Explore Arts & Culture in Orillia

Explore Arts & Culture in Orillia
Once the home to many iconic Canadian artists – Group of Seven’s Franklin Carmichael, folk singer Gordon Lightfoot, and world-renowned sculptor Elizabeth Wyn Wood, just to name a few – Orillia has nurtured and celebrated its relationships with the arts for over a century. From Canada’s most iconic music event The Mariposa Folk Festival to vibrant street festivals, events are one of the ways the cultural life of the city is put on full display.


The Leacock Museum National Historic Site


It was Canada’s beloved literary humourist, Stephen Leacock who first coined Orillia’s moniker as the Sunshine City in his internationally acclaimed novel, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Today, the author’s treasured Orillia summer home is protected and upheld as a National Historic Site, meticulously well-kept true to Leacock’s life. Visitors are invited year-round to explore the museum’s exciting interchanging exhibits, inspired by Leacock’s love for the arts and his famous friends. If you’re in the neighbourhood this spring, don’t miss the May 20 opening exhibit, Boating Old Brewery Bay for some fun tours, crafts, paddling, and fantastic guest speakers. For tickets and more information visit the events page on the Leacock Museum website.

Orillia Arts District


Streets Alive, a distinctive living art project, presents life-size sculpture installations throughout the downtown core from spring to fall. Touring the city will showcase some of the iconic pieces from previous years permanently erected by the sponsorships of local businesses, painting a colourful view throughout the streets. It’s in the core’s cultural hub – The Orillia Arts District – where one of the event’s most recognized pieces is situated, three towering sculptures presented in the form of hand-painted letters that spell out the word ART.

A collection of independent galleries, studios, and creative-driven workspaces line the Orillia Arts District. Throughout the summer months, street festivals invite visitors to explore what’s up and coming from the area’s artisans through organized art walks and live creation viewings.

Orillia Museum of Art & History


Recognized by its historic, eye-catching clock tower, the Orillia Museum of Art and History sits on the cornerstone of the district. First erected in 1894, the designated heritage site is a fitting location to celebrate the stories of Orillia’s cultural life and early beginnings. The museum is organized with both history and art exhibits showcased evenly throughout the year, along with all-ages workshops, youth camps, and special events open to the public. For a special night out on the town, visit the museum every last Thursday of the month during their free Music & Mocktails event to explore current exhibits and sip on some curated mocktails while watching some live music.

For a full list of events at the museum, orilliamuseum.org/events.

The Orillia Opera House


A cultural tour of the downtown isn’t complete without a visit to the city’s historic professional performing arts venue; The Orillia Opera House. For over 100 years the Opera House has brought world-class talents from all mediums to perform in its nearly 700-seat theatre. Well-known for its resounding acoustics and historical charm, the affectionately named Lightfoot Auditorium has featured iconic artists such as The Marx Brothers, Blue Rodeo, and of course, Gordon Lightfoot himself. If you’re looking for entertainment, this is where you’ll find it. You can view the Opera House’s full extensive show listing on their website at orilliaoperahouse.ca.

Learn more about Orillia’s vibrant cultural life by visiting the city’s Arts, Culture, & History page of our website.

Interior photo of Orillia Museum of Art & History provided by Cole Bennett. 


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