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Shaw & Stratford Festival

August 27 departure: ONE SEAT LEFT

This is Ontario’s summer theatre at its finest! When the Canada National Railway left Stratford in 1952, a theatre troupe saved the town by creating a new industry that has attracted crowds for over 60 years. Your Stratford Festival experience begins with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Festival’s Archives followed by an evening performance of Billy Elliott the Musical. Based on the 2000 film Billy Elliott, the music is by Elton John and the plot revolves around a British motherless boy who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes.

In the morning, meander the quaint Mennonite village of St. Jacob’s, replete with horses and carriages. After lunch, travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a performance at the Shaw Festival. Experience the classic production Brigadoon, which tells the story of two American tourists who stumble upon Brigadoon, a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every 100 years. Songs from the musical, such as “Almost Like Being in Love” have become standards. Round out your stay with a visit to Fort George Historic Site and a wine tasting, tour, and lunch and train ride at Puddicombe Estate Winery.

Stratford Archives Tour

Tour the new exhibition of costumes, props and images from past productions of Othello and Antony and Cleopatra, plays that focus on relationships – and clashes – between people from very different backgrounds.

Founded in 1967, the Archives hold records of our story right back to 1952. We house many rare and unique artefacts, including the robe worn by Alec Guinness in the inaugural 1953 production of Richard III, archival videos of productions, a chair reputed to have been owned by William Shakespeare and a copy of the Fourth Folio of Shakespeare’s works.

We also hold the personal archives of such Festival artists as Tanya Moiseiwitsch, Brian Jackson, Richard Monette and Stanley Silverman.


Festival theatre

When the railway industry pulled out of Stratford in the early 1950s, journalist Tom Patterson had an idea for breathing new life into his native city’s economy: a festival of Shakespearean theatre.

Canadian theatre pioneer Dora Mavor Moore put him in touch with legendary British director Tyrone Guthrie. Intrigued by a transatlantic telephone call, Guthrie visited Stratford to see if Patterson’s idea might be viable – and ended up becoming the first Artistic Director.

The Festival was legally incorporated on October 31, 1952.

A concrete amphitheatre was built to hold a revolutionary thrust stage conceived by Guthrie and designer Tanya Moiseiwitsch – the same stage that is the heart of the Festival Theatre today. For the inaugural season, though, and the three that followed it, the stage and auditorium were housed under a giant canvas tent.

The road to completion was fraught with difficulty. In May 1953, it seemed as if the entire daring venture would founder for lack of funds. But building contractor Oliver Gaffney kept his men working regardless, until last-minute donations by Governor General Vincent Massey and the Perth Mutual Insurance Company saved the day.

On the night of July 13, 1953, the first season opened with Guthrie’s production of Richard III, starring Alec Guinness in the title role. The play’s opening lines – “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York” – marked the beginning of an astonishing new chapter in Canadian theatre.

That first season’s company included several young actors who would go on to become major figures on the Canadian cultural landscape, including Douglas Campbell, Timothy Findley, Don Harron, William Hutt and Douglas Rain.

Drawing inspiration from the Elizabethan apron stage, the ancient Greek amphitheatres and the Roman arenas, the thrust stage designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch revolutionized the performance of Shakespeare.

The theatre seats well over 1,800 people, yet no spectator is more than 65 feet from the stage.

In 1956, under Artistic Director Michael Langham, work began on a permanent theatre to house the Moiseiwitsch stage. Designed by Robert Fairfield, the Festival Theatre has a circular floor plan and a “pie-crust” roof, echoing the Festival’s origins under canvas.

Despite the challenges posed by Stratford’s location in a snow belt, building was completed in time for the next season. The new Festival Theatre was dedicated on Sunday, June 30, 1957, and the following night saw the opening of Langham’s production of Hamlet, with Christopher Plummer in the title role.

Over the ensuing decades, the Festival attracted some of the world’s most celebrated actors, including Alan Bates, Zoe Caldwell, Paul Scofield, Maggie Smith and Peter Ustinov, and became a long-time home for such no less stellar artists as Brian Bedford, Brent Carver, Colm Feore, Martha Henry and Stephen Ouimette, to name just a few.

Source: stratfordfestival.ca

Stratford Festival performance of Billy Elliott

Dreams don’t come easy in the hardscrabble mining town, riven by a bitter national strike, where eleven-year-old Billy lives with his bereaved family. But Billy’s discovery of his talent for dance awakens in him a passion that will transform his life and win the hearts of his whole community.

With its inspirational story, moving dance numbers and music by pop legend Elton John, this gritty new take on the smash-hit show – reimagined for Stratford – really packs a punch.


St Jacobs

The Village of St. Jacobs is a beloved destination steeped in history and set in a charming location along the Conestoga River.
It’s a community known for originality and its dozens of independent, one-of-a-kind shops.
St. Jacobs is renowned among savvy shoppers as a place that blends the pleasures of a pastoral setting with a remarkable shopping experience!
The real magic is in visiting St. Jacobs,  finding your favourite things while getting to know the shopkeepers and the charm of the town.

The area is also home to approximately 4,000 Old Order Mennonites whose farms dot the surrounding countryside, lending a pastoral tranquility to the area much as they have for generations.

Source: stjacobs.com

Shaw Festival production of Brigadoon

“That’s funny. There’s no town called Brigadoon
on the map.” 

What would you give up for love? Stumbling upon a magical village that appears out of the Scottish mist for one day every century, Tommy, a modern boy, meets Fiona, a girl from the past. Should he stay with her in Brigadoon, or return to the world he knows and never see her again? This feast of song and dance from Lerner and Loewe (the team behind My Fair Lady) has been entrancing audiences for more than seven decades. Classic songs like “Almost like being in love” and “I’ll go home with Bonnie Jean” will stay with you forever.

Source: shawfest.com

The Shaw Festival: In the spirit of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival provokes the mind and stirs the soul through a theatre experience so compelling that, year after year, ever broadening groups of artists, audiences and supporters are drawn to our work in Niagara-on-the-Lake and beyond.

Source: shawfest.com

Niagara-on-the-Lake  sits on the shores of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara River. It’s known for its wineries and the summer Shaw Festival, a series of theatre productions. The flower-filled, tree-lined old town features 19th-century buildings, mainly along Queen Street. Near the river, 19th-century Fort George was built by the British to defend against American attacks.

Niagara-on-the-Lake was originally known as Butlersburg, in honour of Colonel John Butler, the commander of Butler’s Rangers. The Town received an official status in 1781 when it became known as Newark, a British military site and haven for British loyalists fleeing the United States in the volatile aftermath of the American Revolution. Later, it changed names again, this time to Niagara. Niagara was named the first capitol of Upper Canada (now the province of Ontario), and the first provincial parliament was convened at Navy Hall in 1792 by Lieutenant-Govenor John Graves Simcoe. During the War of 1812, the capitol was moved to York (later to be renamed as Toronto) so as to be farther from the areas of combat.

The Town played a central part in the War or 1812. It was taken by American forces after a two-day bombardment by cannons from Fort Niagara and the American Fleet, followed by a bloody battle. Later in the war the Town was razed and burnt to the ground by American soldiers as they withdrew to Fort Niagara. Undaunted by this setback, the citizens rebuilt the Town after the War, with the residential quarter around Queen Street and toward King Street, where the new Court House was rebuilt out of firing range of the cannons of Fort Niagara.

You will find whimsical boutiques, antique shops, delightful bistros – and maybe even a horse drawn carriage or two!

Source: niagarafallstourism.com

Fort George

Soldiers in redcoats fire muskets, clouding the air with black powder smoke. Fifers’ and Drummers’ tunes drift past blockhouses, a historic powder magazine and cannons on the lookout. Step straight from the genteel Victorian town of Niagara-on-the-Lake into the War of 1812 at Fort George, a military post that defended Upper Canada against American attacks. Experience that era by tasting food cooked 19th century-style over an open flame, then fire a musket yourself!

Source: pc.gc.ca

Puddicombe Estate Winery

Mr. & Mrs. Puddicombe along with their four children and staff mission is to provide families with the opportunity to visit the countryside and embrace what Mother Nature provides us among family and friends. It’s the simple things in life that make all the difference and create the best ever-lasting memories. For more than 210 years Puddicombe Estate Farms & Winery has harvested its own fruits to provide fresh produce and a wide variety of value added products such as hand-baked pies, jams, jellies, cookies, tarts, strudels, cider, fudge and wines. In the last few years Puddicombe Estate has adopted a field to table approach with all of its catered events serving items grown and picked for the occasion right from the farm or brought in from other local growers within a 100 mile radius of Puddicombe Estate. Puddicombe Estate believes that a farm fresh meal is a very basic yet integral part of maintaining a strong bond with families and friends. We believe this philosophy strengthens our communities and enriches our lives.

 Source: Puddicombefarms.com

Deluxe motorcoach transportation, 2 nights accommodation, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners, all highlights listed, Tour Director, Connections Program and all taxes.

Prices are in Canadian dollars, are per person and include HST.

Included Highlights

• Stratford Festival archives tour
• Stratford Festival Performance: Billy Elliott the Musical
Shaw Festival Performance: Brigadoon
St. Jacobs
• Fort George
• Puddicombe Estate Winery guided tour by train, wine tasting, and lunch

Stratford: Best Western Plus the Arden Park Hotel (1 night)
Niagara-on-the-Lake: Pillar and Post or Queen’s Landing (1 night)


Stratford Festival Archives Tour and Performance

This afternoon, enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the Stratford Festival archives, a fascinating costume and prop warehouse, home to thousands of costumes and hundreds of props – one of the largest collections in North America. Check into your hotel late afternoon before enjoying dinner at the festival theatre followed by a performance of Billy Elliot the Musical.

Stay: Best Western Plus The Arden Park Hotel, Stratford
Nights: 1
Meals: D


St. Jacobs, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Shaw Festival Performance

Travel to St. Jacobs this morning where you will have time to explore lovely shops and sample tasty local fare. Arrive in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake and enjoy a free afternoon to relax at the hotel or explore this quaint village. This evening you’ll indulge in another fabulous dinner before your evening performance of Brigadoon at the Shaw Festival.

Stay: Pillar and Post or Queen’s Landing, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Nights: 1
Meals: B, L, D


Fort George and Puddicombe Estate Winery

After breakfast at the hotel, visit Fort George and then make your way to Puddicombe Estate Winery, where you’ll enjoy lunch, wine tasting and a tour of the winery by train. Journey home with fond memories of your getaway.

Meals: B, L


  • Sunscreen is an essential product to have, regardless of the climate. Since UV exposure is unavoidable, a hat and sunglasses are also suggested for your protection, even in the winter.
  • Mosquito repellent can prove useful in wooded areas or in the evenings in some regions.
  • Comfort is important when on vacation. Bring comfortable walking shoes. And loose, casual clothing is suggested to keep you cozy.
  • Pack extra batteries and memory cards for your camera.
  • Always pack an extra jacket or sweater in case of inclement weather or cooler evenings. DeNureTours recommends you dress in layers, so you can add or remove layers if the temperature rises or drops.
  • Use every corner, nook and cranny of your suitcase when packing. Rolled sweaters and bulky clothing occupy less space, but clothing that wrinkles easily should be laid flat. Roll socks or underclothing and pack them into shoes, and slip smaller items into side pockets.
  • Use sample-sized toiletry items and always transport containers of creams and liquids in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Keep an extra set of keys for your luggage.
  • Always prepare for the possibility of rain. An umbrella, or rain jacket will easily fit in your luggage, and could prove to be the most useful article you pack. When travelling as a couple, bring two so neither person gets half wet.
  • Pack your bathing suit.
  • Pack a good book, or a deck of cards to keep you busy during free time.
  • Leave items of monetary or sentimental value at home. Costume and faux jewelry always travels well.
  • If you require corrective lenses, pack an extra pair of glasses or contacts.
  • If you wear dentures, and have a second set, pack them just in case. You’d be surprised how often these important items end up where they shouldn’t.
  •  Not all hotel rooms are equipped with alarm clocks. While most hotels offer wake-up calls, a small travel alarm clock might prove useful.
  • Couples travelling together may find it wise to split their belongings between two suitcases. If one suitcase should go missing, neither person is left without a change of clothes.


  • Remember to pack any medications or prescriptions in your carry-on and not in your suitcase in case of emergency or luggage misplacement. Medications should be packed in their original containers for security reasons.
  • Keep a listing of your recent medical history with you, including medications you currently take, prescription or otherwise, as well as allergies you suffer from, and any medical conditions you have. Carry the listing in your wallet, and leave a copy with your emergency contact person at home.


  • Identify your luggage with an identification tag as well as your DeNureTours luggage tags.
  • If you carry travellers’ cheques, record the numbers of the cheques and keep this list in a separate location. When travelling as a couple, put some cheques in your partner’s name so you both have access to funds.
  • Always carry your travel insurance policy with you, and read it carefully before you leave.
  • Always carry your passport, or other important identification on your person. Make a photocopy to keep in your suitcase.
  • Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date. This is a requirement for entering certain countries.
  • Always check the spelling of your name on all documentation you receive. Often, your travel documents must match your passport or birth certificate. It is imperative that your legal name be listed correctly on your documents. Failure to comply may result in your being denied entry to a country, or boarding on an airplane or cruise ship. Name changes on documents may be subject to a change fee.
  • Use extra copies of your travel itinerary and hotel listing to distribute to friends or relatives, so you can be reached in case of emergency.
  • Keep a log of your purchases, including what you paid in foreign currency and the equivalent in Canadian dollars. This will assist you in filling out customs forms. Keep all receipts.

General Travel

  • Secure your home before you leave. Arrange for a friend or neighbour to pick up mail and check in periodically. Have someone cut your lawn (or shovel your driveway) and care for your property. Set automatic timers on the lights and television. Empty the refrigerator of perishables. Lower your thermostat to save on energy.
  • When flying, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and limit your intake of caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
  • To avoid circulatory problems on a plane or coach, walk up the aisle every hour or so. Periodically, stretch your legs, arms, shoulders and neck.
  • Arrive early for flights. DeNureTours recommends to check-in 90 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights, or 2-3 hours prior for international flights.
  • An inflatable travel pillow can make you more comfortable on long coach rides or flights. The U-shaped pillow keeps your head from rolling during travel, reducing the risk of neck pain.
  • Avoid the use of perfume or scented sprays on the coach or an airplane. These are confined spaces, so be courteous to your fellow travellers who may be allergic or sensitive to scents.
  • Get as much rest as possible before you leave.
  • Try your best to be flexible. Unexpected things can happen. Your holiday will be more enjoyable if you are open-minded.


Tips to waiters, taxi drivers, step-on guides, tour directors and drivers are a tangible way for you to express your appreciation for jobs well done. This practice, though customary, is voluntary and is not included in tour prices. As a guide to the amounts to tip, the following amounts are suggested:

  • Taxi Drivers – Drivers should be tipped 10% of the taxi fare.
  • Waiters – For meals that are not included in the tour price, tip waiters between 15% and 20% of your bill, but never less than $1.
  • Tour Directors and Drivers – A gratuity of $4 per person per day is suggested.

The pace of a tour varies by itinerary, as each destination, its sightseeing and the activities are unique. Pacing is often subject to personal interpretation, but our trip pace indicator on each tour page may assist you in determining if a tour is suitable for you.

Day-by-day itinerary descriptions can be found on our website or requested from our office. Generally, the more activities included, distance travelled in a day, or number of hotel changes, will increase the pace of a tour.

Some of the most unique sightseeing is found in locations that can be a challenge for motorcoaches, especially in historic areas. For your comfort, we recommend packing walking shoes so you fully enjoy every aspect of your holiday.

Tours with the highest “On-the-go” ratings require a level of activity that is not suitable for those who use either walkers or wheelchairs. If a trip pace is not ideally suited for you, our reservations team will be happy to help you find your perfect vacation.

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