Stratford: How I escaped Toronto’s rush and found peace in a small town

January 29, 2019
Stratford vibes

Surprising Stratford


Stratford at night

I love big cities. I love the buzz of lots of people rushing back and forth, the lively mix of the flavours, colours, and languages. Believe it or not, these metropolitan centres present new experiences, forcing you to interact with a variety of completely different people. New experiences are what make life interesting and they greatly help you to develop in unexpected ways. But, at the same time, the fast pace of life and hectic routines slowly but surely suck out all of your energy. It is like a vampire, extracting all your power. So, here’s how I ended up in Stratford.

I was working 60 hours a week with very few days off. I was too busy making money and studying to even think about my inner wellbeing. I lived like a robot. My life was programmed minute by minute: home – subway – job – subway – home. It sounds kind of uninspiring and boring, don’t you think?

A friend of mine got two tickets to the Stratford Festival. She called me and invited me to go with her. Stratford? The only thing I knew about this town is, this is a place where Justin Bieber grew up. I didn’t want to go there (shame on me!) but it was stupid to say no to a free ticket. In the end, my love for freebies won out and I accepted the offer.

What a surprise I had when we arrived. Stratford is a beautiful town with breathtaking parks and lots going on. I immediately fell in love with this town! I was smitten. I didn’t expect this, but there are a lot of things to do here! There`s even a Justin Bieber exhibit, Steps to Stardom, with lots of items like his first drum set, awards and articles of clothing displayed at the Stratford Perth Museum!

By the way, if you’re planning a trip to Stratford check out events in Stratford.

Stratford Festival


Stratford Theatre

Let’s start with the main reason I went there. Stratford Festival is an important Canadian cultural organization offering multiple plays on several stages. You see, it’s not a coincidence that this town has the same name as the city where the great William Shakespeare was born. You may already have guessed that you can watch Shakespeare’s plays here, plus a variety of classical and contemporary works, musicals and comedies.

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of theatre, but this festival showed me how wrong I was about this. I’ve never experienced professional theatre played by top-notch actors. I was literally blown away by Shakespeare and the Stratford talent.

Plan to visit and see it yourself.  I promise you won’t regret it!

Nature and Park


Beautiful Parks

Stratford boasts its many beautiful gardens starting with the Shakespearean Gardens – here you can find flowers, herbs, and shrubs mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. A beautiful bridge over the Avon River (by the way the oldest double-arch stone bridge in North America still used by vehicles) seems as though it was taken from the Shakespeare England era.

On the Festival Theatre grounds, you can stroll through the Arthur Meighen Gardens. There is a rose garden, perennial garden, Elizabethan garden, interesting trees, and reflection pools. It`s the perfect place to contemplate the Shakespearean plays you just saw or hop on a guided tour to learn more.

Close to this park, there is a Millennium Park with its water plantings and sculptures wrapping around Gallery Stratford, the city`s art gallery showing contemporary art in multiple galleries. Another nice spot for nature and art lovers. And, they are all free!

Along the Avon River, you can see swans. These royal descendants are truly lovely to watch. In fact, I would never have thought that watching swans could be such a funny and interesting way to spend some time!

Downtown Activities

Another surprise was the level of activity in the downtown. Here we found so many unique stores and a concentration of restaurants and cafés. It was hard to decide which ones to choose. And, we came across the Stratford Chefs School. Here students come to study for a career in the culinary industry. Although we didn`t participate, they also offered many hands-on cooking classes for food lovers.

How easy it was to park our car for the weekend and walk from our boutique hotel downtown to theatre. We picked up perfectly brewed coffees and tasty lunches that we ate in the park. We even found a craft brewery downtown, aptly named for Stratford, Black Swan Brewing.

Speaking of beer, there was a Bacon and Ale Trail offered inviting guests to visit pubs and try various craft beers brewed in the area. There was even a Chocolate Trail that would be fun to explore.

There were musicians on street corners, concerts in parks and many pubs had live music in the evenings. It was lively and entertaining.

Final Thoughts

We spent almost 3 days in Stratford. This was one of the best and most relaxing trips in my entire life. We had such a great time watching plays, soaking in the beautiful nature around us and exploring new surprises around every corner! Finally, I rested physically and mentally, returning home fully rejuvenated and ready to face the fast pace of city life again. Thank you, Stratford! I’ll definitely see you again soon!

If you want to explore more interesting events, take time to discover events near me during your visit.

solo traveller

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By Mykhailo Andriichuk

Mykhailo Andriichuk writes for Chillwall about interesting events, food, art and breathtaking places all over the world.

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