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Tourism and Visitors

There is so much to experience, and explore in Kawartha Lakes. For all your needs to plan a trip, visit the Explore Kawartha Lakes tourism website. Here you will find information on our towns and villages, places to stay and eat, and great activities to enjoy in our communities year round.

Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

If you are a tourism operator, visit the Economic Development section of our website for information on how you can get involved and grow your business.

Kawartha Lakes Knapsack Signature Experience Program

Do you have a new or existing tourism idea that, with some refinement, could become a Kawartha Lakes Signature Experience?

The Knapsack Signature Experience Program

Knapsack is the City of Kawartha Lakes experiential tourism training and recognition program. It leverages being different, and teaches tourism businesses how to make and share memorable moments of travel.

Knapsack supports the development of new tourism experiences and it recognizes and promotes these best of the best developments.  It acknowledges the tremendous effort put into creating and delivering transformative guest experiences and rewards those efforts by helping to develop ideas into successful visitor experiences that gain attention on a regional, provincial or national level.

Graduates of the Knapsack program share the recognition with other peers whose commitment is to deliver best in class tourism experiences.

What is a Signature Experience?

Defining something as “signature” implies that it is part of a group and is one of the best items offered.  A signature experience is a highly anticipated, highly memorable activity or activities delivered by a skilled and knowledgeable person with a direct connection to the local community it takes place in.

Other Signature Experience Programs

Destination Canada:  Promotes a collection of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences found only in Canada that features over 200 experiences representative of all provinces and territories.

Destination Ontario:  Promotes a collection of incredible, world-class experiences curated by the province of Ontario, and includes many experiences that are also Canadian Signature Experiences selected by Destination Canada.

Goals of the Knapsack Signature Experience Program

  • Create economic opportunity for the City of Kawartha Lakes through tourism 
  • Build strong relationships with innovative and engaged tourism operators, mentoring them to think differently, challenging them to leverage their unique attributes as well as those of the Kawartha Lakes region, and to think beyond current trends 
  • Create 2-3 new Knapsack signature experiences each year with the end goal of ensuring that the City of Kawartha Lakes has a supply of quality, memorable experiences to attract visitors 
  • Define the Knapsack signature experience program parameters and requirements for operator participation 
  • Gain recognition and visitor attention for Kawartha Lakes, becoming well known for delivering emotional connections to the region through signature experiences 
  • Help you to create amazing experiences that attract people to the region, and may have the ability to qualify as a Signature Experience
  • Ensure visitors create a deep connection to the area through experiences that are memorable and authentic 
  • Focus on developing new high yield, small group experiences vs mass market low yield offers 

2024 Knapsack Program Intake

The 2024 Knapsack Signature Experience Program is now open.  For more information and to register for the mandatory program information session and workshop, please email Laurie McCarthy at  Applications for participation in the program will be accepted between March 1 - March 15, 2024.  Participation in the February 29 workshop is required to be eligible to apply for the program.  


Kawartha Lakes Knapsack Signature Experience Program: Introduction to Experiential Tourism

Date:  Thursday April 4, 2024

Time:  10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Location:  Virtual via Zoom

Registration:  Email Laurie McCarthy, Economic Development Officer-Tourism




Growing Food Tourism in Kawartha Lakes

Growing Food Tourism in Kawartha Lakes was developed for the City of Kawartha Lakes to leverage the region's local heritage and culture through its unique food and drink offerings. This strategy supports the City of Kawartha Lakes Economic Development Strategy and the City of Kawartha Lakes Agricultural Action Plan and is the outcome of a highly collaborative process that brought together stakeholders from across the region.

Food Tourism Vision:  "Kawartha Lakes has many distinct communities that are working as one to become the top rural food tourism destination for visitors from the GTA and beyond."

View the Growing Food Tourism in Kawartha Lakes Strategy


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