7 Unconventional Places to Spend Your Canada Day Weekend

June 19th, 2013 by Kate Fane

Stock up on your temporary tattoos and novelty flags! There are less than two weeks left until events are held across the country to celebrate Canada’s 147th birthday.

Of course, everyone knows that Ottawa is the epicenter of Canada Day activities, and that major cities and capitals will always have the usual fireworks and parades on offer. So for this roundup of Canada Day events, we thought we’d focus on some of the country’s hidden gems.

From Surrey to North Rustico, Jasper to Thunder Bay, we’ve got your Canada Day weekend planned, no matter where you are.


Vancouver may have the fireworks, but nearby Surrey has its own theme park. Featuring rides like the Zipper, the Spider, the Sizzler, and Zero Gravity, visitors of all ages can try their best to keep down their lunches of hot dogs and cotton candy.

And for less adventurous types, beloved indie rockers Sloan and 80’s hair band Platinum Blonde will be performing at the Cloverdale Millennium Amphitheatre, alongside an eclectic lineup that includes an Aerosmith cover band and the Cedar Hills Caledonian Pipe Band.


If you’re lucky enough to be in breathtaking Jasper, Alberta this summer, their Canada Day celebrations offer some real treats: The day starts off with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Mayor and city councilors, followed by a flag-raising ceremony and the famous Canada Day parade. Later in Centennial Park, attendees can take an historical walk conducted by Friends of Jasper National Park, enjoy beer gardens and concerts, and participate in activities for the children. The night culminates with a massive fireworks show and the singing of O’ Canada.


Swift Current
It may only have 15,000 residents, but this Saskatchewan town is definitely pulling above its weight class this Canada Day. The Canadian Cowboys’ Association will be holding a rodeo over the weekend, while Saturday night will see Canadian rockers the Trews performing an outdoor concert in Kinetic Park.

kids canada

Thunder Bay
In addition to the usual red and white, Thunder Bay is going green this Canada Day. This year’s parade has a green twist to it, promoting “green & active living”. The parade route has been shortened to encourage community groups and businesses to enter a walking, marching, performance or cycling group that promotes sustainable, healthy and active community messages.

Also on their packed roster of activities is face painting, balloon making, craft and circus workshops, disc golfing, Come n’ try Canoeing, Kayaking and Dragon Boating with Lakehead Canoe Club and Wilderness Supply, a photo booth, yoga with Radiant Yoga, artisans’ markets, skateboarding activities with the Thunder Bay Skateboard Coalition, scavenger hunt, and of course, fireworks.


St John
I’m not entirely clear on the connection, but every Canada Day, the largest flea market is the Maritimes takes over uptown Saint John. This year, a charity bingo game will also be added to the mix, alongside other events like the 7th annual Atlantic Canada Skateboard Challenge, a beach volleyball tournament, a hockey challenge, dance performances, bouncy castles, and free historic trolley rides.


North Rustico
The PEI town of North Rustico only claims 600 residents during the winter, but come Canada Day, over 10,000 visitors flood the area to catch the street parade, flag raising ceremony, Dump Road Derby, watermelon eating contest, and boat parade and fireworks show in Rustico Bay.

This year’s Canada Day celebrations have the theme of “Celebrating Maritime Music,” so there’s also sure to be some great performances.

Canada Day London 1

New York/London
This year, even expats can celebrate Canada Day in style!

After eight years of celebrations in London, Canada Day International is now bringing festivities to New York City, and looks to add four more major cities for Canada’s 150th Anniversary in 2017.

Hosted by George Stroumboulopolous in the heart of Central Park, New York’s event features performances by Lights, Joel Plaskett, and Spirit of the West. A giant picnic is also planned, as well as a celebration of cooking from major Canadian chefs.

Meanwhile, the London musical features some of the biggest names in Canadian music: The Tragically Hip, the Sheepdogs, Jann Arden, and the Arkells will all be taking the mainstage, while Lululemon will be holding a free outdoor Yoga session. And of course, no celebrations would be complete without a hockey tournament: this year, eight teams will be competing for the prized Trafalgar cup.


Where will you be spending Canada Day?


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