May Festivals: Tulips, music and bikes!

See the full colours of the season at the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa. (CBC Image)

Story by Staff

Nothing quite says spring in Canada like the blooming of flowers. And there’s no better place to see such beauty than the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa.

Also, May is lit up with several film festivals, including the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, the Flicks Film Festival in Saskatchewan and, in the same prairie province, the Yorkton Film Festival. There’s also the Fire and Ice Festival in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia — not for the faint of heart.

Here is’s list of the top festivals happening across the country during the next 31 days:

Festival Tips for May 2012


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Canadian Tulip Festival
Dates: 4-21

A kaleidoscope of more than three million tulips is the focus in Canada’s Capital Region each spring as the Tulip Route follows the historic Rideau Canal to the Parliament buildings and across the Ottawa River to the Outaouais. All tulip events are free at the “festival without fences.”

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
Dates:  1 – 31

CONTACT is an annual festival of photography in Toronto with over 1,000 local, national and international artists exhibiting at almost 200 venues. It stimulates excitement and discussion among a diverse audience that has grown to over 1.8 million. CONTACT is the largest photography event in the world, and a premiere cultural event in Canada.

Victoria Day Festival
Dates: 24

Midway rides; petting zoo; food, drink, and dessert concessions; buskers; children’s activities; and live musical performances. The festival wraps up with a spectacular fireworks display.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! The Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Dates: 3-13

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival is the second-largest Jewish film festival in North America, and one of the largest Jewish film festivals in the world. The TJFF presents feature films, documentaries and shorts from around the world on themes of Jewish culture and identity.

Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Dates: 5-6

Highlights of the program include amazing interviews and presentations by our featured guests, including Kate Beaton (Hark, A Vagrant), Guy Delisle (Jerusalem), and Konami Kanata (Chi’s Sweet Home)! TCAF also features two different panel discussions featuring many of our international guests, including International Perspectives: Europe and Commonwealth Comics.

Barrie Waterfront Festival – Live Outdoor Music and Busker Festival
Dates: 26-27

The 8th Annual spring line-up will present live bands from a variety of genres. For added enjoyment, free outdoor entertainment will be brought to the table: street buskers, a midway with rides, face painting, street vendors, fresh food, treats and contests.

Apple Blossom Tyme Festival
Dates: 26 – 27

Celebrate spring and Colborne’s apple-growing heritage. Tractors and classic cars, an art show, the Garden Shed Marketplace, festival foods, games and rides. Check out the baby show, pie-eating contest, soap box derby and pedal tractor pull for children. Free admission and free parking.

51st Annual Welland Rose Festival
Dates: 25

The Welland Rose Festival enters its 51st year in 2012 and continues to promote community pride and participation through many cultural, artistic, and otherwise engaging events during June, too.

Sudbury Gardening Festival
Date: 26

The Gardening Festival will feature products and services for northern Ontario gardeners, as well as speakers on a variety of horticultural topics. A special feature of the event will be the Sudbury Horticultural Society’s Spring Garden Show.


East Coulee Spring Festival
East Coulee
Dates:  12

Since 1994 the residents of East Coulee celebrate the coming of spring with a day of music and fun for the family. Be a Student of Life by exploring life’s parallels, past and present. Find the humour, tenacity, love and learning under the coal dust of daily living.

Calgary International Children’s Festival
Dates: 22-26

Fun, innovation, creativity, and imagination. Their mission: To provide young people with a performing arts experience that sparks imagination, inspires creative thought, encourages cultural understanding, and fosters a lifelong passion for the arts.

4th Street Lilac Festival
Dates: 27

Known as Calgary’s restaurant row, 4th Street boasts over 35 restaurants from countries all over in the world. In 13 short blocks we feature dining, shopping, entertainment, art, medical services, business services, and a hip young exciting energy.

Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival 
Dates: 4-5

The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival ioffers a chance to sample an extensive variety of wine, scotch, import beer, and premium spirits, along with gourmet food samles from local restaurants and hotels. Guests can look forward to a blissful weekend indulging in delectable cuisine from Banff’s most popular restaurants, as well as a wide selection of local and international wines, premium spirits, single malt and blended scotches, specialty liqueurs, and import and micro-brewed beer.

FunnyFest Comedy Festival
Dates: May 31 — June 10, 2012

FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival, founded and produced by Stu Hughes, was conceived as a way to spread the gift of laughter by showcasing a world of hilarious comedy performers.

British Columbia

Fire and Ice Festival
Qualicum Beach
Dates: May 6, 2012

Chili cooking and ice carving, kids events. 25 teams compete for bragging rights and the coveted “People’s Choice Award.” They supply the cup, the spoon and the chili. All you need to remember are your taste buds.

The Spring Okanagan Wine Festival
Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon,
Dates: May 4-13, 2012

The Okanagan Wine Festivals are an experience for all who love fabulous wine accompanied by great food, unique events and a breathtaking setting.

Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival 
Dates: 19 – 20

A wide range of Scottish and Celtic music and dance entertainment along with various sporting activities. They’re also going to be presenting the Whisky Tasting School on both May 19 and 20, 2012. There will be two sessions (1:15 pm or 3:15 pm) each day featuring a unique line of single malts presented by Roberto Roberti, who is the Brand Ambassador in Western Canada for Purple Valley Imports.

Vancouver International Children’s Festival
Dates: May 28 – June 3, 2012

Jam-packed with music, theatre, dance, storytelling, puppetry, circus arts and much more, the Vancouver International Children’s Festival embodies the buoyant spirit and endless curiosity of children all over the world. The Vancouver International Children’s Festival will celebrate its 35th anniversary at its home on Granville Island, May 29-June 3, 2012.


Dance Manitoba Festival
Dates: 14 – 25

In 1984, Dance Manitoba presented its first annual Membership Showcase Concert. The Showcase is a unique cost-free opportunity for Manitoba dance schools and amateur groups to gain experience performing in a professional environment.

Winnipeg Pride Festival
Dates: May 25 – June 3, 2012

The main stage at The Forks will be headlined by Canadian singer/songwriter Anjulie, who is signed to the Universal Republic record label, and Toronto-based Warner Music recording artists The Cliks.

New Brunswick

Festival Francophone de Fredericton
Dates: 25-27

Francophone culture and heritage is celebrated through exhibits, concerts, dining, sports, special events and activities.


Feather & Folk Nature Festival
Dates: May 27 to June 5, 2012
Gros Morne National Park Port aux Basques

Come outside and enjoy the scenery of Newfounland’s beautiful southwest coast!  The Feather & Folk Festival is a time of year when everyone gets a chance to explore nature, while having fun and learning new and exciting things about Newfoundland’s natural heritage.  Join birding experts as they tour some of Newfoundland and Labrador’s hottest birding areas.  Discover the local folklore and experience cultural activities through the best of local entertainment and cuisine.

Feather & Folk Nature Festival
Port aux Basques
Dates: May 25 – June 3, 2012

Now in its 5th year the festival showcases a unique blend of events with the spectacular Gros Morne National Park as the backdrop. Daily walks, workshops with artists and photographers, evening entertainment by local musicians and storytellers.

Prince Edward Island

West Prince Music Festival
Dates: 1-5

This web site has been developed to serve the Provincial Music Festival Association and the Associated Music Festivals on P.E.I. There are four festival associated with the Provincial Music Festival: West Prince; East Prince; Queens County and Kings County Music Festivals. Participants in any of the four County Music Festivals have the opportunity to move on to the Provincial Competitive Music Festival and then to the National Competitive Music Festival.


Montreal Chamber Music Festival
Date: 5-28

The annual chamber music feast that is the Montreal Chamber Music Festival is enjoying their 17th consecutive year of festival presentation. During the 2011 – 2012 season the Festival expanded its horizons with concerts in New York City and plan further growth in New York and Boston in 2013.

Montréal Bike Fest
Date: May 27 – June 3, 2012

For eight days, from the Metropolitan Challenge to the Tour la Nuit to the famous Tour de l’Île de Montréal, the bicycle will be celebrated.

MUTEK International festival
Date: May 30 – June 3, 2012

Emerging forms of electronic music and sound design in the era of new technologies.Over 70 acts will converge on Montreal, among them respected pioneers. Several emerging artists, adventurous sonic manipulators, and a significant number of Canadian artists who represent the wealth of digital creativity currently at work in this country.

Flicks Film Festival

Dates:  11 – 14

Founded in 1995, Flicks produces the only annual film festival exclusively for young people in the province of Saskatchewan. Now entering its 16th year, Flicks represents a rare opportunity for children and youth to view international films they would otherwise not have the opportunity to see, and the opportunity to participate in hands-on workshops taught by industry professionals.

Vesna Festival
Dates: 11 – 12

Ukranian culture in music and dance. You can’t have fun unless you can laugh at yourself! This year the ‘Just 4 Kicks’ Vesna Comedy Cabaret showcases many aspects of Ukrainian humour and comedy. From the well recognized comedic names to the not-so-well known humour of Ukrainians past and  present, you will find something to crack you up and make you laugh.

Cathedral Village Arts Festival
Dates: 21-26

For six days in May, the Cathedral Area will be jam-packed with the best in music, theatre, dance, visual arts, literary arts, and crafts. The six-day festival features performing, visual and literary arts, crafts and performances. It offers professional artists the opportunity to present their work to new audiences; emerging artists a venue to introduce themselves; and avant-garde artists a supportive arena to share their talents. The Festival invites children, youth and adults to create, participate and enjoy the arts in all of its diversity.

Yorkton Film Festival
Dates: 24-27

Yorkton, Saskatchewan, with a population of about 17,000, located in the east-central part of the province. It is the service and trading centre for a prosperous farming area that extends several hundred kilometres in all directions, including western Manitoba. It’s also home to one of the coolest film festivals on the prairies.

Vicky is the worldly publisher of Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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