This year marks Canada’s 150th birthday, and Canadians coast-to-coast are ready to celebrate in style at the many festivals, exhibitions and concerts that are planned for 2017.
Confederation united Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, so it’s no surprise that the East Coast has big plans for Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Here are seven such cities where festive Canadians can get their Canada 150 celebration on. We hope you’re just as excited as we are for what's sure to be Canada's most swinging birthday bash.
Reflecting Canada's multicultural fabric, Toronto's entertainment district and iconic Niagara Falls are ground zero for travellers wanting to drum up Canada 150 cheer. Plus, being home to some of the country’s largest cultural institutions, Toronto has plenty of exhibitions and performances lined up for Canada 150. From June 29, 2017, to January 28, 2018, the Art Gallery of Ontario will showcase Canada’s best emerging and established artists in an exhibit called Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood. The show considers Canada’s past, present and future, and will anchor the AGO’s Canada 150 programming, which includes smaller exhibitions, installations, digital initiatives and special programs.
Fort Henry | Canadian Tourism Commission
Kingston, Ontario is one of Canada's oldest communities and for a brief three years it served as the first capital of a united Canada. The home of Sir John A. Macdonald — the first prime minister of Canada and one of the best-known Fathers of Confederation — and historic Fort Henry, a UNESCO World Heritage site, means history is literally written on Kingston's limestone walls.
That said, it is not a city that’s stuck in the past. Consider that, this May, the city will host The Breakout Project, the country’s biggest social innovation event, where teams work around the clock to kick-start social good projects. Bring on the feel-good, do-good Canadian vibes.
Canada Day, Parliament Hill | Canadian Tourism Commission
Without a doubt, the best place to be on July 1st will be Parliament Hill in the nation's capital.
Each year, Canadian entertainers take the stage, performing before a throng of patriotic party-goers. The day wraps with a pyromusical finale that showers a dazzling fireworks display over Ottawa. Attendees can expect the same for 2017, but given the monumental milestone, the evening will undoubtedly mark the epicentre of Canada 150 celebrations. And why would you want to miss that?
Ottawa's festivities aren't just limited to Canada Day. In the arts and culture department, the nation’s capital will play host to Canada 150 events and programming all year long. The National Gallery of Canada will open its new galleries mid-June, showcasing the largest display of Canadian art in the world in an exhibition called Canada’s Masterpieces: Our Stories.
Old Montreal | Canadian Tourism Commission
Montréal has extra reason to celebrate this year: 2017 marks the city’s 375th birthday. To commemorate, it's throwing itself a year-long birthday bash which will feature tons of cultural events, many of them free.
Between birthday celebrations, make sure you admire Montréal's cityscape from atop Mount Royal before craning your neck in awe at the Gothic Revival beauty of Notre-Dame Basilica.
Prince Edward Island
© Tourism PEI / John Sylvester
Charlottetown is known as the birthplace of Confederation, so it’s no surprise that many of the city's planned events pay homage to the historic event. Travellers will have much to see and do in Canada's hometown.
From June to December, the Confederation Centre Art Gallery will unveil re: collection, a commemorative retrospective of Canadian art.
As you explore Charlottetown, keep your eyes peeled for Fathers and Ladies of Confederation. Costumed characters including Sir John A. Macdonald, Miss Mercy Coles and Sir George-Étienne Cartier are known to roam these parts.
At the confluence of sea, salt and sand, PEI is nicknamed 'Canada's Food Island'. Now is the time and place to dine on local ingredients (like seafood pulled fresh from the sea and produce bursting from fertile fields), and the gourmet specialties churned out by local makers: cheddar cheese, honey, chocolate, fruit preserves and more. Our best suggestion? Dine farm-to-fork; be the guest of an artisan maker, who will not only share their dinner table, but open their kitchen and let you peek into their world of gourmet tradition.
Bay of Fundy
New Brunswick & Nova Scotia
The Bay of Fundy offers travellers a buffet of Canada 150 experiences that marry natural beauty with Maritime and Acadian history. Coastal highways and ferry crossings make it a scenic journey to boot.
What's Canada without its spectacular nature, and New Brunswick without its postcard-perfect Hopewell Rocks? These iconic Maritime wonders are revealed twice daily when the highest tides in the world retreat. Talk about a dramatic reveal.
Flickr/Dennis Jarvis (CCbySA2.0)
Next, get cultured across the Bay in Annapolis Royal, a place that bleeds pedestrian charm. With 135 registered heritage properties that have been preserved in time, the town is something of a living museum - though permanent residents call it home too. But what truly makes Annapolis Royal a culture hub is its storied history. The community developed deep Mi’kmaq roots before the arrival of some of North America's earliest European settlers in 1605. 400 years of French, Scottish, and British would follow, which means loads of fascinating history for Canada 150 travellers to consume.
Canadian Tourism Commission
Halifax doesn't just paint a picture of Canada's history, it's lives it. Or, re-lives it, rather.
To channel Canada 150 demands a visit to Halifax Citadel, which sits protectively above the harbour, upon a swath of green lawn behind the city's business district. Step back into the mid-1800s with the 78th Highlanders, as these costumed interpreters re-enact marching and band drills. Keep an ear out at midday for the ceremonial Noon Gun, which fires each day.
Alexander Keith's Brewery | Canadian Tourism Commission
Next, you might want to toast Canada's birthday in one of our country's oldest breweries: Alexander Keith’s Brewery. Let a costumed character evoke the spirit of Halifax in 1863 through song and story before sampling the brews yourself. You don't have to be a beer-lover to appreciate the warmth of this historic brewhouse.
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