I love a good festival. There’s just something about sharing a cool experience with 10,000 of your closest friends. When I lived in Toronto, I made sure to hit Taste of the Danforth close by my own neighbourhood, and I even ventured forth to Guelph, ON to attend the Hillside Festival. In Vancouver, two of my favourites are the Hot Chocolate Festival (admittedly not a summer festival) and Word on the Street at the central library downtown.
Across this great country are festivals for every interest, musical preference and taste bud. I’ve selected a few in each province and territory to highlight. Let’s start in my neck of the woods and head east.
- Vancouver again hosts The Celebration of Light with Canada, Croatia and India having entries in the festival. July 27, July 31 and August 2, 2019.
- The 40th Annual Kamloopa Powwow runs from August 2-4, 2019 on the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Powwow Grounds in Kamloops, BC. The Powwow is a spectacular expression of the Secwe̓pemc people’s heritage and is a vibrant display of storytelling, song, and dance in traditional regalia.
- Nanaimo hosts the annual Great World Championship Bathtub Race on July 21, 2019 – part of the 2019 Marine Festival.
- The Yukon Culinary Festival in Whitehorse - August 1-4, 2019 – showcases the culture, local food and culinary expertise of Yukon Territory, including cooking lessons and a riverboat cruise where guests wear period costumes and sample canapés.
- At the other end of the spectrum is the Great Klondike International Outhouse Race in Dawson City where, on September 1, 2019, where teams design and then tow a rickshaw-like porta potty over a 5 KM route.
- Step back in time at the Days of Yore celebration – August 3 and 4, 2019 – in Didsbury, AB. There are costumed battles, music, sing-alongs and big cannons!
- If beets are more your style, enter the Borscht Cook Off competition that’s part of Babas & Borscht Ukranian Festival in Lamont, AB on August 24 and 25, 2019.
- The Slave River Paddlefest is a 4-day celebration of water activities. Pool toy races, beach parties, canoe and kayak slalom races, technical paddling clinics and more are held from August 2 – 5, 2019 in Fort Smith, NT.
- Experience the wonders of the universe at the Dark Sky Festival hosted by the Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Astronomical Society from August 22 – 25, 2019. Taking place in locations in both Fort Smith and Wood Buffalo National Park, activities include model rocket construction, basics of astrophotography, telescope selection and, of course, observatory tours and night sky viewing.
- The Nunavut Arts Festival will be held in Iqaluit from August 20-25, 2019, featuring festival workshops, an art fair, industry presentations and artist studio time.
- Okay, this one is for next year. Put the Toonik Tyme Festival on your calendars. It’s held in Iqaluit and is an annual celebration of Inuit traditions and return to spring. Past events at the festival have included: dog sled races, elder craft fair, traditional clothing fashion show, and a Palaugaq (bannock) Making Competition.
- Foodtruck Wars Street Festival is held in Saskatoon from July 26-28, 2019. During the festival are several eating contests (Hotdogs! Pie!), street vendors, a pet photo booth and the highlight of the festival: the Foodtruck Wars Flavour Challenge, a taste testing competition with competing food vendors entering their favourite dessert, beverage, and entree items.
- The Western Development Museum in Yorkton, SK hosts the 64th annual Threshermen's Show & Seniors' Festival on August 3 and 4, 2019. Events include: an antique tractor & car show, plowing demonstrations, clay oven bread baking, and the Parade of Power.
- The 2019 Manitoba Sunflower Festival held from July 26-28, 2019 in Altona, MB is a family friendly event that includes a petting zoo, quilt exhibit, a parade, an Old Tyme Dance and a pancake breakfast. Plus, presumably, lots of sunflowers.
- Held from August 2-4, 2019 in Gimli, MB, the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, or Islendingadagurinn, promotes an interest in Icelandic culture and descent through events such as an Icelandic fashion show, Icelandic film screenings, a Viking battle, and the infamous Islendingadunk - a sport where two combatants sit on a soap-lubricated plastic pole suspended over the water in Gimli Harbour and try to bat each other into the water with a wet sack filled with sponge.
- Bradford, ON hosts Carrotfest August 16 and17, 2019 – a celebration of the region’s agricultural heritage and, in particular, the role the carrot has played. Carrotfest features street buskers, a vendor market, a classic car show, a demonstration by Ontario’s Aqua Dogs and a not-to-be-missed Flaming Carrot Finale to close out the festival.
- Get your sculpt on at Cobourg ON’s Sandcastle Festival – Aug 4, 2019. Here you can watch master sculptors at work, take part in an amateur sandcastle competition, get sculpting lessons and then end the night with a fun family-friendly movie on the beach.
- The International Balloon Festival of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu runs from August 10-18, 2019 in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC. Multiple music stages, skateboarding lessons, an elevated obstacle course, a Kid Zone and, of course, hot air balloon rides are all part of the fun.
- Quebec City hosts Le Festibière de Québec from August 15-18, 2019. In addition to sampling microbrews and ciders from across Quebec, there are also food trucks, seminars by industry experts and great music.
- Speaking of music, it's the 62nd Anniversary of the Miramichi Folksong Festival from August 4–9, 2019 in Miramichi, NB. It’s a week of non-stop music, including a gospel concert, kids show, daily music luncheons and a Folksong Feast and Fun cruise.
- I can’t believe I am still writing this post after I discovered Chocolate Fest held in St. Stephen, NB from August 4-8, 2019. Five days of chocolate: Chocolate Jamboree (what?!), Create Your Own Chocolates workshops, Peppermint Patty Bingo and chocolate lover’s cocktail hour. So much yes.
- If a sweet tooth isn’t your vice, the Avondale Garlic Fest in Newport Landing, NS may be more your preference. Held on September 21, 2019, the garlic fest boasts garlic roasting demos, seminars on growing and curing garlic, a garlic eating contest and live music all day.
- Ahoy, mateys! You’ll want to check out Pirate Days in St. Stephens from Sept 12–15, 2019 in St. Stephens, Cape Breton, NS. A sea skirmish, pet parade, Best-Dressed Pirate Contest, and cardboard boat races are some of the many events.
Prince Edward Island
- The PEI Potato Blossom Festival in O'Leary, PEI just wrapped up for 2019 (July 15-21), so put this one down for next year. Celebrating the importance of the potato to the Island, events include a national potato peeling contest, car show, a parade, a pancake breakfast and the crowning of Miss PEI Potato Blossom.
- The 2019 PEI International Shellfish Festival takes place in Charlottetown, PEI on September 19-22, 2019. “Best Caesar in Town” and “Shiny Shell Oyster Shucking Championship” are two of several food-themed competitions and demonstrations that run alongside an excellent music lineup.
Newfoundland and Labrador
- Roots, Rants and Roars, a celebration of Newfoundland's food, culture, land, and sea is held in Elliston, NL on September 20-21, 2019. The two day celebrations has events like “Cod Wars”, “The Hike” and “The Feast” – events promising great food, music and activities.
- Bakeapple berries (or “cloud berries”) are celebrated at the annual Bakeapple Folk Festival in Forteau, Labrador from August 8-11, 2019. Events include a schoolhouse concert, square dancing, a bakeapple breakfast and lots of great music.
Wow, don’t those all sound fantastic? I wish I could attend them all! What do you think? Add any to your bucket list? Or did I miss your must-attend summer event? Drop a line in the comments and share your favourite Canadian festival.
- Rose R.