Canada is diverse and vast, and the festivals celebrated there reflect this. From a cowboy hoe-down to sophisticated cultural events, learn about some exciting Canadian festivals and events that attract visitors worldwide.
Vancouver Celebration of Light, Vancouver
The largest fireworks competition in the world is held over several nights every summer in Vancouver. More than just a pyrotechnical extravaganza, the Honda Celebration of Light comprises concerts, food stalls, and the Seawall Challenge, a popular urban adventure race.The festival makes for a great way to get to know the city from a local perspective.
The Calgary Stampede, Calgary
Don your cowboy hat and spurs and head on over to The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Each year, more than one million people visit Calgary to partake in this 10-day Calgary Stampede party held every July.
The city of Calgary features good old-fashioned hospitality combined with cultural diversity. Drive an hour out of town, and you're in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and popular destinations like Banff and Jasper, where a world of outdoor adventure awaits.
Edmonton Folk Festival, Edmonton
From its humble beginning in 1980, the Edmonton Folk Festival has grown to be one of the world's premier folk festivals. Held each August, the festival's lineup is always outstanding and ticket prices stay reasonable.
Edmonton is also a gateway to Jasper and the Canadian Rockies, about two hours away in case you have extra time to explore after the festival.
Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto
The Toronto International Film Festivals is one of the leading film festivals in the world, ranking closely with Cannes and Sundance. Films such as Hotel Rwanda, American Beauty, and The Big Chill made their premieres at this prominent star-studded event held each September. The festival is also known as the kick-off to awards season, with many films that make their premiere at TIFF going on to get nominated for Oscars and Golden Globe awards.
Canadians celebrate sub-zero temperatures and waist-high snowdrifts by staging great winter festivals, such as Ottawa's Winterlude. For the first three weekend's every February, the nation's capital puts on a winter festival that features ice-skating on the world's longest rink, ice sculptures, a snow playground, concerts and more.
Canada Day Celebrations, July 1st, Ottawa & Canada-Wide
July 1st celebrations in Canada are akin to the July 4th festivities in the US. Marking Canada's birth as a country, July 1st sees Canadians donning their red and white attire and whooping it up with fireworks and lots of that good Canadian beer. The celebration is nationwide, but Ottawa will show you a particularly good time.
Montreal Jazz Fest, Montreal
Every June/July, the Montreal International Jazz Festival offers about 500 concerts, of which three-quarters are free of charge, and hosts about 2,000 musicians from over 20 countries. Two million music lovers arrive in Montreal, Quebec, for the international jazz rendezvous and launching pad for new talent. Expect to see the biggest names in not just jazz but other types of music. Performing artists have included Diana Krall, Norah Jones, and Aretha Franklin.
Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, Montreal
Since 1983, the Montreal Comedy Festival, or, Just for Laughs as it is more commonly known, has been inviting people to get together just for fun, just for entertainment -- just for laughs. The festival, held every July, has grown in popularity and reputation and today features some of the world's greatest comedians and spawned a television show that is broadcast internationally.
Quebec Winter Carnival, Quebec City
The inhabitants of New France, now Quebec, had a rowdy tradition of getting together just before Lent to eat, drink and be merry.
Today, the Quebec Winter Carnival is the biggest winter carnival in the world and is celebrated annually at the end of January until mid-February. No sense in fighting the cold -- embrace and celebrate it.
Celtic Colours International Festival
Celtic Colours is held for nine days every October on the delightful island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This unique Island-wide celebration of Celtic culture and music is the largest of its kind in North America. If you like fiddles and fiddlers, this is your festival.