I know what you’re thinking: “Winter sucks in Stratford?” But let us tell you, that’s definitely a lie. There's so much to do in, and love about, this small city in EVERY season.
Covid-19 Update: Some locations and activities included in this blog post may have altered services or cancellations due to the current pandemic. Please check with each business or group directly or contact Stratford Tourism for more information.
Winter can suck. It makes us just want to bundle up indoors and hibernate. But what about adventure? Or one-of-a-kind culture? What about the sights that are so unique to one area you’ll be loading up your Instagram stories with videos and beautiful selfies? If that’s the kind of thing you miss while hibernating, then you need to visit Stratford, Ontario this winter.
Stratford is famous for the festival in spring, summer, and fall with awesome live shows. What you may not know is that Stratford is also a fab winter destination. Art is the heart of this community with plenty of trendy and mouth-watering dining options, craft distilleries and breweries, unique shopping experiences, amazing architecture, and loads of fun events ALL year-round.
Don’t hibernate; bundle up and breathe in the fresh, frosty air and experience the nine reasons to visit Stratford during the winter.
#1 - Discover to die for dining
We’re not exaggerating when we say there are TONS of options when it comes to food in Stratford. And the best part is that this city treats food like it’s an art. If you’re a real foodie, you’ll need to make sure you stop by.
In the downtown core alone, there are over 20 restaurants to choose from. Do you crave wood-oven pizzas and Italian cuisine? Or drool over delicious Pad Thai? Maybe you hunger for tasty lighter and meat-free or vegan meals? It’s wild how many options there are. Stratford has something for everyone. Discover a place where food is an art and the chef’s passion is the canvas: it’s serious flavour goals.
Whatever your craving may be, know that Stratford has it. Good food and fabulous restaurant vibes are great in ANY season. Where will your taste buds take you?
#2 - Find your new fav’ drink
Beer and cocktail lovers rejoice! Find the best brews, or hand-crafted whiskey, gin, vodka, moonshine and more from one of our many local breweries and distilleries.
Make your exploration a day or weekend adventure and start with a self-guided Bacon and Ale Trail. Who doesn’t love bacon and beer? Choose from staple or seasonal beers--you won’t want to miss out on exclusive winter selections, too.
Grab your best bud because it’s time to bond over some beer and bacon. For only $30 you can choose up to five spots to visit.
#3 - Embrace your inner shopaholic
Stratford has some serious shopping adventures for you to explore and is full of stores offering a variety of unique items.
From art, accessories, clothes, shoes, spices, flowers, food, books, homeware AND more, it’ll be hard not to spend a few dollars while shopping downtown Stratford. With so many options, you’re bound to find something you need or want. (Let’s be honest, you’ll NEED it.)
We know you love exploring quaint boutiques you can’t find anywhere else. We recommend you wear your comfy boots.
#4 - Gaze upon beautiful historical architecture
Stratford is a beautiful city with tonnes of history. Named after Stratford on Avon in England, this city had serious architecture goals. If you love European-inspired buildings, you’ll definitely love Stratford.
With the city’s history starting all the way back in 1832, many buildings are inspired by different eras, such as Regency cottages from the 1850s, gothic structures in the 1870s, early italianate homes in the early 1890s, and Queen Anne Revival Style houses from the late 1800s (which introduced the Late-Victorian buildings and Edwardian houses later on). There’s a map available if you’re interested in taking a personal tour to see these staple locations.
Many of these can be found right downtown Stratford. To see the beauty of these designs make sure you check out the Stratford City Hall, The Avon Theatre, and some of the residences along the river. Be your own tour guide with these interactive maps.
Even in the snow the architecture is majestic, and your artistic Instagram followers will thank you when you snap a few photos to share.
#5 - Immerse yourself in culture
In order to immerse yourself in the cultural wonders that are Stratford, make sure you check out the history and art that make up this great city. This winter, time travel back in history and see the Vignettes of Perth County exhibit at the Stratford Perth Museum, which shares facts and artifacts about Stratford and Perth County from the 1830s to today.
Find several galleries downtown where you can bring some art home with you (yay--more shopping!), and be sure to explore the Gallery Stratford, which is one of the region’s leading art galleries with exhibitions of local, national and international visual artists.
To top everything off, enjoy special events all winter long that allow you to explore the diversities that make up this beautiful city. Celebrate the Chinese New Year and the year of the rat with an elegant afternoon tea service.
Forget the winter blues; all the culture you need is right here in Stratford!
#6 - Enjoy live music in every season
Did you know that Stratford has live music all year round? Yep—it’s not just a summer thing. In fact, many of the bars and pubs feature bands every week. So you can enjoy your fav’ pub grub while listening to well-known and local bands alike every weekend.
If you’re looking for live entertainment outside of the pub scene then you’re in luck. Stratford hosts concerts throughout the winter too. Many take place right in the Avon Theatre, like the upcoming Celtic Celebration concert with Natalie MacMaster on January 25.
No matter the weather, the music never stops in Stratford.
#7 - You can always escape indoors for fun too
Just because you’re visiting Stratford in the winter doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire time outside (this one’s for the pro-winter-hibernators). Although there are a tonne of fun snow activities, there are also a lot of exciting things to do inside for those who want to stay warm and cozy.
Did someone say coffee? There are many local cafes where you can get a delicious cup of specialty coffee. The cafe vibes will inspire you, and you can take a few photos of designed cappuccinos sprinkled with cinnamon. It’ll be one to share on the socials for sure.
You can also take cooking classes at the Stratford’s Chef’s School to up your cooking game, complete fun DIY projects at the Stratford Public Library, or walk the Stratford chocolate trail. Yes, you read that correctly—Stratford has a chocolate trail complete with a map for you to choose your stops to try chocolatey-goodness from a list of vendors. It’s the best kind of indoor activity that still involves a bit of traveling. You definitely don’t need to fear Stratford in the winter when there’s so much indoor fun!
#8 - Take winter head on
If you’re ready to embrace the cold, you’ll have a blast with some of these outdoor activities in Stratford. Have you ever heard of snowga? Pair snowshoes with yoga, you get Stratford’s snowga. You can get mindfulness and exercise with these winter yoga sessions and share your experience with all your friends and followers. Is it absolutely zen? Heck yes.
Pack a pair of skates and hit the outdoor skating rink for some pickup hockey or relaxed skating, go cross-country skiing around Stratford’s many paths and scenic routes, or take a family hike on Health Valley Trail. Don’t forget about our annual Winterfest activities, too.
There’s SO much to do outside in Stratford during the winter, you'll feel like you’ve discovered the local’s secret winter lifestyle—how cool?
#9 - Max and relax
After you’ve done the hustle and bustle around Stratford, it’s okay to rest and relax. There are many spas in Stratford to help you achieve inner zen and tranquility. Get your nails done, go for a massage, or get a relaxing facial all while watching the pretty snowflakes through the window.
When you’re ready to embrace the chill again, walk through Stratford’s parks, gardens and trails. There’s nothing more peaceful than nature, and Stratford has a lot of that.
When you’re ready to pack it in for the day, head to your bed and Breakfast or hotel room and bundle up near the fire. Maybe treat yourself to a glass of wine because, let’s be honest, you deserve it!
As you can see, there’s so much to do in Stratford during the winter. With a list this long, you’ll have enough to keep you busy your entire trip. It’s time to embrace the cold and partake in these awesome activities.
One of the best parts is that planning your trip to Stratford is super easy. You can plan your entire trip right on the Stratford Tourism website. You won’t have any FOMO here, Stratford’s got you covered.
Winter may suck, but it definitely doesn’t in good ol’ “Stratty.” Trust us, it’ll be worth the visit.