Behind the Scenery
Join actor, writer and director Jonathan Biggins for a feast of theatre, music, ballet and art including a week at Canada’s two internationally-recognised theatre festivals – the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival.
In Canada’s cultural capital of Toronto, enjoy a performance by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and innovative contemporary ballet by the National Ballet of Canada, and visit the nation’s foremost art galleries and museums. Then travel to the charming towns of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Stratford in Southern Ontario to revel in a wealth of Canadian and international theatre at the Shaw and Stratford festivals, the cultural highlight of the Canadian summer.
Take advantage of an optional pre-tour starting in Vancouver and then crossing the Canadian Rockies on board the famous Rocky Mountaineer train to Banff and Lake Louise.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
In the morning, depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Air Canada flights to Toronto via Vancouver. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Arrive in Toronto in the afternoon (same day) and make your way to the hotel.
In the evening, enjoy a special welcome dinner with Jonathan and fellow travellers.
This morning, enjoy a guided tour of the Art Gallery of Ontario, one of the country’s most significant cultural institutions, containing the world’s largest collection of Canadian art, as well as paintings, prints, sculpture and video art from Europe, Africa and Oceania.
Lunch and the afternoon are at leisure to acquaint yourself with central Toronto, whose dynamic energy powers much of Canada’s commerce, politics and culture.
This evening, attend a performance of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra featuring Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Dvořák’s Symphony No 8.
Enjoy a guided tour of the Royal Ontario Museum, the nation’s largest museum, which is famous for its vast and varied collection of Canadiana ranging from dinosaur fossils to art and world history – more than six million items across 40 galleries.
Return to the hotel with free time for lunch, followed by a matinée performance by the National Ballet of Canada. In its world premiere season, the ballet Frame by Frame takes as its subject the legendary Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren, whose innovative approach to filmmaking and animation made him one of the pioneers of synchronised music and animation. The ballet is a collaboration between director Robert Lepage and the National Ballet’s Principal Dancer, Guillaume Côté.
After the ballet, enjoy dinner atop Toronto’s iconic CN Tower, the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere.
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and drive to Niagara Falls. The spectacular trio of waterfalls drain Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, and an average volume of 2,400 m³ – the equivalent of an Olympic swimming pool – cascades over the falls every second. Enjoy a boat trip amidst the mists of the falls, and then free time for lunch.
In the afternoon, drive to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, situated on the shores of Lake Ontario, our base for the next four nights.
The Shaw Festival
The Shaw Festival began in 1962 as a joint venture between an Ontario playwright and an Upstate New York businessman, and is hosted in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake that straddles the border between their two countries. Its founding mission was to promote the appreciation of the plays of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries, and it has since grown to become one of the great theatre festivals of the world, with its aim to present plays written in or about the Shavian Era (1856-1950) – ‘the beginning of the modern world’. While the 2018 schedule will not be announced until December 2017, to give you a taste of what to expect, the 2017 festival featured performances ranging from Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion to Bennett’s The Madness of George III and the musical Me and My Girl.
Today, begin three days of theatre performances at Canada’s famous Shaw Festival. Enjoy a morning talk by Jonathan on the day’s performance.
Note: We will be attending one play in the Shaw Festival every day. Tickets for additional plays may be arranged through Renaissance Tours (additional cost applies).
(Shaw Festival performances to be confirmed in late 2017)
On your second day at the Shaw Festival, begin with a morning talk by Jonathan on the day’s performance, with the remainder of the morning and lunch at leisure. Enjoy a matinée play in the afternoon.
The evening is at leisure.
After a morning talk on the day’s entertainment, enjoy a matinée performance, rounding out our third day at the Shaw Festival.
The Stratford Festival
The town of Stratford was founded in 1832 and named after Stratford-upon-Avon in England. Appropriately, it has since become the home of an internationally-renowned Shakespeare festival.
The Stratford Festival began in 1953 when Alec Guinness and Irene Worth starred in a performance of Richard III, working for expenses only, in a canvas tent on the banks of the river. Over the intervening decades, the festival has grown to become an internationally-acclaimed fixture of Shakespearean theatre, but now also encompasses theatre from Greek tragedy to Broadway musicals. The 2018 line-up will be announced in November of this year, but as an indication of what to look forward to, recent years’ festivals have included Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Twelfth Night, Molière’s Tartuffe, Sophocles’s Oedipus the King and musical favourites such as Guys and Dolls and HMS Pinafore.
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and travel to the charming town of Stratford, in the centre of Southern Ontario.
After lunch at a local restaurant, begin the first of three days at the Stratford Festival with a matinée play. In the late afternoon, check in to the hotel before an evening at leisure.
Note: We will be attending one play in the Stratford Festival every day. Tickets for additional plays may be arranged through Renaissance Tours (additional cost applies).
(Stratford Festival performances to be confirmed.)
Begin your second day at the Stratford Festival with a talk by Jonathan on the day’s performance. Stroll through the elegantly landscaped gardens of central Stratford on a guided tour, visiting the rose arbours and gentle water pools of Elizabeth Garden and the Arthur Meighen Gardens.
After free time for lunch, enjoy a matinée performance, followed by an evening at leisure.
This morning attend a talk by Jonathan before a guided backstage tour of the Festival Theatre, discovering some of the secrets of how the festival’s performances are produced.
Spend some time at leisure for lunch before a matinée performance, capping off our final day at the Stratford Festival. In the evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner with Jonathan and fellow travellers.
Spend a morning and early afternoon at leisure, before a mid-afternoon check out from the hotel and transfer to Toronto Airport.
Tour arrangements conclude on arrival at Toronto airport. Suggested return flights to Australia or New Zealand from 20:00. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
09 April 2018
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require visas for Canada.
Tour prices includes
- Accommodation in centrally located 4 star superior hotels, with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (R = Reception, L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wines
- A-reserve tickets for performances by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and National Ballet of Canada, and for three plays in the Shaw Festival and three plays in the Stratford Festival
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Jonathan Biggins
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Hotel/airport transfer on tour departure
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour prices does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Airport/hotel transfer on tour arrival
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Toronto – Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre ****+
Niagara-on-the-Lake – Shaw Club Hotel ****
Stratford – Bruce Hotel ****
NB: Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.