Northumberland County Festivals

From icicles to sandcastles - festivals come in all shapes and sizes in Northumberland County!

The coolest event in Cobourg is one of Northumberland's newest - a winter festival with ice and snow sculpting, snowshoeing, a lumberjack show and kids games near Fort Cobourg, and ice-block village at the harbour.  Check out the ice slide and ice maze too.  The young and young-at-heart enjoy the wild antics of the Cobourg Winter Festival in mid-February.  And for the very hardy, take the Polar Bear plunge into Lake Ontario.

Later in the year, trade in your woolly mittens and toques for bikinis and shorts, when Cobourg's waterfront attracts those who want to get down and dirty - in the sand, that is!  The Sandcastle Festival attracts master sculptors and novices with great prizes.  There's even a treasure hunt for the kids.

But of course, Cobourg's best known harbourfront festival is the Canada Day weekend fine arts and crafts festival, simply known as the Cobourg Waterfront Festival.  It has been an annual event for the past 17 years drawing thousands of people.

Beach-side tents and walkways in the town's two waterfront parks display thousands of pieces of fine arts and crafts.  The spectacle of the midway extending out into Lake Ontario on the east pier adds a sense of magic that is truly over the top when the fireworks extravaganza takes place.  Teens, tots, moms and pops snuggle toes into the warm sand and wrap blankets around themselves as colours blaze across the sky.

Home to the Apple Route on County Road #2, it's not surprising that there are two festivals honouring this fruit said to keep the doctor away.

In the early 1900's, Northumberland was named Ontario's Premier Apple County, and depending on the season, acres of apple blossoms and shiny red fruit still line the Apple Route today.

Colborne's Apple Blossom Tyme Festival in May has returned to its roots with an emphasis on old-fashioned family fun, including live stage entertainment, all-ages spelling bees, a soap box derby, vintage tractor/car show, arts and crafts shows and the Big Apple Pie Eating Contest.  There's even a historical display of apple industry and antique tools.

When it's apple-picking time in late September, Brighton's Applefest is the place to be.  In its 34th year, the festival includes a street fair with over 150 vendors, giant car show and the traditional Applefest Parade.

The Warkworth Maple Syrup Festival is another mouth-watering good time.  Every March, friends and family can ride a horse-drawn sleigh through the sugar bush, see how syrup is collected and boiled down, and taste hot taffy made on fresh, fluffy snow. 

Another opportunity to check out regionally-produced foods is during the Rural Ramble Farm Tour in August.  The self-guided tour takes you from beef farms and organic vegetable gardens to a sanctuary for homeless donkeys.

Port Hope's All Canadian Jazz Festival is a weekend in September showcasing jazz musicians from across Canada.  It's kicked off with a New Orleans-style jazz parade down the main street.  The sound of music entwines with the aroma from outdoor grills and steaming coffee at the riverside park.  Jamming continues into the night at some of the town's leading restaurants.

If folk music is more your thing, head out to the hills of Shelter Valley, Grafton.  The Shelter Valley Folk Festival has attracted some of the best-known entertainers, including Murray McLaughlan and Sylvia Tyson.  The weekend includes camping and a village showcasing organic foods, holistic wellness and ways to support greening of the environment.  Homegrown and well-known Canadian musician, Aengus Finnan, is among the festival founders.

If you want to get a little more physical, the county has two different festivals to test your mettle!  A 10-kilometer race along the Ganaraska River is a tradition every April.  The Float Your Fanny Down The Ganny race commemorates the 1980 flooding of downtown Port Hope.  Crazy craft river teams, along with the more traditional kayaks and canoes, race for the finish line, spurred on by cheering spectators who line the riverbanks.

Even if you can't toss a caber in Cobourg's Highland Games, there are all kinds of other things to see and do in the town's longest-running festival.  Don't miss the high spirits people share during the Highland dancing competition and listening to the massed pipes and drums.

There's another kind of competition you'll want to see: The Warkworth Western Weekend that takes place in July.  From sheep riding for the kids to serious bull and wild bronco riding by professionals, the rodeo puts a little swagger in everyone's step.

What could be more festive than Christmas carols heard on crisp wintry air and sparkling lights illuminating a blanket of snow?  Throughout Northumberland there are waterfront wonderlands of spectacular lighting displays in Campbellford, Brighton, Port Hope and Cobourg.

Tony Dekeyser

Tony Dekeyser

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 All-Pro Realty (1993) Ltd., Brokerage*
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