A country so big, teeming with different cultures and ethnicities, inevitably leads to tons of different festivals, all unique in their music, colours, and light, but in the heart of all these festivals lies the free, vibrant, and full-of-life Canadian spirit itself.
Back to the serious note. If you truly want to know Canada, Canadian festivals are a must. Chances are, no matter when you are visiting, something is going on. Be it Canada’s legendary live music festivals, be it film festivals, or food festivals, there will always be something.
Let’s have a look at some of the best festivals in Canada that can let you have a great Canadian experience. You can also look up the best places to live in Canada here.
Top 13 Canadian Festivals:
Amongst Canada, its wonderful weather, sweet locals, and mouth-watering cuisines, we will discuss the top festivals you want to catch this year.
1. Calgary Stampede:
What’s better to start the list than “the greatest outdoor show on Earth“? Throughout 10 days and a staggering number of about 1200 events, The Calgary Stampede is a show filled with the essence of the cowboy city it is based on, and in terms of a summer festival, it doesn’t get more bustling and colourful than this.
Fulfil all your wishes about the rodeo, as all through the ten days fest, in the rodeo ring; six major events are played out every day. Be it bull riding, bareback horse riding, or barrel riding, intense performances by the world champions will keep you on the edge of your seat.
TransAlta grandstand show and a marvellous display of fireworks all over the 23,000 acres of this ranch will surely be a memory to remember The Calgary Stampede.
Also, Calgary Stampede isn’t all about the cowboys. In its beautiful ENMAX parks, this music festival shows its Indian villages and a proper appreciation for the first nations culture.
Add a whopping three hundred Country music singers in the fray, and Calgary Stampede becomes truly one of the best music festival.
Some of our suggestions regarding The Calgary Stampede:
- It is really convenient in terms of flights to Calgary, so make sure you don’t miss the two-hour-long stampede parade on the Friday of the celebration, before the grand opening ceremony of the festival.
Try to collect tickets for this show as early as possible, as god knows they sell super fast.
- Just keep in mind that everyone wears cowboy outfits. Your cowboy hats, jeans, and boots have to be your attire. Trust us; you will love it this way.
Time: July 3rd- July 17th
2. Montreal International Jazz Festival:
This Canadian festival holds the Guinness book record for the world’s largest jazz festival.
Widely famous and wildly participated, the Montreal International Jazz Festival is all jazz, and music lovers could ask for so much more.
An international festival of almost 800 concerts, this ten-day musical heaven attracts over two million attend each year, and about three thousand of the biggest international artists from all over the world participate in them.
Montreal Jazz festival offers numerous outdoor stages located there as well as indoor venues of various sizes. Created around the Place De Festival in downtown Montreal hosts a large number of audiences.
Watch the breathtaking Notre Dame Basicila, or take a tour of various museums while travelling, and enjoy the best jazz artists worldwide, making your stay in Montreal and experiencing the Montreal Jazz festival all the more memorable. So, on our list? Yes, Montreal International Jazz Festival is a must on your travel bucket list for Canada.
We would also like to discuss some tips and tricks with you that are going to be useful on your trip.
- There will be tons of people, and all the bags will be checked. So, to save time for yourself and others behind you, consider not carrying any.
- You will need passes for anyone 11 and above. Kids under 11 can get an entry for free, but only if their accompanying guardian has a pass.
- It is not allowed to carry items such as firecrackers, large camping backpacks, animals, alcohol, audio recorders, and accessories such as camera stands and selfie sticks. Keep that in mind while visiting.
Time: July 30- July 7
3. Quebec City Summer Festival:
Quebec City Summer Festival is one of those music festivals where if you go once, you just keep going back. And you should as well, as this musical madness has everything you could ask for, famous musicians worldwide with rock, classical, country, jazz, hip-hop, and so much more.
This 11-day packed international festival with over 300 events attracts millions of tourists worldwide each year. Hard to imagine that the Quebec City Summer Festival was only a showcase of local talents and music by some artists and businessmen in 1968, which crossed its one million visitors milestone in 2007.
So, 11 days, 10 fully packed venues, and 300 amazing shows make Festival d’été de Québec one of Canada’s most popular music festivals. Enjoy live music, various local performances on the street, and the charming Toronto summer; you can’t go wrong at this music festival.
Time: July 2- July 25
4. Toronto International Film Festival:
One of the best film festivals held in Toronto in September, Toronto International Film Festival is, for all intents and purposes, extraordinary. TIFF kicks off just after Canada’s Labour Day. This festival, frankly speaking, is something everyone should attend at least once, movie-lover or not.
This 10 days long festival screens about 300-400 movies each year and is attended by some of the biggest names around the world.
Especially famous for promoting new films, this festival has introduced us to some absolute masterpieces over the years. TIFF also focuses on the Canadian Film Industry and filmmakers. There are special programs dedicated to that.
You will come across tons of film resources, visual arts galleries, and of course, absolutely amazing movies at this festival. Talking about Canadian Festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival is a name that cannot be excluded.
Time: September 8th- September 18th
5. Shambhala Music Festival:
Shambala Music Festival started its journey in 1998 and has since become the biggest and craziest electronic music festival in Canada. Lasting for 4 days and 3 nights, Shambhala Music Festival is an emotion you can truly understand once you visit it.
This is a family-run non sponsored event with amazing talents, beautiful lights, and even more amazing sounds(duh).
Organized on a 500-acre Salmo River Ranch farm, in British Columbia, there are numerous outdoor stages where you can vibe with some world-class DJs, or just decide to enjoy the fantastic visual arts exhibited nearby.
- Before attending the festival, people often meet up at the local Boston Pizza in Kamloops Bc as it’s on the way to the venue. This spot is a really good hitchhiking location.
Time: July 22- July 25
Venue: Shamlo River Ranch, British Columbia
6. Canadian Music Week:
Canadian Music Week is one of Canada’s biggest and most influential media and music conferences, attracting famous performers and musicians from worldwide.
Starting in 1981, this music festival is currently in its 40th year and boasts 6 nights of performances by hundreds of international and local bands in numerous live venues
. This week-long festival attracts around 3000 music industry professionals every year, making it as action-packed as it gets.
Artists show their performances from popular bars to numerous outdoor stages located there. It is also a paradise for music fans to discover various emerging artists and their music.
For a tightly packed musical experience during your stay in Canada, Canadian Music Week is your destination.
Time: July 6 – July 11
7. Edmonton Folk Music Festival:
If we had to separate Edmonton Folk Festival from the rest, it would be because of its diversity in artists and genres. This festival presents a huge variety of genres to its audience, such as Celtic, Bluegrass, Gospel, Rotts, and Folk.
Artists from all six continents visit this music festival, including Kenya, Mongolia, and Cuba. International artists, and also the local emerging artists, perform individually or even sometimes share stages.
During the daytime, workshops and concerts in held on six active stages. You can food every kind of food here, ranging from carnival fast food from food trucks to sophisticated cuisine. The huge beer garden here seems to supply endless beer to visitors.
To sum it up, great music, great food, and the fantastic environment of Gallagher Park make Edmonton Folk Festival truly a wonderful place to visit this season.
Time: August 4- August 7
8. Honda Celebration of Light:
Another amazing addition to this list, the Honda Celebration of Light, is the flagship event of British Columbia, the biggest offshore fireworks contest worldwide.
One of Vancouver’s most loved and famous events, the Celebration of Light, demonstrates the city and its culture on the world stage. Located by the breathtaking English Bay, countries clash against each other in a fantastic display of fireworks and music on its three fireworks nights.
Honda Celebration of Light also arranges a whole day for live music, workshops, and food until the fireworks display in the evening.
Time: 23rd July – 30th July
Venue: Vancouver, British Columbia
9. Celtic Colours International Festival:
Celtic Colours International Festival is a nine days show of Cape Breton Island and its living, breathing culture. Through hundreds of events throughout the island, this huge celebration of rich history and fine culture has made Celtic Colours one of the best music festivals.
Throughout the nine days packed with hundreds of events, world-famous artists perform with the local rising stars of Brenton Island. The venue of these events ranges from churches to modern schools and theatres. There are also different kinds of Community Cultural Events for you to participate in and enjoy, such as various outdoor, visual arts, and participatory events.
In the season when Cape Brenton Island is in the full bloom of its natural beauty, visiting Celtic Colours may just help you understand why this festival is only getting more and more popular ever since it started in 1997.
Time: October 7 – October 15th
Venue: Cape Breton Island
10. Winnipeg Folk Festival :
The Winnipeg Folk Festival is an annual summer folk festival held by a non-profit organization near Winnipeg.
Began in 1974 by Mitch Padlock, Ava Kobrinsky, and Collin Gorrie, this festival showcases both international and local performers. Annually visited by about 70000 people, Winnipeg Folk Festival is a heartwarming place to visit.
This music festival has a variety of music genres, such as Americana, pop, country music, bluegrass, Celtic, and much more. With over 70 artists and several children’s performers each year, the Winnipeg festival is one of the most enjoyable events in Canada.
Time: 7th July – 10th July
11. Cavendish Beach Music Festival:
Cavendish Beach Music Festival is held in early to mid-July in Prince Edward Island, Cavendish. This festival started in 2009 and is currently one of the most colourful, lively, and exciting events you can find in the area.
The Cavendish festival packs a solid punch of beach vibes and epic music, making it a favourite on our list.
12. Quebec Winter Carnival:
Quebec Winter Carnival is one of those festivals that you visit for its atmosphere and uniqueness, and god if Carnaval de Quebec is one of the best at that. This one is a huge celebration dedicated to Winter; in fact, this is the largest winter festival in the western hemisphere.
The festival’s heart would be the day and night parades throughout the city, with dreamy lights and chirpy music; it almost feels like a fairy tale when you take part in it. Tons of parties and get-togethers are held all over the city during this time, a number of them even in the freezing temperature.
Activities you can take part in include masquerade balls organized in Chateau Frontenac, the opening and closing of the event in the Ice Palace, outdoor sports events, free-for-all outdoor banquets, and even ice sculptures competitions by various local, Canadian and international artists.
More than one million people attend the Quebec Winter Carnival from all around the world, and they do it for a reason. Be it for the extremely cute mascot this year Bonhomme Carnaval, the outdoor music festival, the national emerging talent offering their artworks, or simply because of the theme of the show; you will never regret visiting Quebec Winter Carnival.
Time: February 3 – February 14
Venue: Quebec City
13. Dreams Festival:
What better to bring our compilation to an end than the Dreams Festival, a fan-favourite music festival? A bombastic outburst of Toronto and its musical community, Dreams Festival gets some of the biggest international artists each year.
An absolute frenzy of music, colours, summer, and the beach, makes this music festival truly feel like a dream.
Time: July 29- July 30
Canada, especially its summer, is almost synonymous with the word music festival. But Canadian summer also brings with it delicious foods, cool beaches, wonderful friends, and, most importantly, precious memories.
Be it for yourself or your entire family, hope this list of best Canadian festivals will help you make memories just as splendid as you are as a person.