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Canada Top Festivals And Events

Canada is festival HQ. Across the length and breadth of the country, if there is an opportunity for a festival or an event, you can count on a city, town or village to arrange one.

Festivals range from the internationally acclaimed Montreal Jazz Festival in Quebec to the lesser known Moose Jaw Kinsmen International Band & Choral Festival in Saskatchewan... and everything in between. The change of seasons, rural fairs, agricultural displays, rodeos, comedy festivals, playhouses, anniversaries of historical events.... whatever the occasion, Canadians will celebrate it.

In no particular order, here are what most people consider to be the Top 10 "Most Popular" festivals and events throughout Canada.

Winter Carnival, Quebec City (Quebec)

(February): This famous annual event is unique to Quebec City and is the biggest winter festival in the world. Activities are held all across the city and include parades, a snow slide, boat races, ice sculptures, music, dancing ..... and lots of drinking! Early pre-booking of accommodation is essential.

Celtic Colours, Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia)

(October): For nine days during the October autumn, the Celtic Colours International Festival features hundreds of musicians from all over the Celtic world and attracts tens of thousands of visitors. This unique celebration of music and culture holds dozens of concerts all over the island, an extensive line-up of workshops, a visual art series of exhibitions, and a nightly Festival Club.

Artists travel from all over the world to join the finest of Cape Breton's musicians, singers, dancers and storytellers for the annual Autumn celebration. The festival is held at a time when the fall leaves are at their most brilliant and travelling around the island offers one breathtaking view after another. As with all major festivals, it's essential to pre-book accommodation on the island.

Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg (Manitoba)

(February): This 10 day festival is Winnipeg's premier annual event that celebrates the history of the first fur traders and the French voyageurs who opened up the area. Centred around the historic Fort Gibraltar, the festival features concerts, traditional dance, dog sleds races, snow sculptures and a rotation of special fun events that range from beard growing to taste testing pea soup recipies!

Calgary Stampede (Alberta)

(July) Anyone with the slightest knowledge of what rodeo is will have heard of the famous Calgary Stampede. This is an annual celebration of the Canadian cowboy culture, with a daily rodeo of bucking broncos, bull riding, steer wrestling, wagon racing... all with big money prizes for the winners. Winning at Calgary is the pinnacle for these events.

The stampede is a lot more than than just the main area events. There's evening stage shows, music and dancing, rides and games, sideshows and all types of family entertainment that will empty a parents pockets in no time at all. It might sound obvious but pre-booking of accommodation is essential for this period.

Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival (British Columbia)

(March): This is a 7 day showcase of the wines of the world... a wine education class under the sails of the imposing Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. The inaugural festival in 1979 started as a playhouse fundraiser and featured one vintner and today the festival attracts some of the biggest industry names from around the world.

It is firmly established as the continent's premier wine event and among the biggest, best and oldest wine events in the world. The festival has outgrown several different venues over the years and moved to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre in 1988, where it has been ever since. The wine tasting, food pairing and seminars are all ticket only and  advance bookings are essential.

Dawson City Music Festival (Yukon)

(July): Describing itself as a "multi-disciplinary, multi-venue music festival" this three day event sees concerts and workshops taking place in venues all over town, including the historic Palace Grand Theatre. For over 30 years this festival of Canadian music has been steadily building is reputation as a "must see" event on the festival calendar.

Some festival patrons like to stay a few extra days in Dawson City to take the opportunity to fish the Blackstone River, hike in the Tombstones Mountains or to take an evening paddle down the Klondike River under the midnight sun.

Caribana (Toronto)

(July/August): Every summer for over 40 years, Toronto celebrates the annual Caribbean Festival and echoes to the sound of calypso, a reminder of the ethnic diversity of this city. The largest Caribbean festival in North America, this three-week festival attracts over a million participants, including hundreds of thousands of USA tourists.

The festival highlight is the Caribana Parade, one of the largest in North America. Thousands of brilliantly costumed masqueraders throng the streets and dozens of trucks carry live artists playing their ethnic music as they jam the 1.5 km parade route all day. Based on the Trinidad Carnival, Caribana now also includes the music, dance, food and costumes of Jamaica, Guyana, the Bahamas, Brazil and other cultures represented in Toronto.

Festival Acadien, Caraquet (New Brunswick)

(August): This is Canada's largest annual Acadian cultural festival, an event that lasts for two weeks. Set in north eastern New Brunswick the event attracts 100,00 visitors and features over 200 singers, musicians, actors and dancers from Acadia and other French regions.

A highlight of the festival is the blessing of the fleet when a flotilla of fishing boats pass through the harbour decorated with flags and ribbons streaming from their masts and rigging. The festival culminates with the popular Tintamarre Parade.

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