9 Festivals to Hit This June in Kingston

By Jordan Whitehouse

Kingston’s festivals lineup this month includes real gems, plenty of cold craft beer and five days of solstice celebrating with people like Sarah Harmer and Fred Penner. Here are 9 of them to check out across the city in calendar order.  

#1: Limestone Genre Expo

Saturday, June 3 – Sunday, June 4
St. Lawrence College

Limestone Genre Expo
Photo via Limestone Genre Expo

Calling all literary fans of fantasy, horror, mystery, romance and science fiction — this two-day Canadian genre fiction fest is back. Expect panel discussions and workshops, readings and pitch sessions, and more books to buy than your car’s suspension can probably handle. Over 50 authors will be there for you to meet, and there will be special events, too, like a Q&A with a forensic investigator from Kingston Police. $25 – $60. limestonegenreexpo.ca

#2: Beat Beethoven

Sunday, June 4, 10:30am

Beat Beethoven Run at Fort Henry
Photo via Peter Stokes

Definitely one of the more original marathons in the province, Beat Beethoven challenges you to finish an 8 kilometre race or 4 kilometre fun run before the Kingston Symphony finishes playing 50 minutes of Ludwig’s best. Start at Confederation Park in front of City Hall and then head to the route around City Park or the course that goes to Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd. and back. More of a relaxer than a marathoner? Stay at the starting line and hang with the symphony. $30 – $45. kingstonsymphony.ca

#3: Cannonball Crush

Saturday, June 10, 9:30am – 12pm
Fort Henry

Cannonball Crush at Fort Henry
Photo via St. Lawrence Parks Commission

If Fort Henry wasn’t already difficult enough to attack, it definitely will be at this 5 kilometre run with 15 obstacles. Complete the course alone or with a team of at least four, but be prepared for running, climbing, crawling, swimming and more. The reward at the end will be free entry into the YGK Craft Beer Fest and the satisfaction of knowing you were one of the rare ones to conquer Fort Henry. $70 – $75 per person. forthenry.com

#4: YGK Craft Beer Fest

Saturday, June 10, 12pm – 8pm
Fort Henry

YGK Craft Beer Fest – Kingston Ontario
Photo via St. Lawrence Parks Commission

There are few better places to kick off Ontario Craft Beer Week than at this brew fest on Fort Henry Hill. Sip on special collaboration brews, exclusives and mainstays from breweries across the province, including five from the Kingston area. Pair with sweeping views of Lake Ontario, fresh local eats and live music from Kasador, a five-piece indie rock band from the city. $15. Free for kids. $7 for youth. Beer/food tickets extra. forthenry.com

#5: First Capital Day

Thursday, June 15, 9:30am – 2:30pm
City Park

First Capital Day in Kingston Ontario
Photo via Queens University Flickr CC

Kingston was named the first capital of a united Canada on June 15, 1841, and now this annual free fest brings that era back with hands-on historical displays and activities. Mayor Paterson and the Town Crier will kick things off at 9:45am, and then feel free to explore everything from early medicine to broadsword demos, woodworking to military drills, rope making to a puppet journey through the Great Lakes. Pack a picnic or enjoy the local eats you’ll find onsite. Free. cityofkingston.ca

#6: Doors Open Kingston

Saturday, June 17

Doors Open Kingston
Photo via Queens University Flickr CC

While many of the 25-plus doors on this festival’s list are open all year, Doors Open is always the best way to find out more about what’s inside. Think special guided tours of the Islamic Centre. Or a new exhibition at the Pump House Steam Museum focusing on bizarre objects from Kingston’s past. Or a walk through the Queen’s Solar Education Centre, which is used to test and create sustainable housing technologies. Free. doorsopenontario.on.ca

#7: DK Shop Fest 2017

Saturday, June 17

DK ShopFest in Kingston
Photo via The Great Waterway

You may actually drop at this annual sidewalk sale, but it’ll be worth it because you probably won’t find as many specials and deals downtown on one day all year. Most businesses will have tables out on the sidewalks, and as usual it should be a great way to meet the local merchants who continue to make downtown such a vibrant place to work, live and play. Free. downtownkingston.ca

#8: Gemstorm 2017

Saturday, June 17 – Sunday, June 18
Cararaqui Arena

Gemstorm 2017 in Kingston
Photo via Kingston Lapidary And Mineral Club

Now in its 48th year, this annual gem and mineral show will feature over 45 dealers from Ontario and Quebec. They’ll display and sell everything from unique jewellery and crystal treasures to exotic fossils and gemstone carvings. There will also be a children’s mine and a jewellery workshop, as well as a food truck onsite. $5. Free for kids under 12. mineralclub.ca

#9: Skeleton Park Arts Festival

Wednesday, June 21 – Sunday, June 25
McBurney Park

Skeleton Parks Arts Festival in Kingston, Ontario
Photo via Christopher Canning

This summer solstice celebration is always one of the best fests of the year in Kingston, and that should hold true again in 2017. Sarah Harmer, Fred Penner, Justin Rutledge, Hidden Cameras, Minotaurs, Old Man Luedecke and many others are on the lineup for the all-day outdoor festivities on Saturday and Sunday. During the rest of the week, look forward to free morning yoga, a porch jazz parade, an artisan fair and way more. Everything takes place in and around McBurney Park (aka Skeleton Park). Free. skeletonparkartsfest.ca