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  • shopping
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  • festivals
  • family-fun
  • cycling
  • Budget Travel
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Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend Salutes Spring

Stratford, ON
For Immediate Release:  Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Stratford announces the arrival of spring with a Swan Parade. One of Canada’s most unique events, the annual Swan Parade Celebration, is a weekend of family fun, April 1-2, culminating with a parade of our iconic feathered friends traveling from their winter quarters to the Avon River on Sunday. They know it’s time to get going when they hear the sounds of the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums who lead the way amid curious on-lookers. 

Throughout the weekend, Stratford’s downtown heritage streetscape is dotted with decorated topiary swans.  You’re invited to take part in the Swan Quest, a search for your favourite decorated topiary swan for a chance to win shopping gift certificates. Join a nature walk to learn more about the life of the swans.  Hop aboard free horse-drawn carriage tours and learn about Stratford’s history. Street performers entertain while our swan mascot poses for photos. 

Sunday’s Swan Parade Celebration runs from 12 noon – 3:00 pm along Lakeside Drive (between Waterloo St. and Morenz Drive) with the Swan Parade, marking the return of the swans to the Avon River at 2:00 pm. Stratford’s history with swans dates back to 1918 when the first gift of swans was received. The herd now includes 20 white mute swans that will participate in the parade this year. This spring ritual has become a Stratford tradition for many who bring their families each year. Everyone is welcome to attend this free family celebration.

“Thousands of people look forward to attending this quirky fun family event,” comments Cathy Rehberg, Marketing Manager Stratford Tourism Alliance. “It is a collaboration among the Civic Beautification volunteers, city staff and tourism partners and the weather doesn’t seem to matter. This reflects how much the community loves the swans!”

Here is an outline of activities taking place throughout the weekend:
Saturday, April 1
Stratford Tourism and the Stratford City Centre BIA presents the Stratford Swan Quest with twelve distinctive topiary swans decorated and perched in the downtown. For a chance to win a $100 City Centre shopping spree, shoppers are invited to view the swans and vote for their favourite to receive the People’s Choice Award.  Ballots are available at shops with a decorated swan, at Stratford Tourism, 47 Downie Street and on-line starting March 31. The contest runs throughout the weekend closing at 4:00 pm Sunday, April 2. 

Want to learn more about our feathered ambassadors? Join us on Guided Swan Walks. Stratford’s swan stories are shared as you view the swans in their winter quarters, see popular nesting spots and stroll along the river bank. Free guided walks take place at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm on Saturday, and Sunday at 12:15 pm. Meet your guide at the William Allman Arena.

Pose for photos with our larger than life swan mascot at 11:30 am and 1:00 pm at Memorial Gardens on Ontario Street.

Animated street performer, Kobbler Jay entertains from 12 noon – 4:00 pm at the same location.

Free horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered courtesy of the Stratford City Centre BIA from 12 noon - 3:30 pm departing from Memorial Gardens, Ontario Street. (Saturday and Sunday)

Sunday, April 2
Bring your family to the Swan Celebration from 12 Noon – 3:00 pm along Lakeside Drive sponsored by Re/Max AB Realty. Look for the new circus tent style outdoor main stage to enjoy the entertaining Craig Douglas comedy juggler show and The Keepers: a show about animals and conservation.

An indoor children’s play zone is presented by SpringWorks and Gallery Stratford’s #creationplace. 

Entertaining clowns, a community colouring mural and swan hats are all offered free of charge.

Street food trucks offer tasty menus along with a charity barbeque. 

At 2:00 pm, the Swan Parade, organized by the volunteer Civic Beautification and Environmental Awareness Committee along with Stratford Community Services, begins as The Stratford Police Pipes and Drums lead the swans from their winter quarters to the Avon River.

Free parking is available in the Stratford Festival parking lot at the corner of Lakeside Drive and Queen Street and along Lakeside Drive east of Front Street. Limited accessible parking on site can be accommodated from the entrance at Water and Morenz Streets.

Street closures will include Lakeside Drive from Waterloo Street to North Street and Morenz Drive from Water Street to Lakeside Drive from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm to provide a safe pedestrian zone. Everyone is welcome to attend. We encourage people to arrive early to enjoy all the activities offered.

Come celebrate spring in Stratford.

For more information, a Swan Quest Ballot, Swan Parade Celebration colouring contest and a video clip of the swan parade, go to www.visitstratford.ca/swans , call 519-271-5140 or 1-800-561-7926, or visit us at Stratford Tourism, 47 Downie Street, Stratford. 

Stratford Tourism Launches Spring Maple Trail Adventure

For Immediate Release: February 28, 2017

(Stratford, ON) The anticipation of Canada's delicious iconic maple syrup is palpable as the first sign of spring. To celebrate, Stratford Tourism Alliance presents the Savour Stratford Maple Trail adventure. This self-guided tasting tour offers 22 unique maple tastings for a tasty culinary experience during the months of March and April.

The 2017 seasonal Savour Stratford Maple Trail was launched today with a tasting of a maple bacon poutine at Downie Street Burgers. Maple syrup is Canada's first crop of the season and is most often thought of as a sweet treat, but Downie Street Burgers has used it in this delicious savoury dish and it is featured on the maple trail.

"The Maple Trail presents 22 maple inspired offers, the most offers available ever on this trail and so fitting in Canada's 150th year of celebration. This year six restaurants present maple syrup in exciting savoury and sweet creations. Trail participants will enjoy the variety of choices, but it is only available until the end of April, so don't miss out on our taste of spring." says Cathy Rehberg, marketing manager for Stratford Tourism Alliance.

Local culinary artisans and food purveyors invite you to sample delicious maple creations along our self-guided trail. Savoury maple tastes include maple squash soup, dipping sauce and tempting condiments using maple syrup. Sweet choices range from crepes to cookies and handcrafted maple moonshine. Of course, no maple trail would be complete without local maple syrup direct from the sugar shack and traditional hand-poured maple sugar candy. Unexpected surprises on the trail include some great take away items. 

Participating businesses include:

  • Artful Badger, 96 Downie Street
  • Black Angus Bakery, 443 Erie Street
  • Blowes Cards & Gifts, 34 Wellington Street
  • Buzz Stop, 17 York Street
  • Chocolate Barr's Candies, 55 George Street
  • Dee Image Co., 100 Downie Street
  • Distinctly Tea, 18 York Street
  • Downie Street Burgers,107 Downie Street
  • Gentle Rain Natural Health Food Store, 30 Rebecca Street
  • The Hub, 27 Market Place
  • JENN and Larry's Brittle 'n Shakes and Ice Cream Cakes, 49 York Street
  • Junction 56 Distillery, 45 Cambria Street
  • Kandy Cakes, 47 York Street
  • Keystone Alley, 34 Brunswick Street
  • McCully's Hill Farm, 4074 Perth Line 9, St. Marys
  • Olive Your Favourites, 21 York Street
  • Pavillion Coffee & Crepes, 33 Market Place
  • Revival House, 70 Brunswick Street
  • Rheo Thompson Candies, 55 Albert Street
  • The Spa Near the Tracks, 20 Cooper Street
  • Stratford Country Club, 53 Romeo Street North
  • Treasures, 151 Ontario Street

Here's how it works. Choose six of 22 delicious maple treats to sample and learn more from local culinary artisans and purveyors. Share your delicious maple experiences using hashtag #MapleTrail and follow us on twitter @SavourStratford.

Purchase trails at Stratford Tourism, 47 Downie Street, Stratford for $25.00 (+ HST). Present one voucher at each of your selected stops for one maple sample. Gift certificates are also available online or in person at www.visitstratford.ca/mapletrail where full details about the Maple Trail are available.  This seasonal Savour Sratford Maple Trail is offered only from March 1 to April 30, 2017. Please check the times and dates each location is open to avoid disappointment.

Capture more maple fun with a sugar bush and sugar shack tour along with a maple pancake brunch at McCully's Hill Farm Maple Festival Saturdays and Sundays in March. New in 2017,  you can exchange one Maple Trail voucher for a sugar bush tour in place of the maple syrup offer during the Maple Festival weekends.

For Immediate Release
February 17, 2017

Stratford Tourism Alliance completes successful strategic planning workshop

(Stratford, ON) The Stratford Tourism Alliance (STA) successfully completed a full day workshop with community businesses and stakeholders on February 16 marking the next step in completing the five-year Strategic Plan.

More than 40 people came together for the full day of sessions led by InterVistas at the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus. An interactive digital input session allowed participants the opportunity to offer suggestions on maximizing opportunities for Stratford and developing Stratford as a four-season destination. Vibrant small group discussion topics included STA’s Organizational Model, Digital Technology and Tourism, Product and Destination Development along with Marketing and Business Development.

“We were impressed with the innovative thinking and level of engagement of the participants.  As we establish strategic priorities for the next five years this feedback is crucial to our success as a tourism destination and business community.” states Kristin Sainsbury, Executive Director.

“We were very pleased with the input and constructive feedback that was provided”, notes Conroy Schelhaas, STA Chair.  “What came out of the day is a clear desire to work together to grow tourism in Stratford”.

There is still time to participate through an on-line survey. In addition to businesses, residents of Stratford are invited to complete the survey.  Participation from the whole community provides a broad and more complete perspective. The survey is intended to assess Stratford’s strengths and weaknesses as a tourism destination as well as provide input into opportunities for the STA. The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete and can be found at www.visitstratford.ca/input . Surveys must be completed by March 3.

InterVistas Consulting has been retained to assist the STA in developing their plan.  A leading management consulting company with extensive global expertise in tourism in over 75 countries around the world their expertise and guidance in the process ensures that Stratford has a global view of the future.

For further information, contact:  Kristin Sainsbury, Executive Director   519-271-5140 ksainsbury@visitstratford.ca.

For Immediate Release
January 25, 2017

Stratford Tourism Alliance seeks Local Business input for Strategic Plan

(Stratford, ON) The Stratford Tourism Alliance (STA) is reaching out to engage the local business community to provide input into their five-year Strategic Plan.

“We want to hear from our members and the broader business community.  The voice of our local businesses is critical in helping us establish strategic priorities for the next five years”, notes Kristin Sainsbury, Executive Director.  “After a very positive year we are excited to be looking ahead and planning the next steps for STA.  As we continue to build Stratford’s brand as a leading arts, culture and culinary destination, this process will further define our role as the key tourism agency supporting business in the City”.

Local businesses will be asked to participate in an industry survey that will be distributed by email on January 30 through community associations and will provide an opportunity to assess Stratford’s strengths as a tourism destination as well as provide input into opportunities for the STA by February 28.  Further to the survey information, a full day strategic input session is planned for February 16th.

Mayor Dan Mathieson stresses the importance of this exercise for the City, "The work of the STA is vitally important to Stratford's continual success as a premier tourism destination in North America.  Local businesses and community members have an opportunity to offer constructive feedback and help shape the future vision for the STA.  Collectively working together we can all share and shape our future tourism success as a destination of choice".

Intervistas Consulting has been retained to assist the STA in developing their plan.  They are a leading management consulting company with extensive global expertise in tourism in over 75 countries around the world.

Local businesses are encouraged to participate in the survey between January 30th and February 28th, 2017. To receive the survey or learn more about participating in the February workshop please contact the STA at hello@visitstratford.ca or call 519-271-5140.


For further information, contact:  Kristin Sainsbury, Executive Director 519-271-5140 ksainsbury@visitstratford.ca


“Stratford itself is the type of walkable wholesome town Rodgers and Hammerstein might write a musical about.”

- Amy Alipio, Associate Editor, National Geographic Traveler

Savour Stratford Culinary Guide

Shop! Stratford Shopping Guide