By Miriam Cross
Shediac Lobster Festival
Hosted by the town of Shediac — the Lobster Capital of the World — this annual festival offers lobster suppers, a lobster eating contest and the Mr. Lobster Festival mascot. This very family-friendly festival also includes a Kids Day, a children’s parade, nightly outdoor entertainment and lots of prizes!
St. Stephen, NB
This delectable festival, which takes place in a town dubbed Canada’s Chocolate Town — offers chocolate dessert buffets, hand-dipped treats, and an ice cream taste-test contest, plus many sugar-free activities such as free concerts, a petting zoo, pony rides, and a treasure hunt.
Halifax International Busker Festival
Not to be dismissed as cheap trick artists, the performers at Halifax’s world-renowned International Busker Festival bring their athleticism, acrobatics, and artistic flair to the streets with family-friendly shows during the day and breathtaking fire performances at night.
Brigus Blueberry Festival
Held in the seaside town of Brigus, Newfoundland, the Blueberry Festivals offers comedy dinner theatre, a walking tour, a two-day folk festival, the Missed Blueberry Pageant, pie-eating contest, and lots of food and games.
Summerside Lobster Carnival
The Summerside Lobster Festival, a PEI tradition for over 50 years, combines traditional activities with new, all-age events. Enjoy the famous PEI hospitality while participating in talent contests, lobster suppers, boat races, and more.
Quebec City, QC
The largest outdoor arts festival in Canada, the Quebec City Summer Festival boasts over 400 music and street art shows — including rock, world music, French, jazz, and more — that take to multiple stages located in Old Quebec.
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
June 30-July 12
Now in its 30th year, Montreal’s world-famous annual jazz celebration offers non-stop entertainment from noon to midnight. Several city blocs are closed down so pedestrians can enjoy outdoor performances, dine at cafes and bistros, and visit a musical park for children — running the gamut from blues to Brazilian to electronica.
Just for Laughs Comedy Festival
Montreal, QC and Toronto, Ont.
July 16-26 (Montreal) and July 15-19 (Toronto)
With shows in Nantes, France and Chicago, IL., before heading to its two Canadian tour locations, this year’s Just For Laughs Festival, which began in Quebec, features comedic greats such as Bill Cosby, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Lewis Black and Martin Short. Also joining the comedic acts are a number of visual and vocal performances throughout each city.
The Hillside Festival has grown from a local music gathering between friends to a three-day festival with over 50 musical performances. Held at Guelph Lake Conservation Area on an island (connected to mainland by a narrow causeway), this event has long embraced green practices and encourages attendees to carpool and bring their own utensils.
Canadian Tulip Festival
In 1945, the Netherlands gave 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa as a symbol of international friendship following World War Two. Now the largest Tulip Festival in the world, this 18-day event includes performances by the Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe, famous speakers, an Interactive Circus School, and a free Pavilion that allows visitors to explore the traditions and history of 24 countries.
Peterborough Summer Festival of Lights
June 20-August 22
One of the largest events in the Kawarthas, the annual Festival of Lights features outdoor concerts in Del Crary Park every Wednesday and Saturday night of the summer. This year’s headliners include David Cassidy, Buffy Sainte Marie, and Serena Ryder, and each performance is followed by a beautiful display of fireworks. Admission is free!
July 14-August 2 (date to be confirmed)
Get into the Caribbean spirit with this two-week festival, featuring Calypso, Soca, Reggae, Hip Hop, Chutney, Steel Pan and Brass Bands, as well as Caribbean cuisine and an extravagant parade.
Canadian National Exhibition, a.k.a. “The Ex”
August 21-September 7
Beginning in August and continuing until Labour Day, the annual CNE ““ now the largest annual fair in Canada ““ is the perfect way to end the summer. Attractions include the Daily Parade, the Canadian International Air Show, loads of international food vendors, and dozens of rides and games for children and adults.
This year Tim McGraw is headlining Dauphin’s Country Fest, Canada’s longest running music festival. Local, national and international acts including McGraw, The Road Hammers, Neal McCoy and many more will take to the three stages of this four-day festival set in the beautiful Riding Mountain National Park.
Neepawa Lily Festival
Known as one of the most beautiful festivals in Manitoba, the three-day Neepawa Lily Festival offers a Lily Society show, fiddle contests, a parade, street vendors, square and round dance, and much more. This year’s theme is “Welcoming the Nations.”
Winnipeg Folk Festival
One North America’s premier outdoor music festivals, the Winnipeg Folk Festival offers about 250 artists on seven stages. During the day, festival-goers can watch musicians jam with each other and hone their musical styles, while in the evening, everyone gathers at the Main Stage to enjoy a concert against a prairie sunset. There is also a family area to keep the kids entertained.
John Arcand Fiddle Festival
Run almost entirely all by volunteers, the John Arcand Fiddle Festival offers a platform to showcase and preserve fiddle music and dance. Held on John Arcand, the famous Canadian fiddler’s, property, the festival — in its 12th year — provides workshops, live performances and competitions within a family-centered atmosphere.
July 3 ““12
A long-standing tradition of western culture, the Calgary Stampede is a 10-day stampede, exhibition and rodeo. As one of Canada’s largest cultural events and the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, the festival took shape nearly 100 years ago and today is billed as The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth.
Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival
Modeled after Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival (EIFTF) is a theatre-based arts festival that is hosted in Old Strathcona, a district outside of Edmonton, and housed in traditional theatres as well as temporary-theatre venues.
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
May 28″“Sept. 26
This professional and not-for-profit festival is put on at Vancouver’s Vanier Park and offers a selection of Shakespearen plays, related dramas and other special events. The plays are put on within two tents, the Mainstage tent — seating 520 — is open-ended so the actors perform in front of a natural scenic background. This year’s festival will show Othello, All’s Well that Ends Well, The Comedy of Errors, Richard II as well as a number of other special events.
Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival
North America’s biggest dragon boat festival, now entering its 21st year, offers non-stop family entertainment with a boat race every 12 minutes and live music and dance on the
World Beat Stage.