Doors Open Ontario

Information and Guidelines

The information contained on these pages provides communities that are considering participating in Doors Open Ontario 2020 with a comprehensive summary of the entry criteria, program requirements and timelines. It also highlights the role the Ontario Heritage Trust plays in coordinating the provincewide program and supporting the participating communities. Before deciding to participate in Doors Open Ontario and completing the Registration form, please read this document in its entirety. This document serves as the agreement to register with the program.

Doors Open Ontario is an annual cultural tourism initiative administered by the Ontario Heritage Trust. The Trust works with communities and partners to open the doors, gates and courtyards of their unique and most fascinating cultural sites to encourage Ontarians to discover the stories inside these exceptional spaces, in communities all across the province. From historical houses to modern marvels of construction, Doors Open Ontario showcases the buildings, natural spaces, infrastructure and cultural landscapes that shape and define our communities.

The program encourages appreciation of special places in Ontario through an open and approachable model for visitors that rewards and incentivizes exploration of sites in participating municipalities. Each event must be free, and so they are uniquely accessible to the general public compared to many other festivals and events. The Doors Open Ontario event model creates opportunities for locals to discover their home through a tourist’s point of view; and, opportunities for non-locals to travel to and discover different communities across the province throughout the events season, thus generating substantial and new opportunities for cultural tourism.

Doors Open overview

Successful Doors Open events have charmed crowds since the first Doors Open Day (La journée portes ouvertes) took place in France in 1984. In 2002, the Trust launched Doors Open Ontario – a provincewide initiative that was the first of its kind in Canada.

In the 18-year history of Doors Open Ontario, community participation has increased dramatically. Approximately 500,000 visits are made each year to participating sites. In total, heritage enthusiasts have made approximately 8.5 million visits to 787 Doors Open Ontario events since 2002! The program has inspired the development of similar provincewide programs across Canada.

Entering its 19th year, Doors Open Ontario continues to be a cultural phenomenon. It has helped communities to redefine and celebrate their heritage, strengthen and encourage local partnerships, bolster local volunteer bases and stimulate tourism and local economies. Doors Open Ontario has matured into a vibrant, significant program that continues to support communities and build civic pride.

Registration criteria | Where to start | Managing your event | Evaluating your event | Role of the Ontario Heritage Trust | Event cancellation | Submission requirements and deadlines | Contact information