Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend Salutes Spring

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Stratford announces the arrival of spring with a Swan Parade. One of Canada’s most unique events, the annual Swan Parade Celebration, is a weekend of family fun, April 1-2, 2017, culminating with a parade of our iconic feathered friends traveling from their winter quarters to the Avon River on Sunday. They know it’s time to get going when they hear the sounds of the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums who lead the way amid curious on-lookers. 

Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend Salutes Spring

Throughout the weekend, Stratford’s downtown heritage streetscape is dotted with decorated topiary swans.  You’re invited to take part in the Swan Quest, a search for your favourite decorated topiary swan for a chance to win shopping gift certificates. Join a nature walk to learn more about the life of the swans.  Hop aboard free horse-drawn carriage tours and learn about Stratford’s history. Street performers entertain while our swan mascot poses for photos. 

Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend Salutes Spring

Sunday’s Swan Parade Celebration is presented free from 12 noon – 3:00 pm along Lakeside Drive (between Waterloo St. and Morenz Drive) with the Swan Parade, marking the return of the swans to the Avon River begins at 2:00 pm. Stratford’s history with swans dates back to 1918 when the first gift of swans was received. The herd now includes 28 white mute swans that will participate in the parade this year. This spring ritual has become a Stratford tradition for many who bring their families each spring. Everyone is welcome to attend this free family celebration.

“Thousands of people look forward to attending this quirky fun family event,” comments Cathy Rehberg, Marketing Manager Stratford Tourism Alliance. “It is a collaboration among the Civic Beautification volunteers, city staff and tourism partners and the weather doesn’t seem to matter. This reflects how much the community loves the swans!”

Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend Salutes Spring

Saturday, April 1
Stratford Tourism and the Stratford City Centre BIA presents the Stratford Swan Quest with twelve distinctive topiary swans decorated and perched in the downtown. For a chance to win a $100 City Centre shopping spree, shoppers are invited to view the swans and vote for their favourite to receive the People’s Choice Award.  Ballots are available at shops with a decorated swan, at Stratford Tourism, 47 Downie Street and on-line starting March 31. The contest runs throughout the weekend closing at 4:00 pm Sunday, April 2. 

Want to learn more about our feathered ambassadors? Join us on Guided Swan Walks. Stratford’s swan stories are shared as you view the swans in their winter quarters, see popular nesting spots and stroll along the river bank. Free guided walks take place at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm on Saturday, and Sunday at 12:15 pm. Meet your guide at the William Allman Arena.

Pose for photos with our larger than life swan mascot at 11:30 am and 1:00 pm at Memorial Gardens on Ontario Street.

Animated street performer, Kobbler Jay entertains from 12 noon – 4:00 pm at the same location.

Free horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered courtesy of the Stratford City Centre BIA from 12 noon - 3:30 pm departing from Memorial Gardens, Ontario Street. (Saturday and Sunday)

Sunday, April 2
Bring your family to the Swan Celebration from 12 Noon – 3:00 pm along Lakeside Drive sponsored by Re/Max AB Realty. Look for the new circus tent style outdoor main stage to enjoy the entertaining Craig Douglas comedy juggler show and The Keepers: a show about animals and conservation.

An indoor children’s play zone is presented by SpringWorks and Gallery Stratford’s #creationplace. 

Entertaining clowns, a community colouring mural and swan hats are all offered free of charge.

Street food trucks offer tasty menus along with a charity barbeque. 

At 2:00 pm, the Swan Parade, organized by the volunteer Civic Beautification and Environmental Awareness Committee along with Stratford Community Services, begins as The Stratford Police Pipes and Drums lead the swans from their winter quarters to the Avon River.

Free parking is available in the Stratford Festival parking lot at the corner of Lakeside Drive and Queen Street and along Lakeside Drive east of Front Street. Limited accessible parking on site can be accommodated from the entrance at Water and Morenz Streets.

Street closures will include Lakeside Drive from Waterloo Street to North Street and Morenz Drive from Water Street to Lakeside Drive from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm to provide a safe pedestrian zone. Everyone is welcome to attend. We encourage people to arrive early to enjoy all the activities offered.

Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend Salutes Spring

Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend Salutes Spring

Stratford’s Swan Parade Weekend Salutes Spring

Come celebrate spring in Stratford

For more information, a Swan Quest Ballot, Swan Parade Celebration colouring contest, go to, call 519-271-5140 or 1-800-561-7926, or visit us at Stratford Tourism, 47 Downie Street, Stratford. Click here for more history on the swans!