5 Things to Do at Newmarket's Riverwalk Commons: Outdoor Skating & Events at the Riverwalk Commons
The Riverwalk Commons in the city of Newmarket, Ontario, is very close to the city's geographic center. A monument marking the historic Founding of Newmarket is just across the street from the Riverwalk Commons. The Commons is the heart of this Greater Toronto Area suburb, where the community comes together for recreation and special events throughout the year. The Riverwalk Commons begins outside the Newmarket Community Centre on Doug Duncan Drive and extends south to Water Street. For homebuyers considering moving to Newmarket, here are some things to do and special community events at Newmarket Riverwalk Commons.
Water Fun in the Summer, Ice Skating in the Winter
Some of the best outdoor activities in Newmarket can be found at the stage outside the Newmarket Community Centre, where special events happen year-round. But some of the main fun at the Riverwalk Commons occurs on the splash pad area out front. The splash pad at the Commons is open every day of the week from 9:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. during the warm season. It does close early for special events. For example, it shuts down at 3:00 p.m. every Thursday from July through September for the TD Newmarket Music Series, listed below.
During the winter months, the splash pad is transformed into a community ice skating rink. That usually starts in November each year. There are some rules in place to allow everyone to enjoy the ice rink, which is open from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. for family skating:
- No hockey sticks, nets, balls, or pucks are allowed until after 10:30 p.m.
- Only recreational skating from 9:00 a.m.–10:30 p.m.
- Remain courteous to all other skaters at all times
- No horseplay or tag allowed on the ice
- Skaters encouraged (but not required) to wear a CSA-approved helmet at all times
Tim Hortons Canada Day
Every year on July 1st, the Newmarket Riverwalk Commons is taken over for the daytime Tim Hortons Canada Day events. All the daytime festivities are free from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Commons features concerts by some of the best cover bands in the area. The North Newmarket Lions Club hosts a food vendor area in the north part of the Commons. Kids can ride on the Tim Hortons Express Train, which is about a block west of Main Street from the Commons. Street buskers wander through the crowd and provide family-friendly entertainment, and the city provides an on-site water trailer.
The nighttime Canada Day festivities shift to George Richardson Park—one of Newmarket's best parks—about one kilometre north of the Commons. Shuttle buses run to this park every 30–40 minutes from several locations downtown, so everyone can catch the nighttime show. Two more free concerts take place from 7:30–10:00 p.m. That's followed by a giant fireworks celebration that lasts until about 10:30 p.m.
TD Newmarket Music Series
Speaking of the TD Newmarket Music Series, residents can walk from their condos or townhomes near Main Street to the Riverwalk Commons for a free concert every week from July through September. The stage area at the Commons hosts two live music shows every Thursday from 6–9 p.m. Mercedes-Benz of Newmarket is a major sponsor of many events at the Riverwalk Commons, and they set up a Backstage Lounge at the music series for people to enjoy.
The concerts always start with an opening act from a local or GTA performance group. Past performers who have opened shows at the Music Series include the Beresfords, Aysanabee, the Bianca Rollo Band, and Bernadette Connors. The main concert is often a tribute band to a classic rock group. Past shows people have enjoyed in Newmarket include Hotel California (Eagles tribute group), Wannabe (Spice Girls tribute), Fleetwood Mac Mania, ABBA Revisited, and Exodus: The Bob Marley Experience.
Residents are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs and arrive early to secure a spot. Parking is limited near the Riverwalk Commons due to the popularity of the Music Series, so many people must walk to the event.
Splash of Culture
The Splash of Culture is Newmarket's end-of-summer event every year, usually on the second Friday in September. This event is free and fun for the whole family to enjoy. From 7–9 p.m. (or sometimes longer), the splash pad and stage area at the Riverwalk Commons is transformed into a music stage and viewing area. For those two hours, the stage is taken over by three different musical acts from across Canada.
Past performers have included Logan Staats, a Mohawk singer-songwriter and Indigenous Music Award-winning artist; Toronto-based recording artist and songwriter Charissa; and local tribute bands.
One difference between Splash of Culture and other Riverwalk Commons events is that a local brewery sets up and serves beer and wine at this celebration. Some light pub fare is also served. Visitors should bring cash to make any purchases. Tables and seating at Splash of Culture are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are free to use. Like the TD Newmarket Music Series, everyone can bring their own lawn chairs to sit and watch the concerts.
Frozen Fridays are the end-of-year celebrations every Friday night in December at the Riverwalk Commons. From 6:00–8:30 p.m., the community can enjoy ice skating, buskers, and DJ music. These are family-friendly events, they are free, and they even serve complimentary hot chocolate (while supplies last) for everyone. The Tim Hortons Express Train is operating to give free rides to kids along Main Street, making Frozen Fridays one of the great things to do with kids in Newmarket.
The various street performers and LED Mega Tree light shows are the big draws for Frozen Fridays. The fire performers stand in the middle of the Riverwalk Commons and "wow" the crowds with amazing circus-style fire performances. They do fire eating, juggle fire, use flaming hula hoops, and perform various stunts for everyone to enjoy. The crowds keep their distance from these flaming acts! Past performers and buskers include The Fire Guy, Zola Molotov, Scarlet Black, and Dawn Dreams.
Children and adults love the LED Mega Tree Shows every 30 minutes during Frozen Fridays. The show features 15' and 20' LED trees that light up to a synchronized music show. These are significant community events to cap off a full year of fun at the Newmarket Riverwalk Commons.
Year-Round Entertainment at Newmarket Riverwalk Commons
Living in the central part of Newmarket means residents are within walking distance of all the free and family-friendly events at the Riverwalk Commons. This central site—easily accessed from all of Newmarket's best neighbourhoods—is a gathering place used to create a real sense of community in this northern city of Toronto suburb. If visitors come out and enjoy the free events at the Riverwalk Commons, they're sure to meet new neighbours and make new friends.