Things to Do

Just as there are plenty of goods that can be purchased for low cost, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun without spending lots of money.  It could be as simple as exploring hiking trails, having a games night, or checking out local festivals.  Fun on a budget doesn’t have to be boring – it will be as fun as you make it, and there are so many ways to connect with others in the community without spending money. Here are a few ideas:

Outdoor activities

Being active or relaxing outside can feel great.  Kitchener-Waterloo has numerous parks which are great places to walk, play sports or just sit and relax outside.  During the winter there is free public ice skating in uptown Waterloo, Kitchener City Hall, Victoria Park and many local elementary schools.

Hiking as a sport grew rapidly in popularity in South Korea during the Asian Financial Crisis. Why? Hiking was free! There are plenty of trails and walking routes throughout the Region that can keep you entertained and fit. The Grand River Conservation Authority has a website with a number of their trails listed as well as links to other community trails.

Public Libraries

The library is an excellent source for entertainment on a budget. They have an extensive collection of DVD movies, CDs and books. There are locations throughout the community and it’s easy to order materials from another location. Getting a card is easy – just go in and register, and borrowing materials is free. Libraries also offer public access computers.

Additionally, libraries are often a source for events, presentations and discussions. Keep up to date on what’s happening at your local library and make use of what is it currently offering.

Games Nights Ideas

Games are a wonderful type of affordable entertainment.  Once you have acquired the game there are no more costs associated with the activity.  Though some games seem expensive at first, if you play them relatively frequently they can save you a lot of money in the long run by staying in instead of going out and spending money.  You can find very affordable, used games at the Worth a Second Look Thrift Store

Knitting/Crocheting Groups, Crafting Circles, Creating Art

Crafting and creating art can be a fun, social and inexpensive type of entertainment.  And when you’re done, you have something to show for it!  The Green Door Art Space offers a space, guidance, inspiration and company if you would like to try getting crafty and artsy.  It is also a great way to meet other people who are interested in arts and crafts. 

A budget-friendly way to make art is through an upcycling/repurposing approach in which you take old items and give them new life through creative ways.   

Local Movies and Film Festivals

While new movies are expensive, used movies are far more reasonable. There are a number of buy/sell/trade movie stores in the community where you can trade in the movies you’re tired of for movies you would like to see. Then, when you’re done with them – sell them back!  Also the public libraries have a surprising selection of movies to borrow for free.

If you have an irresistible urge to go see a movie at a theatre try Frederick Twin Cinema which offers movies at 70% the cost of most movie theatres.

You don’t have to go all the way to Cannes to enjoy a film festival and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to enjoy a movie. Do a Google search and keep your eyes peeled for posters in the community announcing the next film festival. Examples include the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema, Local Focus Film Festival, Grand River Film Festival, Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival, and the Multicultural Film Festival.

If you’re interested in making films you can learn through the Multicultural Cinema Club and trade volunteer time for equipment rentals.

Community Festivals

Kitchener is quickly becoming the city of festivals. Throughout the summer Kitchener is home to so many excellent festivals celebrating life here. The festivals are mostly or fully free and open to the community. Examples include the Multicultural Festival, the Kitchener Blues Festival, the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival, Oktoberfest, and many others. Some are sponsored by the City of Kitchener or City of Waterloo, while others are put on by cultural or community groups. Keep on the lookout to discover new and exciting community events.

Open Space

The Queen St Commons Café offers open space if you are looking to relax and enjoy a social atmosphere.  The café has board games, puzzles and a piano that can be used for personal entertainment.  The café also hosts various community events which are always free.

Another great form of entertainment is live music.  The View from Here is a concert series hosted by a community house called The Branches in waterloo.  They host a concert every 3rd Saturday of the month.  It is a free or pay-what-you-can event and is a great community gathering centered around live music and other forms of art.


Volunteering can be a great way to build new relationships, get involved in the community and participate in something engaging and purposeful.  There are tons of opportunities to volunteer in Kitchener-Waterloo.  The city of Kitchener provides this resource while Volunteer KW provides another.

The Working Centre seeks to build on the ideas of Common Work - the work of sustaining and supporting a creative community committed to the common good. The title of “volunteer work” doesn’t always capture the beauty and dignity of such work.  Select the above link to learn about volunteering with the various Working Centre projects and community tools.

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