Canada is a country with a rich cultural heritage. Festivals and events are held in Canada every year to celebrate the multicultural landscape of this great nation. Each festival represents a unique cultural facet of Canada’s diverse population. These festivals are easily identified by the time of year.
In some parts of the country, the Canadian music festival season kicks off in April and May. Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, celebrates spring with the Cariblues Festival, Halifax presents chamber music with the Scotia Festival of Music and Ottawa highlights concerts, flowers and history at the Canadian Tulip Festival.
Canada is also known around the world for its theatre festivals, such as the Stratford Festival in beautiful Stratford, Ontario, and the Shaw Festival in picturesque Niagara on the Lake, both of which begin around this time and continue into the autumn. There are also a number of children’s festivals, including the Calgary International Children’s Festival and the Saskatchewan International Film Festival for Young People.
From 21 June to 1 July, Canada celebrates for 10 days. The celebrations begin on 21 June with National Indigenous Peoples’ Day and continue across the country on 24 June with St. Jean Baptiste Day in honour of the patron saint of French Canadians, on 27 June with Canadian Multiculturalism Day, and culminate in Canada Day with celebrations across the country on 1 July.
There are also many musical and cultural summer festivals throughout the country. Here is a selection: Yellowknife’s Summer Solstice Festival, Calgary’s Reggaefest, Windsor’s International Freedom Festival (with Detroit), Calgary Stampede, Winnipeg’s Folklorama, Toronto’s Caribana, Les Francofolies de Montréal, and the jazz and comedy festivals in Montreal, the Festival acadien de Caraquet in New Brunswick, Rib-fest in London, Bayfest in Sarnia, the Charlottetown Jazz and Blues Festival in Prince Edward Island and the Collingwood Elvis Festival in Ontario. Edmonton is also known as the “City of Festivals” because of its many festivals (such as North America’s largest Fringe Theatre Festival).
Autumn is traditionally the time for literature and film festivals. For lovers of the written and spoken word, there is the Festival international de la poésie de Trois-Rivières, the Atlantic Canada Storytelling Festival in Halifax and the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. Film lovers can choose from the Toronto International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Montreal World Film Festival, the Atlantic Film Festival and the St. John’s (Newfoundland) International Women’s Film Festival, among others.
Kitchener-Waterloo hosts the largest Oktoberfest outside of Bavaria. The nine-day festival offers a wide range of cultural and entertainment activities. Many venues are transformed into beer gardens for the duration of the festival and given Germanic names. Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo attracts over 700,000 visitors annually.
Autumn is also a time for families to enjoy the autumnal splendour of nature through autumn festivals or simple activities that take in the beauty of the landscape.
Winter is the time when Canadians and their families hit the slopes and ice at ski resorts and community ice rinks across the country. Canada’s world-renowned winter festivals take place in late January and February, including the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City and Winterlude in Ottawa and Gatineau. There are also winter events that pay tribute to Canadian pioneers, such as the Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg and the Yukon Sourdough Rendez-vous Festival in Whitehorse.
In Calgary, January is all about showcasing exciting national and international theatre, dance and music at High Performance Rodeo, one of Canada’s leading festivals of new and experimental theatre.
Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are particularly popular in British Columbia and Alberta and are regular activities during the winter months. British Columbia and Alberta are home to some of the best ski resorts in the world, including Whistler Blackcomb (a two-hour drive from Vancouver). Skiing in Banff and Jasper National Parks (130 km from Calgary and 370 km from Edmonton respectively) is also popular.