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By Emily Hearn

Photo by Ron Porter

School’s out for summer! First of all, congratulations to students and parents alike on another school year come to a close. Although many families in Guelph plan their summer way ahead of time, there may still be some free days here and there that need filling. If that’s the case for you, here are some fun, affordable ideas to counter any “I’m bored…” or “There’s nothing to do…” moments that may arise throughout the summer.

  1. Tie up your walking shoes and take a Historical Walking Tour around Guelph

With six different tours to choose from, you and your family can explore the rich cultural history of Guelph guided by knowledgeable and friendly volunteers. Whether your interests lie in architecture or interesting historical events and periods – or you just like the exercise –there is a Historical Walking Tour for you.

Take a peek at the Guelph Arts Council events calendar to either book ahead or find out where to meet your Tour Guide. Each tour is only $5, and it is well worth it.

Walking tours are a fun, affordable, eco-friendly, interactive (and active) way of getting to know the place where you live. Can’t get enough? Hard copy informational booklets for each tour, including architectural drawings, are available as a keepsake for $5. Buy one you’re your tour guide, the Guelph Arts Council, The Bookshelf, or Guelph Civic Museum. Digital booklets can also be downloaded online. So throw on some comfy shoes, sunscreen, and sunglasses –maybe even rubber boots and a raincoat, if the weather calls for it – and become a tourist in your own city!

  1. Take a trip to the museum

If you’re looking for an educational activity that’s far away from desks and laptops, you might consider planning a visit to Guelph Civic Museum this summer! There are always great temporary exhibits being showcased there, as well as year-round galleries to document Guelph’s rich history. Admission is $5 per person, or $15 for the whole family. On Fourth Fridays, admission is free after 5 PM and a visit becomes an event, with live music and other activities.

This summer Guelph Museums, Guelph Pride, and Guelph Arts Council have partnered up to present the most recent edition of “Wall of Art,” featuring the work of local LGBT2Q+ artists and allies that will be installed throughout the larger exhibit “Guelph Pride 2018: Celebrating 15 Years” until July 29th. This could provide a great opportunity to open up conversations with older children about equality, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Don’t feel left out if you are a family with younger kids – you can certainly still visit “Wall of Art.” But if that doesn’t suit your fancy, the Civic Museum also offers The Royal City Families Gallery, a popular interactive way of exploring Guelph’s history.

  1. Catch a live show or jam session together

Maybe you’re looking to shake things up a little to keep life interesting. The good news is, you don’t even have to leave town to do so! If you and your family are craving some creativity and energy, swing by Silence Sounds for one of their regular events.

For the early risers, Silence has Morning Music where you can bring $5 or a breakfast food to share and enjoy some improvisational music with talented locals every Monday. Or if evening activity is more your family’s style, check out Silence Open Mic nights on the first and third Wednesdays of every month. These open mic shows feature all kinds of artists, including musicians and singers, are all ages, and are pay-what-you-can.

For other events hosted by Silence Sounds, check out their handy calendar.

  1. Foster your child’s creativity through open-ended activities

If you haven’t taken your child to Children’s Art Factory yet, you need to very soon! Almost every day (except for Sundays and Mondays) CAF offers an exciting drop-in space for children ages 3 to 10 to explore, play, and make messes. One $12 admission fee, and you and your child are welcome to stay for as long as you’d like – or at least until closing time.

The space is set up with several different stations that your child can explore. Whether your child prefers painting and drawing or building and acting, CAF certainly has at least one station they’ll love. CAF encourages messy, uninstructed, open-ended play in order to foster your child’s true creative spirit. After a long year of rules and instructions, it might be nice to let your kids go wild!

  1. Browse downtown and attend a free concert

Thanks to the Downtown Guelph Business Association and RBC, St. George’s Square is filled with music every Friday at noon hour for everyone to enjoy at no cost. Feel free to use one of the provided sun loungers to get a closer look, or grab some food to nibble on while listening. You can keep track of who is playing on Facebook or browse the line-up.

Afterwards, why not visit some local businesses in downtown Guelph? Our downtown is a fun, diverse area and it never hurts to support local!

Not available Fridays? You’re not out of luck. Guelph Concert Band puts on free concerts on Sunday evenings in Royal City Park, next to the playground and across from the Boathouse Tea Room (famous for its ice cream!). Grab a lawn chair or a blanket and catch the band at 7 as they take to the gazebo bandstand to play an hour of fun, catchy music for all ages.


To learn more about local arts-related events, feel free to drop by the Guelph Arts Council office during business hours and ask away! Guelph has tons to offer over the summer for people of all ages and abilities. You don’t even have to spend an arm and a leg to have a good time here! Be sure to keep a look out for more events becoming available in the next months. Hopefully your summer with your family is filled with happy memories to hold on to for years to come, regardless of how you choose to spend it.

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