Best Winter Festivals and Events in Canada

Canada's Hottest Festivals in the Cold of Winter

Winter in Canada means it is time for some of the country's biggest and most popular festivals and events to get Canadians and visitors reveling in the cold. 

The cold weather and snow from November to March are an inescapable reality and a major contributor to the country's national identity and character. Learn why Canadians get out and about to brave the chilly weather.

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

    For 17 days every year, usually beginning the last weekend of January and continuing for the next two weeks, Quebec City, Quebec, is alive with sub-zero merriment. The world's largest winter carnival, the Québec Winter Carnival, has been a highlight on the Quebec event calendar since 1894 and been giving Quebeckers and thousands of visitors a reason to celebrate during the cold, snowy winters.

  • 02 of 09
    Photo of the Rideau Canal, Ottawa
    ••• City of Ottawa

    Winterlude is an annual winter celebration in Canada's capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, held over the first three weekends of February. Most Winterlude activities are free and outdoors and include skating on the world's largest skating rink—the Rideau Canal. Check out the snow sculpture contests, concerts, and more.

  • 03 of 09
    Winter Festival of Lights
    ••• Niagra Tourism

    From the middle of 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.

  • 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.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    ••• Montreal Highlights Festival

    The Montreal High Lights Festival is on its way to becoming one of the most popular winter festivals in Canada. The Quebec festival that goes 10 days from the end of February to the beginning of March shines a spotlight on arts and culture, the celebration of light, and the culinary scene.

    The food and drink aspect of the festival is a huge draw. It is the largest culinary celebration in Canada. More than 800,000 people attend the event.

  • 06 of 09
    ••• Grilled Calamari in a Wine Garlic Sauce from Lisbon by Night. Photo © Lisbon by Night

    When the dates for Winterlicious are announced, get your reservations booked as soon as you can. 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. 

  • 07 of 09
    ••• Photo 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.

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

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

    Kick off some pre-winter fun with the family at Ralph Klein Park for Wintefest in Calgary, Alberta, in 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 will also be nature-themed games, fun facts about the park’s wildlife, and much more. Do not miss this fun-filled family event.