December in Canada means many things, but one thing you can count on is snow – lots and lots of it. Staying in theme with the winter dream, Flight Path Immigration is introducing our readers to 12 must see Winter Festivals in Canada.
The Great White North has already received snow in regions across the country. Our team is working with new clients, schools, and researching exciting immigration pathways throughout Canada – from East to West. As we are watching our clients prepare for their new life in Canada, we’re inspired to share what we love most about winter in Canada.
Are these winter festivals in Canada on your list of things to do? Read on and learn more about what Canada has to offer you during winter.
12 Must See Winter Festivals in Canada
Canada and Winter are practically synonymous when paired together. Naturally, when one thinks of Canada, we think of great snow-capped mountains, frozen ice ponds for skating, pretty woodlands and towering evergreen forests, stunning sunsets, and some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world. Even in Canada’s largest cities, you’re never far from its stunning natural beauty.
Unfortunately for hot-weather lovers, summer is too short. Two months of glorious warm and hot weather quickly turn to dread of increasing electrical bills as winter descends.
No matter where one may find themselves in Canada, the overall theme for winter is COLD. On the east coast, for example, residents can expect snow flurries as early as October. Snowfall can last as late as early May.
There is some respite from the worst winter weather on the Pacific Coast where it is milder. Residents here can expect a stable temperature above freezing and very little snow in Vancouver, for example. If you’re anywhere else in Canada, you can count on many days dipping below -20 degrees Celsius in the depths of January and February, even in metropolitan Toronto. Some cities, such as Edmonton, experience and thrive in temperatures as low as -30C. The weather gets progressively colder as you move further north.
If this all sounds a little unnerving, don’t despair! Canadians are a hardy bunch, but they do enjoy their comforts. Central heating is very common, and a hot beverage in hand is a great way to keep warm when out in the elements – not to mention a woolly touque and sturdy waterproof boots!
Now that you have an idea of what you can expect climate-wise in the winter, perhaps you’re wondering, “What is there to do in the winter besides growing nose icicles? Anything worth leaving the comfort of my heated blanket?”
In fact, winter is an amazing time to explore Canada. Some of the many ways Canadians keep the freezing cold at bay include lively winter sports and merry festivals. Among our proudly Canadian national winter sport of ice hockey, there are other popular pastimes such as curling, ice skating, downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, and more.
For the less physically-inclined, unique festivals and snowy celebrations that showcase the breathless beauty of winter and highlight the best of Canadian culture can be found in and around every major city. There is something for everyone, so read on to see what you can look forward to!
*Despite most of the listed festivals occurring outdoors, 2020/2021 events may be limited or cancelled due to coronavirus.
12 Must See Winter Festivals in Canada
1. Aurora Winter Festival – Nov 22, 2020 – Jan 5, 2021
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver’s Aurora Winter Festival takes over the grounds of the Pacific National Exhibition from November until January with carnival rides including a giant tube slide park. Experience the ultimate eating experience and purchase some yummy treats from various food trucks that serve this festival and check out all the gorgeous holiday items from local vendors. There’s also a version of this festival in Toronto.
2. Simcoe Christmas Panorama – Nov 19, 2020 – Jan 2, 2021
Simcoe, Ontario on the shore of Lake Erie will be lit up every night from the end of November until January. The Simcoe Christmas Panorama is the oldest lights festival in Ontario. This gorgeous festival transforms the entire town of Simcoe into a magical, twinkly Christmas display. Normally, the town spends over $10,000 on lights each year, but 2020 has dampened their plans slightly.
However, the town’s volunteer Christmas Panorama team has come up with some fantastic alternatives so everyone can continue to enjoy this shimmering light festival while staying socially distanced. Click on the link above to visit their FB page and learn how you can participate this year.
3. Winterlude – February 5 to February 21, 2021
Winterlude, or Bal de Neige in French, is a FREE annual festival that transforms Canada’s capital into a winter wonderland. The festival features snow and ice sculpture competitions, snow playgrounds, skating on the Rideau Canal (the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink) and sporting events like the Winterlude triathlon. Click on the link above to learn how you can participate in Winterlude in 2021.
4. FROSTival – January 16 – February 2, 2021
FROSTival is Atlantic Canada’s largest winter celebration. It features over 100 events over three weekends from January to February, from sleigh rides to wine tastings to a standup comedy.
“Don’t hibernate! Celebrate!”
5. Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl – February 1 – 29, 2021
South Shore, Nova Scotia
Probably the most delicious event on this list, the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl happens along the South Shore of the province from Barrington to Peggy’s Cove. There are over 100 lobster experiences, from a lobster roll challenge, lobster fishing events, and a lobster chowder showdown.
If crustaceans aren’t your thing, there are also events where you can create your own nautical treasures and souvenirs, sporting events (like hockey tournaments and surfing lessons) and tons of art events and performances.
6. Carnaval de Quebec – February 5 – 14, 2021
Quebec City, Quebec
One of the biggest (and flashiest) winter festivals in Canada, the Carnaval de Quebec has been running on and off since 1894.
From a big parade to ice sculpture workshops and meeting Bonhomme himself (the huge snowman that is the official representative of the Carnaval), this festival is a must-visit.
7. Silver Skate Festival – February 7 – 17, 2021
Edmonton’s Silver Skate Festival celebrates the city’s Dutch history, combining sport (especially skating), arts and culture, and recreation. The festival transforms the city’s Hawrelak Park with snow sculptures, winter sports and horse-drawn sleighs. Visitors can also compete in speed skating events, take in live performances and cook bannock over an open fire.
Visit Silver Skate Festival’s Facebook page to learn more.
8. Toonik Tyme – April 2021
This northern festival is named after the Tuniit people (the singular form of the word is “Toonik”) who are the ancestors of the Inuit people. Toonik Tyme started in 1965, and the festival consisted of traditional Inuit games, throat singing, dancing and a community feast.
Today’s Toonik Tyme celebrates the arrival of spring with a number of traditional activities that celebrate Inuit culture and traditions—and a majority of events are conducted in a combination of Inuktitut, English and French.
9. Festival du Voyageur – February 14 – 23, 2021
Held in Winnipeg’s historic French Quarter, The Festival du Voyageur has been held annually since 1970. Visitors can compete in fiddling, jigging (folk dance and music), beard-growing and making the best pea soup.
They also have snow sculptures featuring artists from all around the world.
Sadly, these festivals are cancelled for 2020/2021, but stay tuned. There is no doubt that these winter festivals will be back!
10. Winter Fair in the Square – December 2020 CANCELLED
Located in the heart of Toronto at Nathan Phillips Square, Winter Fair in the Square features unique vendors for holiday gift shopping, an outdoor skating rink and skate rentals, rides and games, food trucks and a heated outdoor bar.
11. Rossland Winter Carnival – January 2021 CANCELLED
Rossland, British Columbia
Dating back to 1897, Rossland Winter Carnival is officially Canada’s oldest winter festival. This festival was started by a Norwegian miner named Olaus Jeldness who invited his friends to the top of nearby Red Mountain for a tea party.
Afterwards, he sent his guests down the hill with long wooden planks strapped to their feet which he called “skis”. The festival now celebrates Jeldness’ legacy and his love of skiing by hosting pancake breakfasts, live music, and of course, highly competitive ski races.
12. Mount Pearl Frosty Festival – February 2021 CANCELLED
Mount Pearl, Newfoundland
Mount Pearl’s Frosty Festival is now in its 37th year and features events perfect from musicals to fitness classes to a pub night.
And there you have it! The very best Must See Winter Festivals in Canada.
Which festival would you like to see? What would you like to see more of in our Flight Path Immigration blog? We’d love to hear from you!