For Aussie travellers, Canada is a magical place during the holiday season, with snow-drenched forests, festive lights and a thrilling sense of possibilities in the air. The winter festival season is now underway, jam-packed with Canadian spirit and traditions.
Read on for where to celebrate the winter season from coast to coast.
Winter Festival of Lights, 12 November 2022 – 20 February 2023
The 40th annual Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls is Canada’s biggest free outdoor light festival. Here, visitors can marvel at millions of dazzling lights while enjoying family-friendly entertainment and live performances. Illuminations include more than 50 larger-than-life displays featuring Canadian wildlife, the two-storey Zimmerman Fountain, a gingerbread house, a light tunnel and more.
Mummer Festival, 26 November – 10 December 2022
Mummers Festival returns to St. John’s, celebrating a longtime Christmas tradition of groups travelling from house to house, disguising their faces until the hosts guess their identity – after which the mummers discard their disguises and join the party. The event features hobby horse building, a parade and the province’s largest dress-up party, among other festivities.
SnowDays, 18 – 29 January 2023
At the start of each year, Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta ring in the season with SnowDays (January 18-29, 2023).The outdoor festival is marked by dazzling snow and ice sculpture displays, a lively play zone and skijoring (see Seasonal for details), and specialty cocktails and dining menus that are presented for the TRIBUTE Craft Spirits Celebration. Bundle up and embrace the snow!
Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, 22 – 29 January 2023
Whistler Pride and Ski Festival in British Columbia started out as a small weekend gathering of gay ski-enthusiasts in 1992. It has become one of the largest queer-focused ski events in the world., with a rainbow ski-in/ski-out parade, charity ski race, and plenty of après and eats.
Winterlude, 3 – 20 February 2023
Ottawa is home to Winterlude, a seasonal festival inspired by northern culture and climate. Activities range from tube sliding and ice carving to skating on the frozen Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as Snowflake Kingdom, a giant snow playground for kiddos.
Vernon Winter Carnival, 3 – 12 February 2023
Vernon Winter Carnival in Vernon, British Columbia, is the largest winter carnival in western Canada. With events for all ages, the carnival pays homage to Vernon’s winter playground with a snow sculpture competition at Silver Star Mountain Resort, live music, beer and wine tastings, and delicious treats. There’s also a colourful hot air balloon fiesta.
Quebec Winter Carnival, 4 – 13 February 2023
Get a furry bear hug from Bonhomme, the jolly mascot of the Quebec Winter Carnival, the world’s biggest winter festival. Watch artists compete in creating giant, fantastical snow sculptures, and stare in wonder as a dogsled race winds through the narrow, snowy streets of the Old City. Feel the excitement as canoes race across the ice-choked St. Lawrence River, smell the sugary aroma of warm maple syrup, and skate in the shadow of the ramparts of the only walled city north of Mexico. Stroll streets lit by Victorian lamps before dining in a cosy gourmet restaurant on local Quebec cuisine.
Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous, 10 – 26 February 2023
The Yukon’s capital city of Whitehorse comes alive during its annual winter carnival, Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous. Visitors to Whitehorse will be treated to some wacky entertainment that reflects the good-humoured nature of the locals, with lip syncing, hair freezing, cross-dressing, and even beard growing competitions. In addition to fantastic musical entertainment, concerts and snow carving, kids have the time of their lives at Kidsfest, complete with Slide and Glide on the toboggan hill, face painting, and traditional fare such as the egg toss and potato sack races. The best part? It’s all free of charge – because that’s the spirit of the Yukon.
Montréal en Lumière, 16 – 26 February 2023
Hosted annually in Montréal, Montréal en Lumière is one of the largest winter festivals in the world, an annual celebration drawing more than a million people together at the Quartier des spectacles, the festive heart of downtown Montreal. Music, circus arts, song, theatre, dance; every facet of culture glitters during the 11-day festival, filled with free events and celebrations. The gastronomy program has become an absolute must for foodies, with Montreal’s finest chefs paired with culinary masters from around the world.
Festival Du Voyageur, 17 – 26 February 2023
Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg celebrates the spirit of the fur trade, hosted on the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe, Ininew and Dakota peoples and those of the Métis Nation. The event takes place at Fort Gibraltar, and features demonstrations in hide tanning, soapstone carving, beadwork and other First Nations traditions.
For the latest information on travel to Canada please visit the Government of Canada website.
Air Canada offers daily direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney. Since 3 July 2022, Air Canada’s Brisbane – Vancouver direct flights resumed four times per week. Direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver are also available on Qantas. Internal flights are available throughout Canada from all major cities, in addition to VIA Rail train service.
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