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Celebrate Ontario Success Stories

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Celebrate Ontario Success Stories

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

The Celebrate Ontario program has helped festivals and events across the province offer new and enhanced experiences, attracting more tourists and increasing visitor spending. Last year's successes include:

The 2016 JFL42 (Just for Laughs Toronto) introduced a new event called ComedyCon thanks in large part to Celebrate Ontario. This support helped transform the 10-day festival from a nighttime event to an all-day comedy bash, with many new events taking on the feel of an intimate comedy conference. With this new program, comedy fans had even more reasons to make the trip to Toronto. The festival saw a 16 per cent rise in total attendance, including over 19,000 tourists.

The 2016 1000 Islands Regatta featured a blend of adrenaline-charged hydroplane boat racing on the Brockville waterfront with a full range of musical entertainment, food, kids' activities and crafts for all ages. In 2016, the festival grew from three to four days, with the addition of one headline musical act and a Motocross stunt show supported by Celebrate Ontario. The event was the most successful ever, generating a 15 per cent increase in attendance with advance ticket sales tripling over the previous year, contributing to a 17 per cent growth in revenues. 

The London Committee for Cross Cultural Arts received Celebrate Ontario funding to support Afrikalia: African Heart Beats 2016 at its annual Sunfest world arts and music festival. The funding provided new programming initiatives that featured performances by top African performers and musicians based in Canada. It showcased the diversity of music and dance styles representing contemporary Africa, with a special focus on women's voices. The enhanced programming initiatives were credited with attracting over 6,500 additional attendees to the festival.

The Mabuhay Philippines Festival, which took place in September at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square, showcased many forms of art and multidisciplinary mediums to highlight Filipino contributions to Canadian society. Through Celebrate Ontario support, the festival included more artists, programming and made improvements to the venue. The event attracted 65,000 people and 4,000 parade participants.

The RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest's Iconic Artist Project supported by Celebrate Ontario attracted a record breaking sold-out attendance of 40,000 concert goers, the largest crowd in the festival's history. The project continued to establish Ottawa Bluesfest's reputation as a national and international destination live music event, and increased in-province and out-of province tourists. Visitor spending of close to $4.5 million was almost triple the organization's goal.

Rock on the River, organized by the Timmins Festival and Events Committee is an upcoming group working to attract headline musical acts to Timmins. With support from Celebrate Ontario, the group held its first outdoor summer concert in 2016. More than 3,000 people attended the two-day Rock on the River festival - of whom 10 per cent were tourists from Quebec, New Brunswick and other parts of Ontario.

The Calabogie Blues & Ribfest increased its main stage electric blues offerings by adding an acoustic stage that featured five additional performances and introduced blues workshops during the festival. More than 10,000 people attended the three-day festival - and nearly one-half of the attendees were visiting the Calabogie area for the first time.

The Ottawa International Children's Festival introduced programming for the very first time for families with very young children. In dotMaze, visitors travelled through a large artificial hedge maze and encountered actors portraying fairy tale and mythological characters. This new programming attracted sold-out audiences totaling nearly 15,000 people. 

The Toronto Christmas Market just completed its 7th edition last December. With support from Celebrate Ontario, programming has expanded and the event has broken all attendance projections, growing by over 40,000 attendees each year, of whom over 30 per cent are tourists. The event is now positioned as a signature holiday event in Toronto. Based on this success, the Distillery Historic District is hosting a second winter signature event for the months of January through March, the Toronto Light Festival.

The Victoria Playhouse Petrolia achieved its highest attendance numbers in its 23-year history. Over 31,700 people attended the playhouse's seven productions, two of which sold to capacity. With Celebrate Ontario support the playhouse was able to hire celebrity talent, which attracted people from across the province -- 62 per cent of attendees travelled more than 40km to attend.

Supercrawl is a three-day arts and music street festival that takes place in Hamilton in September.  In 2016, the festival saw an 80,000 increase in attendance over 2015.The festival attracted 200,000 visitors who enjoyed Celebrate Ontario-funded event improvements, including enhancements made to the secondary stage. This helped Supercrawl make full use of the festival site and will support future programming and planning.

The International Plowing Match and Rural Expo is North America's largest outdoor agricultural and rural expo. With support from Celebrate Ontario, the expo improved its programming last year with the RCMP's Musical Ride. The event attracted 96,315 visitors to watch the Mounties in action and meet the horses and riders after the show. Celebrate Ontario-funded programming was a big hit in 2016 and will be brought back to continue growing the festival.

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