Stratford is a small city of 30,000, about an hour and a half west of Toronto. It’s known for its world-class theatre and its culinary excellence makes it a destination for food lovers from around the world.
Stratford, only a few hours from the Niagara wine region, is surrounded by some of Canada’s most productive and lovely farmland. Crowned in 1997 by Nations in Bloom as “the prettiest city in the world,” Stratford straddles the Avon River and is named for Stratford-upon-Avon, England, birthplace of William Shakespeare. In winter the city is just as pretty, with snow glittering from church spires and treetops.
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival, established in 1953, transformed this former railway town into a magnet for artists, writers, academics, and journalists.
A cultural haven, Stratford was an obvious place to establish the Stratford Chefs School, which has in turn attracted some of the country’s finest chefs and food service specialists.
It’s no surprise that a large number of visitors make an annual pilgrimage to Stratford for theatre and restaurants that rival the best on the continent.
One of the city’s greatest charms is its leisurely pace. Stratford is a city in name only — in truth it’s a rarity: a rural town with a vibrant cultural core. Its historic downtown, organized around a Victorian City Hall, offers a surprising array of unique boutiques, professional offices, book stores, a public library, banks, galleries, bars, hair salons and, of course, food venues.
- For art aficionados, the city offers a number of commercial galleries and studios. Gallery Stratford and Gallery 96 both exhibit works year round by visiting and local artists. During the theatre season an outdoor art exhibit is a regular feature in a park adjacent to the river
- Stratford’s historic neighborhoods feature many well-preserved Victorian houses, some of which become winter residences for Stratford Chefs School students
- The area surrounding Stratford is home to farmers’ markets and artisan food producers, many of whom are direct suppliers to the School
- Stratford bars and pubs are popular spots for winding down after a long day or for rubbing shoulders with the theatre community after a performance
- After theatre season ends, many performers give their time and talents to fun charity events on winter evenings
- For music fans, a variety of venues around town feature jazz, folk, blues or chamber music, with local or visiting musicians and singers
- Regular movies at the Stratford Cinema are complemented by a monthly film series hosted by Gallery Stratford, which also offers courses in art and photography as well as a free lecture series
- One of the highlights of winter in Stratford is the Chefs School Dinners and Lunches
SPORTS & OUTDOOR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
- Cross-country skiing
- Golf, curling and hockey at Stratford’s Country Club and arena
- Pilates, yoga, step and weight-training at variety of other downtown fitness centres