Warmer weather and fewer crowds make early spring a great time to visit Canada. There's still some chill in the air, but with the snow gone and spring flowers in bloom, May is, for many, an ideal time to visit. The complete gamut of summer activities is not in full swing, but golfing has begun in the western provinces, and spring ski deals are still available. You can go hiking and even camp if you're fully prepared.
If your eye is on an urban adventure in a Canadian city, May offers pleasant temperatures for walking in its scenic old towns and exciting urban landscapes. But rain is a reality all across the country, so it's smart to have some indoor backup plans wherever you are, along with good waterproof clothing.
Pros and Cons
The good news is that May is generally a shoulder travel time, and you can probably score a pretty good deal on airfare and hotels relative to summertime prices.
On the downside, some of the most popular Canadian festivals and events are not yet underway, and May can still be quite chilly and not comfortably warm enough to do certain activities. Certainly, lake and ocean swimming are not yet in season.
The Weather in May
All that said, it's a large and geologically varied country, and weather conditions among Canadian cities can be drastically different. For example, May in Vancouver is much more moderate and rainy than in, say, Toronto or Halifax.
Be sure to check regional weather forecasts for your destination.
Know where in Canada you're going? Check out the weather and events in Vancouver, Toronto and Niagara Falls, and Montreal in May to see if those cities appeal to you. Or you might change your destination depending on what you discover.
Average May Temperatures
While temperatures can vary significantly from average in Canada in May, it's helpful to know what is most likely to be the case.
- Vancouver, British Columbia: Average low, 46 F; average high, 61 F
- Edmonton, Alberta: Average low, 37 F; average high, 63 F
- Yellowknife, Northwest Territories: Average low, 32 F; average high, 50 F
- Inukjuak, Nunavut: Average low, 25 F; average high, 34 F
- Winnipeg, Manitoba: Average low, 41 F; average high, 66 F
- Ottawa, Ontario: Average low, 45 F; average high, 66 F
- Toronto, Ontario: Average low, 43 F; average high, 64 F
- Montreal, Quebec: Average low, 45 F; average high, 66 F
- Halifax, Nova Scotia: Average low, 39 F; average high, 59 F
- St. John's, Newfoundland: Average low, 34 F; average high, 50 F
Good to Know
Victoria Day is a national holiday in Canada that falls on the Monday before May 25th. In 2018, it is on May 21. Government services, schools, and banks will be closed. Victoria Day's long weekend is a big travel holiday in Canada that's commonly referred to as "May Two-Four Weekend" even if it does not fall precisely on May 24. Expect crowded highways on the Friday and Monday of this weekend and long lineups at border crossings.
May Highlights and Events
Across Canada, in May there are a few festivals that are worth building your itinerary around.
- The Canadian Tulip Festival, May 11 to 21, 2018, in Ottawa
- Contact Photography Festival launches on April 27, 2018, and continues through May in Toronto
- The Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival, May 23 to 28, 2018, in Nova Scotia
- The Stratford Festival, theater from May to October in Stratford, Ontario
- The Shaw Festival, theater from April to November in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario