The Shaw Festival Niagara on the Lake's premier summer attraction with shows starting in April and running until October.
Combining a show with strolling around Niagara's shops is a great way of spending a warm summer day.
The festival features George Bernard Shaw's plays, of course, but include a generous serving of plays old and new from other famous and not-so-famous playwrights.
Each year, there's a variety of shows including one or more musicals, tragedies, and comedies. Something for everyone who loves theatre or would like to learn to become a lover of theatre.
Like Stratford and its Shakespeare Festival, the Shaw has three theaters, one modern -- the Festival, and two beautifully renovated old theaters -- the Court House (pictured here) and the Royal George. All three have comfortable seating near enough to the stage to feel you're at live theater and not a sporting event. A nice size, in other words.
The Court House theatre is just off the main street, facing a square around which are gathered some fine old buildings, including the Angel Inn, which has been there since the early 1800's.
The Royal George theatre is on the main street of town in one of the many heritage buildings, which makes it ideal for those who want to include shopping in their day's outing.
Parking for the Court House and Royal George theatres can be a problem as the town fills up quickly in summer.
The Festival Theatre is on the western edge of town, near the Fort
George historical site. There's ample parking for cars and buses at the theater, which is a plus. On the downside, it's a bit of a walk back into town for sightseeing or shopping so you'll probably want to move the car.
Shows seats range from about $30 for Gallery seating at the Festival to about $110 for the best seats in the high season. And, as I said, the theaters are such a nice size even the farthest seats are good seats.
One of the Shaw Festival's advantages over Stratford or Toronto, at least for American visitors, is that it is right on the border so no need to fight your way through traffic to get to Toronto or wend your way through the country to reach Stratford.
The setting is wonderful too. Niagara on the Lake is a pretty heritage town and the surrounding Niagara countryside is Ontario's premier wine and fruit region. To visit the Shaw in spring, when all the fruit trees are in blossom, is a real treat.
For more details go to the Shaw's website at Shawfest.com
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