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Top 17 Summer Festivals in Canada

From Toronto's Poutine Fest to the Montreal International Jazz Festival, summer festivals in Canada are a great way to explore the country. Canada is well known for its scenic landscapes — its snow-capped mountains, pristine grasslands, lush forests, arctic tundra, and clear lakes all make Canada a popular tourist destination. But there are also many summer festivals.

People walking by carnival games at the Calgary Stampede park with fireworks above

Canada is the land of festivals. There are popular festivals all year round. Canada summer festivals have global audiences, both the prestigious film festivals and the smaller musical events. Most of these festivals take place during the summer when the weather is warm and sunny.

As Canada is the world's second-largest country, it is a mammoth task to tour the whole country. Our team of travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations is here to help. We've listed some of our favourite events across the country. Read on to learn about the top Canadian Summer Festivals.

1. Great Okanagan Beer Festival

The Beer Festival is a three-day Canada summer festival. It is celebrated annually every May in Kelowna, British Columbia. The festival, which happens on the shores of Lake Okanagan, brings together 60 craft breweries pouring 120+ types of beer and cider.

Food trucks, music bands, and patrons make this festival memorable. Enjoy the great food and fun games with fantastic brews. Sipping your beer against a lush mountainous backdrop, you are bound to enjoy this three-day Canada summer festival. Do note that the tickets sell out fast. Pre-book your tickets to celebrate the views and the brews.

Groups of people exploring the different beer booths at the Great Okanagan Beer Festival

2. Toronto Poutine Fest

The four-day festival takes place at Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto. It features the best poutines from Eastern Canada. More than 50 poutine outlets and top food trucks participate in this event. Dig into the gooey goodness of poutine, the traditional Canadian dish, in unique variations.

Whether it is the original French fries-drenched-in-cheese-curds-and-gravy or the more improvised gourmet versions with numerous toppings, your tastebuds will crave more. Entry is free for Poutine lovers, making it all the more enjoyable and delicious.

Close up shot of classic poutine in a takeaway box

3. Spock Days

Visit the "Star Trek Capital of the World," Vulcan, Alberta, during the second weekend of June every year to experience Spock Days. If you are a Star Trek fan, you'll love this fun weekend.
Start your Saturday with the "Market Street Pancake Breakfast." Watch the "Town of Vulcan Parade." Here, spectacular floats and people with Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy or Lieutenant Kyle costumes will make your day.

Kids and family members can have fun at the Family Funfair, playing games and enjoying numerous shows. Try food and beer from the local vendors and participate in family games as a team.
The ticket prices for the Family Funfair are $10/person or $20/family. And for the Slo-pitch tournament, it is $450/team of 10 players for a minimum of 4 games. And there are fireworks to top it all off.

People dressed up in Star Trek costumes as part of the Vulcan parade

4. Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival

Vancouver is one of the world's most diversely populated cities. Its iconic Dragon Boat Festival is a community outreach program aiming to celebrate Chinese culture and promote intercultural harmony.

The internationally renowned Dragon Boat Festival starts in False Creek in June every year. The three-day festival features dragon boat races, cultural events, fine arts exhibitions, themed food, and music. Skippers from all age groups participate in the race, and the visitors belong to diverse cultures.

Take public transportation or cycle to the event to avoid crowds. There are numerous viewpoints to get the perfect view of races. The Olympic Village Waterfront and Concord Pacific Place offer the best views. Admission is free; however, you need to pre-register if you want to participate with a team.

Dragon boat racing team paddle in front of Science World in False Creek

5. Montreal International Jazz Festival

Montreal, Quebec, is the go-to place in summer for music lovers. The Festival International de Jazz de Montreal presents more than 650 concerts, featuring 3,000 artists from around the globe.

Among the 650 concerts, over 450 are free outdoor performances. The others are presented in indoor jazz clubs and amphitheaters.

The 10-day-long festival gets over 200,000 global visitors from more than 30 countries. The festival usually takes place at the end of June and lasts ten days ( this year the festival will be June 29 to July 8, 2023).

For most outdoor concerts, admission is free. For indoor concerts, you will have to book your tickets in advance. Click here to learn about the various performers and book your tickets.

Crowd enjoying an outdoor music concert at the Montreal Jazz Festival in the evening

6. Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo

The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo is a week-long event held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The event features military demonstrations, highland dancers, and bagpipes. Themed tattoo performances are included every year in the event. The "Bond of Friendship" is a recurring theme.
Over 2,000,000 spectators enjoy the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo every year. It occurs in arenas across Halifax, featuring thousands of performers from numerous countries.

You can pre-book your tickets. The price ranges from $26 to $69 based on the category. For an insider's glimpse into the proceedings, book a backstage tour as an add-on at $20.40 per person.

A performance at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo featuring military and highland performers

7. Quebec City Summer Festival (FEQ)

Festival d'été de Québec (FEQ) is a world-class music festival bringing together music lovers from around the globe. The 11-day-long festival puts on over 300 outdoor performances across Quebec. Performing bands from diverse genres like Rock, punk, hip-hop, classical, and many more entertain the audiences.

This started as a small festival, but after much media attention, it has emerged as an epic event featuring international stars and audiences. It sees around 1.5 million people attending, from around the globe.

People above the age of 11 need entry tickets, valid for all 11 days. Entry is free for kids below 11 years of age. One adult with a pass is allowed to bring two kids. Passes come in five categories and start from $130.

Insider tip: get to shows early to avoid the rush.

yellow lights shine and confetti falls on musicians performing on an outdoor stage in front of an audience

8. Complement Cirque Circus Festival

The Complement Cirque Circus Festival in Montreal is for anyone who loves the circus. It is one of the best summer festivals in Canada for families. The 11-day-long festival features talented circus performers showing off their audacious skills at different locations in the city.

The festival takes place in July every year and brings together people passionate about circus arts. There are some free shows in outdoor venues. You can book tickets to the paid shows online. The most economical option is to buy multi-show passes.

A slack line performer above a group of circus artists on an outdoor stage in front of a crowd

9. RBC Bluesfest (Ottawa Blues Festival)

According to Billboard magazine, RBC Bluesfest is among the World's Top-10 Outdoor Music Festivals. The epic fest takes place over two weeks in July. Be one of the 300,000 music fans, witnessing over 200 musical acts.

Get to LeBreton Flats, in downtown Ottawa to dance to the tunes of numerous Canadian and other global stars (July 6 to 16, 2023). Listen to Skrillex, Blue Rodeo, Lady Gaga, Kanya West, The Tragically Hip, and more artists on multiple stages. Also, enjoy local food and drinks from the vendors.

Apart from good music and food, experience Bluesville, the Youth Ottawa Interactive Art Display. It is open on all days for pass holders. Book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. Ticket prices start from $95 but are subject to change.

Aerial view of a large crowd watching an outdoor music show at Ottawa Blues Festival

10. The Calgary Stampede

One of Canada's most famous festivals, the Calgary Stampede is a rodeo cowboy show that takes place in July every year. The Stampede is a major part of the Calgary's cultural identity.
Its millions of visitors enjoy ten days of rodeos, parades, agricultural competitions, races, parties, and concerts at the Calgary Stampede Grounds. There's bull riding, barrel racing, and chuckwagon races.

Visitors also experience the music of country legends and rock stars on the Stampede stage. Tickets packages are available, starting at $66.

For first-time visitors, Calgary Stampede’s organisers have the following advice:

  1. Buy your tickets in advance
  2. Don’t forget your western wear
Audience watches chuckwagon racers at the Calgary Stampede

11. Just For Laughs Montreal

One of the largest international comedy shows, Just For Laughs, takes place in Montreal, Quebec, in July every year. It features French comedy shows in its first half and English in its second half. Non-verbal shows like acrobats and pantomimes are also included in the festival.

Performers perform vocal and visual comedy shows in nightclubs and theaters. Talent scouts and agents trying to gauge talents for the entertainment industry also drop by. This is the place to be for artists wishing to take the industry by surprise.

For assured entry, pre-book your passes for indoor shows. Buy combo passes for more shows to get discounted prices, starting from $109 for two shows.

People watching a comedy show in a theatre with modern lighting

12. Winnipeg Folk Festival

Do you seek to spend quality time with friends and family while listening to good folk music? Then, Winnipeg Folk Festival at the Birds Hill Provincial Park, Winnipeg, is for you. Featuring local and global music artists, the festival attracts more than 70,000 international music lovers.

Held during the second week of July and spanning four days, the festival hosts more than 70 artists ranging from Nordic folk to bluegrass. Enjoy artists from Australia, Iceland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and many more countries.

To avoid congestion, the organizers avoid selling tickets at the venue. You have to book your tickets beforehand at their office or online. Tickets are available for each day or as a combo. Book more and spend less to enjoy a rocking weekend!

People sit on fold up chairs and enjoy picnics in front of an outdoor music stage

13. Dawson City Music Festival

Dawson City in the Yukon hosts “Canada’s tiny, perfect Festival” — the Dawson City Music Festival —from July 21-23, 2023. It's one of Canada's niche festivals and presents world-class grassroots music performances. The organizers also host year-round events. Hear world-class grassroots music every Friday at two venues: St. Gazebo at noon and KIAC Ballroom at 8 pm. The outdoor concert at St. Gazebo is free of cost, and the one at the KIAC ballroom costs $12.60.

14. Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival

Held annually in Edmonton, Alberta, the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is North America's largest fringe event. It presents more than 200 shows featuring over 1,600 performers at theatres across Edmonton. Enjoy all art forms by visiting the 10-day Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. The festival boasts an impressive 850,000 tickets sold.

The festival offers numerous free and ticketed shows. You can book your tickets online.

Spectators watching a performer outdoors at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

15. Canadian National Exhibition

Enjoy the Canadian way of life by visiting the Canadian National Exhibition — known locally as "The Ex." This annual event takes place over two weeks at the end of August in Toronto. With over 1.4 million visitors annually, it is one of Canada's largest annual fairs.

Agriculturists, engineers, and scientists represent their country by exhibiting their discoveries. The exhibition grounds also house shopping areas, live entertainment, sporting events, a casino, and a carnival with rides. A local tradition is trying the unusual food creations at the food stalls.

Entry tickets for the Ex start from $20 and are free for children below four years of age. You can get your handstamp and use that to go out and come back in throughout the day. Parking costs from $20 to $30.

The amusement rides and game stalls of the Canadian National Exhibition at night

16. Toronto International Film Festival

What started as the modest Toronto Film Festival is now the world-famous Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The eleven-day-long festival is held in September every year in Toronto, premiering over 400 global films from 83 countries.

With over 480,000 visitors, TIFF has become one of the world's largest public film festivals. During the festival, the People's Choice Award goes to a feature and a documentary film based on people's ratings. With the presence of global stars and media, it has become one of the notable summer festivals in Canada.

A volunteer takes a photo of two people in front of a Toronto International Film Festival sign

17. Halifax International Busker Festival

The annual event is held on the waterfronts of Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the end of July. It is a six-day-long festival that brings together buskers (or street performers) from around the world. The performers present various art forms, making it a culturally rich experience.

Over 500,000 people from all over the world attend and enjoy the various shows. Explore diverse music, acrobatics, stand-up comedy, jugglers, and much more.

Entry is free for visitors. But you can (and should) tip the performers through an online link on their website. If you live outside Nova Scotia, plan your accommodations early to avoid the rush.

A large crowd on the waterfront boardwalk watching a flame throwing show

Final Thoughts

Canada has a lot to offer when it comes to festivals and celebrations. Summer is the best time for celebrations. Visit these summer celebrations in Canada to make the most of your vacation. Many of these festivals give insights into Canadians and their traditions. Whether music, food, drinks, or carnivals, summer festivals in Canada have something special for everyone. Plan your summer trip to Canada with the travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations. We will help you plan a perfect itinerary and get the most out of your trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 3 holiday traditions in Canada?

Canadians celebrate numerous festivals, thanks to their cultural diversity. While these festivities are diverse, some traditions remain the same. Three holiday traditions in Canada are giving gifts, celebratory meals, and giving back to the community through donations and volunteering.

Which is the most popular festival in Canada?

The Montreal Jazz Festival, Just For Laughs, and The Calgary Stampede are some of the most popular festivals in Canada. Edmonton Folk Festival and Toronto International Film Festival are very well known.

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