Maple Syrup Festivals (A Canadian Springtime Tradition)

Maple syrup festivals are tasty and educational for all ages. Of all the harbingers of spring, my favorite has to be the start of maple syrup season. Maple syrup is symbolic of Canada, making trips to the sugar bush a treasured springtime activity for many families. I have fond childhood memories of such excursions and now I enjoy sharing this Canadian tradition with my kids. Here’s what you need to know before you attend a maple syrup festival.

Celebrate spring at a Maple Syrup Festival in Ottawa, Canada
Celebrate spring at a maple syrup festival in Canada (Photo credit: kipgodi,

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The World’s Primary Producer of Maple Syrup

Canada is renowned for producing over 70 percent of the world’s supply of maple syrup. The vast majority of that originates in Québec, but parts of Ontario and Atlantic Canada also produce maple syrup in lesser quantities.

Primarily, Sugar Maples are tapped to make this yummy elixir. That’s due to this tree’s sweet sap. The sap generally starts running around the beginning of March when cold overnight temperatures give rise to sunny days and above-freezing temperatures. Maple syrup collection continues until the trees are in bud and spring is well under way.

Learn how to drill a hole in a maple tree for sap collection at a maple syrup festival in Canada
Learn how to drill a hole in a maple tree for sap collection at a maple syrup festival (Photo credit: clheesen,

What Are Maple Syrup Festivals

Maple syrup festivals are a popular way for Canadians to celebrate spring. At these festivals, attendees learn about sugaring — the art of making maple syrup from tree sap. Of course, you’ll also get a chance to taste delicious maple products like syrup and candies. It’s important to bundle up when heading to these chilly events since most activities take place outside.

Maple sap is collected in buckets once the trees are tapped
Maple sap collection buckets (Photo credit: StudioLightAndShade,

Best Maple Syrup Festival Near Toronto, Ontario

One of the best maple syrup festivals in Ontario is held at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. It typically opens the first weekend in March and continues on weekends throughout the month plus on weekdays during spring break. Bronte Creek is less than an hour’s drive from downtown Toronto. 

At the Information Centre, you’ll find friendly tour guides dressed in costumes representative of the late Victorian time period circa the 1890s. The land that now comprises Bronte Creek had been settled and used for agricultural purposes in the mid-1800s. The homesteads have been maintained as office buildings and educational facilities.

During the festival, learn firsthand about the history of maple syrup production in the area and watch demonstrations of techniques for tapping trees and making maple syrup and candy.

Sweet sap drips from maple trees
Sweet sap drips from maple trees (Photo credit: marcbruxelle,

How Maple Syrup Is Made

Once a Sugar Maple is tapped, the producers collect sap using a bucket hung to the tree. Then they boil the sap to create a more concentrated, sweeter syrup. During my visit to the Bronte Creek Provincial Park Maple Syrup Festival with my daughter, we embarked on a tour with a knowledgeable guide.

We paused at various stations, where our guide demonstrated how to measure a tree to determine if it is big enough to tap, how to drill a tree, and how to insert the spout and hang a bucket to collect the sap. We learned it takes 40 liters of sap to produce just one liter of maple syrup. That sounds like a lot of work, but the taste is well worth the effort if you ask me!

The sap is boiled to make maple syrup
Boiling sap to make maple syrup (Photo credit: chiyacat,

Production Methods

Three hundred years ago, natives collected sap in hollowed-out logs, adding hot rocks directly from a fire in order to evaporate water. This time-consuming method took about 12 hours from start to finish.

One hundred years later, pioneers improved upon this method by heating the sap in iron kettles over the fire, thus cutting the time in half. In the late 1800s, a flat pan method was introduced, significantly reducing production time once again.

Maple taffy on snow
Maple taffy made in ice (Photo credit: StudioLightAndShade,

Maple Taffy

There can’t be much in the world that tastes better than fresh maple taffy and my tween could hardly wait to taste some. I recall trips to the sugar bush when I was a kid when someone would drizzle the piping hot maple syrup from the kettle onto the snow to make maple taffy for us.

This is one area where it’s a relief to see that times have changed. It’s more sanitary now since the taffy is made on clean blocks of ice.

Maple syrup, maple cookies and maple candies
Bring home a sweet souvenir from your maple syrup festival (Photo credit: mikeaubry,

Maple Souvenirs

Apart from the taffy, you’ll want to bring home some sweet souvenirs from your maple syrup festival like lollipops, maple-flavored cookies, maple sugar candies, and, of course, syrup. At Bronte Creek Provincial Park, visitors may shop for goodies at the Maple Gift Shoppe. Craving maple syrup treats yet? Order some Canadian maple goodies now!

Top off your Canadian maple syrup festival experience with pancakes with lots of maple syrup
Top off your visit with pancakes with lots of maple syrup (Photo credit: svariophoto,

Pancakes with Maple Syrup

A short wagon ride from the Information Centre transported us to the Bronte Creek Pancake House. There, we enjoyed a hearty meal of pancakes with fresh syrup and either sausage or bacon. It’s the perfect way to either end or start your day at a maple syrup festival.

Canada's symbol, the maple leaf, with maple products
Canada’s symbol, the maple leaf, with maple products (Photo credit: mikeaubry,

Why Attend Maple Syrup Festivals

Experiencing a maple syrup festival is a wonderful way to learn more about how to collect and make maple syrup, enjoy some delicious maple products, and welcome the approach of spring.

Homemade apple Dutch pancake with powdered suga
Homemade apple Dutch pancake with powdered sugar (Photo credit: bhofack2,

Discover Other Delicious Cultural Traditions

If you like maple syrup, then you’re going to enjoy learning about pancake houses in the Netherlands.

Love cheese? Take a global tour with this round-up of the best grilled cheese sandwiches around the world.

Get a taste of Great Britain with these traditional British foods with funny names.

Maple Syrup Festivals in Canada

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Have you ever tasted maple taffy or attended a maple syrup festival? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. I love maple syrup and I just had some with my pancakes today! Thanks for sharing with us and I learn so many about it today – Knycx Journeying

  2. Yay, it is very interesting to learn how maple syrup is being made, and where it came from. I learned something new and now I am excited to experience maple juice extract from maple tree 🙂

  3. Maple syrup festival, I had never read about it. This is interesting and its a tradition that’s what makes it different. Good to learn about it.

  4. I love maple syrup! I live in northern New England, and we also make a lot of it in this area. But I’ve never been to a maple syrup festival – they sound like so much fun! I’d especially like to experience the one you mentioned in Bronte Creek with the costumed tour guides.

  5. I love maple syrup since when I was kid and even my kids love it too. Such a very interesting traditional and festival. Yum!

  6. So yummy! My unconditional love for maple syrup also comes from the childhood and it seems like my kids are following this tradition. I am sure my romantic soul would have loved the Victorian farm house tour. The festival sounds like a perfect activity for families with children. Such a pity that it is over. If there are any Moms here looking for a nice programme with their kids, I just found this Vancouver International Children´s Festival and I will probably spend the birthday of my daughter there. Looks like a lot of fun!

  7. My love of all things maple syrup began as a child growing up in Ontario, with my first visit to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, which still running today. Can’t get enough of the sweet stuff – and only Amber Maple Syrup will do in our house!

  8. Yum! My guys would love this. Great tradition and really interesting too. I can only imagine how good it tastes ‘right out of the tree’ 🙂