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What to Do Muskoka

Enjoy Tart Treats at the Bala Cranberry Festival

The Bala Cranberry Festival returns for another year of Muskoka fun

The Bala Cranberry Festival returns for another year of Muskoka fun

OCTOBER 18 TO 20  As fall comes around, Muskoka’s verdant greens change to golden yellows and oranges. One colour is particularly evident: the deep red of millions of ripe cranberries. The Bala Cranberry Festival pays homage to the annual harvest of the tangy little fruit, with fun activities taking place throughout town, including farm tours, craft shows, live entertainment and, of course, some of the best cranberry-based goodies in Ontario. Various venues, $7 (free for children under 6); call 705-762-1564 or visit balacranberryfestival.on.ca for details.

Top Summer Trio: Muskoka’s Boat and Cottage Show and Ribfest

Muskoka's boats are in the water and the ribs are in the smokers

Muskoka’s boats are in the water and the ribs are in the smokers in Gravenhurst

JULY 26 TO 28  The most popular lakeside attraction in Gravenhurst floods with locals and visitors as the Muskoka In-Water Boat and Cottage Show and Ribfest returns. Featuring vessels from the biggest names in boating plus all manner of cottage-related exhibitors, it’s a not-to-be-missed event for anyone looking to upgrade their living space or watercraft. And don’t forget to try the mouthwatering meats from some of Ontario’s top rib masters. Muskoka Wharf, free admission; call 647-344-6700 or check out muskokashows.com for more information.

Things to Do in Muskoka: July 15 to 21

EACH WEEK THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER, WHERE MUSKOKA IS YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR INFORMATION ON ALL THE GREAT EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN MUSKOKA!

The Downchild Blues Band plays the Huntsville Festival of the Arts this week in Muskoka

The Downchild Blues Band plays the Huntsville Festival of the Arts this week in Muskoka

JULY 17 & 18  Roots music continues to dig deep into the Muskoka region this week, courtesy of the Huntsville Festival of the Arts. On Wednesday, folk singer and guitarist Valdy brings more than 40 years of tunes to the Trinity United Church, while Thursday sees the Algonquin Theatre turn on its amps for the Downchild Blues Band.

JULY 18  Celebrate the 10th anniversary of Parry Sound’s Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, as well as the start of another Festival of the Sound. Opening this year’s event is a gala concert featuring the Elmer Iseler Singers. The music carries on everyday through to August 11.

JULY 19  Indulge your creative side at Bracebridge’s Annie Williams Memorial Park, which once again plays host to the region’s largest annual gathering of artists and craftspeople—the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show. Now in its 51st year, the weekend-long event brings together more than 200 participants from across the country.

JULY 20  Also on the artistic calendar this week is the opening of the Artful Garden, a showcase of locally created works—mostly sculptures—set in the beautiful gardens of Bracebridge artists Suzann and Jon Partridge.

JULY 20  Homespun wisdom and gut-busting comedy are the stock-in-trade of Rod Beattie, perhaps better known as his theatrical alter-ego Walt Wingfield, a stock broker turned farmer doing his best to till his plot of land. Beattie’s latest creation, Wingfield Lost and Found, comes to the Algonquin Theatre for one night only.

Nuit Blanche North Lights Up the Huntsville Night

Nuit Blanche North offerings artistic enlightenment in Huntsville

Nuit Blanche North offerings artistic enlightenment in Huntsville (photo: Katherine Fleitas)

JULY 13  Taking a cue from the all-night events popular in cities like Paris, London and Toronto, Nuit Blanche North invites you to unearth truly unique art under cover of darkness. As the sun sets, culture vultures are invited to descend on downtown Huntsville to take in exceptional theatre, music, film and interactive installations. With more than 60 artists expected to participate, the event is sure to inspire awe under the stars. Along Main Street, and at River Mill Park and the town dock, free admission; call 705-571-4334 or click here for a full list of exhibitions.

Things to Do in Muskoka: July 8 to 14

EACH WEEK THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER, WHERE MUSKOKA IS YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR INFORMATION ON ALL THE GREAT EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN MUSKOKA!

Deric Ruttan performs this week at the Huntsville Festival of the Arts

Deric Ruttan performs this week at the Huntsville Festival of the Arts

JULY 9, 11 & 12 A month of music is now in full swing thanks to the Huntsville Festival of the Arts. On Tuesday, Bracebridge-born country singer Deric Ruttan inaugurates the first full week of this year’s fest by playing an intimate acoustic set at the Algonquin Theatre. Female roots duo Madison Violet follows on Thursday, and pianist Michael Kim explores the evolution of his instrument on Friday evening, with a recital of music by Bach, Chopin, Gershwin and others.

JULY 9 TO 12 Visit the Gravenhurst Opera House this week and you’re likely to find yourself wrapped up in a comedy of manners, as Dragonfly Theatre Company presents its dinner-and-show production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit.

JULY 11 & 12 Even more music is guaranteed this week when widely admired British blues guitarist Matt Schofield swaggers on to the Peter’s Players stage on Thursday; soulful New Orleans-based pianist Jon Cleary makes an appearance on Friday, accompanied by his band the Philthy Phew.

JULY 11 TO 14 Family fun is on tap in Port Severn. The town’s Just Add Water Festival offers a midway with games and rides, lots of local vendors, and numerous live performances.

JULY 12 TO 14 An appreciation for “the old ways” is always welcome in Muskoka. Perhaps that’s why the Muskoka Pioneer Power Show has been a popular attraction for nearly three decades. This year’s event—at Bracebridge’s J.D. Lang Activity Park—features everything from blacksmith demonstrations to antique tractor pulls. Arrive early on Saturday and Sunday for a pancake breakfast!

JULY 13 Art lovers from across the region are invited to follow the setting sun to downtown Huntsville, which hosts Muskoka’s third annual Nuit Blanche North. The late-night festivities are absolutely filled with all manner of creativity—interactive art installations that must be seen to be believed, plus live performances and more.

 

Check Out These Venues During Muskoka’s Summer Concert Season

Soak in the culture during the Muskoka summer concert season at these performance venues and musical festivals.

BY LINDA LUONG

Parry Sound's Stockey Centre hosts some of the region's best concerts and recitals

Parry Sound’s Stockey Centre hosts some of the region’s best concerts and recitals

CHARLES W. STOCKEY CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
This beautiful timber-framed multi-use facility built in 2003 sits on 3.5 acres of expansive lakefront land, and features a 480-seat performance hall as well as the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. Legendary country singer Willie Nelson arrives in town on June 18 at the Bobby Orr Community Centre for an exclusive live show with his family. The centre is best known as the home of the annual Festival of the Sound, which has celebrated chamber music since 1979. Running from July 18 to August 11, this year’s lineup includes the New Zealand String Quartet, which honours masterpieces by Beethoven and Brahms on July 24, and the Cecilia String Quartet offering pieces by Haydn on August 1. The festival also offers a “Bach Around Town” program with Baroque music performed at various stages around Parry Sound.

• 2 Bay St., Parry Sound, 705-746-4466; stockeycentre.com
Map and reviews

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Things to Do in Muskoka: June 24 to July 1

EACH WEEK THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER, WHERE MUSKOKA IS YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR INFORMATION ON ALL THE GREAT EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN MUSKOKA!

The region's fresh fare is highlighted at Flavours of Muskoka—just one of this week's many things to do in Muskoka

The region’s fresh fare is highlighted at Flavours of Muskoka—just one of many things to do in Muskoka

JUNE 27  Muskoka’s “amazing graze” is back at The Rosseau, a JW Marriott Resort and Spa. This year’s Flavours of Muskoka culinary event highlights the local bounty with inventive fare from the likes of Crossroads, The Rock Grill and Griffin Gastropub, plus Ontario artisan wines, beers and spirits.

JUNE 27  Prefer indulging your sense of hearing rather than your sense of taste? Well then, head to Gravenhurst and jam to more than three decades of rockin’ blues (or is it bluesy rock?) as Toronto-born guitarist Pat Travers and his band crank up their amps at Peter’s Players.

JUNE 29 & 30  Bala is the place to be on the weekend—particularly if you’re a accumulator of fine vintage furniture, decor items and other old-fashioned collectibles—as the Bala Antique and Nostalgia Show celebrates its 30th year. If you’d rather browse contemporary pieces, the Bala Craft and Gift Fair has you covered.

JUNE 29 & 30  The heritage fun continues courtesy of Doors Open, which this weekend invites visitors to explore a variety of historic sites in the Huntsville and Lake of Bays area.

JULY 1  Canada Day is, of course, an occasion for much celebration in cottage country. Many communities host their own local festivities to mark the birth of our nation. For even more fun, visit Muskoka Heritage Place for its popular Canada Day strawberry social, or board Parry Sound’s Island Queen for an Canada Day cruise with fireworks and traditional Newfoundland tunes.

Indulge in the Fresh Flavours of Muskoka

Chefs cook up a storm at Flavours of Muskoka

Chefs cook up a storm at Flavours of Muskoka

JUNE 27  Cottage Country’s culinary landscape is arguably as remarkable as its natural surroundings. Take your taste buds on a tour of the region at Flavours of Muskoka, which showcases gourmet fare prepared by chefs from top restaurants and resorts, plus drinks from some of Ontario’s finest wineries and craft brewers. An unforgettable dining experience complete with silent auction and live music, the event also adds to the Muskoka community’s creative wellbeing—proceeds benefit the Kaleidoscope Arts in Education Program. The Rosseau, a JW Marriot Muskoka Resort & Spa, 6 p.m., $80; call 705-765-1048 or visit muskokachautauqua.ca for more information.

Visit Muskoka for Outdoor Activities and Adventures

With almost 5,000 square kilometres of rugged terrain, more than 1,600 lakes and an abundance of wildlife, Muskoka is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination. From family-friendly trails to rugged backcountry routes, the region offers something for all ages and abilities.

BY DAWN HUDDLESTONE

Mountain biking is a popular pastime for outdoor adventurers in Muskoka (photo: Buckwallow Cycling Centre)

Mountain biking is a popular pastime for outdoor adventurers in Muskoka (photo: Buckwallow Cycling Centre)

ON SOLID GROUND
One of the best ways to experience Muskoka’s natural beauty is on foot. Urban pathways provide an accessible wilderness experience in the region’s historic towns. The Rotary Algonquin Regiment Fitness Trail in Parry Sound is a well-maintained five-kilometre trail that follows the shore of Georgian Bay. More adventurous hikers can continue to the north on the adjoining 2.5-kilometre North Shore Rugged Hiking Trail. In Huntsville, the Hunters Bay Trail is a moderate 3.8-kilometre waterfront trail that includes a floating pathway over a section of Hunters Bay.

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Things to Do in Muskoka: June 17 to 23

EACH WEEK THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER, WHERE MUSKOKA IS YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR INFORMATION ON ALL THE GREAT EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN MUSKOKA!

Will you catch the big one this weekend in Muskoka? (photo: Patrick Lewis)

Will you catch the big one this weekend in Muskoka? (photo: Patrick Lewis)

JUNE 22 & 23  Enjoy the day—and a little friendly competition—on Stewart Lake as the Mactier Railroad Heritage Society presents its first annual bass fishing derby, with cash prizes for the biggest catches. All are welcome, and youth under the age of 16 can register for free.

JUNE 22 & 23  Sports fans are invited to gather in Huntsville to cheer on the athletes in the Muskoka 5150 triathlon. Saturday’s action is fast and furious during the sprint triathlon, while the big boys and girls are out for main event on Sunday—top finishers in this race can qualify for the upcoming Ironman Canada competition in Whistler, B.C., and Hy-Vee 5150 triathlon U.S. Championship in Iowa.

JUNE 23  End the weekend on a high note at Gravenhurst’s Gull Lake Park. The Muskoka Concert Band is scheduled to perform a selection of orchestral favourites as part of the ongoing Music on the Barge series.

 

 

Tee Off at Muskoka’s Best Golf Courses

Muskoka’s best golf courses offer stunning scenery, challenging terrain, and the opportunity to make cottage-country memories that will last a lifetime.

BY IAN CRUICKSHANK

The Rocky Crest Golf Club is one of Muskoka's many excellent golf courses

The Rocky Crest Golf Club is one of Muskoka’s many excellent golf courses

I remember the moment exactly. It was 2:27 p.m. on a bleak February afternoon. I was being pinched by deadlines, outside the snow was piling up faster than the provincial debt and I was already late for a meeting on the other side of the city. I was about to curl up in the fetal position and slide permanently under my desk, when I spied a photo pinned on my bulletin board next to the computer.

It was a shot taken last summer at the first tee at the Lake Joseph Club. Three pals and I are looking down the valley, smiling, almost giggling, like we’d just gobbled down too much cake and ice cream. It was no special occasion—just summer up north by the lake, about to tee off on one of our favourite courses. At that moment I realized that I could get through the snow, the darkness and the deadlines as long as I knew Muskoka golf was on the horizon.

RELATED: Check out more of Muskoka’s best golf courses in our comprehensive guide.

When ClubLink unveiled the Lake Joseph Club in 1997, it changed the landscape of cottage golf forever. Designed by Toronto’s Thomas McBroom, “Lake Joe” was the first course to combine a country club level of service with the stunning local topography. McBroom routed his rolling layout above the broad banks of Lake Joseph, notching the greens into the hillsides and accenting the tree-lined fairways with flashes of granite.

McBroom is also behind the aptly named Rocky Crest Golf Club in Mactier, a course that incorporates the best of Muskoka, highlighting the landscape’s rocky underpinnings. At the sixth hole, a long par five, he peeled back a layer of scrub and dirt to reveal an intimidating granite canyon.

The Muskoka Bay Club

The Muskoka Bay Club

The Grandview Golf Club in Huntsville is a bold enterprise that winds past creeks, beaver ponds, and bungalow-sized rocks and into the heart of the forest. What ultimately makes Grandview unique is its dual nature—you can play it brawny or brainy.

The Rock has a definite edge, just like its designer, six-time major winner Nick Faldo. The first half-dozen holes push through the woods and around the slabs of granite. Later in the round, the course opens up with some spectacular rocky vistas.

Muskoka Bay Club boasts one of the prettiest layouts in the country. The Doug Carrick-designed course free falls from rocky topped tees through heavily treed valleys, then rises to elevated greens that slope away to sand.

Ian Cruickshank is a golf and travel writer who has written about the game for the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Golf Digest and Maclean’s magazine.

Explore History During Doors Open in Muskoka

Bala's Museum participates in this year's Doors Open Muskoka

Bala’s Museum participates in this year’s Doors Open Muskoka festivities

JUNE 15 & 16  Visitors are invited to literally walk through history during this season’s Doors Open festivities, a province-wide program designed to introduce new generations to the built heritage of various communities. On June 15, explore Gravenhurst sites like its turn-of-the-century Opera House; on June 16, venture to Bala and Port Carling for Victorian-era architecture and quaint attractions such as Bala’s Museum with Memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery. Various venues, free; visit doorsopenontario.on.ca for further details.