Confederation Hotel

call  (613) 549-6300 ask for the Artfest Kingston special rate.


Ramada Inn

Kingston (613) 546-3661 ask for the Artfest Kingston special rate


Queens University Residency Rooms

contact Allison at Artfest Kingston Group Rate.


Holiday Inn Kingston Waterfront

call (613) 549-8400 and ask for the Artfest Kingston Group Rate

Kingston City Park, located at the corner of King St E & West St. & Barrie St & Bagot St.

For Parking, enter into the park from Barrie Street. It is one way parking during the festival.

By Steve Veale

KINGSTON --- Welcome to one of the most historic – and picturesque - regions of Ontario.

This is one of the province’s prettiest, most perfect little towns, developed around the various waterways – Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and the Cataraqui River that meet and meld at the city’s harbourfront. They then all link to the spectacular Rideau Canal, which connects inland all the way to Ottawa, the Capital City of Canada.

This is a livable, enjoyable town. A friendly environment for family and friends, centered around a community known for arts and crafts, wining and dining, boating and yachting, parks and recreation, cafes and diners, farmers markets and art trails, local theatre, musical entertainment and of course, an historical site for the birth and development of a nation.

The area was first claimed by the “New World” French in 1673 when they built Fort Frontenac which was constructed upon a traditional Mississauga First Nations site known as Katarokwi. The British eventually captured and destroyed the original settlement, building one in their own likeness that became the base for the British Naval fleet during the War of 1812.

Kingston was briefly the capital of the “United Canadas” from 1841-1844 and the first meeting of ‘Parliament’ of the time was held here in 1841. The honour was then bestowed upon Montreal, then Toronto with the final capital site claimed by Ottawa in 1857.

However, the city can claim the honour of being the birthplace of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, which makes this a spectacular gathering place to celebrate the country’s official birthday every year on July 1st.

The City was also rich in natural limestone that was used to build many of the provinces most solid and striking buildings. When visiting Toronto’s Distillery District for the three summer Artfest Toronto shows, look around at all the buildings on this urban 13-acre district that were constructed with stone from the “Limestone City”.

So while the city has a fascinating past, it is a place of present activities and many future possibilities. First stop, the tourism ambassadors at the Old Railway station, right on the harbour and across the City Hall, are always ready and able to start you on your tour.

Likely the best place to start is to pay tribute to the area’s history in the limestone fortifications of Old Fort Henry. The red tunics of the 18th century soldiers are on full display during military maneuvers during the day. (Note: Plan to visit during the daily sunset ceremony of fife and drum.) Look for the imposing Martello Towers, which along with the Fort and Rideau Canal, are part of Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Another “best choice” for an evening is to take a scenic – and romantic for visiting couples - dinner cruise through the Thousand Islands on one of the many cruise ships waiting for you at the harbour. During the day, take the ferry to Wolfe Island and cycle around its many bike routes. Make sure you pick up a picnic lunch from your hotel or one of Kingston’s many eateries.

Kingston’s roots may also be seen at the downtown Farmers’ Market (every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) with its fresh produce and fruit as well as the adjoining “antique/junkue” sales. This is the oldest, continuously running farmers’ market in the entire province.

Although the city is very pedes-friendly, take a ride on the bright red City Trolley for a brief visit to the major attractions, sights and sites. This will give you an overview and you’ll know where you want to return for a more thorough exploration on your own.

Like all university towns, historical Kingston is firmly planted in the 21st Century with youth-oriented bars, pubs, cafes and events designed for its annual influx of thousands of students. And, wherever there are students, music is sure to follow. The students of Queens University throng to the year-round jams including the Limestone City Blues Festival, Kingston Jazz Festival, Skeleton Park Festival and the Canadian Guitar Festival.

In fact, artists, musicians, painters, sculptors, actors, writers have all gravitated to this part of Eastern Ontario with a creative colony that spans from Prince Edward County along the shores of the St. Lawrence, through Kingston, Gananoque, throughout the 1,000 Islands and up to Ottawa. The entire stretch is replete with tiny art galleries, music venues, little theatres, culinary schools and of course the artisans who create some wonderful Ontario wines.

And kids! Kingston is a family-friendly town, not only for those living there but for the thousands of families who visit every year – boating and scuba diving in the summer, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. (Note: Lovers of winter. There are some delightful winter weekend getaway cottages and resorts in the area and along the river – both family resorts and couples getaways).

Kids are a focal point for the July 1st - 4th Artfest Kingston in City Park. The year-round water/splash pool is enhanced by the Children's’ Art Tent and the absolutely fabulous ‘painting wall’ designed for that old cliché – ‘Children of All Ages’.

Year-round events are designed to take advantage of Ontario as a four-season tourist destination including a ‘Feb Fest’ four-day celebration of all things winter highlighted by figure skating and local hockey tournaments and the Winter Antique Show. Maple Madness celebrates the coming of spring; outdoor Farmers Markets spring up in Springer Historic Market and Art After Dark shows guests the city’s art galleries under cover of darkness.

Summer brings the City Music in the Park, free Movies in the Square, Cooking Demonstrations, Taste of Kingston, the Wolfe Island Music Festival plus oh-so many other events with buskers, musicians, concerts and theatre.

But above all, try and be in Kingston during Canada’s Birthday on July 1st. This is a special weekend for the nation but an extra special celebration for one of the country’s most historic, vibrant, artistic and beautiful cities. Plus it is Sir J.A. Macdonald's 200th bithday this year eh?