The Kingstonist guide to the total solar eclipse of 2024

Image by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

The moon will fully cover up the sun for millions of people in North America in a total solar eclipse occurring on Apr. 8, 2024, and Kingston is in a prime latitude and longitude to experience it at its fullest!

A total solar eclipse is a truly once-in-a-lifetime event. The last such eclipse was nearly 700 years ago in 1349, and the next one won’t occur for another 375 years, in 2399.

As such, the City of Kingston is expecting up to 500,000 visitors to the city during the week of the eclipse and is making special preparations for this spectacular event.

Many readers have asked how the City of Kingston has come to the estimate of 500,000 people coming to the area for the eclipse. Kingstonist inquired about that with the City, and received the following response.

“Our projection for potential visitors to Kingston grew as we get closer to the eclipse. We assessed the below factors to help plan appropriately and be prepared for an influx of people. We are also in communication with other municipalities. Niagara, for example, is also in the path of totality and is confident in their projection of one million visitors,” the City of Kingston communications team relayed.

“Should the weather be unfavourable in another region, some people may choose to come to Kingston instead for this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

We’ve published this guide to help you make the most of your experience. We’ll keep updating this guide regularly as more information is made available and as more event plans are announced, so check back regularly!

When will the eclipse happen in Kingston?

The total solar eclipse of 2024 will occur on Monday, Apr. 8, 2024, and, in the Kingston area, the eclipse is expected to begin at 2:09 p.m. and end at 4:34 p.m. Totality (where the moon fully covers the sun) will last approximately three minutes, from 3:22 to 3:25 p.m. Although it’s a Monday, expect to see lots of area students out and about, as local school boards have adjusted their schedules so that the PA day in April falls on the day of the eclipse.

What will the weather be like in Kingston during the eclipse?

While the forecast may change, the weather in Kingston for Monday, Apr. 8, 2024, is currently expected to be mostly cloudy. In addition to the sudden darkness that will come during totality, residents should also be prepared for a temperature drop of between 4 to 8 degrees Celsius during the eclipse. Temperatures are expected to range from 1 degree to 11 degrees throughout the day.

What if clouds obscure the eclipse, or I’m unable to go outside during the eclipse?

If the sky over Kingston ends up being too cloudy to view the eclipse, or you just can’t make it outside during the time of totality, you can still watch a livestream of the eclipse! NASA will be providing one such livestream from various locations throughout the North American continent, starting at 1 p.m. You can watch their livestream here:

How to get around the City of Kingston during the day of the eclipse

Avoid the traffic jams! Kingston Transit will be providing free busing throughout the day.

“We will provide regular service, with some select detours, on all routes until 3:00 p.m. We will pause service on ALL routes from 3:00/3:15 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. After 3:30 p.m., due to the significant amount of traffic congestion that is predicted after the eclipse, we will operate a modified transit network until the end of service,” Kingston Transit said on social media on Thursday, Apr. 4, 2024.

See the modified schedule on their Facebook post here.

The City of Kingston provides Transit Schedules and a Trip Planner here. There are a number of “Park and Ride” parking lots in Kingston, where you can park your vehicle for the day and then take a Kingston Transit bus to several sites of interest throughout the city:

Montreal Street Park and Ride

Innovation Drive Park and Ride

Kingston Gospel Temple Park and Ride

Jim Beattie Park Park and Ride

Centre 70 Park and Ride

Also on Thursday, Apr. 4, 2024, the City of Kingston provided details on road closures and detours that will affect traffic flow:

  • The federally owned and operated LaSalle Causeway will be closed to all public access. This includes vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. Detour signage is in place.
  • Market Street will be closed between King St. to Ontario St. starting 7 p.m. April 5 to 7 a.m. April 9. 
  • At 12:01 a.m. on April 8, one lane northbound and one lane southbound on Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard will be closed. Further lane reductions northbound on Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard to Dalton Avenue will be in place as needed. These lane restrictions allow essential and emergency services to access critical health care services.
  • At 7:30 a.m. on April 8, the City will close King Street between Barrie St. and Mowat St. and Sir John A Macdonald from Union St. to King St., to ensure access to the emergency department at Kingston General Hospital remains unobstructed for emergency vehicles and those seeking emergency health care. Residents seeking to access care at KGH can do so at the main KGH entrance off Stuart Street. Those seeking the Emergency Department can access it by travelling down Barrie St. to Stuart St. to George St. to King St. When leaving KGH the City asks that people proceed to exit through closure at Barrie St. 
  • Local traffic will be permitted on side streets south of Union St. and access to Stuart St. and to the hospital will be maintained via Albert St. and Barrie St. Local traffic is defined as drivers who live or conduct business on affected streets.
Image via the City of Kingston.

And, with the LaSalle Causeway remaining fully closed to all traffic through the day of the solar eclipse, the City of Kingston is additionally modifying traffic and transit plans in the vicinity of Fort Henry.

In order to maintain emergency and public transit access and limit the number of personal vehicles that otherwise may have to backtrack from Fort Henry once its parking lot has reached capacity, the following closures and detours have been implemented:

  • Highway 2 will be closed west of Highway 15 when parking reaches capacity at Fort Henry Hill. We expect this to occur very early in the day.
  • Vehicles travelling south on Highway 15 will be directed east on Highway 2 and vehicles travelling west on Highway 2 will be directed north on Highway 15.
  • Transit and emergency services will use Main St. between Highway 15 and Highway 2.
  • Local traffic access in and out of the Barriefield neighbourhood for residents will be maintained via Wellington St. at Highway 15.
Image via the City of Kingston.

Queen’s University Eclipse Ambassadors

Dr. Robert Knobel, Head of the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy at Queen’s University, is coordinating efforts to ensure the community can safely view and learn about this once-in-a-lifetime eclipse.

As part of that effort, the university will be distributing a limited number of glasses to the Kingston and Queen’s communities on campus and through the Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) branches, at no cost. These glasses will be available for pick up as of Monday, Mar. 25, 2024. We will provide more details on this as information becomes available.

In addition, Queen’s University Eclipse Ambassadors will be at various sites (see below) throughout the day of the eclipse, providing educational information about the event.

While not a total eclipse, the solar eclipse of December 2019 offered a stunning show in the skies over Dubai. This composite image of the phases of the eclipse offers a snapshot of the the entire eclipse in one image. Photo illustration by Abed Ismail

How to view the eclipse safely

Queen’s University has provided some information on how to view the eclipse safely:

  1. Turn away from the sky and find your shadow. With your back facing the sun, place your eclipse glasses or viewer over your eyes. You should not be able to see anything through the filter(s), so be careful of your surroundings!
  2. With your eyewear in position, turn back toward the sky and look around for the (now much fainter) Sun. If you can’t seem to find it, don’t remove your eye protection to look! Ask someone for help.
  3. During full totality, it is safe to temporarily remove your eclipse glasses/viewer, but you must put your lenses back on before totality is over. When in doubt, always keep your lenses on.

Looking directly at an eclipse without proper eye protection is even more dangerous than looking into the Sun on any other day, the University says. “It can cause partial or total blindness if the proper precautions are not taken. That being said, eclipses are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the Queen’s community wants everyone to have a safe, enjoyable, and exciting experience. If you are looking at an eclipse, you must use high quality eye protection.” 

The University also cautions viewers to take exta care about where they obtain their viewing glasses, as not all eye protection is made equal. “Do not buy eclipse safety equipment from Amazon,” the University says, “as they cannot ensure their products meet required ISO-12312-2 safety standards for solar filters.”

What about your pets?

With the Total Solar Eclipse just days away, our resident pet expert Dr. Ryan Llera has detailed how you can best keep your pets safe during this once-in-a-lifetime experience. And no, eclipse glasses won’t be necessary for your pet.

Learn how best to support your pets here: Kingstonist’s Wizard of Paws: The future’s so bright… but your pet don’t gotta wear shades

Where to get eclipse safety glasses

Eclipse glasses will be available free of charge at Kingston Frontenac Public Library branches the week of March 25th, courtesy of Queen’s University.

There is a limit of two pairs per person and they will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.

A library card is not required (but if you are curious about KFPL resources, take an extra two minutes and register for a card). The KFPL has published an FAQ at https://www.kfpl.ca/eclipse to help address some common questions.

In addition to those glasses that will be provided by the University in limited quantity, these are a few trusted companies for up-to-code eclipse eye protection, according to the University:

Rainbow Symphony   American Paper Optics   Lunt Solar Systems

Best places in Kingston to view the eclipse

Here are some of the places we expect will make for the best solar eclipse viewing experiences:

Fort Henry Hill – this location has the benefit of lots of parking. Among the available amenities, the site has public washrooms and will feature an artisan market, food vendors, live music, guest speakers and other activities. Queen’s University Eclipse Ambassadors will also be on-hand. On Monday, Mar. 18, 2024, the St. Lawrence Parks Commission shared details on their free eclipse-viewing event for all ages. The event will include educational guest speakers, live music and entertainment, children’s activities, and a vibrant array of artisans and food vendors, with special guest Bob McDonald from CBC’s Quirks and Quarks. Find more information at Fort Henry Solar Eclipse Experience 

Grass Creek Park – the City of Kingston has moved its Eclipse event, Total Eclipse in the Park, from Lake Ontario Park to Grass Creek Park. The event will feature music and drag performances, food and drink trucks, and kids’ activities. A Utilities Kingston water buggy will be on site to provide free water for attendees. Queen’s University Eclipse Ambassadors will also be on site.

Lions Civic Garden (near Isabel Turner Branch of KFPL and the Cataraqui Centre) – attendees will be able to access both the library and mall nearby to use washroom facilities, and there will also be portable toilets on site. Queen’s University Eclipse Ambassadors will be here to provide educational activities. The site features easy access to parking at nearby lots of the library and mall as well as a public transit transfer station.

Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area – the Outdoor Centre will be open with washrooms and the snack bar available for use. For this event, the normal gate fee will be waived.

Cataraqui Kinsmen Arena – visitors will have access to washrooms and portable toilets, and Queen’s University Eclipse Ambassadors will be on site.

Lake Ontario Park – originally noted as the site of the City’s Total Eclipse in the Park event, (moved to Grass Creek Park, see above) this location also has the benefit of a large parking lot and washroom facilities.

Invista Centre – visitors will have access to washrooms and portable toilets, and Queen’s University Eclipse Ambassadors will be on site.

Lemoine Point Conservation Area – features lots of available parking.

Know of any other locations? Comment below and we’ll keep updating this guide!

A group of people experience the 2017 solar eclipse together in Madras, Oregon, USA. Photo by Adam Smith.

Where to eat and drink

*Sponsored section – the businesses in this section paid a fee to be included in this guide. Email [email protected] to have your business included.*

Renaissance Eclipse Buffet Brunch

Celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse with a brunch event at Renaissance Supper Club. The “Eclipse” brunch buffet event begins at 12 p.m. on April 8 and continues until 4:30 p.m., past the time of totality.

“The total eclipse is a truly spiritual experience and is best shared with friends and your community,” organizers expressed.

To see the program, buffet menu and full reservation details visit www.foodandheritage.com/eclipse/. The event includes protective viewing glasses, the buffet, and a view of the eclipse from the Queen Street patio. Full bar service is also available.


Try the eclipse menu at AquaTerra

Dine at AquaTerra from April 5 to 8, 2024, to savour the celestial flavours of the total solar eclipse! 

Indulge in the exclusive menu features: Elderflower Eclipse cocktail, Moon Beef Empanadas, and Eclipse Raviolini stuffed with mascarpone & goat cheese.

Eclipse glasses are included with the purchase of one of these features. Reservations are recommended to secure your spot for this limited-time menu. Visit https://aquaterrakingston.com/aquaterra-reservations or call 613.549.6243 to reserve your spot.


Sip on a total eclipse cocktail

This exclusive eclipse cocktail is only available over the eclipse weekend. Supplied image.

If you find yourself downtown, pop in to Tango Nuevo, Bar Mayla or Le Jardin for a special solar eclipse cocktail. The gin cocktail features butterfly tea cordial, citric acid, and tonic, and goes beautifully with everything on the menu!

The eclipse cocktail is only available during the eclipse weekend – April 5 to 8, 2024, so don’t wait — make your reservation now!

For Bar Mayla or Le Jardin, reserve here. To enjoy tapas at Tango Nuevo, reserve here.

Other eclipse-related events

Experience “A Total Eclipse of the Arts” presented by Queen University’s Dan School of Drama and Music and the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy.

The evening will feature seven plays written by students in Sarah Waisvisz’s playwriting class, directed by students in her dramaturgy class, and featuring a cast of both physics and drama students. This free event takes place on Monday, Mar. 25, 2024 at 7:30 pm in Convocation Hall, inside Theological Hall on Queen’s Campus, or via livestream.

Visit the event webpage to secure an in-person or virtual ticket.


The Museum of Health Care at Kingston is holding an event to celebrate the once in a life-time solar eclipse. The Sun, The Moon and Your Body, will feature ancient traditions and healing practices associated with the sun, the moon, and health.

Visitors are invited to visit the Museum at 32 George Street on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for interactive, family-friendly activities. An “apothecary” will be on hand to issue cures to those feeling the ill effects of the celestial event.

Organizers said visitors will have the opportunity to make an amulet to help collect all the positive energy that a solar eclipse brings. There will also be a challenging museum-wide scavenger hunt to discover all the phases of the moon. This fun and fascinating weekend will have something for everyone!

This event does not require registration. Admission is by donation. Visit the Museum’s Calendar of Events for more details: https://www.museumofhealthcare.ca/visit/calendar-of-events.html


On Friday, April 5, take in local art at the special edition Art After Dark event. Art galleries and art-loving businesses in downtown Kingston open their doors and invite patrons to browse and buy some of the best in local art. From 7 to 10 p.m., art enthusiasts are invited to wander, chat, and maybe start or add to their personal collections.

Find more details and a list of participating events here: https://downtownkingston.ca/blogs/upcoming-events/art-after-dark


Visit the Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area on Apr. 5, 6, and 7 at 9 p.m. for a Laser-Guided Stargazing Tour. Learn more and get tickets here https://naturallyla.ca/events/laser-guided-tour-of-the-night-sky-april-2024/

The L&A Dark Sky Viewing Area is at 7980 County Road 41 in Erinsville, Ontario. Organizers noted that this location is not in the path of full totality for the eclipse.


Take in a free solar eclipse concert in Greater Napanee on Monday, Apr. 8. From 2 to 4 p.m., listen to School House Band live and take in the rare Total Solar Eclipse. The band will be performing on the Soccer Field to the North of the arena. More here.


Head out to McKinnon Brothers Brewing Company for their Total Eclipse at the Farm event. Organizers said there will be plenty of things to do for the whole family:

  • Music and outdoor games like corn hole, volleyball and more!
  • Eclipse-themed arts & crafts
  • Sun chip nachos & other snacks
  • Photo booth
  • and more!

More details can be found here.

Other ways to experience the eclipse

Did you know that the eclipse can not just be seen, but also heard and felt? The Eclipse Soundscapes App, a free application developed by ARISA Lab, is useful to everyone and geared toward the Blind and Low Vision (BLV) community. It includes an interactive “Rumble Map,” translating this “highly visual event into a fully touch and sound-based experience.” This app is available for both iPhones and Android devices. It also includes audio descriptions of eclipse events, educational content surrounding eclipses, and is currently available in English and Spanish.

Eclipse-themed music

Whether it’s for the long trip into the city from out of town, or to set the mood at a gathering in the hours preceding the eclipse, nothing helps to pass the time better than thematic music! Kingston resident Tim De Jonge has put together a playlist of over 4.5 hours of eclipse-themed songs – check it out!

Eclipse activities in neighbouring communities

Some of our neighbours will also be hosting activities for the eclipse! You can find guides to those here:

For Brockville

For Belleville

For Gananoque

8 thoughts on “The Kingstonist guide to the total solar eclipse of 2024

  • Thank you for this excellent information and care guide.
    So often reporting is post an event and not a preparation for the event.
    Excellent work.

  • Well put together article for the most part. Only 1 thing. At the end of the article, when I tried to click the link to eclipse activities for Gananoque, I was taken to “a couple’s weekend getaway in Belleville”. Did it 3 times just to be sure. It was a misdirection for sure.

    • Hi Wayne,
      Apologies for the confusion! That link has now been fixed to direct to the correct article. Thanks for bringing that issue to our attention!

      Tori Stafford
      Editor
      Kingstonist

  • How did the city come up with the number of vistors being 500,000.

  • Great article, thanks for this. FYI, The Seniors Association centre 56 Francis St, is selling the glasses for a minimal fee. (I believe $2.50), as part of their fundraising efforts, they do have a maximum that can be purchased.

  • There are countless other locations and you may live at one. When I bought glasses from the City Information centre on Ontario st., they pointed out that a good spot would be confederation basin right where they are. I pointed to where I live in their map and they said that would work as long as we had a good space with clear view of sky. We do. Check your surroundings—you may be able to view it at or close to where you live

  • Outstanding. Cris and everybody who contributed to this detailed article, well done.

  • Great article, give lots of info, just one clarification, when (approximate time) is it absolutely necessary to wear eye protection.
    Thanks, Julie Parker.

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