Top 10 events to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday

Canada loves a festival. So it’s no surprise that Canada is using its 150th anniversary as an excuse to have one massive year-long celebration across its 10 territories. While the peak of the celebrations will be on 1st July, there are plenty of events happening every other month even in some of the smaller cities and towns. So no matter where you’re travelling or what time of year you’ll be visiting – there will be equal chance to join in the party. Here are our top 10 pick of events.

1. Visit the birthplace in Charlottetown

If you’re looking for a historical celebration, Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island is the birthplace of the Confederation. Some history textbooks suggest that the Founding Father even had a multi-island multi-day party when the Confederation was first signed.

Naturally there will be a big shin-dig on the 1st of July, however there’s plenty of events throughout 2017.  Some of the most spectacular are the RDC 2017 Tall Ships Festival, May Run Music Festival, The Festival of Wines and the Prince Edward Island Marathon. The local Confederation Centre Art Gallery will be housing the commemorative exhibition RE:collection, which will include the commissioned ‘Confederation Murals including Jack Shadbolt’s Flag Mural and Wanda Koop’s Native Fires.

2. Explore the national parks for free

If Canada is on your travel list due to its breath-taking natural scenery, 2017 is definitely the year to tick it off. To celebrate 150 years Parks Canada is offering free Discovery Passes that will allow access to national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites for no cost.

3. A yearlong first nation’s festival

British Columbia is taking visitors on a historical adventure that pre-dates 1867 with a string of events that explore the nation’s history before the Confederation. The year-long celebrations will be hosted by the local Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh tribes and will feature the cultural traditions, art and music of their indigenous communities.

The main event will be in the run-up to 1st July, with the nine-day The Drum is Calling Festival. During these days live music, entertainment, and life-size aboriginal housing structures will be taking over the 2.7-acre Larwill Park. Other events also include The Gathering of Canoes and a Walk for Reconciliation.

4. Admire the sparkling lights in Montreal

The Jacques Cartier Bridge is a notable landmark in Montreal and has become a bit of an icon. So for their 150th birthday bash, the city has decided to illuminate the bridge to highlight its unique history, architecture and how much it is loved by local residents.

Canada’s 150th birthday isn’t the only celebration happening this year. Montreal is celebrating its very own 375th Anniversary and has plenty of dual-celebratory events that will blend into one big soiree.

5. Party with the cowboys in Calgary

Calgary never turns down a chance to party and has a stomper of a year planned. On July the 1st celebrations will begin in Fort Calgary with a day of family fun including a free pancake breakfast, petting zoo, food trucks, and indigenous culture. Other lively events include the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon, Circle the Wagons Festival, Opera in the Village and Chinatown Street Festival.

6. Be the first to celebrate on the east coast

Newfoundland and Labrador always get to celebrate everything first – from sunrise, to New Year’s Eve, to Canada’s birthday. The capital of St. John’s will host a Canada Day Sunrise Event at 6am on the Signal Hill National Historic Site, where early-risers will get to celebrate the very first few minutes of Canada’s 150th birthday.

7. Feel the music in Toronto

The Ontario capital is turning to the power of music for their 150 year celebration, with the help of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In what is a Canada 150 Signature Project, Canada Mosaic is a celebration of the country’s musical landscape. The organisers have partnered with 38 orchestras (with at least one from every single province), and each have been commissioned to create a two-minute orchestral piece to be played in Toronto and their local community.

8. A year of celebrations in Halifax

The capital of Atlantic Canada has plenty of reason to celebrate in 2017. Aside from the 150th birthday bash on July the 1st, they will also be cutting the red ribbon on their new Discovery Centre and hosting a string of annual events. Included is the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, TD Halifax Jazz Festival, and the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.

9. Catch the roaming SESQUI

Step inside this travelling dome and immerse yourself in a 360-degree view of Canada. It’s an all-in experience that will take you on a virtual ride across the planes of this stunning country – from the icy Northern Territories to the cosmopolitan streets of Toronto. Neighbouring domes will feature live performers demonstrating what it means to be Canadian.

10. The biggest birthday bash of all

While the whole of Canada is putting on its dancing shoes, the biggest party of all will be in the capital of Ottawa. There will public acrobatics, educational events at the national archives, intricate and specially-designed horticultural structures as well as the concluding firework display on Parliament Hill.

Morag Lee

Morag is the resident blog writer at Barrhead Travel. Can usually be found exploring a cruise ship or on a city break.