4 Weeks, 13 Festivals: Your September 2016 Festivals Guide

By Jordan Whitehouse

The festivals lineup this month has to be the most diverse I’ve seen in a couple of years in Kingston. Kicking off with a classic car show and ending with Kingston WritersFest, in between there’s a tattoo festival, Chilifest, lumberjack summit and sailing regatta. Here’s the lowdown on all that diversity and seven more festivals set to hit the city this month.

4th Annual Limestone City Car Classic

September 3, 8:00am – 4:00pm | Lake Ontario Park

Photo via Wai Kin Fong Flickr
Photo via Wai Kin Fong Flickr

A car show with over 300 classic and modified beauties on the shores of Lake Ontario. Started by Brian Beatty after melanoma took the life of his daughter Melonie, this all-day display is a charity event where all proceeds go to the Kingston Melanoma Cancer Clinic. Music, raffles and food vendors, too. Free admission for spectators. Car registration: $10.

Kingston Ribfest + Craft Beer Show

September 9 – 11 | Memorial Centre Park


A fest for those who appreciate the finer things in life, like barbequed ribs and chicken, great craft-brewed beer, live entertainment – all in the great atmosphere of Memorial Centre Park. Returning this year is the Family Fun Zone brought to you by Extreme Rush Adventures, featuring a climbing wall, inflatables and more. Free admission, but donations to the Partners in Mission Food Bank will be accepted at the gate. kingstonribandbeerfest.com

Celtic Kitchen Party

September 10, 1:00pm – 11:00pm | South Hill, Fort Henry

Photo via Sean McCann
Photo via Sean McCann

A fest for those missing the Maritimes or just craving a little fish-and-chips and Irish jig. Nine bands of the Celtic persuasion will play overlooking Lake Ontario, including Next Generation Leahy, Breabach, The Mahones and Great Big Sea’s Séan McCann (pictured). Pair with British eats, Celtic artisan vendors, highland dancing workshops and more. $12 – $30. forthenry.com

Garrison Family Fun Fest

September 10 – 11 | CFB Kingston Base Gym

Photo via CFB Kingston
Photo via CFB Kingston

One evening and one full day of good times whatever your age. On Friday night, Canadian country music singer-songwriter Tim Hicks will take to the gym stage ($15), and then on Saturday take your pick from bouncy castles, a 22-foot slide, military exhibits, an obstacle course, food area, beer garden, Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit and more (free).

Kingston Multicultural Arts Festival

September 11 | Confederation Park

Photo via Kingston Immigration Partnership Facebook
Photo via Kingston Immigration Partnership Facebook

Enjoy the sights, sounds and flavours from Africa and the Caribbean, China, Egypt, Japan, Korea, India, Ireland, Latin America, Mexico, Philippines, Poland and many other regions at Confederation Park. Local and out of town artists will be showcased at the main stage featuring world music and dance performances. Free. downtownkingston.ca

Kingston Dragonboat Festival

September 17 | Emma Martin Park

Image via Kingston Dragonboat Facebook Page
Image via Kingston Dragonboat Facebook Page

A thrilling festival for contestants and spectators alike, get out to Emma Martin Park to discover your inner dragon. Have fun, meet new friends and enjoy a team building healthy experience in the great outdoors while helping support your local charity – cap the day off with a huge barbecue to celebrate your participation. Free admission. kingstondbfestival.com 

Limestone City Tattoo & Arts Festival

September 17 – 18 | Four Points by Sheraton

Photo via Limestone City Tattoo Festival
Photo via Limestone City Tattoo Festival

Open to the inked and non-inked, young and old, this first showcase of all things tattoo in Kingston will welcome 45 tattoo artists from as far away as Denmark. Get tattooed, browse or purchase artist prints and original artwork, pick out tattoo-related merch, or just take a wander and see how vibrant tattoo culture is in Kingston and around the world. $15/day. $25/weekend. limestonetattoofestival.com

Lumberjack Survival Summit

September 17 – 18 | MacLachlan Woodworking Museum


Dig out the plaid and suspenders, this crazy popular lumber-lovers weekend is back with 16 workshops (aka “lumbertivities”) to pick from. Taught by experts, each lumbertivity will help you brush up on camping, cooking, tools or woodworking skills. Camp overnight on museum grounds. $120 fee includes all workshops, camping and food. 19 + event. woodworkingmuseum.ca

Fare for Friends

September 18, 2:00pm – 6:00pm | Vimy Officers’ Mess

Photo via United Way KFLA
Photo via United Way KFLA

A garden party supporting the United Way on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Think tasty eats from the likes of Chez Piggy, Curry Original and 23 other restaurants; beer, wine and cocktails from Barley Days, Sandbanks Estate Winery and 18 others; and a silent auction featuring local potters, painters and jewellery makers. Live music, too. $160. unitedwaykfla.ca

CORK Fall Regatta

September 23 – 25 | Portsmouth Olympic Harbour

Photo via Queen’s University

The Canadian Olympic-training Regatta, Kingston (CORK) comes to a close for another season at this three-day sailing comp. Watch from the shore as 130 sailors compete in radials, lasers, optis, 29ers and 420s, and then find out who won at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, where the 1976 Summer Olympic sailing events occurred. Free. cork.org


September 24, 12:00pm – 3:00pm | Confederation Park

Photo via Gwen Flickr

Think you have the tastiest chili around? Then serve it up at Confederation Park, where you’ll compete alongside others for the title of best family style, vegetarian, original or ethnic chili in the city. Just want to taste? Bring a bib, an empty belly and a discerning palate — you’ll need them to pick the People’s Choice Award. Proceeds go to Hospice Kingston. $6 – $12. chilifest.ca

September Fest

September 29, 6:00pm – 8:00pm | Hatter’s Cove Restaurant at the Seniors Centre

Photo via Justin da Silva
Photo via Justin da Silva

A culinary and craft beer adventure supporting the local Seniors Association and featuring head brewer Justin da Silva of Stone City Ales (pictured). Justin will guide you through the tasting of four brews and their ideal food pairings. The beer glass is yours to keep, and the limo ride home is complimentary for everyone. $35. seniorskingston.ca

Kingston WritersFest

September 28 – October 2 | Multiple locations

Photo via Chris Boland Flickr
Photo via Chris Boland Flickr

Just when you thought this contemporary writers’ festival couldn’t get any better, it goes ahead and lands 75 writers in 2016 that include powerhouses David Mitchell (pictured), Lisa Moore, Emma Donoghue and Annie Proulx. They’ll all gather for readings, performances, onstage discussions and masterclasses ranging from “Writing a Bestseller” to “Writing the LGBTQ Voice.” Various prices. kingstonwritersfest.ca