Hamilton – Arts & Culture


A quarter of Hamilton’s population are immigrants, according to the 2011 National Household Survey. Hamilton’s diverse population has richly contributed to both its emerging and established arts and culture scene.

With over 70 cultural heritage groups in Hamilton, ethnic associations plan cultural events and programming in the city. These groups offer a great way to meet people and get involved in your cultural community.

Many newcomer artists and art-lovers have found a community with the Immigrant Culture & Art Association offering members support for establishing themselves as artists in Canada and art classes for children and adults.

You will also find a variety of friendly, independent art galleries on Locke Street and James Street North. James Street is nationally renowned for its evening Art Crawl. Once a month, galleries stay open late and invite people in to enjoy snacks and view exhibitions, free of charge!

The Art Gallery of Hamilton is another impressive attraction. The AGH (Ontario’s third largest art gallery) displays famous works of art from the Group of Seven, as well as shows featuring artists from Canada and abroad.

The three-day Hamilton World Music Festival brings musicians from around the globe each summer to perform in Hamilton’s largest urban park, Gage Park. Admission is free. The Roots en Route Festival offers an artist series celebrating Black History Month at various venues across the city using dance, music, poetry, art, film and theatre.

Hamilton is home to a handful of theatre companies like Theatre Aquariusthe Staircase Theatrethe Players’ Guild of HamiltonHamilton Theatre Inc. and many more. These amateur and professional companies perform original and Broadway plays, musicals and dance numbers.

The city’s music scene is also very diverse. You can catch local jazz, rock and folk musicians at dozens of small clubs and venues, but Hamilton also has its own Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony.

As well as home grown and local talent, Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum draws world class entertainers like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Disney Stars on Ice, Elton John and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Additional museums and venues include Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle, the Canadian Football Hall of Famethe Hamilton Warplane Heritage MuseumAfrican Lion Safari, and Whitehern Historic House and Garden.

During the spring, summer and fall, there are plenty of street sales and celebrations. The Hamilton Makers’ Market gives local artists and crafters an affordable venue to sell their goods each month. The Locke Street Festival is an annual event that combines art and craft sales with music and food. Longer, weekend festivals include Westitalia, the Cactus Festival, the Mustard Festival, the Festival of Friends, the Winona Peach Festival and the It’s Your Festival.

On any given weekend, depending on the time of year, you can visit one of the nearby farms for pick-your-own apples and berries, or visit a local sugar bush to see how maple syrup is made.  Stop by Hamilton’s downtown Farmers Market to pick up fresh, local produce year-round.