In the summer of 1979, Professor Michael Purves-Smith fell in love with the beautiful village of Elora and dreamed of establishing a festival of music there fashioned after the world-renowned Tanglewood Festival in Massachusetts. A small group of like-minded residents shared his vision and pooled their efforts to present the first Three Centuries Festival the following August. The critics were generous in their praise – the inaugural Festival was a hit! The annual Festival continued to grow in stature and fame; the refining of its mission and name along the way resulted in the establishment of the Elora Festival in 1990.
Over the years, the programming of the Elora Festival has encompassed all forms of classical music, international music, jazz and folk. The guest musicians, conductors, singers, entertainers, and artists who have appeared at the Elora Festival over its many years of making beautiful music include such popular Canadian luminaries as Maureen Forrester, Gordon Lightfoot, Holly Cole, Sarah McLachlan, Moe Kaufman, Dame Cleo Laine, Jesse Cook, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Andre Laplante, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Dawn Upshaw, Randy Bachman, Ben Heppner, Steven Page and many more.