With each passing year, the amount of international visitors to Canada grows by just over 1%. In 2018, more than 18 million tourists visited this great country. The reason for the ever-increasing visitors is manyfold. Sure, Canada has amazing natural beauty and squeaky clean cities that attract many sightseers each year. However, there is more allure to Canada than meets the eye. Canadian festivals pull millions of people from across the globe annually!
There is literally a Canadian festival for every occasion you can think of. Moreover, these festivals run throughout the year. Canadians are not afraid of the cold. To prove that, they host massive festivals during the freezing winter months.
So, if you are a keen festival-goer looking for a new party, keep reading! There are too many Canadian festivals to mention in one blog post, but we went ahead and tried to give you a glimpse of the whole spectrum.
Heritage & Cultural Festivals
The Canadian population is made up of people from many different ethnic groups and backgrounds. As such, there is a wide variety of cultures mixed up together.
Instead of fighting about their many different origins, the Canadian people have festivals to celebrate individual cultures. Isn’t that such a great way to deal with diversity? You are different than me? Great! Let’s celebrate the difference! I just love that. But, I digress.
From Canadian festivals that celebrate First Nation people and their culture to recent immigrants becoming part of Canada, you can find it all in this amazing country.
Let’s take a quick look at some of these festivities:
Grand River PowWow
Dedicated to the very first people to settle in Canada (as long as 15,000 years ago), the Grand River “Champion of Champions” PowWow is a truly unique festival.
During the PowWow, people from nearly all Native American tribes come together for a traditional dance-off. The winners are selected based on their costume, agility and ability to please the crowd.
You can also purchase traditional artefacts and food from the vendors at the fair. Also, if you want you can bring your own camping chair along.
The festival takes place during the last weekend of July close to Brantwood, Ontario. It is located roughly 100km South-West of Toronto. Entrance fees are quite affordable, with weekend passes selling for $15.00, and children can get in for only $2.00!
With a history of more than 100 years, it is no wonder that you’ll hear people tell you it’s the greatest outdoor show on earth!
The Calgary Stampede is definitely one of the most well-known Canadian festivals. Every July, millions of people flock to Calgary to take part in the 10-day celebration of Western culture.
When you attend the Calgary Stampede, you’ll get to immerse yourself in what feels like a movie: Cowboys in leather boots and wide-brimmed hats are everywhere to be seen!
Swirling dust, stomping hooves and bucking bulls will blow your mind. Not to mention the amazing food and fresh farm produce that you can buy at the market that pops up every year with the Stampede.
Moreover, while you are in the area, you can take a scenic drive through the Canadian Rockies, just an hour’s drive west of Calgary.
Toronto Carribean Carnival
We were uncertain about how to classify this festival. Do we put it under culture and heritage or under music and arts? And to be honest, it was a tough choice. However, we had to put it somewhere, so here it is!
This amazing festival was inspired by the growing Caribbean population in Toronto. Some of you might know this cultural celebration by its former name – Caribana, the biggest cultural festival on the North American continent.
Hosted around the last weekend of August each year, the Toronto Carribean Carnival takes on the form of a lively Carribean street carnival. From costume parades to pool parties and thrilling dance-offs; this is one of those Canadian festivals that cater to everyone.
The dates for next year’s Carribean Carnival have already been released. It will start on Thursday 30 August 2020. So, if you feel like partying it up Carribean style, diarise it now!
Music & Arts Festivals
In case you didn’t know, Canada has produced some amazing musicians and artists over the last century. Surely you’ve heard of Celine Dion, or maybe Brian Adams rings a bell?
Not into music? No problem. Ever heard of an actor called Keanu Reeves?
Whether you’ve heard of these artists (or enjoy their art) or not, is immaterial. The fact of the matter is, Canada has produced a tonne of quality entertainment over the years.
As such, it should come as no surprise that some of the largest and most well-known celebrations of music and arts are Canadian festivals.
If you like movies and music, this section is for you.
Montreal Jazz Fest
According to Guinness World Records, this festival is ranked as the largest jazz festival in the world. This music spectacle cannot be missed – especially if you are a jazz enthusiast.
What will you see/hear at the Montreal Jazz Festival? Why jazz, of course! And lots of it to boot. With more than a thousand artists performing over ten days, it is one of the Canadian festivals that you have to put on your bucket list.
The best part about this celebration of jazz is that most of the concerts are free. Therefore, you can go to Canada for a summer holiday and plan your trip in such a way that you get to see some of the greatest jazz artists in the world – for free!
Sure, you will have to pay for accommodation and cover travel expenses, food etc. But still, to see international jazz artists for free is just too good of an opportunity to pass up. With more than 2 million visitors annually, the vibe is purely magical! Don’t miss out on this one.
PS. Apart from the main event which takes place around June/July each year, the organisation hosts jazz concerts throughout the year. So if you can’t make it to Montreal next summer, check out the jazz concert schedule for the remainder of 2019 here.
Toronto International Film Festival
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has grown to become one of the best known and best-attended film festivals in the world. You will often hear mention of this grand movie premiere event along with names such as the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance.
Attended by roughly half a million people annually, this festival is rated the second largest film fest in the world. A lot of new talent is revealed at TIFF every year.
And the best part is that you can still make it to this year’s TIFF. It only starts on the 5th of September this year and runs for ten days. Tickets only go on sale to the public on the 2nd of September and sell for $11 to $83, depending on the type of ticket you want.
Edmonton Folk Festival
This is one of the most exclusive Canadian Festivals on our list. The Edmonton Folk Festival has a maximum capacity of around 13,000 people. For the last 21 years, the event has been sold out far ahead.
Sure, 13,000 sounds like a lot, but when compared to the two million attendees at the Montreal Jazz Fest, the Edmonton Folk Festival is actually quite small.
Nonetheless, if you enjoy folk music, you’ll have to make a plan to attend the Edmonton Folk Festival! Tickets normally sell out rather quickly, so follow the event on Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date when tickets go on sale and so on.
Festivals Celebrating Nature
Because Canada is so rich in natural beauty, there simply should be festivals to celebrate it. And yes, the Canadians even celebrate their frigid winters!
A celebration of winter and cold things! Winterlude is co-hosted by the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau and takes place during the first three weeks of February each year.
One of the great things about Winterlude is that most of the events are free of charge. You can skate down the world-famous Rideau Canal, which at 7.8km is the longest natural ice rink in the world.
Apart from ice-skating, visitors can watch ice sculpting competitions, attend free concerts and have some amazing snowflake fun at Jacques Cartier Park.
Quebec Winter Carnaval
Yet another festival celebrating winter! The Quebec Winter Carnaval is the largest winter festival in the world (it seems like Canada hosts a lot of “largest festivals in the world”).
Even though Quebec is in French Canada, English speaking visitors shouldn’t be afraid to visit Carnaval. Most Canadians in the hospitality industry speak proper English and will be able to assist you with all of your needs.
As with Winterlude, there are many outdoor activities to take part in at the Quebec Winter Carnaval. There are the usual ice slides and ice sculpture building contests. Additionally, there is also human foosball, a variety of the popular soccer game where actual humans get in line and kick the soccer ball around.
Many More Canadian Festivals
There are many more interesting festivals that one can attend in Canada. We hope that you enjoyed today’s blog post and that you will seriously consider attending at least one of the Canadian festivals we mentioned here!
As always, if you need any advice on how to visit Canada, get in touch so that we can help you plan your next, festive ridden holiday!