Arts & Culture
Peterborough is rich in culture. The community takes great pride in its heritage, and boasts a thriving arts scene that is reflective of its diverse cultural history.
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 a 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.
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.
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. Arbor Theatre tours local schools, performing for hundreds of Peterborough’s children. Other theatre companies in Peterborough include Mysterious Entity, New 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, performs 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.
Local art galleries include the Art Gallery of Peterborough, Artspace, Gallery 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 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!
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.
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
Every July, Peterborough puts on a Canada Day parade. The parade is followed by the Multicultural Canada Day celebration in Del Crary Park. The celebration showcases cultural performances and international foods from local vendors.
Reframe Peterborough International Film Festival screens films from all over the world that explore cultural, social justice, and environmental issues.
Curve Lake First Nation hosts an annual events where you can learn more about First Nations dance, food and culture. The Peterborough Petroglyphs, Centre for Indigenous Theatre, and the Ode’min Giizis (Strawberry Moon) Festival 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 Centre, Kawartha World Issues Centre, Jamaican Self-Helpand the Trent International Student Association.
The Havelock County Jamboree is a 4-day outdoor festival with Country Music Live 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.
Multicultural Canada Day Festival
So much more than just a national holiday, Canada Day in Peterborough’s is celebrated with a tradition that you do not want to miss. Each year, on July 1st, thousands of residents and tourists converge at Del Crary Park to join in Peterborough’s Multicultural Canada Day Festival.
For the full Peterborough Canada Day Experience:
Start your day on George Street and watch the Canada Day Parade in the morning.
At the end of the parade, make your way to Del Crary Park for lunch. You will find many cultural clubs, groups and vendors selling traditional dishes from around the world. Then, stay in the park for a rich programme of cultural performances and end the day at the Peterborough Musicfest with great music and a spectacular fireworks display.
A Special Day 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 day for the whole family. Community and professional performers entertain the audience with a culturally diverse stage show featuring dancing, singing, and music from various cultures. Numerous food tents offer participants the chance to taste the delicious cuisines of different countries.
In keeping with Peterborough’s commitment to protecting the environment, the New Canadians Centre supplies food vendors with reusable and/or biodegradable plates and cutlery. Volunteers distribute clean and reusable plates and cutlery and collect them after use. This way, Canada Day in Peterborough becomes an appreciation of the beauties of our people and our land.
Each year an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people participate in Peterborough’s celebration of Canada Day. 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:
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 being a performer at the multicultural events at Del Crary Park, or if you need information on being a food or craft vendor.