Summer festivals 2012

Here are some of this year’s highlights and a guide to staying on top of festivals across Canada this summer.

British Columbia

Don’t miss the quirky Nanaimo Marine Festival and Bathtub Race (July 19 – 22) or the summer-long Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vancouver. Or, learn more Aboriginal culture this summer with the Kamloopa Pow Wow in Kamloops (August 3-5) and the First Nations Pavilion Celebrations in Abbotsford. Wine and dine to your heart’s content at the Summer Okanagan Wine Festival (July 7-15) and enjoy some tunes at the 21st Annual Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival (also August 3-5), and for some late summer fun, check out the Annual Cobble Hill Fair — now in it’s 103rd year — at the end of August.

Check out Hello B.C. for a comprehensive list of festivals, organized by region and date.


From Camrose’s Big Valley Jamboree (August 2 – 5) to the Edmonton Folk Festival (August 9 – 12) and Labatt Blues Festival (August 24 – 26), there are plenty of places to get your toes tapping this summer.

This year, the talk of the province will be the Calgary Stampede’s 100th anniversary. In addition to the usual merriment, watch for special events to mark the occasion — like the Stampede Cemetery Tours which tell the stories of some of the stampede’s famous characters.

Alberta’s many festivals, trade shows, and other events can all be found on the Travel Alberta website. (Just follow the instructions to do an advanced search if you are planning more than a month ahead.)


With Swift Current’s Windscape Kite Festival (June 23 – 24), province-wide Free Fishing Weekend (July 7 -8), Craven Country Jamboree (July 12 -15), Moose Jaw’s Festival of the Words (July 19 – 22) and a variety of heritage festivals and anniversary celebrations, there’s something for everyone across the province. And be sure to remember the Forget Summer Arts Festival (held around the third week of July).

Visit Saskatchewan Tourism for more ideas.


Can’t get enough music? Dauphin’s Countryfest, Canada’s longest running country music festival (June 28 – July 1), Winnipeg’s Folk Festival (July 4 – 8) and Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival (August 3 – 5) are all among on Travel Manitoba’s Top 30 Festivals list (pdf). The list is especially helpful because the website has such a comprehensive list of these and other events across the province that choosing can be an all-afternoon activity.

Check out Travel Manitoba for more must-see events.



Ontario has events for every age and budget. Take your time to visit the all-summer Shaw Festival and Stratford Festival, enjoy the sights and sounds of Toronto’s Annual Beaches International Jazz Festival (July 20 – 29) and Caribana (July 17 – August 5), or plan for the Kingston Buskers Rendezvous (mid-July).

The Ontario Travel website is a great way to check out what’s up across the province. (You can also order or download travel guides).


Here’s one festival that’s sure to lift your spirits: Festival Grand Rire de Québec, a comedy festival held from July 8 – August 1 in Quebec City. Other top events include Montreal’s Bike Fest in June, and the world choir festival le Mondial Choral Loto-Québec in Laval (June 15 – July 15). Don’t forget to join the party on June 24 when the province celebrates its own holiday.

Check out these and other events with the easy to search events page at Bonjour Québec.

New Brunswick

Leap into local culture with the 29th Annual Canada’s Irish Festival in Miramachi (July 19 – 22), and Sackville’s Festival by the Marsh (mid-July). Learn more about the province’s French heritage at the Festival Acadien de Clare (July 28 – August 15), and find out why Shediac is famous for its seafood at the annual Lobster Festival from July 11 – 15.

For more event ideas, try Tourism New Brunswick.

Nova Scotia

From the south shore’s Yarmouth Seafast (July 18 – 28) to the north shore’s Antigonish Highland Games (currently celebrating its 149th edition July 8 – 15) there’s plenty to enjoy in Nova Scotia this summer. Celebrate the birthdays of Halifax and Dartmouth with the Alexander Keith’s Natal Day Festival (August 2 – 6), and have fun while getting a dose of antioxidants at the Wild Blueberry Harvest Festival (August 17 – September 1).

Explore Nova Scotia‘s monthly events lists make finding out what’s going on a breeze.

Prince Edward Island

The Indian River Festival held at historic St. Mary’s Church in Indian River, PEI is a great way to spend a Friday night (concerts run Friday and Saturday nights during the summer). While you’re there, take in the PEI Potato Blossom Festival (July 16 – 22) and enjoy everything from the farm machinery show to the midway. This year, the PEI Bluegrass & Old Time Music Festival will be celebrating its 27th anniversary edition from July 6 to 8.

For a full list of what’s going on, see Festivals and Events PEI and Tourism PEI’s Festivals & Events Search.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Don’t miss the 36th annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in St. John’s (Aug 3 – 5), or the classical strains of the Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival (Aug 6 – 19). Go a little further from the capital and try the Blueberry Festival in the town of Brigus (August 9 – 12), and the Celtic Dance Festival in Summerside (late June). And don’t miss the 28th anniversary of the Salmon Festival in Grand Falls-Windsor this July 14 – 21.

For a complete of what’s going on, see Newfoundland events.

Events up North

Canada’s territories offer a rich tapestry of events. Explore Yukon with the Classic Open Horse Show (early August) and celebrate National Aboriginal Day (and related events) on June 21 in Whitehorse or Dawson City.

For even more culture, take in the 24th Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik (July 13 – 22), and pack your golf clubs for the Canadian North Midnight Golf Classic. In addition, there are a number events taking place around National Aboriginal Day and the Summer Solstice when the area sees 24 hours of sunlight. Outdoor enthusiasts will also want to watch for Parks Day on July 17.

Nunavut is set to celebrate this year not just for Canada Day, but also for Hamlet Day (July 2) and Nunavut Day (July 9). In June, celebrate ten days of the arts with the Alianait Arts Festival in Iqaluit (June 29 – July 2). If you’re feeling brave, stick around for the Northwest Passage Polar Bear Dive in August on Cornwallis Island.

Check out the sites below for more information:
Travel Yukon
Nunavut Tourism
Spectacular NWT

This article was updated June 2012.
Photo credit:  Edmonton Folk Festival

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