Sure, being unique and original and doing things your own way are great ways to live your life, but sometimes it’s A-OK to follow the crowd… like when that crowd is headed to an awesome festival! Whether it’s because most of our country gets too much a whole lot of winter every year or that we’re just so friendly we’ll take any excuse to hang out with like-minded neighbours, the Canadian summer festival scene features many fantastic events! Listed in order from left coast to right, here are five of our favourite Canadian summer festivals, ideal for making some Canada 150 memories with your family!
Parksville Beach Fest in Parksville BC: July 14 – August 20, 2017
If ‘all beach, all the time‘ is a mantra that you would like to adopt as your own, you’re going to love this event on beautiful Vancouver Island; it’s all about surf, sea and especially sand! The festival kicks off with 4 days of sand sculpture competitions that draw some of the world’s best silica-centric artists and then continues for another month with free outdoor summer concerts, viewing of the completed sand sculptures, a 2-day arts and crafts market, and of course fun on the beach and at the adjacent playground and splash park. A fireworks show on the final Saturday night of the festival brings it all to sparkling conclusion. Not too surprisingly, the theme of this year’s Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition is “Canada 1-5-0 – Celebrating 150 Years“.
Calgary Stampede in Calgary AB: July 7-16, 2017
Calgary is now a pretty sophisticated urban centre and Canada’s 4th-largest city, but the city’s residents are proud of its ‘Wild West’ ranching, farming and First Nations roots. For 10 days each July, residents and many, many visitors alike don cowboy boots and blue jeans to celebrate those roots at the Calgary Stampede, aka “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. Watch how it’s done at a genuine high stakes rodeo, cheer for your favourite chuckwagon team, ride the midway, sample as much classic and innovative midway fare as you can stomach, meet some beautiful farm animals and take in a concert or ten. The extravaganza kicks off with the renowned (and free to watch) Calgary Stampede Parade and entertainment continues on the grounds with frequent shows by performers of the human and animal varieties… plus stunning fireworks displays each night!
Toronto Caribbean Carnival in Toronto ON: July 11 – August 7, 2017
From its origins 50 years ago, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival has evolved and grown into a seriously hot, hot, hot summer party that draws over 2 million visitors annually! With over 3 weeks of special events celebrating Caribbean culture, out-of-towners may need to select their top priority events to plan their visit. One highlight that will impress your kids is the Junior Carnival and Family Day, which sees young producers, performers, and presenters strutting their stuff; attendance is free! The linchpin of the Carnival, on the other hand – the Grande Parade – isn’t free to attend but this renowned masquerade and steel drum spectacle is pretty affordable and definitely worth the cost of admission. Other important festival events include the Carnival Night Market, King & Queen Parade and the Lighting of the CN Tower. Get ready to move to that Calypso beat!
Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival in Gatineau QC: August 31 – September 4, 2017
Up, up and away… this enlightening event celebrates 30 years of bringing [even more] hot air to Canada’s capital region in 2017. And unlike Question Period, it features vibrant colours and fun activities for the whole family! Intrepid visitors can actually take a ride in a hot air balloon, while everyone will love watching dozens of colourful hot-air-powered craft take off and glide over Gatineau-Ottawa landmarks, especially during one of two Night Glow evening spectacles. Family fun on the ground includes an amusement park, inflatable play structures, science & technology activities, an arts and crafts market, live entertainment, a classic cars exhibition and the chance to learn all about hot air balloons, including meeting their pilots!
Shediac Lobster Festival in Shediac NB: July 5-9, 2017
This one may not rank in the top 10 for attendance amongst Canadian festivals, but it has got to be one of the tastiest! Just two years away from celebrating its 70th anniversary, the Shediac Lobster Festival is, however, about more than just the many delightful ways one can ingest this succulent crustacean. It also showcases the area’s history and Acadian culture, features local musicians and artists and provides a summer highlight for Shediac’s residents and visitors alike. Witness this year’s attempt at making the World’s Longest Lobster Roll, attend the the Longest Lobster Supper (where at least 1000 lobsters will be consumed by 1000+ diners at a table over 1000 feet long), hit the giant midway with your kids and help them plan their costumes for the Kids’ Day Parade! Don’t forget to say “Hi!” when you see Mr. Lobster. He doesn’t pinch!
Whether you’re lucky enough to live near one of these exciting events or plan to visit one during your summer travels, we wish you fine weather and many fond festival memories! Save me a lobster roll… please?