Canada Day fireworks at Parliament Hill are one iconic way to celebrate the nation’s birthday, but for Canada 150 the country is going all out, with diverse and unexpected celebrations taking place from coast to coast throughout the year. From Arctic festivals to wild kitchen parties, here are 15 unique events worth making a beeline for in 2017.
1. Check out The Canada Show at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in BC
When: May 31 to June 2
See three comedians attempt to tackle 15,000 years of Canadian history, from the Bering Strait to Justin Trudeau, in just 60 minutes. This wickedly funny show will be held at the Revue Stage as part of the Vancouver Fringe. Get your tickets here.
2. Get in on the National Film Board’s Canada 150 celebrations.
When: From June
The #Legacies150 exhibition uses original images and soundscapes as part of 14 interactive photo essays featuring the likes of poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine and filmmaker Helene Klodawsky as they reflect on the country that’s raised them. These stories will be online from June, and also at major venues and events across the country (details to be announced soon).
3. Attend a kitchen party in the Maritimes
When: June 1 – Sep 20
Getting down at a Celtic kitchen party is always a good time, and that’s especially true when it’s Canada’s 150th birthday. These ceilidhs take place in villages and towns across the Maritimes all summer, including at the Father John Angus Rankin Cultural Centre in Glendale, Nova Scotia every second Wednesday.
4. Join one of the National Aboriginal Day events taking place across the country
When: June 21
A day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and achievements of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis through traditional music and dance circles, storytelling and food will take place across the country on National Aboriginal Day (June 21). Why not head to British Columbia’s Grasmere, home to the Tobacco Plains Indian Band, to join their celebrations?
5. Celebrate Canadian Multiculturalism Day events in Ottawa, Ontario
When: June 27
Canada was the first country in the world to declare multiculturalism as official state policy, and it officially celebrates the diversity of the nation on June 27. Head to Ottawa for African Caribbean & Black (ACB) celebrations that involve music, drumming, dancing and poetry readings. There’ll also be free hotdogs, popcorns, and cotton candy!
6. Celebrate the Spirit of 150 with fireworks in Victoria, BC
When: June 21 – July 1
In the run-up to Canada Day, Victoria will be hosting 11 days of free events featuring all the live music, diverse foods, and fireworks you could ever want. The Spirit of 150 festival will be taking place at the city’s Inner Harbour.
7. Raise a toast to Canada Day at Cape Spear, Newfoundland
When: July 1
30 minutes’ drive from St. John’s, Cape Spear is further east than anywhere else in North America. Attend the Canada Day sunrise ceremony on July 1 and you may just see some whales and icebergs while looking out to sea. Can’t make it to Newfoundland for Canada Day? No worries! There’ll be fireworks and celebrations in practically every hamlet, town, and city in the country.
8. Get cultured at Saskatoon’s Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan
When: First week in July until mid-August
Shakespeare was writing his final play around the same time that Canada’s first English settlement, Cupers Cove, was being formed on Newfoundland in 1610. Head to Saskatoon this summer to see full-length versions of Richard III and Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival.
9. Party at the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik, Northwest Territories
When: July 14-23
This yearly festival features about 80 visual artists and dozens of performers from across the North for ten brilliant days of workshops, art, and performances celebrating the diversity of the Arctic during Canada’s 150th year.
10. Celebrate Canada’s Muslim heritage in Toronto
When: All year
In the heart of Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum celebrates Iranian and Islamic art as well as Muslim culture generally. And for this year’s Canada 150 celebrations, the museum is hosting Conversation Nation — a series of events featuring Canadian artists and performers from diverse backgrounds, in particular Muslim Canadians. From July, the museum will also host a special Canada 150 exhibition called “HERE: Locating Contemporary Canadian Artists.”
11. Celebrate two birthdays in Montréal.
When: All year
This year isn’t just Canada’s 150th birthday. Montréal is also toasting its 375th anniversary. Celebrate both with the 175 concerts, festivals, cultural events, and activities that’ll take place across the city this year. In particular, keep an eye out for this summer’s specially created performances by the giant marionettes of the Royal de Luxe street theatre company.
12. Discover the art going on a coast-to-coast adventure.
When: To be announced
In homage to the country’s history of travel and exploration, Winnipeg Art Gallery is celebrating Canada 150 with Art Express’d. Three 20-foot shipping containers (turned into mobile art studios) will travel to every single province and territory in the country via train, truck, and cargo ship. There’ll be stops at 15 communities before the tour finishes up in Winnipeg. Tour dates are still to be announced, but keep an eye on this page for more info.
13. Take on Alberta’s Canadian Rockies with your free Parks Canada pass
When: All year
In celebration of Canada 150, admission to the country’s national parks and national historic sites is free this year, so now’s your chance to go hiking, biking and kayaking in the Canadian Rockies.
Alberta’s two most famous national parks, Banff and Jasper, overshadow their diminutive cousin, Waterton Lakes National Park, that sits on the border with Montana. But here’s a secret: Waterton is arguably the prettiest mountain park of them all, and its trek to Crypt Lake — involving up-close views of four waterfalls as you hike — was named one the the ‘World’s 20 Most Thrilling Trails’ by National Geographic for good reason.
P.S: In fall, the tiny townsite hosts the excellent Waterton Wildlife Weekend (September 22-24), where you can learn about iconic Rockies wildlife — from mountain goats to grizzly bears — through numerous talks and photo tours.
14. Get involved in the Wall-to-Wall Mural and Culture Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba
When: September 1-30
Winnipeg as a hub for public art? Absolutely. Founded by the creators of Synonym Art Consultation, Wall-to-Wall sees murals and installations by local and international artists go up across the city’s neighbourhoods. The fest ends with a giant block party to coincide with Nuit Blanche. What better way to celebrate Canada 150?
15. Celebrate the Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario
When: September 23-30
Founded by Prince Harry in 2014, the Invictus Games celebrates nearly 600 ill, injured or wounded active servicemen and women as they compete in a dozen sports — from archery to paralympic swimming and sitting volleyball — in a demonstration of “the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and demonstrate life beyond disability.”
The third-ever games will take place in sports venues across the Greater Toronto Area this fall. And yes, the prince is expected to be in attendance. Happy Canada 150!
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