As you wander throughout the downtown streets and riverside views of Fergus and Elora, you’ll discover that art is at the heart of our communities.
Not only do we have a thriving arts community here, where creativity is inspired daily by our natural environment, but we also believe in making art accessible, attainable and a part of the landscape. If you look around, you’ll find artistic expression everywhere in the hearts of our historic towns.
The Elora Sculpture Project has added character and beauty to downtown streets and walkways. Take a tour around either town and you’ll find inspired pieces of intriguing sculptures.
In Elora, sculpture pieces can be found in interesting places throughout the downtown core, encouraging art lovers to tour beyond the main streets.
And of course, there is perhaps the most famous sculpture in town, known to the locals as Tall Man. Located in the Elora Greenspace, in the heart of the village, stands a giant sculpture of a finger pointing figure by artist Scott McNicol. The piece is titled “Who’s in Charge,” and it has become a central fixture to the gardens and greenspace. Get your phones out and snap a photo of you and your friends with this grand landmark. And if you post a photo with the big fella, tag us in on Instagram @visitelorafergus.
Be sure to seek out the artisan shops too, featuring hand-crafted pieces of pottery, jewellery, blown and designed glass creations, fine art paintings, wood working, quilts, photography and more. Best of all, most times you’ll get you’ll meet the maker and talk about their inspiration. Living here is inspiration enough.
You’ll find even more art in the heart of Elora at the Elora Centre for the Arts. Located just a few blocks from downtown, at the cross of Melville and Mill Streets, sits a historic landmark that has been lovingly restored as a celebration of the local arts community. The old walls are alive and thriving with creative energy. Take in a free art exhibit in the Minarovich Gallery and browse local wares in the Artisan Shop. The grounds include the Outdoor Pathways Project outdoor art pieces and sculpture, a beautiful spot to picnic and appreciate that art is everywhere here.
The Wellington County Museum and Archives isn’t just another landmark building – it’s one of the most stunning and historically significant buildings in our area, set high atop a hill, stoically perched in the center of Fergus and Elora.
The building itself is a testament to time. Built in 1877, the Poor House and Industrial Farm offered lodging for the homeless and poor in Wellington County. It operated until 1947. It is the oldest remaining House of Industry and Refuge in Canada, earning its status as a National Historic Site.
If genealogy is your hobby, the modern archives are a treasure trove of history from communities across Wellington County. Inside the museum, a host of exhibits, some that travel and others that proudly share the artifacts and personal mementos that tell the stories of the people who shaped this land. Explorers and pioneers. Innovators and aggravators. Those who sought refuge and those who gave it. Heroes and heroines. Legends in time.
Tour the exhibit halls, gallery space, the gift shop and step back in time, into the meticulously restored heritage barn. Wander through the fragrant blooms of the many gardens including the Victorian garden, and Butterfly Garden, Woodland and Cottage Garden, bringing the flora and fauna of the past into the present.
Walk the path into a forest that lends land to the Poor House Cemetery, a tribute that honours the almost 300 souls who were buried on the grounds of the former Poor House. If you listen, you may hear their voices in the wind. The ghost stories of this grand old building are legendary. And true. Boo! Cool, right?
This is also a great place to park the car and tour the Elora Cataract Trails, walking/cycling trails that lead you to Elora, Fergus and beyond. Be sure to experience the Aboyne Trail adjacent to the museum, leading you through the forest to the riverbanks of the Grand River, with spectacular views atop the Trestle Bridge over the Grand River. From this vantage point, you can imagine the grand structure of the former Poor House and Industrial Farm as it was stood, before the towns around it were built up to modern day. www.wellington.ca
If you’ve never experienced the live-action thrill of getting up-close to the finish line, the thunder of hooves on the track, the cheers of the crowd, the excitement as the horses take that last turn for the straightaway, then we encourage you to enjoy a summer night at Grand River Raceway.
From June to September, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night, enjoy family-friendly fun and the sport of harness racing. We bet you’ll love it.
Make a night of it. Whether you want to enjoy dinner in the Captain’s Quarters, with televised viewing of the races at every table, or take a seat to enjoy casual dining trackside in The GrandWay Lounge, you’re in for a treat. If you want to grab a quick bite so you can stand at the rail and cheer, enjoy barbecue favourites served fresh and hot from vendors on the tarmac every Friday night.
Beginning June 24, Grand River Raceway is hosting Food Truck Fridays. With lots of great food options, enjoy casual dining with unique treats and classic food truck favourites!
Starting June 23, Thursday nights will include live entertainment too. Enjoy dinner and drinks on The GrandWay Patio and enjoy the music and the races. That’s a great night out!
It’s a fun summer night under the bright lights.
But the excitement doesn’t end there. Grand River Raceway shares its home with the newly expanded Elements Casino Grand River. With all the excitement of more than 500 slot machines and the most popular electronic video tables, the gaming options will test your luck and hopefully have you yelling “Jackpot!”
Anytime is a good time to get in on the fun. Elements Casino Grand River is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Parking is always free.
Lots of places host world-class festivals, but in Elora and Fergus, we host THREE. That’s right, three epic festivals in the span of two months. And when we throw a party, the world shows up.
From international musicians and performers, dancers, athletes and the party-goers who know this is the place to be, people travel from all over to come to take part in our epic festivals. You should too.
Prepare to extend your stay. As we like to say: We put the festive in festivals.
Now in its 43rd season, the Elora Festival has expanded our musical horizons as Canada’s international choral festival. Celebrating a diverse spectrum of musical experiences and genres, including classical, international music, jazz and folk, and featuring Canadian and international artists, this festival has put Elora on an impressive musical map.
In previous seasons, the Elora Festival has drawn renowned talent, from the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Trinity College Choir, the State Choir LATVIJA and lyrical legends like Gordon Lightfoot, Holly Cole, Sarah McLachlan, Jesse Cook, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Randy Bachman, Ben Heppner, Chantal Kreviazuk, Natalie Macmaster and Measha Brueggergosman.
The Elora Festival takes place over three weekends from July 8 – 24, 2022. This season promises to fill our hearts with music. With local venues including the iconic Gambrel Barn, St. John’s Anglican Church and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, in Fergus. During the Elora Festival weekends, Music in the Village performances will take place for free at Green Space in Elora, on the corners of East Mill and Metcalfe Streets.
The hallmark of the festival is the ensemble-in-residence, The Elora Singers, one of Canada’s finest professional chamber choirs, under the helm of Mark Vuorinen, artistic director and conductor of the Elora Festival. This season The Elora Singers will launch the festival with a performance of Bach B Minor Mass, and perform Evensong. They will also perform with two of the festival’s guest artists: Sarah Slean and the Canadian Brass.
When the Elora Festival is on, Elora sounds beautiful. For the full line-up of artists and performances visit www.elorafestival.ca
Gather your friends and head down to the river for three awesome days and three epic nights of more than 50 of the hottest acts you’ll see at any music festival anywhere, ever. Seriously. Riverfest Elora is literally the coolest ticket in town.
From August 19th to 21st, Riverfest Elora turns up the amps and gathers the masses to dance beneath the summer sun until the stars blanket the night skies and the stage lights cascade over the crowds of thousands. It’s a sea of happy souls dancing together. We call it being a #RiverFriend. You can be one of us too.
Check out the some of the best big name Canadian bands, international headliners, indie acts and eclectic performers you may not know yet, but you will. Careers get launched here. But you’re thinking small town, small festival, right?
Nope. Riverfest Elora is a BIG deal. Here’s just a few of the acts that have rolled into town in the past years of the little festival that has grown to welcome the likes of City and Colour, Monster Truck, The Sheep Dogs, The Beaches, Blue Rodeo, Arkells, K.Flay, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dear Rouge, The Flaming Lips, K-OS, A Tribe Called Red, July Talk and more. So many more.
Take it all in from the beautiful greenspace of Bissell Park in the heart of Elora, on the edge of the Grand River.
Riverfest Elora celebrates all the charm of the village that hosts the epic music festival, respecting the environmental impact and offering fresh, clean water from the Water Buggy. This year, enjoy local beers and ciders in recyclable cans. There are food trucks that bring flavourful creations to keep everyone happy, an Artisan Alley to check out some fine artisan creations and some very cool outdoor art to make the whole scene just that much more unique. Seriously. It’s that cool.
Ya dinnae have to be Scottish to take part in the best celebration of all things Scottish this side of the pond, because if you love great music, serious athleticism, dancing and the sound of bagpipes and drums, and perhaps a wee dram of Scotch (whisky), you’ll enjoy never forget the fun you had at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games, from August 12-14th, 2022.
Organizers call this festival experience “Scotland without the airfare.” That sums it up nicely. Celebrating Scottish heritage, culture and sport, you’ll be immersed in the sights, sounds and flavours of Scotland.
From the tradition of the Friday night Festival Tattoo, a moving welcoming procession that welcomes the gathering of the Clans. Follow that up with lively performance by The Red Hot Chili Pipers who will be sure to tilt yer kilt on opening night, sure to have everyone dancing.
Everywhere you look there is an experience to be had at the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Bring the whole family and join in the traditions of ancestry, representation from over 40 Clans, a heritage tent for storytelling, everything you need to trace your Scottish roots.
The McKiddie’s Centre will make the wee ones happy with crafts and hands-on activities.
With vendors selling wares from near and far, you’ll enjoy them in amongst the food vendors that bring the flavours of Scottish fare here. You don’t have to eat haggis, but you know … when in Fergus. Why not? Of course, the beer tents are always a great place to relax with old friends and new ones.
Music is a celebrated part of this festival. Take in the competitions in Highland Dance and the Pipes and Drums, and more. As you walk the grounds, the sounds are alive with the patter of drums and the haunting melodies of the bagpipes. You’ll swear you’ve been transplanted to the Highlands of Scotland. There is nothing quite like it.
If you’ve never seen someone toss a caber, a hammer or a sheaf, what are you waiting for? Because if you have witnessed the spectacle and the fun of the crowd’s enthusiasm as some of the biggest and strongest athletes you’ve ever seen, (in a kilt, no less) set to the task of serious competition, it’s truly something to experience. People travel from across the globe to compete in Fergus. The competition is fierce, but lifelong friendships are made here.
Come join in the fun of the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games. We’ve got something for everyone, Scottish or nae! (Kilts optional, but strongly encouraged). www.fergusscottishfestival.com
Another rite of summer passage here is a trip to the Quarry – and we’ve got TWO, so you’ve got options!
The Elora Quarry is a two-acre former limestone quarry, renowned for its deep emerald green water and sandy beach, a picturesque oasis carved into the steep 12 metre hight limestone cliffs. It is one of the most popular destinations in town to enjoy a hot summer day. Book online for admission!
This day-use property is tree covered and suitable for picnicking as well as short walks along the one kilometre trail. The park offers vault toilets, change rooms and picnic tables. But please keep your dogs at home!
It also happens to be a very famous location for movie crews. The Elora Quarry has been featured in many films, but you may recognize it from Stephen King’s horror film “IT.” (Don’t worry, we’ve checked all the grates. No clowns.)
Everything you need to know to plan your Elora Quarry adventure is here: http://www.grandriver.ca/EloraQuarry
We don’t do boring. This is a place where there is always something to do, something to see, somewhere to go. Where do you want to start? Pick your season. We’ll give you a reason to come explore Elora and Fergus. And hopefully, we will inspire your return trip too.
We’ve assembled a few of our favourite seasonal events, the annual fun we never miss. But we love to be spontaneous too. You just never know what impromptu event will come up, but we know you’ll want to be there, so for current event listings, dates and locations, visit our Events page.
When the thaw of winter gives rise to daffodils and the hearty crocus, the waters of the Grand River rush with the melt of snow and the earth comes alive again. Fergus and Elora are beautiful places to shake off the winter and step into spring.
The trees and flowers bloom, making our trails a beautiful place to see the birds, get outdoors and get some exercise. And soon, the sun will warm the waters of Belwood Lake and the Grand River. The fish will be biting, which will make those who fish our waters very happy. Ah, Spring. You’re beautiful here.
Ah summer, the perfect time to visit Elora and Fergus. You can bask beneath the summer sun by the emerald waters of the Elora Quarry or stretch out on the sandy shores at the Belwood Lake spring-fed quarry. Bump through the white waters of the Grand River or fly fish in the cool streams.
You can rent a bike, go for a hike along the Elora Cataract Trail, or paddle a canoe or take your sweetheart for a gondola ride along the Grand River. Picnic among the sunflowers of the Fieldstone Barn or the in the greenspace of the Elora Centre for the Arts. Summers here are full of possibilities.
We are home to three of the best music and cultural festivals you’re ever going to find in one area, all in the month of August. Come for one or stay for all.
If you enjoy choral and classical music, we’ve got that. The Elora Festival brings the world to our small stages.
Riverfest Elora rocks out Bissell Park for three days and nights of incredible live music, with a line-up of bands you won’t believe, drawing in thousands of music lovers to party riverside.
And for an entire weekend, people from around the world descend on Fergus to celebrate all things Scotland. Whether you can claim Scottish heritage or just want to claim it for the weekend, get to the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
You simply can’t beat that our festivals. Seriously, you can’t.
Yes, it’s the perfect time to visit us. The patios are open. The water is cold. The happenings are hot. You won’t even believe all the ice cream we have here. Best of all, shopping is always in season.
Fall in love with autumn here. Our landscape is a spectacle of crimson reds, bright yellows, oranges and deep greens made all the more spectacular along our trails, riverbanks and the caverns of the Elora Gorge.
As we celebrate the harvest season, it’s also a time of hometown traditions and community celebrations. We’re happy to share the bounty of the season. We also highly recommend you get the kid’s out of the city to learn about their rural roots at our charming Fergus Fall Fair.
Make a weekend of it. Gather your friends and map out your inspiration with the Elora Fergus Studio Tour. Explore private workshops and studios and meet the makers of the fine art that has made Elora and Fergus a hub of diverse creativity and inspiration. Autumn is awesome here.
When the snow falls and ice forms long sharp teeth against the limestone rocks that envelope the Grand River, the view is spectacular. The Elora Gorge is an icicle fortress, where ice climbers gear up for a climb to the top, and the trails are set for cross-country skiing and snow shoeing.
The view of the Grand River through Fergus is picturesque, as the water rushes through leaving a frozen mist on the trees. When the ice is thick, Belwood Lake offers ice fishing, and snowmobiles tour special trails to get out into the countryside. It’s cold out there, but it’s warm inside our pubs, restaurants, specialty coffee shops.
‘Tis the season to be merry and we can help with that too. Christmas shopping will become a special tradition. Begin your holiday memories here.
As you can see, we pack a lot in here, because life is Grand and Gorgeous all year round. There’s more. Much more. But you know, we didn’t want to overwhelm you. We suggest you check our calendar of events for new and upcoming events, locations and details.
Our landscape is changing as we grow to become a premiere destination, but that just means you’ll find new things to explore when you return. So plan to come back. Often.
We miss you already.
Forget amusement parks, our thrill rides are the real deal and Mother Nature is in control. You’ll never get a better view of the Elora Gorge than from the waters of the Grand River, and you’ll never have more fun than doing so than on a big, bouncy inflatable inter-tube.
Choose your own adventure to suit your thrill tolerance. From the rush of water rapids in the echo of the Elora Gorge, to a more relaxed go-with-the-flow of a journey on the Grand River between Fergus and Elora, you’ve got options. And if you’ve got time, why not do both?
Tubing is fast, fun and unforgettable. Prepare to make a big splash and scream a little, (or a lot) on a self-guided journey that moves fast over rapids and slows down in the smooth warm pools between the limestone cliffs inside the Elora Gorge Conservation Park. There is no view like it.
Start your journey by renting your equipment at the launch point inside the Elora Gorge Conservation Area and launch yourself into the river rapids for a twisting, turning journey. You wanted adventure? You’ve found it. Book online at www.grandriver.ca
Elora Rapids gives you two options to experience the Grand River. Book your inflatable tubes and gear online and then select the route best suited for you. If you’re up for the rush of river inside the Elora Gorge Conservation Area, you can rent your equipment from them and venture into the park’s tube launch site.
But if you want to a more relaxed river experience, with less bounce and more go-with-flow, tubing is equally as fun. Elora Rapids will send you down river, but first they’ll drop you off upstream. Their shuttle bus drop-off service will take you to launch point in downtown Fergus, where you and your friends will board your tubes and meander along the expanse of the Grand River in casual comfort, enjoying the views of the homes, greenspaces and surely some wildlife along the shorelines all the way to the Elora. You’ll get a rivers edge view of Fergus and Elora; a unique perspective for two distinctive towns.
Maybe you’d prefer to ride the rapids on a River Bug. Not an actual bug, of course. That would be silly. We mean a River Bug, from the Elora Raft Rides. River Bugs are a one-person catamaran raft that puts you in the driver’s seat right on top of the water for a journey of fun you won’t forget. Take the trip down the Grand River from Confederation Park in Fergus to Bissell Park in Elora to enjoy an experience that is better than smooth sailing and is sure to be a blast.
Admit it, you really want to tell your friends you’ve been on a River Bug. Yeah, you do. www.eloraraftrides.com
Paddlers know the pleasure that comes from exploring the beauty of the Grand River from the smooth glide of a canoe so close to the water that your sensory becomes one with nature. The rest of the world seems to fall away with the motion of the paddle stroke dipping into the shining water and the shared experience of maneuvering a canoe with your fellow adventurer. It’s a very Canadian thing to do.
Don’t know how? No worries. There’s no experience necessary. The experienced team at Elora Paddle Company will suit you up and give you easy instructions to set your course on this gentle stretch of river. The 45-minute rental gives you a self-guided tour from the dock ideally located in the heart of Elora. From here you can set a course eastward to beautiful Bissell Park, where you can paddle up to be waterfall and tour past the natural beauty of rocks and find treasure in the fossils on the shoreline, or paddle west out to the centre of town get a view of the historic town from the water.
The Elora Paddle Company has created an authentic family-friendly Elora experience for those who know there is nothing like getting out on the water. Book your canoe online and get ready for fun. www.elorapaddlecompany.ca.
Sit back and let someone else navigate the waters, learn about local history, see the natural beauty of the area and tour the town from the waters of the Grand River with Elora Raft Rides. Their unique, locally-fabricated watercraft will take you and yours on a pleasure cruise in the comfort of their Classic Punts. They have so many cruising options we don’t have room to explain all the cool things you can do with Elora Raft Rides, so visit them at www.eloraraftrides.com and create a memorable experience all your own.
It’s not just shopping when you love it. It’s a serious commitment. We understand. Our downtown shopkeepers understand it too. Independently owned and operated, they are the heart of our historic downtowns. You’ll be charmed the moment you walk inside one of our beautiful boutiques, artisan studios or seek out antique treasures. Explore the culture of our specialty shops or find your forever piece of eclectic home décor.
We want you to have a memorable experience. Our shops feature one-of-a-kind finds and classic pieces, while our shopkeepers welcome you with genuine customer appreciation. While you find that one perfect thing you didn’t even know you were looking for, we know you’ll be falling in love with a few other unexpected treasures along the way. It’s okay to flirt before you buy.
Plan your route and take your time. Embrace the Scottish essence that historic downtown Fergus has to offer at www.downtownfergus.com. Or stroll the streets in Elora and enjoy the allure of its artistic vibe. www.elora.info
One day you’ll recall who you were with, how much fun you had and the story behind that treasure you found here. This is much more than retail therapy; this is true love.
We couldn’t have predicted the ramifications of what COVID-19 would do to our communities, our businesses, our festivals and events – and our future – particularly in an area where tourism is vital to our local economy.
But we know that the very things that make Fergus and Elora “Grand and Gorgeous” are the vibes of our neighbourhoods, the richness of our natural environment, our vibrant shops, boutiques, bars and pubs, and the arts and culture that aren’t just dates on a calendar, but are the essence of who we are together.
Sure, it’s different now. For a little while longer, we’re going to go with the flow and do our part to flatten the curve without losing our shape (we’ve got fabulous curves). As we roll out openings and make changes to our incredible shops and boutiques, restaurants and pubs, for the safety of everyone, we hope you’ll be patient.
Our trails are spectacular and fresh air is always healthy. We invite you to come and explore the views. The autumn colours right now are absolutely spectacular. Getting outdoors and taking in the sites is not only good for you, but it’s good for us too. It means we all remember what matters, how grateful we are to have the beauty of nature, and keeps us active while apart. Because one day, when this is over – and it will be over – we’re going to gather again. And we want you to come back. You’ll know your way around for your next visit!
And one day soon, when the world returns to a place where we can come together and celebrate the good life, you can bet we’re going to have some epic events. Better days ahead.
Christmas shopping should always be this much fun!
We love shopping in Downtown Fergus any time of year, but on November 30th, 2018, the shops really go out of their way to create a very merry experience for one and all. It’s Christmas shopping the way it was meant to be.
And that’s part of the small town charm of events like Late Night Sip’n Shop. We go from store to store in search of treasures. Half the fun is in the discovery. Sometimes we know the treasures we seek and other times, the joy is in finding the perfect gift for that super hard-to-buy-for-person, or the perfect little something for that the extra special person on our list, (and let’s face it, we also like to “help” our family by finding new items for our own personal holiday wish list, because really, it’s just being helpful, right?). From hostess gifts to teachers presents, we need new ideas. This is where we find them.
Late Night Sip’n Shop is further enhanced by the delicious offerings of participating stores to warm you up and make the experience a flavourful one. Enjoy hot chocolates, ciders, egg nog and other specialty beverages, with samples of treats and sweets too. Consider it a holiday party in a neighbourhood of stores!
But it’s about more than shopping. Late Night Sip’n Shop is also about the traditions we love to see and hear at this time of year, like voices singing carols in unison, and children surrounding the chosen Christmas tree behind the Fergus Library, where everyone gathers waiting for the annual reveal of the spectacular lights, and all the decorations of shop windows. Then, of course, Santa Claus needs to make an appearance, because he really is the best guy to have at a party like this!
Shopping local is about more than convenience here. We love our downtown shopkeepers. They are friendly people who have created unique retail locations that offer genuine, welcoming service. They love what they do and that makes it easy to support them. You don’t have to be from town to get the same service we locals do. That’s the whole point. Every customer matters and you’ll know it when you shop here.
So join in the fun of a night of relaxed holiday shopping, joyful family-friendly events, and us singing horribly off-key, because Christmas carols are awesome. Experience all downtown Fergus has to offer. You’ll see why we love it here.