A cartoon images of farm animals. Text reads: College Royal Virtual Open House March 20 and 21The University of Guelph’s iconic College Royal open house will happen virtually this year.

In its 97th year, the event runs March 20-21 at VirtualCollegeRoyal.com.

Unlike a typical year, when thousands of people visit campus to take in events, displays and learning experiences, the 2021 edition of the open house will bring some of those offerings into homes via the web.

“College Royal has been a long-standing tradition for 97 years now, and never in all those years has the event been done online,” said Abby Peca, College Royal 2021 president. “College Royal is all about learning, community, tradition, family, fun and showcasing the University as a whole. It took a lot of time to bring that to life and make sure the online open house weekend experience reflected the essential elements.”

Peca said that when the pandemic forced a last-minute cancellation of College Royal in 2020, organizers were determined to keep the tradition alive and give people something to look forward to this year.

“Doing something that’s never been done before was tough, but we have a great team of officers and an awesome executive, and I feel as though we were able to bring everyone’s ideas together and make something everyone will love. We want to bring laughter and fun to homes and we really hope people check it out.”

College Royal is the largest university open house in North America. Each March, the University opens its doors to the general public in a campus-wide celebration that attracts thousands of visitors. Entirely organized and run by students, the annual open house has occurred since 1925.

While not in-person this year, College Royal will offer classic live events and U of G club displays, including learning opportunities, competitions, club demonstrations, pre-recorded videos and live chats.

A booklet of events has been put together.

Both days will feature chats, interactive games and even live experiments from campus groups, including the Guelph neuroscience student association, Women in Science and Engineering, the food science club, and the marine and freshwater biology society.

Club pages on the main website will display photos, videos and text; some clubs will host live public chats.

“I think we’ve managed to keep all the favourite events that visitors enjoy attending, while bringing in some new ones,” Peca said. “We’ve tried to be creative and really thought through all College Royal events as well as club displays so that the weekend is easy for people to attend and fun to participate in and watch.”

She added there is something for everyone, with the weekend full of live events, pre-recorded videos, activities, demos and more.

Virtual events include:

  • art and cat shows, with participants submitting pictures and public voting for favourites in each category
  • live University club events, including a spelling bee with Frontier College, plant facts and trivia with the botany club, and science experiments and demonstrations with the chemistry and biochemistry club
  • “Walk Down Memory Lane” with pictures of College Royal from 1934 to 2019
  • live lecture series with professors speaking on different topics
  • dance breaks for kids with a Dance Showcase director
  • kids corner with crafts using found materials
  • Story Time with Farmer Tim and Andy Robinson
  • a colouring page that can be downloaded and featured on social media