Devoted to the development and production of new and existing Canadian plays, Lighthouse Festival strives to be artistically excellent, support and encourage local and regional artists, and be a source of enjoyment and pride in our communities. Operating in two port towns on Lake Erie, our theatres operate under a central policy of hospitality, accessibility, and affordability for all.
Land Acknowledgment Message
Lighthouse Festival acknowledges that Lighthouse is established on land that has been inhabited by Indigenous peoples for millennia. We are grateful to be able to live, work and create on the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation as well as the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples. Recognizing the important contributions of Indigenous peoples is consistent with our commitment to making the promise of Truth and Reconciliation real in our communities.
Lighthouse Festival was established in 1980 when Sara Staysa rallied the community to repair the Port Dover old Town Hall roof so that the auditorium could once again be a theatre. Staysa was Artistic Director of Carpet Bag Theatre Company out of Brantford and was looking for a building to operate out of. To avoid confusion with the original Carpet Bag Theatre Company, the new company in Port Dover was named Lighthouse Festival Theatre. The theatre has continued to operate working through renovations to the historical building and financial challenges, always with community support, now staging a very popular summer season of comedies, musicals and stories for the soul, the one act festival from January to March annually, community and young actors’ productions, as well as numerous guest events that keep the theatre busy all year round.
In 2012, Lighthouse was approached with an opportunity to share resources, knowledge and leverage with Showboat Festival Theatre in Port Colborne by uniting as sister theatres. Showboat Theatre was a part of the Roselawn Centre for the Arts and managed by the City of Port Colborne. Artistic Director Derek Ritschel brought the summer season from Port Dover to Port Colborne, productions were presented in Port Dover first and then travelled down to perform in Port Colborne. By 2015, each theatre had welcomed their highest number of subscriptions and Showboat’s summer season had grown from four weeks to eight weeks.
In 2021 Lighthouse Festival and the City of Port Colborne came to a new agreement which saw Lighthouse assume all management duties for the theatre, including the ability to offer live theatre all year round.
Mission & Vision
Rooted in humour and empathy, Lighthouse Festival delivers high-calibre live theatre with an emphasis on distinctly Canadian stories. On mainstages in Port Dover, Port Colborne and at Simcoe community theatre, we showcase the talents of established and emerging artists. Through play development, we contribute creative comedic and dramatic content scripted by Canadian playwrights to the Canadian cultural landscape. With our arts and youth programs we reach into the community to inspire the next generation of artists, technicians, donors and patrons. Our enduring promise is an exceptional immersive theatre experience from beginning-to-end. Lighthouse is a place to be and to be part of.
As a registered charity incorporated in 1980, Lighthouse Festival will be a catalyst and community leader for theatre arts and culture, creating opportunities for artists, professional and amateur, and a place for audiences to experience Canadian stories that entertain and matter.
Two great theatres, decades of playbills! Visit our Past Playbills page to see playbills dating back to the 1980s!