Stratford is a town in Southwestern Ontario that is internationally known for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, acclaimed for its presentation of Shakespearean, classical and musical theatre. In 2021, it was home to 33,000 people.
Before European settlement, many Indigenous groups called this land home: the Anishinaabe, Attiwonderonk (Neutral) and Haudenosaunee peoples.
Stratford is the seat of Perth County, which was settled by English, Irish, Scottish and German immigrants, in almost equal numbers, starting in the 1820s but primarily in the 1830s and 1840s. Most became farmers. Today, the area around Stratford is known for mixed farming, dairying and hog production.
Stratford is known as the hometown of musicians Loreena McKennitt and Justin Bieber.
- Stratford Tourism Office, 47 Downie Street (across from City Hall), toll-free: . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-1PM 2-5PM. Audio tours available on the website.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
From Toronto: follow Highway 401 west to Kitchener, then west via Highways 7/8.
From London: east via Highway 7.
- Stratford Direct Bus, ☏ . For Stratford Shakespeare Festival theatre-goers, the Festival offers direct bus service between Toronto and Stratford for performances from mid-July to late October. Online booking is available. People with special needs should book by telephone. Return $34.
- PC Connect. Service from London, Kitchener/Waterloo, and Listowel.
- See also: Rail travel in Canada
- 1 Stratford railway station, 101 Shakespeare St (One block east of Downie St).
- VIA Rail Canada, toll-free: . Operates daily between Sarnia and Toronto including stops in London, St. Marys, Stratford, Kitchener, Guelph, Georgetown, Brampton, and Mississauga.
- GO Transit, ☏ , toll-free: . GO Transit offers train service Monday to Friday between Toronto and London. A morning trip leaves London to Toronto and an afternoon trip leaves Toronto to London. Passsengers using this service west of Kitchener must have a smartphone and purchase e-tickets as the stations in Stratford, St. Marys and London do not have Presto readers, GO ticket vending machines or a ticket counter. As of October 2021, service west of Kitchener is a pilot project that might be discontinued in future.
Travellers arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Kitchener-Waterloo International Airport, or London International Airport will require another mode of transportation to get to Stratford.
- Stratford Airporter, toll-free: . Provides shuttle service between Stratford and Toronto Pearson International. 1 person $129, 2 people $169, 3 people $199, 4 $229, 5 $259.
Taxis are plentiful and service is available for a flat rate of within Stratford.
- City Taxi, ☏ .
- Taxi Dispatch Stratford Limited, ☏ .
- Radio Taxi, ☏ .
Stratford Transit operates bus routes from the transit terminal on Downie Street close to the downtown core. There are six regular routes that run for six days a week, M-Sa 8AM-10PM. There is bus service on Sundays however, there are no set routes. Instead, riders book a pickup and drop-off location by calling, using an app, or accessing the city's website.
- 1 Stratford Festival, toll-free: . Drawing more than 600,000 visitors each year (before COVID-19), the Stratford Festival is North America's largest classical repertory theatre. While always including some plays of William Shakespeare, the Festival also produces many other classical and contemporary works: the 2023 playbill features 14 plays and musicals.
The Festival runs from April to October at the following theatres:
- 2 Festival Theatre, 55 Queen Street.
- 3 Tom Patterson Theatre, 111 Lakeside Drive.
- 4 Avon Theatre, 99 Downie Street.
- 5 Studio Theatre, 34 George St. East (corner of George and Waterloo streets, behind the Avon Theatre).
In addition to the play performances, the Festival hosts a wide range of tours and events. Tours run from mid-June to late October. Check the Festival website for more details.
- Statford Festival tours, toll-free: . At the Set Changeover Experience, you'll watch the stage crew transform the stage for the evening performance. The guide will explain the process, including technical details. On the Festival Teasures Tour, you'll visit the Festival's costume warehouse stores costumes and props from past productions. It is one of the largest costume warehouses in North America. $15 per person per tour.
- Pre- and post-performance discussions, toll-free: . There are a number of different discussions including Meet the Festival (free discussions with actors and production staff), Talking Theatre (free discussions with Festival staff on selected topics), post-performance discussions (free question and answer sessions with actors after selected performances), pre-show lectures (free lectures on that night's play hosted by a noted academic).
Other attractions include:
- 6 Stratford-Perth Museum, 4275 Huron Rd, ☏ . Daily 10AM-4PM. A community museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of Stratford and Perth County. Adult $10, senior or student $9, child 12 and under $5, child 5 and under free, family $20 (two adults and two children).
- 7 Art In The Park, Lakeside Drive between North and Front Streets, ☏ . Late May to late Sep: W Sa Su 10AM-5PM (weather permitting). An outdoor gallery representing the works of regional artists.
- 8 Gallery Stratford, 54 Romeo Street, ☏ . Tu-Su noon-5PM. Exhibits of contemporary and historical art.
- 9 Shakespearean Gardens (at the Huron Street Bridge, next to the court house). This garden is modelled after traditional English gardens and includes an herb garden, a rose garden, and a picturesque gazebo. It is the perfect place for a picnic.
- The park system around the Avon River: Stroll the shaded path around the lake. There are lots of benches for people-watching and picnicking. There are many swans, ducks and geese to be seen in the city. You can rent a canoe or pedal boat from the York Street Visitors Kiosk, +1-800-561-7926 or +1 519-271-5140.
- Stratford’s Bacon & Ale Trail, ☏ . This self-guided tour introduces you to Stratford's pork and brewing history. With each ticket, you get five vouchers for a bacon or ale treat from the participating businesses. Buy tickets at at Destination Stratford, 47 Downie Street; Bradshaws, 129 Ontario Street; Small-Mart, 119 Ontario Street; and Werk Shop, 111 Ontario Street. $40.
- Stratford Summer Music Festival, ☏ , toll-free: . Stratford Summer Music (July/August) is an annual multi-week concert series set in various outdoor and indoor venues around town. A mix of free and ticketed events are offered.
- Stratford is the home town of pop superstar Justin Bieber. The tourism website has an audio guide of places he used to hang out at. The schools are not open for tours, and has no places where he lived.
Startford's downtown core has an eclectic assortment of stores to browse, including bookstores, clothing boutiques, toy stores, and craft stores. Stroll along Ontario, Wellington, and Downie Streets to get an overview. The stores downtown are generally open 7 days a week during the theatre season. Most stores open at 9:30AM and close at 5:30PM, and many stay open until 8PM on Friday evenings.
The Theatre Stores, located at the Festival Theatre and the Avon Theatre, +1 519 271-0055 x2320, sell gifts, clothing, books and music related to the current year's Stratford Festival playbill.
For a pre-theatre meal, be sure to make a reservation.
- 1 Balzac's Coffee, 149 Ontario St, ☏ . Daily 7AM-6PM. Coffee, espresso drinks, pastries, pre-made sandwiches, homemade ice cream.
- 2 Madelyn's Diner, 377 Huron Street, ☏ . Su-Th 8AM-2PM, F 7AM-7PM, Sa 7AM-2PM. All-day breakfasts, lunch specials, desserts and coffees.
- 3 York Street Kitchen, 41 York Street, ☏ . M-Sa 8:30AM-2PM. Breakfast, soups, salads, made-to-order sandwiches, mains and daily lunch specials.
- 4 Bentley's Inn Bar and Restaurant, 99 Ontario Street, ☏ . Pub food in a comfortable atmosphere. Good for post-theatre fare. Snacks, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, pizza, steak, wings, shepherd's pie and daily specials. Mains $17-27.
- 5 Bijou Restaurant, 105 Erie Street, ☏ . Th-Sa 4:45-8:30PM. Modern French, with a menu that changes daily. Average $30.
- 6 Foster's Inn, 111 Downie Street, toll-free: . Daily 9AM-9PM. Two doors from the Avon Theatre. The ever-changing daily specials compliment the familiar, adventurous and even exotic menus. Great cuisine, clean crisp decor. Dinner mains from $18 burgers to $44 steaks.
- 7 Pazzo Pizzeria/Ristorante, 70 Ontario Street, ☏ . Su Tu-Th 11:30-9PM, F Sa 11:30AM-11PM. Lunch and dinner. Soups, salads, panini, pasta, fish, ribs, veal, duck, lamb. The more casual pizzeria downstairs offers appetizers, thin-crust pizza, pasta and panini. Reservations recommended. Pasta or pizza $19-25.
- 8 Revival House, 70 Brunswick Street, ☏ . Su 11:30AM-8PM, Th-Sa 11:30AM-8PM. Mains $23-37, pizza/burger $16-18
- 9 The Old Prune, 151 Albert Street, ☏ . Spring-end of September: dinner Tu-Su. Reservations required. Dinner mains $44-60, 3-course menu $80-100.
- 1 Boar's Head Pub, 161 Ontario Street, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:30AM-9PM. Comfy local pub with a good selection of well-kept beers on tap. Pub food. Live music. .
There are variety of accommodation options for visitors to Stratford, including a large number of B&Bs. This is a small sampling of what's available, the Stratford Tourism Alliance website has a more complete list. Prices quoted below are for high season, which runs from approximately mid-April to mid-November.
Motels and hotels
- 1 The Windsor Hotel, 23 Albert Street, ☏ , toll-free: . Centrally located. 35 rooms, including 9 suites and 1 three-bedroom apartment. $90-220.
- Best Western Arden Park Hotel, 552 Ontario Street, ☏ , toll-free: . Indoor pool and whirlpool. Tennis courts. Dining room and bar. A 'standard' modern hotel, with 144 rooms and suites. A pet-friendly, eco-friendly, and family-friendly hotel. $160-200.
- 2 Mercer Hall Inn (Best Western Premier), 108 Ontario Street, ☏ , toll-free: . Centrally located. 14 rooms, individually decorated with the works of local artists. Whirlpool tub and electric fireplace in some rooms. Internet. $130-150.
- 3 The Queen's Inn, 161 Ontario Street, ☏ , toll-free: . Centrally located, and within walking distance of the four Festival theatres. Restaurant and Boar's Head Pub on-site. Internet. $99-290.
Bed & breakfasts
- Stone Maiden Inn and Dufton House, 123 Church St and 12 Elizabeth Street, ☏ , toll-free: . Historic bed and breakfast with gardens. Suites with private entrances, full amenities, ensuite bath, and self-catered kitchen facilities. Walking distance to theatres, downtown. $190-270.
- The Old Rectory B&B, 218 Ontario Street, ☏ . Built in 1902, it has been renovated to retain its historic beauty and charm. Centrally located, free parking on site, full breakfast included. Steps away from theatres and downtown. Internet. Its two coach house suites are self catering with private and separate entrances. Two-night minimum stay, from $250/night with breakfast.
- The Queen and Albert B&B, 174 Queen Street, ☏ . Just up the street from the Festival Theatre and a short walk to downtown. Well-appointed suites with terraces, ensuite baths, TV, WiFi, A/C, fridges. Fine breakfasts, original artwork throughout, eclectic decor, "boutique-inn" feel. From $140.
- Others available through the Stratford Festival office .
- 1 Stratford Public Library, 19 St. Andrew Street, ☏ . Su 2-5PM, M-Th 10AM-9PM, F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM. Free computer/internet access.
- Wildwood Conservation Area, 3995 Line 9 (on highway 7 between Stratford and highway 19), ☏ . Wildwood Conservation Area is 11 km west of Stratford, and 7 km east of the Town of St. Marys. The park encompasses a campground, wetland area, a reservoir with boat launch and walking trail and more. Many events and outdoor activities are held here.
Some options for further travel include:
- Niagara-on-the-Lake - for more theatre, visit the Shaw Festival in this picturesque historic town
|Routes through Stratford|
|Sarnia ← St. Marys ←||W E||→ Kitchener → Toronto|
|Sarnia ← St. Marys ←||W E||→ Kitchener → Markham|
|Goderich ← Clinton ←||W E||→ Kitchener → Hamilton|