10 summer festivals worth checking out across Canada

There’s a lot to celebrate across the country this summer. Check out these unique, family-friendly festivals from coast to coast.

British Columbia

Sandcastle at Parksville beach festival
Photo: Courtesy of Parksville Beach Festival

Parksville Beach Festival, July 12—Aug. 18
This picturesque Vancouver Island beach transforms into a gallery of intricate sand sculptures during The Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition July 11-14 (the sculptures are displayed until Aug. 18). The public is welcome to ogle the incredible creations starting July 12 as well as enjoy events including weekend concerts, a kite festival July 20-21, and a kids’ sandcastle contest on Aug. 18. parksvillebeachfest.ca

powwow dancer at Kamloopa festival
Photo: Courtesy of Mary Putnam

Kamloopa Powwow, Aug. 2–4
Held at the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Powwow Grounds each summer, this celebration of First Nations’ culture and heritage features the Grand Entry, in which nearly a thousand dancers in ceremonial dress put on a vibrant performance. There’s drumming, storytelling, Indigenous food, and arts and crafts. tourismkamloops.com

Alberta

Fireworks explode above a lake
Photo: Courtesy of Steven Coutts

GlobalFest Fireworks Festival, Aug. 15–24
The 11 best water parks in CanadaMarvel as the best pyrotechnic wizards from the US, Spain, China and Canada go head-to-head during this multisensory fireworks competition set to music—this year’s theme is “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It’s held at Elliston Park in Calgary over five separate evenings. In addition to the explosive entertainment, check out the night market and international food vendors. globalfest.ca

Manitoba

Girls wave on a sunflower parade float
Photo: Courtesy of Manitoba Sunflower Festival

Manitoba Sunflower Festival, July 26—28
A sunflower-themed parade, live entertainment and, of course, vast fields of tall, Instagrammable sunflowers, are the main highlights of this annual celebration of farm and community held in Altona, a 90-minute drive from Winnipeg. Kids will also love the petting zoo, face painting, buskers and Bounce-a-rama. manitobasunflowerfestival.ca

Ontario

Photo: Courtesy of Tourism Toronto

Toronto Caribbean Carnival, July 7–Aug. 11
This month-long event celebrates the bright colours and costumes, island beats and mouth-watering eats of the Caribbean through parades, events and performances at locations around the city. The Junior Carnival and Family Day on July 20 with young performers, presenters and a chef competition is specifically designed for kids and parents. torontocarnival.ca

Quebec

People parade during New France Festival
Photo: Courtesy of Simon Armstrong

New France Festival, Aug. 1—4
Dress the family in period clothes—think bonnets, feathered tricorn hats, corsets and breeches—and wander the streets of the Old City learning about its history and settlement through shows and re-enactments during this annual celebration of Quebec heritage. Traditional, regional food is also a focus (what kid doesn’t love poutine?). nouvellefrance.qc.ca

Family smiles in front of hot air balloons
Photo: Courtesy of Sylvain Marier

Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, Aug. 29–Sept. 2
Watch—or hitch a ride—as dozens of colourful hot air balloons rise up into the sky at the largest balloon festival in the country. After the morning lift-off, head to the amusement park for rides and entertainment on the family stage. Don’t miss Night Glow, when the balloons are inflated and illuminated after dark (weather permitting). montgolfieresgatineau.com

New Brunswick

People take a photo with a lobster
Photo: Courtesy of Shediac Lobster Festival

Shédiac Lobster Festival, July 10–14
This delicious festival celebrates the Maritimes’ famous crustacean with daily lobster eating contests, an ecological centre that teaches kids all about the clawed critters, and a Lobster Beach Day with games and lobster eating contests. Kid-friendly entertainers include magicians and storytellers, and a midway rounds out the fun. shediaclobsterfestival.ca

Nova Scotia

Buskers perform in Halifax
Photo: Courtest of Halifax Busker Festival

Halifax Busker Festival,  July 31–Aug. 5
The world’s top street performers set up on Halifax’s charming waterfront to sing, dance and tumble with fire during this celebration of busking at its best and most entertaining. Kids will love the midway with rides and carnival food. Treat their taste buds to something different by checking out the various Indian, African and Asian food vendors. buskers.ca

Newfoundland

Woman eating ice cream
Photo: Courtesy of Morgan Chafe

Brigus Blueberry Festival, Aug. 8—11
Blueberries are native to Newfoundland, and so beloved in pies and preserves that they’re feted annually in the town of Brigus, about an hour’s drive from St. John’s. In addition to eating handfuls of the festival’s star ingredient, browse craft stalls and concessions, listen to live music and enjoy children’s games and inflatable play equipment during the four-day event. brigus.net

Read more:
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