Yearly on the weekend after Thanksgiving the small town of Bala in the Muskoka region plays host to the Bala Cranberry Festival. This festival celebrates the cranberry harvest and as you can imagine offers you cranberries in every form possible! The small town of Bala is a great spot for all seasons offering the full cottage and boating experience of the Muskoka lakes in the summer, stunning colours of the trees and ruby red cranberries in the fall, as well as winding snowy trails for both snowmobilers and cross country skiers alike – this community is a must visit. The Bala Cranberry Festival has been growing larger each year and see overs half a million visitors to the town. If you have never heard of this popular fall festival you should add it to your bucket list!
Here is our ultimate guide to visiting the Bala Cranberry Festival in Bala, Ontario!
Getting to Bala
Bala is only located 2 hours north of Toronto up the 400. Take exit 177 Go Home Lake Road/Muskoka District Road 38 which will take you all the way into Bala. As you drive down Muskoka District Road 38 make sure to take in the beautiful scenery as you driving down the winding road and keep an eye out for wildlife and moose, deer and fox have been known to be seen on this road.
*Make sure to get to Bala early as parking in the city is limited and to get a good spot you will need to beat the crowds!
What to do at the Bala Cranberry Festival
Stop & See Bala Falls – Ball Falls is located right in the heart of the town where the water from Bala Bay on Lake Muskoka drains to the Moon River. This is the largest of three waterfalls in the town. The majority of the falls is over the dam but there is a nice cascade just downstream of the dam over the rocks.
Grab a Hot Chocolate at Cottage Cravings – Cottage Cravings is our favourite place to stop while visiting Bala. This amazing little cafe offers the largest hot chocolate bar in Muskoka with over 20 flavours to choose from. The cafe is not to be missed.
Buy Cranberry Everything – During the Cranberry Festival the streets are lined with a wide variety of vendors, live entertainment and food stands selling anything from cranberry crepes to cranberry wine. We love to explore the new vendors every year as they are all from the local area often selling homemade items.
Watch the Ontario Watercross Racing – One thing we love watching is Ontario Watercross Racing that was happens on Bala Bay. Watercross racing is performed by racing a snowmobile on open water. Each of the races consist of four laps around buoys.
Head to Johnson’s Cranberry Marsh – Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh is one of the highlights of the festival for us. With plenty of parking and lots to offer you could spend several hours here! The farm, which started in 1950, was the only cranberry farm in Ontario until 1970. Muskoka Lakes Winery was added to the farm which boasts award winning wines that can be found in the LCBO. While at the farm make sure to take part in a wine tasting, wagon tour of the farm, visit the cranberry cafe and farmers market. Lastly, don’t forget to stand in the cranberry bog!
Even if you are not a fan of cranberries the festival offers one of the last outdoor experiences in the Muskoka region before the snow falls, and if you have never visited the town of Bala you will fall in love with its rustic charm.