Photo Credit: National Arts Centre PowWow

Celebrate creativity in your community with hundreds of organizers from across the province. Join us from September 24th – October 24th, 2021 for the Ontario Culture Days Festival.

It is our shared responsibility to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Before attending an In-Person event, please review the event protocols in place, and if you have any questions, please contact the organizer directly.

Since 2010, the last weekend of each September has marked the beginning of the Ontario Culture Days festival. The festival presents a unique opportunity for independent organizers to come together to showcase local talent, foster community collaboration, and bring the public into the creative process. In the past, our organizers have hosted programming from multiple disciplines, including but not limited to: visual arts, dance, theatre, music, history and heritage, architecture and design, culinary arts, craft, and storytelling. 

In 2020, the Ontario Culture Days festival extended the 3-day in-person festival to a 4-week multi-platform festival with the addition of digital, and self-guided programming. Organizers hosted over 1,000 events in 70 municipalities across the province. Programs included everything from online creative writing workshops to virtual powwows, take-home embroidery lessons, self-guided community art tours, and more!


Four weeks of festivities.

After the success of last year’s festival, and as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the Ontario Culture Days Festival will again be one-month long, and will feature a hybrid of in-person events as well as digital and self-guided programming. This year the festival will run from September 24 – October 24, 2021.


Adaptability is key. 

Staying connected while ensuring the health and safety of our community members is our top priority. This past year taught us the importance of staying flexible in the face of change; our organizers came up with fun and inventive programs, like this hospital’s digital art show, or this community curbside concert series. For more examples of flexible and ingenuitive programming, check out all of our 2020 Spotlight Award winners! 

This year, our programs will continue to adapt as we learn more about pandemic guidelines and restrictions in the region. Just like before, all in-person programs must follow the provincial guidelines at the time of the event, in addition to any municipal regulations. We recommend you coordinate your event to allow for possible changes in health guidelines.


Join in on the fun.

  • Host an arts and culture program in Ontario between September 24th and October 24th, 2021. Programs should be participatory and admission entry must be free or Pay-What-You-May.
  • Register your event at
  • Have a question? Check out our FAQ below.

Share your images from with us!

We want to celebrate the events you put on during this year’s festival. If you have any photos or videos you would like to share, please send them to us using WeTransfer to:

Who can participate in the festival?

We encourage everybody in the province to participate in our Ontario Culture Days festivities. In the past, our event organizers have included grassroots organizations, major arts organizations, independent artists and collectives, BIAs, libraries, municipalities, and more!


How do I participate as an event organizer?

We encourage all organizers to register their event. See registration details below. 

To participate, all you need to do is host an arts and culture program during the festival dates.

The Ontario Culture Days festival is all about removing barriers to participation and enabling the public to explore new arts and culture activities in their communities. To be eligible for the Ontario Culture Days Festival, all events must: a) promote arts and culture in your Ontario community, b) be participatory, and c) admission entry must be free or Pay-What-You-May.

We’ve expanded our Culture Days events to include online programming, in addition to in-person programming.This means that you can now host a digital recording, a live-stream, a self-guided activity, or an in-person event. 

If you host regular webinars, online performances, digital workshops, or arts programming, then you are already on the right track. 

For more programming resources visit the National Culture Days website here.


How has the festival changed as a result of COVID-19?

All festival programs must follow provincial safety protocols at the time of the event, in addition to the safety restrictions of your own municipality. We will be asking that all organizers of in-person programming confirm that they are following the necessary precautions ahead of the event.


Where do I find out about COVID-19 restrictions in my area? 

For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions in the province, please follow Ontario’s Provincial Health Guidelines, as well as the local guidelines for your region.


With so many things changing right now, it’s really hard to make a decision about what to register. What can I change about my event after it is registered, and why should I register now?

Events can be edited right up until they occur. Registering your event soon signals to our team, at both the Ontario and National organizations, your intent to participate and allows us to better support and direct resources to you.

When and where do I register my event?

Register your online event here.

Registration for in-person events is closed.

The earlier you register, the more promotional benefits you will receive. A list of benefits are at the bottom of this page.

What are some examples of COVID-safe programs?

In 2020, our festival organizers adapted to the year’s extraordinary circumstances with creativity and ingenuity, staying connected to their audiences through digital programs, self-guided activities, and socially-distanced events. For some exceptional examples of Covid-safe programming, check out our 2020 Spotlight Award winners here.

Do we need to pay artists fees?

We believe in the importance of fair payment for artists for their participation in all arts and culture programming, including the Ontario Culture Days festival. 

For more resources and guidelines relating to artist fees, including when to pay artist fees, how much should you pay, and how should you calculate an artist’s time, we recommend reviewing the following sources:

To help cover the cost of artist fees, organizers can opt to make their events Pay-What-You-May.


What is Pay-What-You-May?

In 2019, we updated our free admission policy to include a “Pay-What–You-May” (PWYM) option for entry to Ontario Culture Days events. While all registered events are still mandated to have free entry, organizers can now publicly list that they accept optional PWYM donations for admission, and this is included in your event listing.

With the pivot to online, self-guided, or physically-distanced programming, it can be a challenge to receive donations. Thankfully, there are ways to support payments online. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • weshowup allows for PWYM for live-streamed events on a number of platforms. Participants are prompted after the event to donate to you/your organization
  • Facebook Donations is an event-based short term fundraising option. 100% of the funds raised goes towards the non-profit. 
  • Kickstarter allows you to create tiered donation packages. BUT they use an all-or-nothing funding model. If your project doesn’t reach its goal, then funds don’t get collected, and no money changes hands. If the goal is met, Kickstarter charges 5% of the total funds raised. View their fees here.
  • Sometimes simple can be best! Some artists ask people to send donations directly to their bank account via e-transfer. You just have to tell them an email address for the payment.


Register by/before August 6, 2021

  •   event(s) listed in Ontario events on the website
  •   event(s) considered to be featured on the website
  •   event(s) considered for inclusion in a “Day in the Life” video segment spotlighting events in your community/region
  •  considered for organizer or event(s) promoted in a post on Ontario Culture Days social media platforms, or inclusion in email, or inclusion in an online editorial “events highlights/roundup” story on the ONCultureDays website (story supported with social media posts)
  •   special early event registrant graphic and communications toolkit resources for use in your promotion of your event(s)
  •   possibility of sharing your social media posts for your organizer or event(s) on Ontario Culture Days social media platforms when you tag @ONculturedays #ONCultureDays
  •   possibility of event(s) mentioned/listed in a regional press release


Register by/before September

Deadline for In-Person (Onsite) Events: September 3, 2021

Deadline for Digital Events: September 10, 2021

  •   event(s) listed in Ontario events on the website
  •   event(s) considered to be featured on the website
  •   communications toolkit resources for use in your promotion of your event(s)
  •   possibility of sharing your social media posts for your organizer or event(s) on Ontario Culture Days social media platforms when you tag @ONculturedays #ONCultureDays


Header image: Fumio Photo