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Winter Festivals in Canada

Canada’s top winter festival is Carnaval de Québec, but there are many more amazing events to enjoy. Winter season in Canada is synonymous with festivities. Despite the cold weather and snow, the country offers ultimate fun. It is undeniably one of the most stunning seasons to explore Canada — and its incredible winter carnivals.

People watch a carnival show in the evening 

The days may get shorter and colder in the winter, but Canada gets livelier. The best part: the magnificence of the Canadian winters never fails to entice visitors. And the cherry on the sparkling frozen cake is all the thrillingWinter Festivals In Canada.  

Immerse yourself in the fun of the festivals. Canadians are experts in this snowy season, after all.  

14 Canadian Festivals You Should Attend this Winter 

Is it your first winter trip to Canada? Are you confused about which Canada winter festivals to experience—Winterlude, Ottawa, or Carnaval de Quebec? Relax! Here is a rundown of some of the most exciting winter festivals to add to your bucket list.

1. Carnaval de Quebec, Quebec City 

Carnaval de Quebec is the world's oldest and biggest Canada winter festival, which officially commenced in 1894. Initially started as a pre-Lenten carnival, the cultural extravaganza will celebrate its 69th birthday in February 2023. The 10-day festival is all about embracing the unforgiving winters and celebrating good times with food, drinks, events, and adventures. 

Every year, more than 400,000 Quebec City inhabitants and more than a million from all over the world come to the Carnaval de Québec and participate in tons of activities organized at the carnival. So, are you ready for the best Canadian winter festivals?

Details for Carnaval de Quebec, 2023: 

  • Date: Feb 3 to Feb 12, 2023
  • Location: Quebec City
  • Main attractions: Ungava ice bar, Bonhomme's Palace, musical evenings, the inner tube slide, and so much more. 

#1 Travel tip: plan for shorter days

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The further north you go, the less daylight there is in winter. Don't be surprised if it's fully dark by 4:30 in the afternoon. This also means you could be getting up in the dark as well, as sunrise can be quite late.

Blog Author - Athena McKenzie
Athena McKenzie
Managing Editor

2. Winterlude, Ottawa 

Winterlude! Isn't the name enough to allude to the winter fun one can have at carnivals in Canada? Being the biggest and most popular winter carnival in Canada, Winterlude invites half a million visitors from across the USA and Canada. This three-week celebration began in 1979 and will surely fill your bleak and dull winters with excitement and fun. Food, events, music, mind-blowing performances, ice sculptures, and whatnot await you in the Great White North.

Details For the Winterlude, 2023: 

  • Date: Feb 3 to Feb 20, 2023 
  • Location: Ottawa
  • Main attractions: Ice skating, live musical event, snow activities, and games 
A person looks at ice sculptures in Byward Market at Winterlude festival 

3. Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls

Do you want to participate in a larger-than-life experience this winter? The Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights is worth all the hype and hoopla. Started 40 years ago in the year 1982, this illuminating winter festival of lights extravaganza is the largest free outdoor light carnival in Canada. It attracts more than one million people every year. With the entire Niagara adorned with beautiful lights, this magical experience enchants you in every way. Brace yourself for the fireworks, concerts, and ultimate festivities.  

Details For the Winter Festival of Lights, 2023:

  • Date: Nov 13, 2022 to Feb 21, 2023 
  • Location: Niagara Falls 
  • Main attractions: Floral House, Hot Chocolate Trail, Dufferin Islands, Christmas market, light displays 
A couple look at rainbow light display at night during the Niagara Falls Festival of Lights
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4. Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg

The Festival du Voyageur brings together the cultural heritage of the French Canadian and the Métis in the most entertaining way. The life-size snow sculptures, food, music, and breathtaking winter backdrop make this event the most awaited one in Western central Canada. This 10-day of Canada winter festival celebrates the fur-trading past of Canada along with French culture via arts and crafts, entertainment, music, events, and food. More than 80,000 people participate in this event annually. 

Details For Festival du Voyageur, 2023

  • Date: Feb 17 to Feb 26, 2023 
  • Location: Winnipeg 
  • Main attractions: A torchlight walk, concerts, see the characters from Fort Gibraltar, French-Canadian cuisine
Crowd of people stand around an outdoor show at the winter Festival du Voyageur

5. Jasper in January, Jasper

Get out of your cozy cocoons and embrace all the wild winter activities in Jasper in January. Jasper National Park is one of the best places to be in January if you are a wildlife enthusiast. Witness the wilderness and natural beauty of this place up close. You can also witness Jasper's makeover into a street party with loads of music, food, and fun. It is a two-week-long Canadian winter festival for all ages. So, whether you want to be there alone or with friends or family, it will be the ultimate winter bonanza for you. This year, Jasper in January celebrates its 5th anniversary. 

Details For Jasper in January 2023

  • Date: Jan 13 to Jan 29, 2023 
  • Location: Jasper, Alberta 
  • Main attractions:  Maligne Canyon Ice Walk, Jam Nights, Brewpub Bingo, pond hockey, wildlife, ice climbing 
People at a street party during the winter festival Jasper in January

6. Snowking Castle Festival, Yellowknife

What could be as magnificent as enjoying a grand festival inside a snow castle? Yes, this incredible event takes place in the Snowking Castle overseeing the beautiful Great Slave Lake on the periphery of Yellowknife City. Started in 1996, the Snowking Castle Festival will mark its 27th year in 2023. During the daytime, the castle hosts various arts and cultural events for kids and then transforms into a venue for amazing night activities, including live music, concerts, and films. It can also be an educational experience and a great opportunity for young tourists to learn about the current climate crisis.  

Details For Snowking Castle Festival 2023

  • Date: Mar 1 to Mar 26, 2023 
  • Location: Yellowknife, NT, Canada 
  • Main attractions: International Snow Carving Symposium, ice slides, snow aurora, live music 
People listen to a concert in the Snowking ice castle in Yellowknife

#2 Travel tip: Don't buy unnessary gear

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Depending on your destination and activities, many outfitters provide heavy winter clothing and boots.

Louise Weiss
Director of Legendary Hospitality

7. Yukon Rendezvous, Yukon

Started in 1964, the Yukon Rendezvous, once known as the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, will observe its 59th year in 2023. With over 30,000 visitors each year, this Gold Rush-inspired carnival organizes one-of-a-kind, inclusive and participatory events. Whether you are a night owl or enjoy daytime activities, the Yukon Rendezvous welcomes all. 

Details For Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous 2023

  • Date: Feb 10 to Feb 26, 2023 
  • Location: Whitehorse, Yukon 
  • Main attractions: Axe throwing, pancake breakfast, flour packing, dog sledding, Can-Can dancers, SnowShoe Shufflers 
Two people make maple syrup toffee on ice at Yukon Rendezvous Festival in Whitehorse

8. Montréal: Festival Montréal en Lumière

With the pursuit of spreading happiness since 2000 and getting people out of their homes in the chilly Canadian winters, Festival Montréal en Lumière remakes the streets of Montréal into a life-size fiesta. From food stalls and music concerts to Nuit Blanche, its night-time art exhibit, this winter festival offers hosts of ways to have fun. Plus, it witnesses over one million visits every year. So, are you ready to groove? 

Details For Festival Montréal en Lumière 2023:

  • Date: Feb 16 to Mar 5, 2023 
  • Location: Montreal, Canada 
  • Main attractions: Free outdoor activities, shows, braziers, light shows, dance, music, food, and nuit blanche 
Colourful light wheel and winter entertainment area at night during the Montreal en Lumiere festival

9. World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Whistler

Locals call it WSSF. It is the highly anticipated ski and snowboard festival, which strikes a perfect balance between the energizing vibes of the late winter/early spring and the impressive mountain culture of Whistler. With non-stop actions revolving around the slopes, the WSSF is one of the best Canadian winter festivals and is hard to miss. This Canadian winter festival came alive in 1996 as an annual party around arts, music, and snow sports.

Details For Ski and Snowboard Festival 2023:

  • Date: Apr 10 to Apr 16, 2023 
  • Location: Whistler, British Columbia 
  • Main attractions: Filmmaking, photography, snowboard and ski games and competitions, nightlight, arts, and music 
Crowd in Whistler village watching snowboarders compete in the World Ski and Snowboard Festival

10. Silver Skate Festival, Alberta

The longest-running winter festival in Edmonton, the Silver Skate Festival, has offered 30 years of fun, frolicking, and enjoyment. Whether you long to relive your first snowfall again or rediscover the joy of childhood while enjoying good music and good food, the Silver Skate Festival is for you. Rooted in winter culture and Dutch traditions, this 10-day carnival is a blend of drool-worthy food, recreation, sports, and arts you will love for sure.

Details For Silver Skate Festival 2023:

  • Date: Feb 10 to Feb 20, 2023 
  • Location: William Hawrelak Park, Edmonton, Alberta 
  • Main attractions: Imperial Oil Folk Trail, Wayward Snow Sculpture Garden, Mammoet Sporting Challenges 
Three people speed skating outdoors at the Silver Skate Festival in Edmonton 

11. Griz Days, Fernie

The Griz Days Winter Carnival is one of the biggest events in Fernie, British Columbia. Since 1978, this festival has been celebrating the bond between the community, winter, and the Griz, a mythical mountain man. With the theme of Griz Days Gone Plaid, it is the 43rd Anniversary of Fernie's Griz Days in 2023. Come and get mesmerized.

Details For Griz Days Winter Carnival 2023:

  • Date: Mar 3 to Mar 5, 2023 
  • Location: Fernie, British Columbia 
  • Main attractions: Rocky Mountain Lumberjack show, Ski competitions, Extreme Griz Competition, parades

12. Frost Festival in Regina

Organized across four frost hubs—Wascana, Downtown, Real, and Warehouse—the Frost Festival in Regina will be two years old in 2023. With over 17,000 attendees to the festival, it hosts many outdoor and indoor activities you will fall for. Whether it's culture, tourism, or sheer fun, the 10-day Frost Festival in Regina is a place to see the frozen winters come alive.

Details For Frost Festival 2023:

  • Date: Feb 3 to Feb 12, 2023 
  • Location: Regina, Saskatchewan 
  • Main attractions: Ice slides, snow mazes, marketplaces, skating, dog sledding, horse sleigh ride 

13. Chinook Blast in Calgary

The Chinook Blast in Calgary welcomes you to dive into a sea of iconic activities, sports events, live music, cultural extravaganza, and night markets. In the spring of 2020, ten founding partners started the Chinook Blast to foster community pride and spirit, energize the downtown, and boost tourism. People wait for the carnival to come alive every year. So, save the dates now! 

Details For Chinook Blast in Calgary 2023:

  • Date: Jan 27 to Feb 12, 2023 
  • Location: Calgary 
  • Main attractions: High-Performance Rodeo, BIG Winter Classic, Block Heater, Nitro Rallycross 
A street performer with large light up wings at the Chinook Blast winter festival 

14. Mummers Festival in St. John’s 

The Mummers Festival is a not-for-profit, community- based and folklife festival. It commemorates one of the oldest traditions of Newfoundland with a series of workshops and events gearing up for the Mummers Parade, the famous crowning event. The festival is more like a dress-up party that allows free entry. So, find your avatar and be there to rock the 14th annual Mummers Festival.

Details For Mummers Festival

  • Date: November 25-December 9, 2023! 
  • Location: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada 
  • Main attractions: Ugly Stick Workshop, Family Printmaking, Hobby Horse Workshop, Ribbon Fool Workshop 
People holding a Mummers Festival sign in a parade past colourful houses in St. Johns

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular winter activity in Canada?

Ice skating is one of the most popular winter activities Canadians enjoy. Due to its popularity, learning to skate is often called a right of passage in the country.

What is the most widely attended festival in Canada?

The biggest celebration that the people of Canada attend is Canada Day on July 1. This day marks the genesis of Canada as a country.

What are 2 popular winter sports in Canada?

Ice hockey and ice skating are two of the most popular winter sports in Canada.

Where is the most Christmassy place in Canada?

With an exquisite old-world charm, cobblestone streets, and glimpses of Canadian and French culture, Quebec City is the most Christmassy place in Canada.

About the author: Katherine is Product Manager with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for almost 20 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in Calgary and one of her favourite Canadian destination is the... Read more