5 Winter Festivals in Canada | Ski Canada

Fun in the snow between November and March

5 Winter Festivals in Canada | Ski Canada

- This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

Festivals in canada

Ice carvings, dog sled races and horse-drawn carriages are some of the delights of winter in Canada. If you’re looking for a magical experience then winter is truly an enchanting time to visit. Better still, time your visit with one of these fabulous winter festivals in Canada and have a winter you’ll always remember.

1-Quebec Winter Carnival

Festivals in Canada
Celebrating a Frozen Mardi Gras in the Streets of Old Québec City – Quebec Winter Carnival

Of all the winter festivals in Canada, the Quebec Winter Carnival has something for the whole family. This festival is possibly the world’s largest winter celebration offering just about any winter activity you can think of in a fun carnival environment.

festivals canada
Quebec Winter Carnival fun

There are dog sled races, ice fishing, tubing, ice skating, horse-drawn cariole rides and a huge programme of activities.

360 tons of ice is carved over 17 days. Festival highlights include Bonhomme’s Ice Palace, canoe race, night parade and snow bath, where spectators sign up to roll around in the snow in their swimsuits.  

Where: Quebec City
How to get there: Fly to Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport or drive three hours from Montréal. The VIA Rail train runs regularly from Toronto and Montréal.

2-Winterlude in Ottawa

festivals canada
Winterlude: A Capital Celebration of Winter – Canadian Department of Heritage
Photo: Canadian Heritage

Winterlude is a festival where you’ll be charmed by the ice carvings in the Rogers Crystal Garden and have fun in the Snowflake Kingdom, a winter playground with a snow maze, 30 snow slides, ice fishing and snow obstacle.

festivals canada

Go ice skating on the Rideau Canal Skateway or watch an ice hockey game. A wacky event to catch is the 37th Annual Accora Village Bed Race, where teams race huge decorated beds across the ice. The mind boggles!

Where: Ottawa
How to get there: Fly to Ottawa or drive to Montréal or Toronto or catch the VIA Rail train.

3-Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous

festivals canada
Photo: Government of Yukon

Eat moose chilli, bannock bread, sourdough pancakes and maple syrup. The Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous in Whitehorse is a fun Yukon experience packed fun winter activities.

This winter festival is a riot of snowshoe races through the forest and wacky competitions, including crazy beard-growing and hairy leg contests, husky howling and wife-carrying competitions.

Whitehorse comes to life with cancan dancers and gold-rush fun as the locals come out to play. Aviation fans will love the vintage planes at the Yukon Sourdough Air Display.

Most of all, it’s the time of year where you’ll get to experience spring snow in the Yukon without the bone-chilling winter temperatures. And there’s a chance you might even see the Northern Lights.

Where: Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory.
How to get there: There are regular flights from southern Canada, the Northwest Territories and Alaska to Whitehorse Airport (YXY).

4-Montreal en Lumiere

Festivals in Canada
Montreal de Lumiere

Delight in French Canadian culture and cuisine at the Montreal en Lumiere. This major winter festival turns Montreal into a twinkling fairyland, with outdoor activities and dazzling light shows. There are concerts, exhibitions, dances, magic shows and circus events.

It’s especially delightful to wander around Montreal’s old town during the festival. Free outdoor free events, such as Nuit Blanche, are held around Place des Festivals in Montreal’s downtown. There are plenty of opportunities to taste fine French cooking and party through the night.

Where: Montreal
How to get there: Montreal is connected to major cities in Canada by air or VIA Rail.

5-Winterstart Festival

Festivals in Canada
Banff magic

Experience more than a dash of mountain magic in the Rocky Mountains in winter. The Winterstart Festival is a month of fun, food and fabulous events. This is when restaurants in Banff and Lake Louise offer special menus and artisans display local crafts and gifts at the Banff Christmas Market.

festivals in canada
Banff’s restaurants serve up hearty meals

It’s a special time of year to eat, drink, listen to good music and enjoy the stunning scenery of Banff National Park. Last year, the Banff Craft Beer Festival was a great success. And if you’ve always dreamt of a white Christmas, Banff is the place to be. Here’s what locals and visitors get up to at Banff at Christmas time.  

Where: Banff, Alberta
How to get there: Banff is 130km from Calgary

Discover Canada

Skiing in the Canadian Rockies is a wonderful experience. Here’s what Instagrammer Lauren Bath thought of her winter trip.

There are festivals in Canada for all seasons. Vancouver is a beautiful and festive city. Here are some quirky festivals in Vancouver you will love.  

For more ideas on what to do in Canada in winter see Best of Canada.

5 winter festivals in canada

Previous articleSanctuary Olonana
Next articleMontreal Winter Things to do
Christina Pfeiffer
I'm a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia, when I'm not on the road. I've lived in three continents and my career as a travel journalist has take be to all seven continents. Since 2003, I have contributed travel stories to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. I have won many travel writing awards and I'm a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.


  1. These all sound wonderful. I’m intrigued by the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous but I’m not sure I’d actually want to go there. I really like the sound of the Ottawa Winterlude especially the ice carvings, snow maze and the Village Bed Race! Montreal en Lumiere also sounds fabulous; Montreal is supposed to be such a beautiful city so I can imagine it is especially magical during the winter.

  2. Hey guys – just noticed that the photo of the Yukon Quest might be out of place in this article (placed under Quebec’s Winter carnival section) 🙂


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.