The boot-stomping Calgary Stampede and star-studded Toronto International Film Festival are world-renowned, and summer is festival prime time. But Canada’s lively community celebrations coast to coast to coast might just be the country’s hottest events. Pick one that suits your style—from eclectic and funky to artsy and fringe.
French-Canadian Montreal hosts 120 days of fests a year. The most original? Montréal Cirque Festival with acrobats, jugglers and high-wire performances in plazas, parks, theaters and on sidewalks—most are free—in the birthplace of Cirque du Soleil. There’s also the Mural Festival, First Fridays food truck meet-ups and St-Ambroise FRINGE Festival (100% of proceeds support artists).
Vancouver launched a new outdoor event combining three favorites: Music, food and art. The SKOOKUM Festival debuts this summer in Stanley Park. There’s also the West Coast-centric Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, dragon boat festival, popular international fireworks competition and rowdy Pride parade and fest.
Indigenous cultural celebrations are surging in the Yukon. Two not-to-be missed are the Adäka Cultural Festival on the Whitehorse waterfront—a week of antler carving and moose hair tufting workshops, traditional storytelling, dance and music—and Moosehide Gathering, a four-day celebration near Dawson City including a traditional potlatch (First Nations feast) and canoe river racing.
Music is a hot ticket in Manitoba in summertime under the big, blue prairie sky. Choose from the uber-popular Winnipeg Folk Festival to the niche Folklorama, Fringe or Jazz Winnipeg. Get into music Aboriginal-style at Canada’s largest Pow Wow, Winnipeg’s Manito Ahbee, or watch jousting and fire-dancing at the Medieval Festival in Cooks Creek.
Canada’s downtown heats up in summer—from arts fests Luminato and Nuit Blanche to the sizzling Toronto Caribbean Carnival and progressive Indigenous Fashion Week. There’s also Pride, Salsa on St. Clair Street Festival, over-the-top BuskerFest, Craft Beer Festival and Open Roof Festival for movies under the stars.
Try a culture sampler in maritime New Brunswick, home to Canada’s largest Acadian community. Practice your French at the Festival acadien de Caraquet featuring 400 artists and events, including a boistrous Acadian Day parade, and at the biggest Francophone celebration outside Quebec, La Foire Brayonne in Edmunston.
Yellowknife’s frontier spirit colors the earth-friendly Old Town Ramble & Ride, a locals’ event that visitors love. Pick up some artsy souvenirs (moose hide garments, native jewelry, paintings, beadwork), check out an Inuit hula-hoop performance, take a rickshaw ride, take in a folk, banjo or bluegrass concert, join or watch the bike rally.