Best Winter Festivals and Events in Canada

Canada's Hottest Festivals in the Cold of Winter

Montreal in lights 2010 Cabin
alphtran / Getty Images

Winter in Canada means it is time for some of the country's largest and most popular festivals and events. With options taking place in cities across the country, it's no surprise these celebrations get residents and visitors reveling in the cold. 

The chilly weather and regular snowfall from November to March are an inescapable reality and a major contributor to the country's national identity and character. Learn which festivals get Canadians out and about to brave winter's chill.

  • 01 of 09
    Ice sculpture, common during annual Winter Carnival.
    Glenn Van Der Knijff/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

    Every February, Quebec City, Quebec, comes alive with sub-zero merriment. The world's largest winter carnival, the Québec Winter Carnival, has been a highlight on the area's event calendar since 1894, giving Quebeckers and thousands of visitors a reason to celebrate during the cold, snowy winters.

    Upcoming dates: February 8 - 17, 2019

  • 02 of 09
    Skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway
    Preappy / Getty Images

    Winterlude is an annual winter festival in Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, that takes place during the first three weekends of February. Most Winterlude activities are free and include skating on the world's largest skating rink, the Rideau Canal. When attending this carnival, be sure to check out the snow sculpture contests, concerts, and more.

    Upcoming dates: February 1 - 18, 2019

  • 03 of 09
    Winter Festival of Lights
    Niagra Tourism

    From mid-November until the end of January, the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights in Ontario is a spectacular light show that includes an illuminated 3-mile route of lighted displays, fireworks over the falls, concerts, and children's performances.

    Upcoming dates: November 3, 2018 - January 31, 2019

  • 04 of 09
    Cavalcade Of Lights
    Getty Images/NurPhoto / Contributor

    For almost 50 years, Toronto, Ontario, has kicked off the holiday season by launching a month-long series of free events, including concerts, ice-skating, and the illumination of Nathan Phillips Square and giant Christmas tree with 100,000 festive lights.

    Upcoming dates: November 24, 2018

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    Montréal en Lumière '10
    alphtran / Getty Images

    The Montreal High Lights Festival is on its way to becoming one of the most popular winter festivals in Canada. The Quebec festival, which lasts 10 days and kicks off around the end of February, shines a spotlight on arts and culture, the celebration of light, and the culinary scene.

    The food and drink aspect is a major draw for this festival. With more than 800,000 people attending the event annually, it is considered one of the largest culinary celebrations in Canada. 

    Upcoming dates: February 21 - March 3, 2019

  • 06 of 09
    Plates with lobster risotto in a restaurant
    Linda Raymond / Getty Images

    When the dates for Winterlicious are announced, book reservations as soon as possible. Taking place in Toronto, Ontario, restaurant chefs strut their culinary stuff each January or February during Winterlicious. Nearly 200 restaurants, featuring wide-ranging styles and cuisines, open their doors and drop their prices on prix fixe menus for two weeks. 

    Upcoming dates: January 25 – February 7, 2019

  • 07 of 09
    Festival du Voyageur

    Courtesy Festival du Voyageur

    Festival du Voyageur celebrates this Manitoba area's fur-trade era and French-Canadian heritage. Snow sculptures, dog-sledding, skating, and plenty of delicious food and drink highlight the week-long February festival.

    Upcoming dates: February 15 - 24, 2019

  • 08 of 09
    The Chase, Ice on Whyte ice carving competition

    Ice on Whyte

    The Ice on Whyte international ice carving competition highlights the sculptural creations of artists who arrive in Edmonton, Alberta, from all over the world. The ice carving is complemented by a giant ice slide, interactive kids zone, live music, food, fashion, and much more.

    Upcoming dates: January 24 - 27, 2019 and January 31 - February 3, 2019

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    Calgary Winterfest
    Calgary Government

    Kick off some pre-winter fun at Ralph Klein Park for Winterfest in Calgary, Alberta, during November. Bring your kids and friends along for an action-packed afternoon of indoor and outdoor activities. Get creative in the crafts room, join a guided park tour, or test out your birdwatching skills. There are also nature-themed games, fun facts about the park’s wildlife, and much more. 

    Upcoming dates: November 18, 2018