Suzie, Cole and I visited the Blyth Festival. Located in Blyth, Ontario, less than 90 minutes north of London, the festival’s primary mandate is to produce and develop Canadian plays. Established in 1975, the Blyth Festival is widely regarded as a place where Canadian playwrights can develop new works in a relaxed, small town setting.
We went to see “Yorkville the Musical,” a new play by Carolyn Hay. It’s receiving rave reviews, and I was intrigued to see what Director Donna Feore, whose work at the Canadian Opera Company and the Stratford Festival is always wonderful, would do on a smaller stage.
The show was fabulous, if you enjoy fun-filled musicals I highly recommend it. I have collected the show reviews HERE.
Below I’ve written a bit about our overnight stay in the rural setting of Blyth.
We began our journey by heading north on highway 4, which isn’t really a “highway.” The two lane road meanders through several rural communities that date back to the 1800’s. Passing through the towns and the many farms was surprisingly relaxing.
As soon as we arrived in Blyth, Cole and Suzie spotted an old fashioned variety store serving Chapman’s Ice Cream. We strolled over for a double scoop of Dutch Chocolate, which is made with fresh cream from Ontario farms, just like the ones we drove past.
There’s really only one fancy restaurant in town, the Part 11 Bistro. We hoped to eat there but it was full.
Last year Chef Peter Gusso was awarded the “Taste of Huron’s Top Chef” award, so the place is booming.
If you plan to dine there on a Friday or Saturday be sure to make a reservation well in advance 226-523-3663.
Here’s a link to the Part 11 Bistro Facebook page.
Top Three Blyth Restaurants on TripAdvisor
What better place to stay than directly across the street from the theatre? The Queens Bakery is a gorgeous cafe with a few rooms for rent on the second floor.
It’s not quite room service, but walking downstairs for an Espresso and tasty baked goods made fresh on the premises, was fun. Before leaving for the ride home, we picked up some of their scrumptious sandwiches. Suzie loved the Pulled Pork on Ciabatta.
The Queens Bakery is licensed, and open to 11:00pm, so it’s a great place to visit after a performance.
The three of us stayed in the large room. With a comfy double bed and a fold out couch, it was perfect for the three of us. I even used the desk to get some writing done.
All the rooms share two brand new washrooms and a well appointed common area with plush chairs, a couch, TV and a complete kitchen. The smaller rooms do not have windows. Call for reservations 226-523-9720.
The other place in town that came highly recommended is the Blyth Station House. They can be reached at (519) 523-9826.
If you need some pampering, and all the comforts that come with a resort, consider the Ben Miller Inn & Spa in Goderich. It’s a short drive from the festival.
Their Trip Advisor page has lots of very good reviews.
Here’s a link to a few more places to stay including a few bed and breakfasts.
Suzie, Cole and I had a great mini-vacation. We left the city, more specifically the suburbs, behind us and didn’t spend a minute in the car. Walking around in the quiet town under the country sky was exactly what we needed. Although we only stayed in Blyth for a short time, everyone we met was so straightforward and friendly that we left town feeling we`d made a few new friends.
One lovely couple we met at the performance of “Yorkville the Musical” once lived in Yorkville. They told us how they left Toronto in the 1970’s. The pair settled down in Blyth and soon realized that they missed the arts community they left behind in Toronto. So they got involved in the launch of the Bainton Gallery, which is adjacent to the theatre.
It’s a small gallery that each year features professional juried exhibitions, a community art show and an exhibition by secondary school students.
Our mini-vacation in Blyth left all of us refreshed and inspired. Before leaving town Cole grabbed my camera and took a few photos.
The trip might have inspired him the most.