A free festival in a local park hints at the idea of a relaxed afternoon spent sitting on picnic blankets, watching small groups of people stroll by, stopping to listen to the music only for a moment or two. That is what I thought Sunfest, a London Ontario event would be like….quiet, small, relaxed…a stroll by kind of vibe. When I arrived at Sunfest however, I was undoubtedly mistaken. Sunfest is definitely one of the most fun things to do in London Ontario.
I could see the Sunfest venue from a few blocks away. There were people moving around, big white tents covering rows of shopping booths, a few giant stages, and the tantalizing aromas of delicious foods cooking throughout the park. Sunfest was not a quiet local festival at all. No, it was much more. It was a grand international music festival in London, Ontario featuring five stages, two beer gardens, and over 270 food and shopping booths. It was packed full of people having a good time, and best of all, the music was above and beyond expectations.
If you are looking for a summer event in Ontario, Sunfest should without a doubt be on your radar. Still not convinced? Check out these 12 reasons why Sunfest is one of the best things to do in London Ontario.
1. The music at Sunfest is top quality
During the weekend over 40 musicians, bands, and singers grace the five stages of Sunfest spread throughout Victoria Park, home to the festival. International acts from countries such as Chile, Scotland, Colombia, and Russia take the stage to fill the air with quality tunes. The music at this London, Ontario festival is outstanding. So outstanding in fact, that it draws a legitimate crowd of fans. It is well mixed with first-rate sound quality and encompasses everything a large professional concert includes. When considering that this is a free festival, the music alone is one of the best reasons to visit Sunfest! Who doesn’t love discovering great new music? I went home with quite a few new bands to add to my playlist.
2. The international food options available will keep your stomach satisfied all day long
One of the prime reasons to visit Sunfest is to enjoy some of the many international food options available…and when I say many…I mean so many! Both sides of the pathways in Victoria Park are lined with food stations, trucks and booths offering tastes and drinks from around the world. Walking through Victoria Park, the smells are enticing as food stations serve up their best Indian, Jamaican, Spanish, Chinese, and American delights to name a few. Portions are generous as these food stations serve up full meals cooked right in front of your eyes. The quality of the food, like the music, is unreal. In fact, it is almost as worth it to visit Sunfest London Ontario to dine as it is for the music; but a combination of the two is perfect.
3. Shopping, shopping, and more shopping; you can find anything here!
Along with the fantastic food booths, Victoria Park fills up with shopping tents as far as the eye can see during Sunfest. When considering what to do in London Ontario, strolling through the pathways of Victoria Park during Sunfest while enjoying the shopping tents which intermingle with the food stations, is absolutely first-rate. Victoria Park transforms into a giant outdoor marketplace complete with live music. Some of the shopping locations include quality clothing, while others offer home decor, beauty products, sustainable products and even specialty meats. Perusing the shopping marketplace while snacking on delicious international foods and listening to live music is one of best reasons to spend time in London Ontario at Sunfest.
4. Sunfest has craft breweries for beer tents
The beer tents and beer gardens at Sunfest feature local craft breweries from around London, Ontario. That’s right, while at Sunfest you not only get to enjoy top quality music and food, but also top quality drinks! The beer gardens are simply fenced in areas which require ID to enter. Once inside, you can choose from a variety of craft breweries each serving a few featured brews. There is even one aptly named Sunfest Cerveza from London’s own Anderson Craft Ales; designed specifically for the festival. Not a beer drinker? That is OK! There are other drinks including wine and tequila available in the beer garden as well. The two drinking areas; the Shade Garden and the Stingray Stage, have tables and chairs or picnic tables to sit at while you enjoy your ice cold brew. Visiting one of Sunfest’s beer gardens qualifies as one of the adult fun things do in London Ontario. Both of these areas are located next to stages so that you can enjoy the music whilst slurping up your Sunfest Cervezas.
5. The vibe at Sunfest London Ontario is super inclusive! You do you.
Sunfest is a London, Ontario festival for everyone…no seriously; it is. Old, young, middle aged, kids, couples, friends, families etc. are all welcome at Sunfest. The inclusivity in the air makes this festival a great place to spend the weekend. Some festival goers spend their day relaxing on blankets, some spend their day dancing to the music, while others show off their best festival fashion. There are some seriously Coachella moments here…except these moments are much less expensive. For the entire weekend people enjoy dancing, smiling, laughing, and simply embracing each others attitudes and spirits. People are open, outgoing, and as I have said…inclusive. This detail makes Sunfest just that much more pleasant.
6. Looking for family friendly things to do in London, Ontario? Sunfest is for everyone, bring the whole squad!
If you are looking for an event to enjoy with your entire family during the summer, Sunfest is the perfect day/night/weekend out. Sunfest is one of the best things to do in London Ontario with kids. The international music stylings at Sunfest call for all ages. You won’t find any cursing here. The snack booths and open space fields are ideal for the kiddos while the adults can enjoy the tastes of craft brews in the two designated fenced in drinking areas. The shopping appeals to all ages with clothes, toys and food available to those interested. Most of all it is the unified inclusive vibe, the safety and the volunteers which makes Sunfest a great event and one of the best places to enjoy spending time with the whole family.
7. At night, Sunfest turns into an absolute Dance Party/Concert
When the sun goes down, the vibe at Sunfest turns from relaxed outdoor market festival to a full on concert. It is an absolute dance party at night with crowds gathering at the two main stages to listen, sing, and move to the music with hundreds of other festival goers. The nighttime dance party vibe seriously adds to the fun of this event. It is always a good time singing and dancing with others, enjoying the night with friends and family, and really embracing the international musicians and their music. This free festival feels like a ticketed event during the evening hours with crowds matching those at a large London Ontario concerts in size, excitement and attitude. If you are looking for a place to have a night out on the town, Sunfest is a great option because at night; the festival really embraces that party atmosphere.
8. There are free water stations at the park that keep you hydrated without having to spend ridiculous amounts of money on water bottles
July weather can be on the warmer side and so of course it is important to stay hydrated. A day or two spent out in the hot sun at a music festival can really get to you, and a bottle of water at events like this can be really expensive. Fortunately Sunfest has this covered. Free water stations are located in the park where festival goers can stop by to get a drink and fill up their water bottles. Both fountains and water bottle fill up stations are present, encouraging guests to stay hydrated for free. All that is needed is a water bottle or cup and festival goers are able to drink for free all day long. A beneficial byproduct means less plastic water bottles in the environment.
9. Sunfest is incredibly clean!
Sunfest is clean, making it one of the best London Ontario attractions all year round. Considering it is a free festival in downtown London, Victoria park remains incredibly clean and respected all weekend long. Those who organize the festival make garbage disposal, recycling and all around waste management a priority at the event and their efforts are met with enthusiasm.
All around the park waste stations are set up with 3 buckets; one for organic waste, one for recycling and one for regular waste. Two volunteers man these stations all day long, making sure festival goers dispose of their waste correctly. In addition to these waste stations, there are plenty of regular garbage cans spread throughout the park with workers visibly emptying them and replacing them frequently. Considering the disposal of all of the small, single use plates from the food stations, volunteers and festival goers keep the park clean. This elevates the experience for everyone.
10. There are tons of places to stay near Sunfest, convenience is key!
Sunfest is one of the London Ontario events that could easily work for a weekend away. There are so many bands, food spots, and activities that one could be entertained for multiple days without any difficulty. Lucky for festival guests, Victoria Park is located in downtown London so there are quite a few hotels nearby available for a night or a weekend stay.
The Hilton Double Tree is located only a few blocks away and is the host hotel for this London Ontario festival. Upon entering the hotel you will be greeted by a ‘Welcome to Sunfest’ poster, with festival schedules available on every counter. The rooms are well appointed, and there is a wonderful pool in which to enjoy a break from the hot summer sun. In addition, a full Starbucks is located on the main floor if you fancy a refresher or frappuccino. The best part about staying at the host hotel is that all of the musicians also stay here! This means that you will bump into the artists all day long, giving you the opportunity to connect with them on a more intimate level. It is pretty easy to make friends while staying at the Sunfest host hotel, and worth the short walk away.
11. Sunfest is super safe
Sunfest is located right in the middle of downtown London and while completely open, the festival feels very safe and secure all day/night long; a quality not to be overlooked. There are quite a few police officers present and a large number of security guards who work to keep the festival safe and secure making guests feel comfortable and relaxed all weekend long. Along with the security guards, there are also a number of easily identified volunteers who can be found strolling around the festival throughout the day. If you have a question or concern, these volunteers can lead you to the solution, or at least to the right people.
The security at the festival keeps the area safe so that guests of all ages can enjoy the event making this one of the best things to do in London with kids. Security does a great job of remaining unobtrusive, allowing festival goers to fully enjoy their experience in safety. The focus on security at Sunfest keeps this event family friendly, and is one of the best reasons to visit the festival.
12. At the end of the day you are still in London and there are many fun things to do in London Ontario!
A top reason to spend the weekend at Sunfest is the fact that at the end of the day…you are still in London, Ontario, an active city with much to offer. Outside of Sunfest, there are some pretty fun things to do in London Ontario. London is home to some fabulous shopping including Richmond Row; a street full of boutiques and restaurants right downtown. The Market at Western Fair District is another amazing shopping location open on the weekends which feature local products, produce and food booths serving up fresh breakfasts and lunches throughout the day. Let’s not forget about that fire roasted coffee as well!
London is also home to an array of restaurants and bars where one can escape to during the day or at night for a cheeky festival break. The Polish restaurant Unique Food Attitudes is home to some seriously authentic Eastern European cooking while the quiet and cool restaurant Wich is Wich serves homestyle cooking with a twist and is easily accessible from the festival area. At night Victoria Park is also well located to the student bar area offering a variety of additional venues.
If you are looking to burn off some energy during the day, The Factory is London’s top of the line trampoline, high ropes and ninja warrior park. Aptly named after its home in the once Kellog’s Factory, this park includes everything from trampoline basketball, to escape rooms, to a bar and restaurant. The Factory is a great way to get active in London Ontario. There are many other London Ontario attractions out there that include activities, dining and shopping which are amazing places to visit if you have any energy left after enjoying the festival.
If you are looking for a weekend away during the summer or just a day out on the town, Sunfest is one of the most fun things to do in London Ontario and should be on your list! First and foremost this London Ontario event is absolutely free, open to all ages, and is seriously inclusive. With five stages supporting over 40 quality musicians, bands and singers, the entertainment is on point. Food and craft brews find their home in the isles of Victoria Park along with over 200 shopping locations. An event for all, Sunfest in London should be on your radar for a summer event in Ontario.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank team at Ontario’s Southwest, Tourism London Ontario, and Sunfest for hosting me as media for the weekend. All of the opinions are my own.