It’s hard to know where to start when speaking about the best time to visit Canada. It’s easy to think of it as a cold tundra of wide open spaces, and parts of it surely are. However, each region offers a wide range of climates and attractions, so that’s as smart a place as any to start to outline a visitor’s options.
Between the scenery, the people and the attractions, Canada is a great place to visit at any time of the year. The country sports palm trees on the west coast fantastic fishing and hiking on its eastern shores.
Here is a month-by-month breakdown of the best places to go in Canada throughout the year.
If you’d like to visit Canada in January, you have many options to enjoy this beautiful country. Western Canada offers a complete ski season, and toward the end of the month, cities host their Winter Carnivals. There are two ice wine festivals: one in British Columbia and the other on the Niagara peninsula.
On the East Coast, Quebec City is a beautiful place to visit; it offers cobblestone street cafes and a Winter Carnival that lasts for 17 days at the end of January. Nearby Mont Tremblant is one of Canada’s best ski resorts and offers many post-holiday deals.
The city of Vancouver hosts the largest Chinese New Year celebration in February. Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, and Montreal also have Chinese New Year Festivals. The lunar calendar determines the date of these festivals.
Quebec City hosts the world’s biggest Winterfest, and in addition to the winter carnival, the festival offers snow slides, ice fishing, and a canoe race on the St. Lawrence River.
The second month is also exciting in the Yukon Territory. The Yukon Quest dog sled race goes from White Horse to Fairbanks, Alaska in the darkness of February and extreme -50C temperatures.
It is evident that Canadians are ready for spring in February because of all of the activities they put on Manitoba. The Northern Manitoba Trappers Festival has dogsled races, snowmobiling, ice sculptures, and torchlight parades.
In addition to the Chinese New Year celebration, Vancouver hosts a wine festival that features 1700 wines from 200 vintners. This wine festival is a fundraiser for Vancouver’s contemporary theater company.
The province of Quebec produces three-quarters of the world’s maple syrup, and the maple trees get tapped in March. Maple tree farms have sugarings off, where visitors scoop up snow, put it in a bowl, and have boiling maple syrup poured on top to create maple sugar candy.
The First Nations University of Canada holds an annual Saskatchewan pow wow to celebrate spring and give thanks for the land’s rebirth. First Nation dancers attend from all over North America.
If you would like to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in Canada, Toronto is one of the best places to party like you’re Irish. The Guinness Company organizes a St. Patrick’s Day celebration on the Toronto waterfront. The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is a spectacle, and the local bars are full afterward.
Western Canada enjoys a milder climate than the rest of the country. Victoria, British Columbia, is a great place to visit in April, where you can enjoy the beginning of whale watching season on Vancouver Island.
If you are a fan of Shakespeare, a few hours outside Toronto the town of Stratford rivals England’s Stratford-upon-Avon. April marks the beginning of the theater season, and in Stratford, four theaters host drama, music, operas, and works by Sir William.
The World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler features ten days of high-octane events including Rock and Hip-Hop concerts, film screenings, dog parades, and unlimited ski and snowboard action. Remember to secure your home if you’re going to stay for the whole thing.
If you are still in Toronto, North America’s largest documentary film festival happens in April and screens 170 documentaries from around the world.
In May, Canada starts to warm up, although it is still chilly at night. It’s a great month to attend the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottowa. This event features more than 3 million tulips of 200 different kinds, and during the festival, the city sponsors parades, regattas, dances, fireworks, and concerts.
Also in May, Bromont, near Montreal, hosts a Fete du Chocolat, which features plays about chocolate, painting with chocolate, and jewelry making with chocolate.
June is for music lovers. The warmer weather gives rise to three Canadian music festivals, all held in Toronto. The Luminato festival runs for ten days in early June and features dancers, artists, writers, actors, and filmmakers for a celebration of creativity.
For 20 years, close to 1000 new indie bands have invaded the stages of Toronto’s clubs at the North by Northeast Festival. This event is a must-visit for music lovers and music industry professionals.
If you need even more music, Montreal hosts the Montreal Jazz Festival in late June, where jazz and blues musicians play for 11 days in the city. Nearly 2 million visitors enjoy these outdoor free concerts, which can last for 24 hours.
In July, the weather is perfect throughout much of Canada, and it is the prime time to visit. Across the country, the restaurants are full of fresh seafood and produce, and tourists flock to festivals across the country. Starting at Prince Edward Island, the Cavendish Beach Festival is one of the largest outdoor music festivals in North America, and some of the biggest names in country music attend.
For two weeks in Montreal, comedians from across North America make people laugh at the Just for Laughs Festival. Visitors enjoy hundreds of comedy shows including many free ones in the Quartier Latin.
The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is a cowboy festival in Calgary. Bulls, chuckwagons, and cowboy boots are among the features to enjoy. This event is geared towards families and has a midway of games and rides in addition to rodeo events. Over 1 million people attend this festival every year.
Canadian weather stays warm through August, which is the perfect month to attend a Newfoundland rowing race. The Royal St John’s regatta is held on Quidi Vidi Lake and has been since 1925. This race is North America’s oldest continuously held sporting event.
If you’d like to get away from crowds and cities, the Canadian Rockies hold some of the best outdoor activities in North America. Banff National Park is a popular destination for camping and hiking, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to take a selfie with a squirrel.
September is called the shoulder season in Canada; the month ushers out the warm weather, but it’s still comfortable enough to visit nearly every area. On the east coast, Prince Edward Island hosts an island-wide kitchen party with traditional music and local seafood for three weeks.
The Toronto Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. In September, this prestigious cinematic event goes on for ten days, and films of all styles and lengths play between galas and the Bell Lightbox building. You must plan to attend this popular event, as people travel from all over the world to enjoy it.
On the easternmost island in Canada, Cape Breton Island, musicians from Scotland, Spain, and other countries gather to celebrate their Celtic connections. The foliage peaks in October, and Cape Breton is one of the warmest climates in the area. Bring your kilt.
The largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany is in Kitchener, Ontario. This bash goes on for nine days and nearly half a million people come to enjoy the oompah bands, sauerkraut, and biergartens.
You can celebrate space with astronauts and scientists like Bill Nye at the Jasper Dark Sky Festival at the end of October. Attend talks, watch the aurora borealis, and immerse yourself in the night sky for two weeks.
November is when ski season ramps up in Canada. You can get great travel deals and attend Santa Claus parades in most major cities.
The Ottawa Food and Wine Show attracts 25,000 visitors in the first week of November. The show pours more than 1400 wines and spirits to take the edge off the cold weather.
It’s cold. There, we said it. Ski season is booming, and Niagara hosts a Winter Festival of Lights that includes 3 million bulbs and more than 100 animated displays throughout the city. You can ice skate on the “rink at the brink” of the falls themselves.
The answer is simple: it’s always the best time to visit Canada.
Canada has so much to offer visitors that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the array of activities you and your family can enjoy. The country is a vibrant mix of first nation populations, savvy cities, sophisticated culture, and breathtaking landscapes.
As with any travel, plan ahead, do your research, and think about travel insurance. The weather can change quickly, and outdoor activities can lead to mishaps. Airlines delay flights and gear can get stolen. Check out our insurance for travelers and see if it fits your needs. And then enjoy your Canadian travel without worry, no matter what season you choose to visit.