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
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.
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.
2-Winterlude in Ottawa
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.
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!
How to get there: Fly to Ottawa or drive to Montréal or Toronto or catch the VIA Rail train.
3-Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous
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
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.
How to get there: Montreal is connected to major cities in Canada by air or VIA Rail.
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.
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
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.