Photo Credit: National Arts Centre PowWow

Festival Information

The Ontario Culture Days Festival is an annual celebration of arts, culture and heritage taking place each fall across the province. Each year, we work with organizers of all disciplines to produce this province-wide festival. Organisers host programs throughout Ontario and invite the public to participate for free. 

The next Ontario Culture Days Festival will take place between September 23rd to October 16th, 2022.

Are you interested in acting as an Ontario Culture Days organiser and leading your own festival program? Read below to find out more. 

Festival Facts

  • The first Ontario Culture Days festival was in 2010
  • For the first 10 years, the festival was 1 weekend long. In 2020, this was extended to a multi-week celebration
  • This past year there were 1,200 events in 99 municipalities across the province
  • In 2021, we saw events all across Ontario both online and in-person. The most northern community was Red Lake and the most southern was Kingsville. 
  • In 2021, 1 in 10 Ontarians, and over 30% travelled to attend an event

When is the festival and how many events do I have to host?

In 2022, the festival will start on September 23 and end on October 16th.

At a minimum, organisers only have to host one event to be considered part of the Ontario Culture Days celebration. You do not need to program throughout the duration of the festival.


Who can participate in the festival?

We encourage everybody in the province to participate in our Ontario Culture Days festivities. In the past, our event organizers have included grassroots organizations, major arts organizations, independent artists and collectives, BIAs, libraries, municipalities, and more!


Criteria for including your event in the Ontario Culture Days Festival

You must:

  • Host an arts and culture program in Ontario within the festival dates
  • Support low barriers to access through free or pay-what-you-may admission to festival programming
  • Programs should have a participatory element, inviting the public into the creative process
  • Event must be registered through our online portal (registration is usually launched in mid-spring)


What sort of programming is included in the Festival?

The festival presents a unique opportunity for independent organizers to come together to showcase local talent, foster community collaboration, and bring the public into the creative process.

  • Format: In-person, online (live or pre-recorded), and self-guided
  • Disciplines: The festival is multidisciplinary and includes: visual arts, dance, theatre, music, history and heritage, architecture and design, culinary arts, craft, and storytelling.
  • Inspiration and resources:

How has the festival changed as a result of COVID-19?

All festival programs must follow provincial safety protocols at the time of the event, in addition to the safety restrictions of the public health region in which they are located. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions in the province, please follow Ontario’s Provincial Health Guidelines, as well as the local guidelines for your region.

Adaptability is key. The past two years have shown us how vital arts and culture is at bringing people together. Staying connected while ensuring the health and safety of our community members is our top priority. We recommend coordinating programs that plan for the unpredictable nature of this current health crisis. This can include a focus on outdoor programming, self-guided content with no timed entry, digital events, or programs with a flexible capacity. For more examples of creative programming, see our 2021 Spotlight award winners.


How can my event be featured in your promotions?

Register your programs, share your images with us, and relevant social media handles.

We want to celebrate the events you put on during this year’s festival. If you have any photos or videos you would like to share, please send them to us using WeTransfer to:


Do we need to pay artists fees?

We expect that all independent organizers will be appropriately compensating the artists and creators that they hire. Artist fees support fair participation in the sector by all creators, and allows artists to continue doing what they do best – making art.

For more resources and guidelines relating to industry standards on artist fees, including when to pay artist fees, how much should you pay, and how should you calculate an artist’s time, we recommend reviewing the following sources:

To help cover the cost of artist fees, organizers can opt to make their events Pay-What-You-May.


What are Regional Hubs?

New to 2022, Ontario Culture Days is launching a new Regional Hub Series, featuring up to 10 Regional Hubs across the province. Regional Hubs will be the face of the festival, helping us to tell the story of communities across Ontario. They will anchor our communications, marketing and artistic programming, and will serve to drive local and regional tourism attendance to festival events.

To be a Regional Hub leader, organisers must have been a part of past Ontario Culture Days programming, and be planning to host or support programming in the upcoming year. To see the 2022 Regional Hub call, click here.


What is Pay-What-You-May?

In 2019, we updated our free admission policy to include a “Pay-What–You-May” (PWYM) option for entry to Ontario Culture Days events. While all registered events are still mandated to have free entry, organizers can now publicly list that they accept optional PWYM donations for admission, and this is included in your event listing.

With the pivot to online, self-guided, or physically-distanced programming, it can be a challenge to receive donations. Thankfully, there are ways to support payments online. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • weshowup allows for PWYM for live-streamed events on a number of platforms. Participants are prompted after the event to donate to you/your organization
  • Facebook Donations is an event-based short term fundraising option. 100% of the funds raised goes towards the non-profit.
  • Kickstarter allows you to create tiered donation packages. BUT they use an all-or-nothing funding model. If your project doesn’t reach its goal, then funds don’t get collected, and no money changes hands. If the goal is met, Kickstarter charges 5% of the total funds raised. View their fees here.
  • Sometimes simple can be best! Some artists ask people to send donations directly to their bank account via e-transfer. You just have to tell them an email address for the payment.

Header image: Fumio Photo