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

Montreal in October

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In October, Canada's weather is cool yet comfortable, which means most outdoor activities can be enjoyed without having to bundle up in snow gear. The country is massive and the exact conditions vary based on what region you're visiting, but all in all, you can expect pleasant autumn days, brisk nights, and some precipitation. In general, October is a great time to visit Canada because there are fewer crowds and shoulder season means you can find some excellent deals on accommodation.

Apart from several events happening around the country to take advantage of the end of the warm weather, this time of year is also the best for spotting the bright colors of Canada's fall foliage. In the northern provinces, the leaves will hit their peak colors in September or early October, but if you're staying close to the U.S. border, the best time to visit is usually around mid-October.

Canada Weather in October

Depending on which of Canada's thirteen provinces you plan on visiting, you're likely to find varying weather and climates across the country. The majority of the largest—and most visited—cities are near the southern border and the coast, meaning the weather is relatively temperate in October. However, if you're traveling north or to the interior of the country, expect temperatures to be significantly lower.

City Average High Temp. Average Low Temp. Average Rainfall
Vancouver 55 F (13 C) 46 F (8 C) 6.5 inches
Toronto 56 F (13 C)  44 F (7 C) 2.0 inches
Montreal 55 F (13 C) 42 F (6 C) 3.1 inches
Halifax 56 F (13 C) 45 F (7 C) 3.6 inches
Calgary 50 F (10 C) 33 F (1 C) 0.4 inches
Ottawa 55 F (13 C) 40 F (4 C) 2.8 inches
Edmonton 51 F (11 C) 34 F (1 C) 0.4 inches

Precipitation from east to west is to be expected, especially so if you're visiting one of the rainy cities in British Columbia, such as Vancouver. Snow isn't likely in any of the major cities in October, but if you're traveling to the northern provinces or during the latter part of the month, it is possible.

What to Pack

Clothing needs vary depending on what part of Canada you'll be visiting and whether you'll be traveling at the beginning of October or towards the end. The beginning of the month might still be warm enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt during the day, but at night you'll still want a warm jacket. Wherever you go, you'll probably need to bring a jacket, fleece, sweater, gloves, a hat, and long pants. The key to preparing for October in Canada is to pack clothes that can be easily layered on top of each other. This way you can adjust to cooler and warmer temperatures and the weather changes throughout the day and night.

Since rain is pretty common, you'll also want some waterproof gear. A light rainproof jacket and water-resistant shoes can make a world of difference, but at the very least make sure you have a compact umbrella you can easily carry around.

October Events in Canada

After October, the weather begins to quickly and drastically change across Canada, as the days become colder, darker, and snowier. So it isn't a surprise that Canadians make the most of their finals days of warm weather with fun outdoor events across the country.

Many events in 2020 have been scaled back or canceled, so be sure to confirm the most up-to-date details on the official event webpage.

  • Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival: One of the fall highlights of Alberta, the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival celebrates the most delicious parts of this Canadian province. The festival happens over two weekends, first in Calgary and then in Edmonton, with lots of wine, beers, savory bites, and sweet treats. The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival is canceled in 2020.
  • Celtic Colours International Festival: On scenic Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, celebrate Celtic heritage with the locals at this exciting festival. The weekend is filled with live performances, dancing, delicious food, and the dramatic fall foliage backdrop. In 2020, the Celtic Colours International Festival will be held virtually, so you can tune in even if you can't make it all the way to Nova Scotia.
  • Oktoberfest: The largest Oktoberfest event in North America takes place every year in the city of Kitchener, about an hour outside of Toronto. Locals put on a Bavarian festival that rivals the one in Munich, with traditional attire, hot pretzels, and a seemingly endless amount of beer. The 2020 festival is being scaled back, with virtual events planned and intimate gatherings of limited capacity.
  • Nuit Blanche: Art lovers across the country head to Toronto for this 12-hour festival, which begins at sunset and continues until sunrise. It's considered one of the biggest contemporary art expositions in North America, and it usually takes place across the entire city. In 2020, however, Nuit Blanche is scheduled to take place virtually with digital events planned beginning at 7 p.m. on October 3, 2020, and going until 7 a.m.
  • Montreal International Black Film Festival: Since 2005, this annual festival has showcased the best of new cinema created by Black filmmakers, both established celebrities as well as up-and-coming stars. Around 100 films are premiered each year in Montreal at this fall event, accompanied by discussion panels and conversations with the cast to round it all out. The films for the 2020 festival will be released online so you can enjoy them from home, and takes place September 23 through October 4.

October Travel Tips

  • Because of Canada's reputation as a prime leaf-peeping destination, fall is a very popular time to visit. The most scenic locations are in the eastern part of the country, but you can see autumn colors just about anywhere. Colors begin to change a bit earlier than they do in the U.S. Northeast, so be sure to time your trip right.
  • October is prime season for apple picking, and orchards all around Ontario and Quebec open their farms for those who want to come out and collect their own fruit.
  • Every year on the second Monday of October, many businesses will be closed for Canadian Thanksgiving in most provinces (the exception being Quebec).
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