October in Muskoka offers visitors and residents alike the opportunity to experience numerous fun and engaging seasonal events, one-of-a-kind cultural performances, and brilliantly hued fall foliage that creates a kaleidoscope of colour throughout the region. Enjoy these 10 top activities that bring out the best sights, sounds, and socializing of this invigorating season.
10. Paranormal Muskoka Tour at Woodchester Villa
The architecturally stunning Woodchester Villa on the North Branch of the Muskoka River in Bracebridge has a long and storied past, and is listed on Canada’s Register of Historic Places. Built in 1882 as an upgrade home by Henry James Bird, a world-travelled woodmill operator who helped establish the area’s vibrant commercial scene, the house features an octagonal shape made popular by one of the Bird family’s favourite designers, Orson Squire Fowler. Dubbed the ‘Bird House’ both for the owner’s name and its unique contours, the stylish home stayed in the family for many generations until the local Rotary Club turned it into a community centre and museum in the 1970s. Nowadays, this beautiful 10-acre property is both an event space and a popular location for paranormal investigations due to the many community members who have passed through its doors over the past 136 years. On October 27th from 7p.m. to 8:30 p.m., you can join The Paranormal Muskoka Team to learn more about this intriguing building’s fascinating history while enjoying a fun mini-lesson in ‘ghost hunting’.
9. Bala Cranberry Festival
For nearly 35 years the small town of Bala has played host to over half a million visitors thanks to a tiny team of volunteers who are determined to deliver an amazing autumn experience that also uplifts the community. Named by American Express as one of the World’s 15 Most Delectable Harvest Festivals, this small town has come together to raise over $100,000 in scholarships while supporting hundreds of local non-profit groups, and this year’s October 12-14 festival promises even more fantastic activities to enjoy. Highlights include shopping at the Wine and Gift store, wagon tours, helicopter rides, arts and craft vendors, music, entertainment, a ‘Cran-Anne of Greene Gables’ contest, and of course the much-anticipated ‘Cranberry Plunge’. The festival is spread throughout the city and Johnston Cranberry Marsh, and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
8. Chapel Gallery: Season’s Photographs from Muskoka & Beyond
From October 13th through November 10th four talented photographers of the Muskoka region will display their work at Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge. Featuring breathtaking scenes that play light against shadow and capture the geography, flowers, plants, and waterscapes of the region as it changes throughout the year, these photographs are a visual delight that draw viewers into a dazzling moment in time. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
7. Chef Roger Mooking Culinary Weekend
Multi-talented celebrity Chef Roger Mooking graces Deerhurst Resort during the weekend of October 26th through 28th to delight the palette and charm visitors with his inventive style. This cookbook author, award-winning musician, and host of ‘Man Fire Food’, ‘Heat Seekers’, and ‘Everyday Exotic’ on the Food Network and Cooking Channel will present a marché reception with live music on Friday to kick off the weekend. On Saturday at 7 p.m., guests will be treated to an amazing family-style dinner and demo showcasing Confit Salmon with Campari Tomatoes, Honey-drizzled Chickpea Falafel, and a Coconut-infused Berry Dessert with Date Jam. The day also features an engaging meet and greet, book signing, and craft beer hike on the brilliantly coloured resort grounds.
6. Muskoka Heritage Place Great Pumpkin Trail
This fun-filled family tradition at the Muskoka Heritage Place has been an innovative alternative to Halloween in the Huntsville community since 1989. Kids and parents alike dress up in themed costumes while local businesses pass out candy from their holiday-decorated ‘homes’ in Pioneer Village. The trail is part scavenger hunt and part social event, and the company with the ‘Best Decorated’ house gets a prize from the mayor that comes with bragging rights for the entire year. You can come out to join in the festive cheer on October 31st from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at this one-of-a-kind celebration.
5. Rosseau Pumpkin Festival and Farmer’s Market
Fair lovers big and small will love the variety of entertainment at this 6th annual festival that combines playtime activities, educational events, local cuisine, and market shopping to please everyone in your group. Highlights include pumpkin decorating, local and farm vendors, a bouncy house, face painting, wall climbing, and pumpkin bingo. This year’s new feature is a farm animal display, and Birds of Prey will also be on sight to showcase the region’s beautiful owls, hawks, and falcons while teaching the finely-tuned techniques of falconry. All the fun takes place on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
4. Muskoka Independent Film Festival 2018
With a mission to welcome a multitude of genres, the 5th annual film event founded by award-winning Canadian screenwriter, television producer, illustrator, author, and playwright Vince Grittani is inclusive of documentaries, shorts, comedies, social dramas, folktales, children’s movies, full-length features, and more! The secretive selection process is underway, and will be unveiled shortly before the October 18-20th extravaganza opens at the newly restored Gravenhurst Opera House, along with details about the evening’s showtimes.
3. Motown Gold: A Live Musical Celebration
“One thing I can say about Motown acts is that we were a family.” - Smokey Robinson
Gravenhurst’s historic opera house is also the sight of October 13th’s celebration of the legendary Detroit label that launched 1,000 stars. The famed Rudy & the Angels band plays live as soul-stirring singers take the stage to relive the magical hits of such multi-talented performers as Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, and The Temptations. Hear your favourite hits, including ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’, and ‘Stop, in the Name of Love’. The one-night-only event takes place at 8 p.m. and features interactive entertainment to get the audience dancing.
2. Sawdust City Oktoberfest
Kick off your October celebrations early at this September 30th extravaganza located on sight of Gravenhurst’s renowned brewery. The free admission includes live entertainment featuring the Surf Disco vibes of Toronto’s Coyote Kids. Prizes will be given for the ‘Best Dressed’, with bonus points for the most stylish lederhosen. A signature custom Oktoberfest mug will be available to commemorate your fun night out at this leading craft house of six year-round core brands. The Sawdust City Saloon is located inside the brewery, and plays host from 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
1. Thanksgiving Open House at Muskoka Lakes Museum
Complimentary seasonal eats and delicious treats will be served up hot and fresh at this pioneer-style museum’s annual holiday open house on October 6th from 10 a.m. to 4 p. m. and October 7th from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m in Port Carling. Visitors can enjoy warm pumpkin muffins and cider while watching live corn-husk doll-making, apple-pressing, spinning, and butter-churning exhibitions. The museum also houses amazing artifacts and displays from the region’s storied past, including a 1st Nations’ Gallery, Resort Room, and ‘Modern Inventions’ display.
Before heading out to the museum or after the festivities, swing over to nearby Bracebridge for our celebrated Thanksgiving Weekend Cruises on October 6th and 7th that showcase the phenomenal fall colours just as they begin to reach their peak. We provide you two options each day, at 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., as our way of saying Happy Thanksgiving!