Windsor, Ontario - Culture and Tourism

Culture and Tourism

Windsor tourist attractions include Caesars Windsor, a lively downtown club scene, Little Italy, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the Odette Sculpture Park, and Ojibway Park. As a border settlement, Windsor was a site of conflict during the War of 1812, a major entry point into Canada for refugees from slavery via the Underground Railroad and a major source of liquor during American Prohibition. Two sites in Windsor have been designated as National Historic Sites of Canada: the Sandwich First Baptist Church, a church established by Underground Railroad refugees, and François Bâby House, an important War of 1812 site now serving as Windsor's Community Museum.

The Capitol Theatre in downtown Windsor had been a venue for feature films, plays and other attractions since 1929, until it declared bankruptcy in 2007. Today, the theatre remains open.

Windsor's nickname is the "Rose City" or the "City of Roses" and Windsor has designated a rose known as Liebeszauber (Love's Magic) as the City of Windsor Rose. Windsor is noted for the several large parks and gardens found on its waterfront. The Queen Elizabeth II Sunken Garden is located at Jackson Park in the central part of the city. A World War II era Avro Lancaster was displayed on a stand in the middle of Jackson Park for over four decades but has since been removed for restoration. This park is now home to a mounted Spitfire replica and a Hurricane replica.

Of the parks lining Windsor's waterfront, the largest is the 5 km (three-mile) stretch overlooking the Detroit skyline. It extends from the Ambassador Bridge to the Hiram Walker Distillery. The western portion of the park contains the Odette Sculpture Park which features over 30 large-scale contemporary sculptures for public viewing, along with the Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The central portion contains Dieppe Gardens, Civic Terrace and Festival Plaza, and the eastern portion is home to the Bert Weeks Memorial Gardens. Further east along the waterfront is Coventry Gardens, across from Detroit's Belle Isle. The focal point of this park is the Charles Brooks Memorial Peace Fountain which floats in the Detroit River and has a coloured light display at night. The fountain is the largest of its kind in North America and symbolizes the peaceful relationship between Canada and the United States.

Each summer, Windsor co-hosts the two-week-long Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival, which culminates in a gigantic fireworks display that celebrates Canada Day and US Independence Day. The fireworks display is among the world's largest and is held on the final Monday in June over the Detroit River between the two downtowns. Each year, the event attracts over a million spectators to both sides of the riverfront.

Following the 2008 Red Bull Air Race World Championship in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor successfully put in a bid to become the first Canadian city to host the event. Red Bull touted the 2009 race in Windsor as one of the most exciting in the seven-year history of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, and on January 22, 2010, it was announced that Windsor will be a host city for the 2010 and 2011 circuits, along with a select group of major international cities that includes Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Perth, Australia and New York City. The event attracted 200,000 fans to the Detroit River waterfront in 2009. The Red Bull air races were cancelled worldwide for 2011.

Windsor has often been the place where many metro Detroiters find what is forbidden in the United States. With a minimum legal drinking age of 21 in Michigan and 19 in Ontario, a number of 19 and 20-year-old Americans frequent Windsor's bars. The city also became a gaming attraction with Caesars Windsor's opening in 1994, five years before casinos opened in Detroit. In addition, one can purchase Cuban cigars, Cuban Rum, less-costly prescription drugs, Absinthe, certain imported foods, and other items not available in the United States. In addition, many same-sex couples from the United States have chosen to marry in Windsor, which is illegal in Michigan and most parts of the United States, but is legal in Canada.

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