March in Canada: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Gaspereaux nets, West River, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Barrett MacKay / Getty Images

Due to its northern location, much of Canada is still cold and snowy throughout March, but if you are prepared and have packed appropriately, you can still enjoy many winter activities and festivals that take place across the country this month.

Better yet, since travel can be rather difficult as the season changes from winter to spring, you can plan a budget vacation to many of Canada's biggest cities in March—especially if you avoid traveling during local spring break vacations.

Aurora Borealis

March is one of the best times to view the Aurora Borealis in the far north reaches of Canada, including near Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Also known as the Northern Lights, this spectacular display lights up the night sky most of the month. As an added bonus, the northern parts of Canada also typically experience up to 10 hours of daylight this time of the year, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the many seasonal attractions and events offered in the region in honor of the Aurora Borealis' appearance.

Canada Weather in March

The weather in Canada varies by region, with much of the northern territories and provinces still covered in thick winter snow while many of the southern regions see the first signs of spring temperatures as the snow thaws. Cities on the west coast like Vancouver and Victoria usually have the best temperatures in March, but Nunavut, the largest and most northern territory of Canada, is coldest and snowiest this month.

Across the country, you can expect temperatures to climb over the month in the daytime but drop overnight; average highs range from 0 degrees Fahrenheit in Iqaluit, Nunavut, to 55 degrees Fahrenheit in Vancouver, British Columbia, and average lows can drop down to -17 degrees. You'll also experience rain for at least a third of the month in most places in Canada—with the exception of Edmonton, Alberta, and areas of the Northwest Territories.

City and TerritoryTemperatures (low/high)Wet DaysPrecipitation Totals
Vancouver, British Columbia41 / 55 F118 inches
Edmonton, Alberta19 / 34 F80.67 inches
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories-11 / 10 F30.33 inches
Iqaluit, Nunavut-17 / 0 F50.9 inches
Winnipeg, Manitoba12 / 30 F100.9 inches
Ottawa, Ontario21 / 36 F122.2 inches
Toronto, Ontario25 / 39 F132.4 inches
Montréal, Quebec21 / 36 F152.9 inches
Halifax, Nova Scotia23 / 37 F144.4 inches
Saint John, New Brunswick19 / 27 F144.3 inches

What to Pack

Since the weather is typically cold and wet across the country in March, you'll need to prepare by packing a variety of warm, waterproof clothing that you can easily layer to accommodate for the changing temperatures. Consider packing a variety of sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, warm pants, and thermal undergarments you can mix and match to create different outfits; you'll also need to bring a waterproof winter coat and other warm outerwear—especially if you plan to spend any time outdoors. Waterproof shoes and snow boots are essential if you plan on hiking or camping, but while you can bring your own, you can also typically rent sports gear if you plan on skiing or snowboarding on your trip.

March Events in Canada

No matter where you're going to in Canada this March, you're sure to find a variety of festivals and events celebrating the arrival of spring and the local cultures of the country.

From St. Patrick's Day events in major cities to parties under the Northern Lights, there are plenty of unique events to discover this month across Canada.

Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, is one of the warmer areas of Canada in March. The average high temperature is about 55 degrees. Vancouver, similar to other Pacific Northwest cities like San Francisco and Seattle, is known for being a rainy city. With spring around the corner, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival and Canadian culture festival, Festival du Bois, are worth a visit in March.

Toronto

In March, Toronto, Ontario, has several events that draw people from all over, but the highlights of this month are the many botanical events celebrating the arrival of blooming flowers and maple trees to the city. You might want to check out Canada Blooms: The Toronto Flower & Garden Show or one of the many maple syrup festivals going on just outside of Toronto during your trip this month.

Montreal

By most standards, Montreal is very cold in March; the average high is about 36 degrees Fahrenheit with lows at about 21 degrees. However, there are still plenty of events and celebrations worth checking out during the month including the Montreal High Lights Festival, the St. Patrick's Day Parade, and the International Festival of Films on Art.

March Travel Tips

  • The best thing about travel to Canada in March are the travel bargains; you can usually find lower than usual airfares and hotel prices unless you are planning to travel during March Break.
  • March Break is the week in March when school is out and families tend to travel, especially to ski resorts like the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, which will most likely be busy for that part of the month. 
  • Some of the best skiing in the world can be found in Whistler in British Columbia, Banff in Alberta, and the mountains in Quebec. Ski season in Canada is well underway, and many resorts will be offering post-Christmas and New Year's specials. 
  • Maple syrup is a North American product, but a vast majority of the world's supply comes from Quebec. The maple syrup season begins as the weather starts to warm up, usually in March and April, there are a number of maple syrup festivals in OntarioQuebec, and some maritime provinces throughout the season to celebrate.