Next Monday, Canadians around the world will celebrate the 1867 British Act of Parliament that united the colonies of Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec and New Brunswick to form a Canadian Confederation, which in doing so, laid the foundations for the country that we know today as Canada. Originally called Dominion Day, the public holiday was renamed in 1982 to Canada Day. While the official celebrations focus on the nation's capital, Ottawa with thousands of people heading to Parliament Hill, virtually every Canadian city will mark the occasion.
Given that the Canadians certainly know how to put on a great party, here at Flight Centre we thought we'd spotlight our favourite Canadian festivals.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
Holding the Guinness World Record as the world's largest jazz festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival was first held in 1980; where around 12,000 attendees enjoyed the performances of Ray Charles, Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Fast forward thirty years and 2.5 million music lovers descend on Montreal each year to appreciate the 650 concerts presented over 10 days by more than 3,000 artists.
Celebrating everything winter, Winterlude encourages participants to embrace the cooler climate and enjoy pursuits only possible in January and February. Ottawa has hosted the event since 1979; it's now enjoyed by around 1.6 million people each year. Consider skating on the world's largest skating rink, admiring the magnificent ice sculptures or playing in North America's largest snow playground with great snow slides for the kids. There are also musical performances held at the Marion Dewar Plaza.
With roots dating back to the late 19th century, the Calgary Stampede is now a firm fixture on the Canadian festival calendar. The event, which includes a rodeo tournament, parade and derby, regularly attracts over one million enthusiasts determined to support the Alberta agriculture industry. It's widely acknowledged that Calgary's identity is now pegged to the event with nicknames such as Stampede City and Cowtown. During the ten day extravaganza the whole city embraces the festivities, transforming the town into a party atmosphere.
In a country where the gay and lesbian population enjoy virtual equality in the eyes of the law, it's no wonder that Pride Week in Toronto is one of the most popular celebrations. The ten-day event is generally held in late June and features theatre shows, forums, discussions and film presentations. The festivities culminate on the final Sunday with a Parade through the streets of Toronto; where over one million enthusiasts cheer on the colourful floats.
Celebration of Light
The largest offshore fireworks competition in the world - The Celebration of Light allows several international teams to showcase their pyrotechnic prowess before an audience of around a million spectators who line the banks around English Bay in Vancouver. The illuminating festival was first held 23 years ago and is now one of Vancouver's most popular family-friendly events. In 2012, the Italian team of Pirotecnica Soldi won the competition. Who will win this year – will it be Thailand, the United Kingdom or local favourites, Calgary?