THINGS TO DO IN HAMILTON, BURLINGTON - Hamilton City Magazine Skip to main content
Celebrating all things Hamilton / Welcome Message
Happening Now

THINGS TO DO IN HAMILTON, BURLINGTON

We are spoiled for things to see and do in #HamOnt and #BurlOn. HAMILTON CITY Magazine helps you keep up with it all. Think of us as your plugged-in friend who knows all the cool stuff happening around town! Get out and enjoy – and tell them HCM sent you!





HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND

Exhibitions at the Cotton Factory
“Strange Happenings & Rare Findings” features the work of multi-media artist and musician Emily Andrews. A true surrealist at heart, her work is often inspired by science, nature, history, and her strange dreams. April 12-May 4, opening reception April 12, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., CoWork Gallery, Studio 301

The oil paintings of Anne Smythe, Hallway Gallery, Studio 206, April 12-May 5, opening April 12, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“The Boudoir, An Art Exhibition” features work by Susan Barton Tait and Corine Van Hoeve. The Boudoir ushers the viewer into an intimate environment, a room that impresses with its sense of peace and tranquillity. April 12-May 12,  Studio SH 248, opening reception April 12.

Fab 4
The Liverpool 4 – Canada’s tribute to the Beatles – have been honing their musical craft for nearly two decades, honouring the prolific band whose career spanned multiple eras. Audiences of all ages will be thrilled to experience a wide selection of the epic Beatles catalogue played live at Mohawk’s McIntyre Performing Arts Centre, performed with the same energy and showmanship as the OGs. Feel the thrill, sing along and get transported back in time to Beatlemania, all without the need for a time machine. April 12. 

Roll Up Your Sleeves: A Denim Un-Gala
The Workers Arts and Heritage Centre hosts Roll Up Your Sleeves for a second year. The Custom House will be home to a night of revelry, music and food. It’s a night to celebrate the favoured fabric of the working class, so don’t forget your Canadian tuxedo! The evening’s festivities will include love music by Nicolette and the Nobodies, snacks and beverages from beloved local businesses and raffle prizes. Proceeds go towards supporting the WAHC. Tickets are here. April 13, 7 p.m.-10 p.m., Workers Arts & Heritage Centre, 51 Stuart St., Hamilton

Greening your home
Unlock the secrets to a greener Home at an "ask the experts" event hosted by Green Venture. This unique event, styled like speed dating, offers attendees the chance to engage directly with expert landscapers, native plant, watermanagement, and home retrofit professionals in personalized mini-consultations, all aimed at greening homes and yards. You’ll learn about the latest gardening trends, techniques, and innovations, receive personalized advice and solutions tailored to your specific needs and projects, and network with like-minded individuals passionate about creating eco-friendly living spaces. In structured sessions lasting seven-10 minutes each, you can ask questions, discuss specific topics, and receive expert guidance. Attendees are encouraged to come prepared with measurements, pictures of their space, and relevant project details to maximize the effectiveness of their consultations. The event is family friendly too. While adults are learning, children can enjoy fun activities such as meeting vermicompost worms to making seedballs and colouring in the dedicated kids' activity area. Green Venture is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing environmental sustainability and promoting green living practices in the Hamilton area. Learn more and save your spot here. April 14, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., 22 Veevers Dr., Hamilton

Tattoo tarot exhibition
The Paul Elia Gallery presents ARCANA, an exhibition of contemporary tattoo tarot interpretations by 38 of Ontario's finest artists. With varied and elaborate interpretations representing all 22 major arcana and the four court cards of each suit (16 minor cards) for a total of 38 original pieces. Eighteenth-century French occultists assigned meaning to each card with a distinct symbolism, still used today for amusement and divination. The show runs to April 28. Paul Elia Gallery, 1167 Cannon St. E.

Homecoming
“Homecoming: Celebrating 10 Years in Print” presents an expansive group exhibition of print-based works on the occasion of Smokestack’s 10th anniversary. Showcasing works collaboratively created with support from the digital, analog, and mounting studios, the exhibition proudly brings the work of 37 artists back to the origins of their making. Until May 5, Cotton Factory, 270 Sherman Ave. N.

Nature’s Superheroes
Are you ready to meet our super-natural superheroes? Some plants and animals look extraordinary to us, but their unusual features usually address the most ordinary of tasks: to reproduce, breathe and move around, sense the world, or find food and safety. From mountaintops to ocean depths, get ready to explore nature’s most astounding adaptations for life in our planet’s most extreme environments. Nature’s Superheroes: Life at the Limits is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York. Tickets are here. Until April 21, RBG Centre, 680 Plains Rd W, Burlington

Space-Age Snacks
The modern advancements in space technology means that agriculture can now get a helping hand from more than just sun, water, hard work, and a little luck. The interactive Space to Spoon exhibit, on now at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, explores the relationship between sustainable agriculture and these spacey technological innovations. Today’s agricultural applications have been developed using modern satellite images, benefitting farmers, the environment and each of us, every single day. When you thank the farmer at your next visit to the market, be sure to also give a thumbs up to the watchful skies above. Until May 20.

HAPPENING NEXT WEEK

Almost time to gritLIT
gritLIT, Hamilton’s annual literary festival, is a four-day celebration of Canadian authors that is marking its 20th anniverary. Since its inception in 2004, the festival has built a reputation with readers in the Golden Horseshoe as a place to get “up close and personal” with their favourite authors and to discover new voices. gritLIT brings together diverse voices – the biggest Canadian authors, up and coming talent, and local Hamilton writers – in a series of readings, panels, interviews and themed events. The festival’s mandate is one of accessibility for both authors and audiences. gritLIT puts a focus on local authors, giving them the exposure to readers that they richly deserve. The festival includes readings at local schools including French language presentations. And gritLIT ticket prices are among the lowest of any Southwestern Ontario literary festival. Tickets and everything you need to know are here. April 17-21

Book signing
Canadian journalist and TV personality Bill Welychka, a VJ with MuchMusic, will sign copies of his new book A Happy Has-Been (Exciting Times and Lessons Learned by One of Canada's Foremost Entertainment Journalists). Since stepping in front of the national cameras in 1992, he has conducted more than 5,000 interviews, including film and TV stars, royalty, politicians, athletes and innumerable music legends. He is MuchMusic and MuchMoreMusic’s longest running VJ. In his book, he dives into the many tales of spending time with Madonna (at her house), Mick Jagger, Oasis, AC/DC, Johnny Cash, members of The Beatles, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Garth Brooks, Prince and dozens of other music legends. He writes about his world travels from spending time with the Maasai warriors on the Serengeti to covering the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo, Monaco six years in a row. Despite a career that had him mobbed at concerts and meeting every single idol he had, Welychka, now a radio broadcaster and music director in Kingston, also opens up about his battles with depression. The book features a foreword by The Tragically Hip’s Paul Langlois. Partial proceeds from the book are being donated to the White Ribbon Campaign and the book signing will raise money for Halton Women’s Place. April 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Indigo, 1250 Brant St., Burlington

How Canada Works
Drawing on his 30 years of experience as anchor of The National, CBC’s flagship nightly newscast, Peter Mansbridge joins the gritLIT lineup to share his latest book, How Canada Works: The People Who Make Our Nation Thrive. Mansbridge will sit down with Elamin Abdelmahmoud to talk about his collection of personal stories about the everyday jobs that keep our nation running – and some of the inspiring people who perform them. Tickets are here. April 18, 7 p.m., Playhouse Cinema, 177 Sherman Ave. N.

Songs of Renewal – Boreal
Award-winning, solo singer-songwriters Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon, and Angie Nussey (collectively known as Boreal) are heading out on tour this spring with an uplifting show, Songs of Renewal. Formed 14 years ago as a winter-touring trio, Boreal revamped its repertoire when asked to perform outdoors during the pandemic. The trio of solo singer-songerwriters pieced together original material that featured songs about spring and summer. Turns out, they loved the infusion of songs about flowers, butterflies, young love and bicycle rides. Combined with their trademark humour, storytelling and heart-melting honesty, Boreal created a new show that takes audiences on a journey of friendship, laughter and connection while celebrating the glorious season of hope and new beginnings. Tickets are here. April 18, 7:30 p.m., Upper Coach in the Coach and Lantern, 384 Wilson St. E., Ancaster

The Music of Motown
Theatre Ancaster produces both a full season of musical productions and a concert-style performance each year. This year's concert is called The Music of Motown, which will celebrate the one-of-a-kind sound and artists of Motown, including Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin and many more. The show will feature a special guest in Hamilton’s own Harrison Kennedy. The Juno award winner is considered a Motown pioneer, as a member of the Chairmen of the Board. Tickets are here. April 19, 20, 26, 27 and May 3, 4 at 7:30 p.m.;  April 21, 28 and May 5 at 2 p.m., Peller Hall at the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre, 357 Wilson St. E., Ancaster

Beautiful Scars at gritLIT
Also headlining the gritLIT lineup is a conversation with Hamilton's own Tom Wilson about his upcoming musical at Theatre Aquarius. The Juno Award-winning lead singer of Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Lee Harvey Osmond will sit down with Theatre Aquarius artistic director Mary Francis Moore to discuss his story of finding his identity as a Mohawk man, adapting a book for the stage, and what audiences can expect from the upcoming world premiere musical. Get tickets here. April 19, 7 p.m., Homewood Suites by Hilton, 40 Bay St. S., Hamilton

Journey to space with the Bach Elgar Choir
Prepare for liftoff as the Bach Elgar Choir revives its sensational “Space Journey.” Following a stellar sold-out performance last season, this live-soundtrack big screen cinematic voyage through the universe returns to captivate audiences in Hamilton, London, and Toronto. Don’t miss your chance to embark on this awe-inspiring musical odyssey through the stars. Canadian filmmaker Mark Bochsler’s breathtaking film of high-resolution images from the pioneering Voyager space probe and the James Webb Space Telescope, sets the backdrop for this auditory odyssey. The choir will perform ethereal double chorus pieces by Vaughan Williams, Stanford, and Wood, culminating in Louis Vierne’s majestic Messe solennelle, featuring renowned Canadian organist Stephen Boda. Prepare for an evening where music and the cosmos align in perfect harmony. The Bach Elgar Choir, under the direction of artistic director Alexander Cann, invites you to join them on a celestial voyage that celebrates the beauty and vastness of space through the power of choral music. Tickets to all performances are available here. Hamilton performance: April 19, 7:30 p.m., Melrose United Church, 86 Homewood Ave, Hamilton.

An IMBY open house
In My Backyard (IMBY) is a Hamilton-based charity that started three years ago when four friends started dreaming about how tiny homes could be used as a solution to the housing crisis and the loneliness crisis. IMBY hopes to address both of these crises by recruiting homeowners who are willing to open their backyards to an individual or family who are in need of affordable housing. IMBY then works to create a community and support between the homeowner and the dweller. The charity’s first pilot build has just been completed and there are two more builds in the pipeline in Hamilton. The group is hosting an open house where it will unveil the pilot tiny home. You can take a tour and meet the team. April 20, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., 565 John St. N.

Spring pet social
Grab your pet and head to Vetwell’s spring social event. It will include interactive games and prizes, dog training demos, a pet photo booth, an ask-the-vet session, hospital tours, and meet & greets with Urban Tails Animal Rescue adoptables and team. Whether you're already a pet parent, thinking about adding a new member to your family, or simply a lover of all things animal, this event is the perfect opportunity to learn, play, and connect with other pet lovers. Register here to reserve your space. April 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Vetwell, 20 Clappison Ave. Unit 3. Waterdown

HAPPENING LATER IN APRIL

World premiere of Beautiful Scars
The world premiere of a new musical created by Tom Wilson and Shaun Smyth will close out the Theatre Aquarius’s 50th season. The musical is inspired by Wilson’s memoir Beautiful Scars: Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road Home. It’s directed by Theatre Aquarius artistic director Mary Francis Moore and stars Sheldon Elter playing adult Tom Wilson, with Wilson’s son Thompson Wilson as his younger self. Wilson’s book documents his discovery of a secret deeply held by his parents, who raised him on the east Hamilton Mountain in the 1960s and ’70s. For decades, Wilson carved out a life for himself in the shadows, battling demons along the way as he waited for the secret of who he was and where he came from to reveal itself. And when it did, it swept up the St. Lawrence River to Kahnaw’a:ke Mohawk territory and exposed a story generations in the making. The best-selling book was also made into a documentary film and now a musical with a powerfully evocative score by Wilson, a multi-award-winning musician. Tickets are here. April 24 to May 11, Theatre Aquarius

Metal Detector Museum
Hamilton's second pop-up Metal Detector Museum will take place Saturday, April 27 at from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. The museum has been organized again this year by Mike "Relics" Guarascia, author of The Relic Hunter. The first edition of the museum was a roaring success, attracting hundreds of people. April 27, Legion Branch 58, 1180 Barton St. E., Hamilton

HAPPENING IN MAY

A galaxy far, far away
Burlesque and Star Wars may seem to be an unlikely combination but The Empire Strips Back: A Burlesque Parody but has got some intriguing things going for it. They include: the captive Princess Leia gyrating in a bikini to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”; R2D2, the resident space pimp, making it rain with wads of cash; a dangerously seductive Boba Fett; and sexy stormtroopers stomping to the relentless “Seven Nation Army.” The Empire Strips Back, which combines striptease, song and dance, troupe routines and lots of laughs, has been staged all over North America. Check out the reviews and showtimes and get tickets here. May 3 to 12, The Music Hall, 24 Main St. W., Hamilton. 

Doors Open Hamilton
Fifty sites will throw open their doors for a weekend in May to celebrate Hamilton’s architectural and musical past and present. Doors Open Hamilton will celebrate music this year, featuring music venues, schools, churches and live music walking tours in Stoney Creek, Westdale and on Locke Street, with many sites offering concerts, talks and other events. Doors Open Ontario. May 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., various locations.

Walking for a cause
You can learn all about Hamilton’s historic North End and support the multitude of outreach programs and services of St. Matthew's House at the same time by registering for a walking tour of the neighbourhood on May 4. This family-friendly event, in partnership with the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, is where history will come alive. Uncover the captivating tales woven into the very fabric of this journey, exploring a community that is the heart and soul of Hamilton. You can register as an individual or a team. Sign up here. May 4, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, 51 Stuart St., Hamilton

Downtown walking tours
Free downtown Hamilton walking tours begin their seventh season on Sunday, May 26 and continue weekly until Oct. 13. Walks are led by Bill King, with several guest hosts and hostesses joining us this year, and some new routes and themes. Meet at 10 a.m. at King & John streets. Everyone welcome. Walking tours are based in part on Bill King's recently published book Hamilton's Stone Age. Beginning May 26, 10 a.m., King & John, Hamilton

Open Streets
Get ready to walk, cycle, roll and play at Open Streets on King 2024. Mark your calendars and lace up your walking shoes because Open Streets Hamilton is back for two exciting events on Sundays when King Street East from John Street to Gage Avenue will be transformed into a bustling hub of activity and excitement. Open Streets Hamilton is a unique initiative that temporarily closes streets to vehicles, allowing people to walk, bike, skate, and explore their city in a safe and welcoming environment. It's a chance to experience Hamilton's streets from a whole new perspective while enjoying fun activities and connecting with the community. Stop at one of the five activity hubs along the way to try wheelchair basketball, join in a zumba class or play other family friendly activities. May 26 and Sunday June 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., King Street from John Street to Gage Avenue

HAPPENING IN JUNE

Drives for Lives
The 22nd annual Drives for Lives golf tournament will raise money for Interval House of Hamilton, a shelter for women and children escaping abuse, and violence. Drives for Lives is looking for golfers, donors, and sponsors. This tournament welcomes golfers of all skill levels, so whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, this event is for you. Last year, Interval House provided emergency shelter to 204 women and children fleeing violence – a 50 per cent increase from 2022. The shelter also provided support to 3,226 women calling into crisis lines in 2023. Information is hereJune 5, Century Pines Golf Course.

RECURRING EVENTS

Singing at the Staircase
A thriving cultural centre in Hamilton for years, the Staircase Theatre has hosted all manner of performers during its lifetime, and you and your dulcet tones can now be added to the list. Get those vocal cords warmed up at the monthly Stairyoke Karaoke evenings held in the lounge of the historic building. Thrill the audience with your moves, stage presence and vibrato, and prove that all that singing in the shower was well worth the water. Third Thursday of each month.

All Fired Up
Play With Clay, Locke Street’s interactive pottery studio, wants you to get your hands dirty at one of its drop-in sessions and classes in pottery painting and clay hand-building. Ready to throw your creative hat in the ring? Students can even take a spin on the pottery wheel by booking an hour-long guided lesson. You’ll make a new treasure to take home, and we dare you to refrain from making reference to a certain 1990s film. You know the one.

Shucking School
Oysters can be stubborn little things and knowing how to open one properly (and safely) is one of the universe’s deepest secrets. Fortunately, David Burns, owner of Maisy’s Pearl Oyster Bar on Barton Street is passionate about the beguiling bivalve and eager to share his knowledge. In addition to his restaurant and shop, Burns – an award-winning shucker on both a national and international level – offers private classes where he schools students on all things oyster – their health benefits, sustainability, varieties, and of course, the trick to conduct a proper shuck.

A Collective Tour
Since its inception in 2013, Hamilton’s Collective Arts brewery has been a champion of the creativity of craft beer and artists – the culmination of both fitting easily in the palm of one’s hand in the form of their recognizable, colourful cans. Get a peek behind the curtain and learn how Collective Arts was developed from brand to brews, in a 45-minute guided tour. Each guest is provided one pint of beer to wet their whistles and a discount at the retail shop for souvenirs. Saturdays.

Pet Propaganda
If your dog thinks that they are pretty special because they keep your floor crumb-free, you might want tell them about the latest exhibit at the Warplane Heritage Museum. “Even A Dog Enlists” is an encapsulation of the crucial role that animals played in war – both as active participants on the field and as featured figures in the propaganda of the time, when their images were used to increase national pride and enlistment. These heroic animals throughout the Allied countries made a tremendous sacrifice for us all, so all joking aside – give your own furry friend an extra tight hug tonight. Until March 18, Warplane Heritage Museum, 9280 Airport Road, Mount Hope

Pet-ty Fun
Ancaster’s Triple C Farm is a spot quite like no other – an idyllic patch of country heaven that offers sanctuary to a literal menagerie of farm animals. Commune with nature while getting in your furry fix by scheduling a visit to the farm’s petting zoo, and just try to not fall in love with at least one of their charges who, by the way, cannot go home with you. Feeling flexible? Check out the farm’s website for other memorable offerings including animal walks, horseback rides and – no kidding around – goat yoga. Visit the website for full details and to register. Triple C Farm, 500 Carluke Rd. W., Ancaster

Feeling Sketchy 
Do you ever suddenly feel the need to create? Hopefully it happens on a Thursday, when each week visitors are invited to drop in to the McMaster Museum of Art to take part in unguided Sketching Sessions. While surrounded by the museum’s vast collection, budding artists are encouraged to simply sketch, drawing inspiration from the variety of the M(M)A’s works. A little imagination is mandatory, but no registration is required, and neither is preparation – shared art supplies are provided. Thursdays 4:30-6:30, McMaster University

Stories of Migration and Belonging
Hamilton is a diverse and vibrant city thanks to the immigrants who have chosen to come here. Through a video exhibit on immigration produced by the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, viewers can learn about the experiences of immigrants and refugees from all over the world who have made Hamilton their home. The project includes video interviews with six immigrants from Italy, China, Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Ukraine who moved to Hamilton between the 1940s and all the way up to 2023. The exhibit also includes facts about a wide range of historic and current immigration topics.

Innovation Meets Art
Artefact Social and the Hamilton Technology Centre has unveiled a new rotating exhibition space called Art at Seven Innovation. The first exhibition features 32  local artists and showcases about 50 pieces. A range of artists are taking part, from emerging artists to well-known, established artists such as Paul Elia and Cheryl-Ann Hills and exciting new-to-the-area artists such as Joseph Leanage. Hamilton Technology Centre, 7 Innovation Dr., Dundas

Big 80s Energy
Were you fortunate enough to experience the joys of 80s music the first time around (hi!) or were you introduced to the magnitude of its awesomeness at a different time? Either way, fans of that dot on the musical landscape are invited to hit the Casbah’s dance floor on the first Saturday of each month, when DJs Mark and DMurk host their Risky Biz 80s night. The music that came out of that decade was eclectic and revolutionary – and having a monthly celebration of this fact is totally rad. See you there. First Saturdays of the month

Go for A Beer Run
When it comes to exercise, different things motivate different people, and if you are motivated by either a supportive group or beer – or both – Fairweather Brewery has you covered. Open to runners of all abilities, the Fairweather Runners running club meets every Sunday morning for an easy, friendly 5K group run. You’re welcome to head home for a well-earned hot shower afterwards but consider lingering a bit at the brewery instead, bonding with your new gang, swapping stories about your favourite routes, newest gear, and latest injuries. Sundays, 10:30 a.m.

Buoyed by Hamilton
Viewing any city’s skyline from the water is a magical thing: the new nautical perspective provides a mysterious, almost storybook vantage point. Our Hamilton is no different, and when viewed from the water, with its industrial, commercial, and residential areas on display in one glance, it’s staggering to see the beautiful scope of what the city offers. Intrigued, but no boat? No problem. Now in its 19th season, The Hamiltonian – a 12-passenger sightseeing vessel – offers a leisurely 50-minute narrated tour of the Hamilton Harbour, where guests earn their sea legs while learning about a different side of the city. Tours depart from Pier 7 docks.

Work As A Group, Individually
Being an artist can sometimes be a solitary endeavour, yet at the same time, creativity breeds creativity. With this dichotomy in mind, the Youth Art Collective regularly welcomes young artists 14+ to come together to share their skills and hone their craft with like-minded cohorts at art-making meetups. The casual drop-in events are offered each month at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and offer a welcoming and inspiring space for sketching, painting and creating en masse. 6:30-9 p.m., Art Gallery of Hamilton

A Moment At The Mic
Have a song, comedy set or poem you’re itching to debut, but no audience? The Staircase is ready to provide one for you at its monthly open mic nights. Performers simply need to sign up for a 10-minute time slot upon arriving and then wait for their chance to take the cozy stage. Relay Coffee is in the house providing coffee and snacks, so expect a fully caffeinated and alert crowd cheering you on in the welcoming air of the theatre. Check out the website for details and more dates. Wednesdays, The Staircase

Tree For All
Get up to something new this spring at Treetop Trekking at the Binbrook Conservation Area. Visitors looking for a bit of adventure can test their skills – and bravery – on an array of suspension bridges, Tarzan swings, or zip lines that promise to offer more than the usual walk in the park. Rest assured that the younger crew is not left behind in the trees, as a lower-to-the-ground course is available for visitors five to eight years old. For a more reflective visit with less screaming, the park will also offer a forest bathing experience, where participants are led by a certified forest therapy guide who will help them connect with nature, and themselves, on a new, deeper level. Binbrook Conservation Area.

Hiding in Hamilton
When you’re searching for a new activity to do with your pals, family or even co-workers, look no further than Hamilton Hopper – an app-lead scavenger hunt by Let’s Roam. Available in cities all over the world, the 90-minute to two-hour hunts are equal parts tour and game, each customized to the number and ages of participants. and are a perfect way to have fun and get the competitive juices flowing. With an assortment of challenges popping up along the way – those that are photo-based are quite literally “a picture or it didn’t happen” – the tours offer a perfect opportunity to seek out, and hopefully find, some new aspects of the city that have been hiding in plain sight this whole time.

If you have an event happening in Hamilton and Burlington you would like to see listed here, email meredith@hamiltoncitymagazine.ca.

Arts for All