When is the Ontario Culture Days festival?

The Ontario Culture Days festival starts on the last Friday of each September. This year, the Ontario Culture Days festival will take place from September 24th, 2021 to October 24th, 2021.


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!


How do I participate as an event organizer?

We encourage all organizers to register their event. See registration details below. 

To participate, all you need to do is host an arts and culture program during the festival dates.

The Ontario Culture Days festival is all about removing barriers to participation and enabling the public to explore new arts and culture activities in their communities. To be eligible for the Ontario Culture Days Festival, all events must: a) promote arts and culture in your Ontario community, b) be participatory, and c) admission entry must be free or Pay-What-You-May.

We’ve expanded our Culture Days events to include online programming, in addition to in-person programming.This means that you can now host a digital recording, a live-stream, a self-guided activity, or an in-person event. 

If you host regular webinars, online performances, digital workshops, or arts programming, then you are already on the right track. 

For more programming resources visit the National Culture Days website here.


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 your own municipality. We will be asking that all organizers of in-person programming confirm that they are following the necessary precautions ahead of the event.


Where do I find out about COVID-19 restrictions in my area? 

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.


What are some examples of COVID-safe programs?

In 2020, our festival organizers adapted to the year’s extraordinary circumstances with creativity and ingenuity, staying connected to their audiences through digital programs, self-guided activities, and socially-distanced events. For some exceptional examples of Covid-safe programming, check out our 2020 Spotlight Award winners here.


When and where do I register my event?

Our registration portal opens in May. Register your event here.

There will be three registration deadlines:

August 6th, 2021: Provincial deadline to be considered for bonus benefits and promotional opportunities

September 3, 2021: Registration Deadline for In Person (Onsite) Events

September 10, 2021: Registration Deadline for Digital Events


Do we need to pay artists fees?

We believe in the importance of fair payment for artists for their participation in all arts and culture programming, including the Ontario Culture Days festival. 

For more resources and guidelines relating to 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 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.

May 26 Organizer Check-in

Calling all organizers: ask questions, hear what we have planned, and the ways that you can participate in the Ontario Culture Days 2021 Festival at the May 26 check-in.

how to get featured (in a culture guide)

  • What are the ON Culture Guides?

The ON Culture Guides are a series of digital travel guides highlighting arts and culture gems across Ontario. The Culture Guides feature more than just travel opportunities, they also highlight stories from arts writers and tourism experts across the province, Things to Do, and opportunities to collaborate with us to produce artistic programming.


  • I am interested in submitting a story or event for your Stories and more and Things to Do?

We would love to share your year round Ontario arts and culture stories and events with our audiences. If you have an outstanding story about an Ontario community initiative or spectacular event coming up please contact kevin.valbonesi@culturedays.ca.


  • What geographic regions do individual Culture Guides cover?

Through our ON Culture Guides we want to give you a closer look at Ontario’s rich arts and culture landscape. Our Guides show you where to go and what to see, painting you a picture of the colourful communities that have been shaped by history. Our expanding roster of guides cover large regions to small neighbourhoods, towns and cities.


  • How are you addressing COVID and its effects on travel?

At this time, we have shifted the focus of the website to activities and stories relevant to the content of the guides. We are maintaining the guides on the website, but have inserted text encouraging readers to stay home and above all else to follow the recommendations of health authorities. We want this website to serve as a resource for our readers, and to keep the featured destinations in mind for when tourism may resume. The guides will help to reconnect our readers with these destinations, and encourage local tourism.


  • I would love to help produce a guide. How do I get in contact?

 We would love to work with you to create a guide for your community. For more information please contact kevin.valbonesi@culturedays.ca.