8 Must-See Film Festivals for Adventure Lovers

These film festivals bring thrilling outdoor adventure to the big screen.

Ever wondered what it’s like to solo a remote river? Climb a big wall in Yosemite? Huck a double-backflip on skis? Or maybe your outdoor dreams are of the more accessible variety: like taking your first wilderness canoe trip, or competing in a local adventure race. These film festivals now screening across Ontario feature stories that will resonate with adventurers of all stripes—grab the popcorn and prepare to be inspired!

Two people hiking in winter landscape in the mountains
Get the stories behind the shots at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Photo: @coreyrichproductions

Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is an international film competition and annual presentation of short films and documentaries about mountain culture, sports, and the environment. The World Tour brings all the excitement of the festival to audiences around the globe.

Find an upcoming screening in Ontario:

Owen Sound, ON

January 17, 18, 2020
Suntrail Source for Adventure

Kingston, ON

January 18, 19, 20, 2020

Ottawa, ON

January 19, 20, 21, 22, 2020
Tickets available at Trailhead Paddle Shack

Huntsville, ON

January 20, 21, 22, 2020
Algonquin Theatre - Ticket Sales Information

North Bay, ON

January 23, 2020
Event Page

Sudbury, ON

January 24, 25, 2020
Laurentian University Outdoor Adventure Leadership
705-675-1151 ext. 1205 (Jim Little)

Thunder Bay, ON

January 26, 2020
Alpine Club of Canada
TBCA Box Office

Sault Ste. Marie, ON

January 28, 2020
Venue: The Sault Community Theatre Centre

London, ON

March 16, 17, 18, 2020
Event Page

Toronto, ON

March 20, 21, 21, 22, 2020
Alpine Club of Canada - Toronto Section

See full list of tour stops and dates.

Person in a desert landscape carrying a kayak
A whitewater kayaker and bush pilot team-up to venture down an unknown river in Frontier of Firsts, which won the Best Whitewater Film award at the 2019 Paddling Film Festival. Photo: Frontier of Firsts

Paddling Film Festival World Tour

Since 2006, the Paddling Film Festival World Tour has been showcasing the very best paddling films to audiences around the world. The festival aims to inspire more people to explore rivers, lakes, and oceans, push physical and emotional extremes, embrace the paddling lifestyle, and appreciate the heritage of the wild places we paddle.

Find an upcoming screening in Ontario:

Toronto, ON (Premiere)

February 20, 2020
The Complete Paddler

Ajax, ON

March 10, 2020
Event Page

Sault Ste. Marie, ON

March 13, 2020
Venue: The Sault Community Theatre Centre

Parry Sound, ON

March 21, 2020
Event Page

Atikokan, ON

March 21, 2020
Little Falls Recreation Centre
Beaten Path Nordic Club

Waterloo, ON

March 26, 2020
Venue: Princess Cinemas

Kingston, ON

April 9, 2020

Ottawa, ON

April 23, 2020
Venue: ByTowne Cinema

Dryden, ON

April 25, 2020
Venue: The Midtown Stage
Dryden Regional Trail Committee

Kenora, ON

May 9, 2020
Venue: The Trylight Theatre

Owen Sound, ON

June 20, 2020
Suntrail Source for Adventure

Barry’s Bay, ON

June 20, 2020
Madawaska Kanu Centre

See a full list of tour stops and dates.

Diver and whale
Julie won the Prestige Award at the 2019 Ottawa Adventure Film Festival. Photo: @juliegautier.nery

Ottawa Adventure Film Festival

The Ottawa Adventure Film Festival is a nine-day festival located in the National Capital Region of Canada. This is the fourth year of the OAFF, which has already grown to be the largest festival of its kind in eastern North America. Screenings are hosted at the historic Mayfair Theatre in the heart of Ottawa’s core as well as the University of Ottawa.

Ottawa, ON

November 20-29, 2020
2020 film submissions

Turtle with text
Fix And Release is just one of dozens of powerful films available through the Water Docs Film Library. Photo: Fix and Release

Water Docs Film Festival

Water Docs is an environmental documentary film festival celebrating all things water. Take part in lively discussions with filmmakers and guest speakers, learn about water issues and discover featured community partners. The high-impact films are also available for community screenings to promote learning and local opportunities to protect our waters.

Toronto, ON

March 26-29, 2020
Venue: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

Someone ice-climbing with northern lights in background
Winner of the VIMFF 2019 photography competition. Photo: @paulzizkaphoto

Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival World Tour

The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) is an annual international 10-day community festival featuring mountain film screenings, live multimedia presentations, photography exhibitions, workshops, seminars, and other special events. Each year, the VIMFF World Tour takes award-winning and other selected films on tour across Canada and beyond.

Find an upcoming screening in Ontario:

Thunder Bay, ON

March 8, 2020
Venue: Thunder Bay Community Auditorium
Event Page

See a full list of tour stops and dates.

Overhead shot of water and trees
Wild Temagami won Best Environmental Film at Waterwalker 2019. Photo: @wildtemagami

Waterwalker Paddling Film Festival

The Waterwalker Film Festival, begun by the legendary Bill Mason in 1987, is Canada’s longest-running paddling film festival. It is now organized by Paddle Canada and continues to feature the best paddling films, from extreme waterfalls to epic canoe voyages across the continent.

Upcoming 2020 screenings in Ontario TBA.

Person on a hike with trailer and kids in carrier
Motherload screened at the 2019 Planet in Focus Film Festival. Photo: @motherloadmovie

Planet in Focus International Environmental Film Festival

Canada’s largest environmental film festival, Planet in Focus celebrates 21 years in 2020. The six-day festival showcases engaging and artistic films that question, explore and tell stories about the world in which we live—using film as a catalyst for public awareness, discussion, and engagement on a broad range of environmental issues.

Toronto, ON

TBA, 2020

Person hanging onto a rope beside a mountain
Watch Pretty Strong—the first feature-length climbing movie starring all women and made by women—at Reel Rock 14. Photo: @nevernotcollective

Reel Rock Film Tour

The Reel Rock Film Tour brings the best climbing and adventure films of the year to audiences throughout the world. This year’s Reel Rock 14-film tour is the definitive annual event for climbing communities globally. 

Upcoming 2020 screenings in Ontario TBA.

Make it a night at the movies—catch award-winning outdoor adventure films at a festival near you!

About Virginia Marshall

Virginia Marshall is a freelance outdoor adventure writer, photographer and editor with roots in Muskoka and Lake Superior. Read her work in Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots, Rapid, Paddling Magazine and Backroad Mapbooks.

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