The summer festival season is in full swing not just in the United States but also in Canada, where there are many fantastic summer events to choose from. Visit during the summer and you will not be disappointed.
The majority of Americans have the misconception that Canada holds a substantially lower number of yearly festivals than is the case. There are many different kinds of events at these festivals, from popular cultural and musical shows to contests in cooking and sports.
Atlantic Provinces’ Canadian Summer Festivals in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador
Canada’s birthday celebration, Canada Day, occurs on July 1, so why not celebrate it in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the country’s birthplace? Charlottetown hosts the Atlantic Superstore Festival of Light on the three days before July 1. On July 1, a carnival midway with international street performers and music by rock bands will precede a laser show and fireworks spectacular over the port. It is then followed by the extensive Charlottetown Festival (3 July–25 September).
Halifax Pride Week (July 21–28) includes the Halifax Pride Parade (July 27). During Newfoundland’s St. John’s Time (July 25–August 7), you’ll also encounter music, storytelling, rowing regattas, and street performers. The Acadien de Caraquet (August 1–15) and Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival (July 25–27), both in New Brunswick, as well as The Tuckamore Festival in St. John’s, Newfoundland (August 5–18), are also noteworthy. If you have a craving for shellfish, check out the Digby Scallop Days (August 7–11) festival in Digby, Nova Scotia; the Summerside Lobster Carnival (July 5–14) or the PEI International Shellfish Festival (September 12–15), all on Prince Edward Island, if you have a craving for shellfish.
Central Canada Summer Festivals in Quebec and Ontario
The Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Ontario (August 16–September 2) is the must-see event of the summer, while the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario (May 1–October 20, 2013) extends the season with a dozen plays written by Shakespeare and other writers, including Romeo and Juliet and The Thrill. Both the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (June 28–July 7) and Les FrancoFolies de Montréal (June 13–22) are significant outdoor music festivals that take place in the city of Montréal. The former takes place from June 13–22, while the latter takes place from June 28–July 7.
In addition, the city of Toronto hosts the TD Toronto Jazz Event from June 20–29, with free entry on Friday, June 21, and the Pride Toronto festival from June 21–30. This is followed by the world-famous Toronto International Film Festival from September 5–15. Another musical festival that takes place in Ottawa is the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, which runs from July 4th to the 14th. Visit Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, which is about 20 minutes north of Niagara Falls, if you want to extend the summer season. Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to the Shaw Festival, which runs from April until October and features a wide variety of comedies, tragedies, and classics each year. If you want to extend the summer season, you may want to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada.
Mountains and Western Canadian Festivals in Alberta and British Columbia
An annual tradition in western Canada, the Calgary Stampede takes place in Alberta from July 5 to 14 and offers visitors the opportunity to rub shoulders with cowboys. Stay in Edmonton for a few more weeks for the Edmonton Folk Music Festival (August 8–11) and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival (August 15–25), or head west to get your Shakespeare to fix at the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia (June 12–September 14), which puts on four plays throughout its run.
While Victoria hosts the TD Victoria International JazzFest (June 21–30) and the Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival (August 22–September 1), Vancouver hosts the Vancouver Pride Parade & Festival (August 4) and two music festivals: the Vancouver Folk Music Festival (July 19–21) and MusicFest Vancouver (dates not yet listed).
The Banff Summer Arts Festival in Alberta hosts contests in the fields of dance, opera, symphonic music, jazz, and string quartets, in addition to the literary and visual arts, cinema, and Aboriginal arts (from early May through late August). During your time in Victoria, you may also head to the city’s inner harbour to see the annual Victoria Dragon Boat Festival (August 16–18), which has a total of 90 different teams competing in various dragon boat races.