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Arts & Culture

Peterborough is rich in culture. The community takes great pride in its heritage and boasts a thriving art scene that is reflective of its diverse cultural history.

abstract painting capturing several elements of Peterborough with a more realistic Market Hall clock tower in the centre

Our residents value the downtown, our Victorian/Edwardian era residential architecture, our natural environment, and the traditions and culture of the First Nations.

We have hundreds of cultural workers and over 350 cultural and creative businesses! There is not a single individual in our community who is not touched by our local arts, culture and heritage resources in some way - from public works to public spaces.

Community activities are listed on the kawarthaNOW website.  For information on free recreational and cultural events and activities in Peterborough access Peterborough.ca.

If you have gone through the immigration process and are new to Peterborough, you are eligible to receive the Peterborough Welcome Pass. This pass provides free or discounted admission to a variety of cultural, arts and recreational organizations and programs. For more information or to get your pass, please contact the New Canadians Centre.


view of main stage at Showplace Performance Centre from higher-level seats

Peterborough has a vibrant entertainment scene. Live performances of theatre, music, and dance occur regularly at Showplace Performance Centre and Market Hall Performing Arts Centre, as well as in many local bars, clubs, cafes, churches, and other locations.

4th Line Theatre in nearby Millbrook stages outdoor plays in the summer based on local history. Other theatre companies in Peterborough include Mysterious EntityNew Stages Theatre Company, and the Peterborough Theatre Guild.

The Peterborough Symphony Orchestra is led by award-winning conductor Michael Newnham. They are recognized as one of the best community orchestras in Canada. The highly regarded Peterborough Singers, under the direction of Sydney Birrell, perform a diverse musical repertoire from gospel to sacred to pop to oratorio. The Singers regularly introduces rising young soloists to the community and commissions works from Canadian composers.

Art Gallery of Peterborough

Local art galleries include the Art Gallery of PeterboroughArtspaceGallery on the Lake and the Whetung Ojibwa Centre. Each August many Canadian artists gather for the Buckhorn Fine Art Festival. On the last weekend of September local artists open up their studios for tours as part of the Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour.

Peterborough has many artistic opportunities for children. The Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School (TASSS) offers the Integrated Arts Program. This is an arts enrichment program for high school students. Enrollment is free. Children in the Peterborough area can enhance their music skills by joining the Kawartha Youth Orchestra or the Peterborough Children's Chorus.

The Art School of Peterborough offers classes for people of all ages. Courses range from painting to pottery to photography and much more.

Galaxy Cinemas hosts Peterborough’s main movie theatre.


Peterborough Canoe Museum employee building a birchbark canoe

Peterborough has a rich history. It is the birthplace of the modern canoe, boasts more than 100 designated heritage buildings, and is home to a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Canadian Canoe Museum has a collection of more than 600 canoes and kayaks. This is the world’s largest collection of its kind!

people playing ice hockey on the Trent Canal with the Peterborough Liftlock in the background

The Peterborough Lift Lock is the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world. It is also one of the oldest. The lift lock is part of the Trent-Severn Waterway and is recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada. Many people enjoy skating in front of the lift lock in the winter.

Peterborough Museum & Archives preserves and celebrates Peterborough’s history by archiving thousands of documents and photographs, offering educational programs for people of all ages, supporting historical research, and showing both ongoing and special exhibitions.

Hutchison House Museum

Hutchinson House and Lang Pioneer Village offer a glimpse of life in the Peterborough area in the 19th century.

Doors Open Peterborough provides a great way to learn about Peterborough’s history. Each year Doors Open offers free tours of heritage buildings that are either not normally open to the public or would normally charge a fee for admittance.

Festivals and Events

woman wearing brightly-coloured dress and hat dancing on stage at Del Crary Park as part of Canada Day celebration

Peterborough has many events each year. Some of the larger events include the Peterborough Musicfest‎, the Dragon Boat Festival, and the Peterborough Folk Festival.

Every July, Peterborough puts on a Canada Day parade. The parade is followed by the Canadian Multicultural Festival. The celebration showcases cultural performances, storytelling, film, and food.

Reframe Peterborough International Film Festival screens films from all over the world that explore cultural, social justice, and environmental issues.

several members of the Curve Lake First Nation in traditional clothing for annual Pow-wow

Curve Lake First Nation hosts an annual event where you can learn more about First Nations dance, food and culture. The Peterborough Petroglyphs and Centre for Indigenous Theatre also highlight Aboriginal communities in the region.

Peterborough also celebrates diversity at the annual One World Dinner, which includes a dessert auction, live music and cultural performances. The event raises money for the New Canadians CentreKawartha World Issues CentreJamaican Self-Helpand the Trent International Student Association.

Female singer with male drummer, guitarist, and bassist performing at the Havelock Jamboree, a huge country music festival

The Havelock County Jamboree is a 4-day outdoor festival with Live Country Music Performances. The Norwood Fall Fair is a fun-filled Thanksgiving tradition in the town of Norwood, a short drive east of Peterborough.

For more information on local attractions and events see Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism.

Canadian Multicultural Festival

June 27 is Canadian Multiculturalism Day. It is a day to celebrate the contributions of the diverse cultures that make up our home on Turtle Island, Canada. The day was first commemorated in 2003. The New Canadians Centre organizes the Canadian Multiculturalism Festival in Nogojiwanong-Peterborough, a week of programming that tells a story of our multicultural Peterborough through performance, storytelling, film, and food.

Canada Day Parade

The Canada Day Parade starts in front of City Hall at George St. N. and travels south down George Street to Morrow Park. You can enjoy pre-parade activities.

It’s a day to celebrate our country – its diversity, its culture, and its achievements. On Canada Day, we also reflect on our country’s relationships with Indigenous nations and Indigenous peoples.

A Special Week in Peterborough

Since its inception, the New Canadians Centre and the Multicultural Association of Peterborough have relied on the hard work and dedication of volunteers, and the collaboration with the City of Peterborough to plan and organize this event which provides an affordable, fun-filled week for the whole family.  Try It activities, including music, dance, cooking, sports, and crafts from across the world facilitated by experts in the community and newcomers who share a love of their cultural traditions.  Food Crawl & Sampling Day, to taste the flavours of the world in Downtown Peterborough.  Discussion Panel about multicultural subjects and Film Screening.

Community Learning

multicultural adults and children smiling and waving Canada flags as part of Canada Day celebrations
Each year an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people participate in Peterborough’s celebration of the Canadian Multicultural Festival. The event brings together many members of the Peterborough community and aims to leave volunteers and participants with an increased sense of civic pride and appreciation for multiculturalism. It is a wonderful opportunity for the community to gain an increased awareness of the contributions being made by new Canadians to Peterborough and the size and diversity of the local newcomer community.

You have many opportunities to participate in the event

2 smiling children with faces painted white with large red maple leaves for Canada Day

Here you can find more information on volunteering by joining the Canada Day Parade Committee. The committee meets monthly throughout most of the year to organize parade entries, community events and volunteer opportunities.

Contact the New Canadians Centre if you are interested in participating in the Canadian Multicultural Week.