky for the Avro Lancaster (from the Canadian War Plane and Heritage Museum) that will be flying through the skies by the Waterfront from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
2 – 4 p.m. Parade of Sail
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free deck tours
June 30th – July 1st
47 Discovery Drive, Hamilton
It’s Your Festival
A free three-day festival at Gage Park with music and entertainment all day until night. Enjoy the midway rides, kid’s entertainment, food trucks and vendors. The Sadies play the bandshell Saturday July 1st at 9 p.m!
June 30th – July 2nd
Daily 12 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Canada Day Fireworks at Bayfront Park
An annual favourite that has grown wonderfully over the past several years. Come early and enjoy the Family Zone at Pier 4, which includes face painting, balloonist, and live kid-friendly entertainment. In the evening, pack a picnic and a blanket or enjoy food trucks like the Salted Pig, and the Dirty South plus many more. At Bayfront Park there’ll be live musical performances starting at 4pm featuring class acts like Jully Black, Sarah Slean and Hamilton’s own Steve Strongman. At dusk sit back with the crowds to enjoy a breathtaking fireworks display with a show stopping finale, all accompanied live by the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, conducted by internationally renown Maestro Boris Brott.
3 p.m. – 11 p.m.
200 Harbour Front Drive
A Place to Belong
Brought to you by Hamilton Community Foundation, this one-day event will provide free access to over 40 different recreational, cultural, historical and conservation sites and venues across the city! From Stoney Creek in the east, Dundas in the west, downtown, to the mountain you can check out all that Hamilton has to offer from pools, to parks, museums, waterfalls, and RBG’s gardens – all for free!
The Quilt of Belonging
“Quilt of Belonging is a 120 foot (36 metres) long collaborative textile art project. Its 263 blocks portray the rich cultural legacies of all the First Peoples in Canada and every nation of the world at the dawn of the new Millennium.”
The quilt is an amazing masterpiece that is as rich as its literal fabric as it is in its cultural depth, history and significance. Materials of the quilt range from “sealskin to African mud-cloth, from embroidered silk to gossamer wings of butterflies”. A rare opportunity to see and experience, as Hamilton is one of only three stops on its Ontario tour.
Dundurn Castle Historic Garden Tours
Experience Dundurn castle’s outdoor Kitchen Garden with a tour lead by a staff dressed in period clothing. Partake in informative and historic stories about the MacNab family garden and its uses 150 years ago.
July 8th – July 9th
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
610 York Boulevard
Telling Tales Tuesdays (Peace by Piece: Stitching Together Canadian Stories)
This summer spend your Tuesday mornings with the kids at The Cotton Factory to experience Canadian stories. Telling Tales Festival (in conjunction with The Quilt of Belonging) will bring in one Canadian children’s author, illustrator and storyteller for six weeks throughout July and August. Every Tuesday morning starting July 11th bring the kids to participate in interactive literacy and creative art activities with a special guest. Award-winning story teller Itah Sadu, Paul Covello (author of Canada ABC), and Chad Solomon (author and puppeteer) are just a few of the presenters that will be there to entertain and perform throughout the summer.
Strange Day at the Bay
By the fine folks that have been putting on the annual Strangewaves Music Festival (July 4th in Paris, Ontario), they bring to you Strange Day at the Bay; a day-long celebration of “the rich and eccentric musical talent of the Hamilton region and beyond.” There’ll be DJs, never before seen musical collaborations, live acts, and all round creative awesomeness.
2 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Parks Canada Free Pass
An honourable mention and salute goes out to Parks Canada for their free Discovery Pass in celebration of Canada’s 150th. For the duration of 2017 this pass provides free access to National Parks, National Marine and Conservation Areas, and National Historic Sites. Might I suggest getting one, and visiting the Haida warship in Hamilton, which is a National Historic site, or taking a trek out to Point Pelee National Park – the southern most region of the Canadian mainland and resting grounds for thousands of migratory birds, as well as, butterflies.