Jim Cuddy, Blue Rodeo, Ottawa Bluesfest

July Festivals: Blues, lobster and rodeo

Jim Cuddy, Blue Rodeo, Ottawa Bluesfest

Jim Cuddy and Blue Rodeo will be back at the Ottawa Bluesfest this year. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Story by Vacay.ca Staff

The Toronto International Beaches Festival is expected to draw thousands. (2011 beachesjazz.com)

July means summer, and that means a long list of festivals for Canadians to enjoy from coast to coast. You can’t even begin to discuss summer without mentioning the Calgary Stampede, which turns 100 years old this year and promises to be a great show. The Stampede features the world’s best rodeo athletes and the finest stock. Vacay.ca will be in Alberta to cover this historic event, and you can check out all of our Stampede coverage here.

The Ottawa BluesfestToronto International Beaches FestivalCalgary International Blues Festival, and Dawson City Music Festival promise tons of great music and good times.

Looking for adventure? The Nanaimo Marine Festival is ready to go this month. Or you can try your hand at log-rolling at the Northumberland Fisheries Festival.

Here is Vacay.ca’s list of the top festivals happening across the country this month:


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Calgary Stampede
Dates: 6-15
This year marks the centennial celebration of the Calgary Stampede. The Calgary Stampede has brought people from all over the world together for a thrilling western heritage experience, and 2012 promises to be the best ever!

Vegreville Pysanka Festival
Dates: 6-8
Canada’s Showcase of Ukrainian Culture. The festival is a unique cultural event drawing in visitors from near and far.

CentreFest – International Street Performer Festival
Red Deer
Dates: 27-29
Once again, CentreFest will host performers from across the globe, with a compelling market on walkable streets filled with local comedians, actors, face painters, and visual artists.

The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival
Dates: 6-15
The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival invites you to see this summer’s finest specimens in Sir Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton. From musicians to jugglers, acrobats to unicyclists, the festival features over 1500 outdoor performances by an international cast of amazing street artists.

Wild Mountain Music Festival
Dates: 15- 17
Featuring The Sheep Dogs, Mat Anderson, Ridley Bent, Big Sugar. Two stages, vendors, kids area, beer gardens and free camping!

Kensington Sun and Salsa Festival
Date: 24
Start with tomatoes, add garlic and hot peppers, and garnish with cilantro! Set fire to those taste buds during Kensington’s 18th annual Sun and Salsa Festival.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Calgary International Blues Festival
Dates: July 30 -August 5, 2012
Get ready Calgary, there’s a stunning lineup of Blues artists who will take the stage for the 2012 Calgary Bluesfest, running August 2-5 at Shaw Millenium Park. Headline artists include guitar icons Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd; Canadian Blues rocker David Wilcox; and the Grandfather of contemporary Cajun music, Zachary Richard.

British Columbia

EDITORS’ PICK!!!  The Summer Okanagan Wine Festival
Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon
Dates: 7-15
The Okanagan Wine Festivals are an experience for all who love fabulous wine accompanied by great food, unique events and a breathtaking setting.

Vancouver Island Music Fest
Dates: 6-8
Fans of Vancouver Island MusicFest’s annual summer festival are well aware of the amazing performers, 6 stages, riverside camping and family activities. But this past year festival organizers went the extra distance to ‘green the festival.’

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Nanaimo Marine Festival
Date: 24
World Championship Bathtub Race:  Nanaimo harbor was the scene of a bathtub race extravaganza at the first race in 1967 Canada’s 100 birthday and its’ Centennial year.

Caribbean Days Festival
North Vancouver
Dates: 28-29
Each July, the Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Society of BC presents the Caribbean Days Festival. This event draws a crowd of exuberant fun-lovers to North Vancouver’s Waterfront Park for a weekend of parading, dining and dancing in the sunshine.

Islands Folk Festival
Dates: 20-22
Top acts from all around the world will be in Duncan. Don’t delay, get your tickets now!

Luminara Lantern Festival
Dates: July 2012
Lantern-making workshops in July and August at Gordon Head Rec Centre, leading up to an evening of illuminated installations, musical performers, a giant puppet and lantern procession ending with a Lion Dance performance.

Victoria’s Annual SKA Festival
Dates: 10-14
Great acts including Toots & The Maytals, Katchafire, Leroy Sibbles, and East Big Fella.

Rock The Peach Music Fest
Dates: 27-29
This new festival will excite you by its superior content. Should be one of the best shows the BC interior has ever seen.


EDITORS’ PICK!!!  Winnipeg Folk Festival
Dates: 4-8
The festival’s cumulative attendance now exceeds 70,000 and includes thousands of visitors from outside of Manitoba and performers from acrossNorth America, and the world. The organization has more than 2,600 dedicated volunteers who contribute well over 55,000 hours of labour each year to create the magic that is the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival
Dates: 18-29
In celebration of our 25th anniversary, we’re giving diehard Fringers the opportunity to see shows for 25 hours straight. Interested? Then get ready, passes go on sale at9amon Wednesday, June 27. Outdoor stage and Kids Fringe feature street performers, buskers and bands from noon to midnight.

Neepawa and Area Lily Festival
Dates:  20-22
Celebration of lilies with a flower show, walking tours, entertainment, tea parties and much more.  theme will again be “Fantasy in Bloom.”

Gimli Film Festival
Dates:  25-29

The Gimli Film Festival showcases over 80 features, documentaries and shorts from Manitoba, Canada and the world, that promise informative, fascinating and riveting entertainment.

Manitoba Sunflower Festival
Dates: 27-29
Mennonite culture is celebrated with ethnic food, family entertainment, parade, car show, motocross races, pancake breakfasts, ball tournament, farmer’s market, crafts, queen pageant, street dance.

New Brunswick

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Shediac Lobster Festival
Dates: 7-11
This renowned event attracts visitors from every part of North America. The Lobster Capital of the World is home to the World’s Largest Lobster , and the warmest salt water north of Virginia.

Salty Jam Festival
St. John
Dates: 5-7
SaltyJam is inviting both musicians and fans from all over to come and enjoy the music and hospitality of Saint John. Along with ticketed events, there will be free entertainment on the Market Square Boardwalk and other venues in the uptown area.

Irish Festival
Dates: July 2012
Come join us as we celebrate our rich Irish heritage in song and dance. Whether it’s an impromptu jam with a few musicians in a local pub, an outdoor performance, or a large concert, music plays a very important part of the festival.

Festival by the Marsh
Dates: July 2012
Festival by the Marsh is an integrated arts festival featuring high quality theatre and music performances, fine arts displays and demonstrations, other forms of artistic expression, and educational programs for young people.

Atlantic Visual Arts Festival (Festival des arts visuels en Atlantique) 
Dates: July 2012
The 16th Edition of the Festival des arts visuels en Atlantique (FAVA), from june 13 to 17 2012, at the Carrefour de la mer in the Salle Caisse populaire Acadie in Caraquet, will feature a theme based on drawing performance and the human body.

New Brunswick Highland Games Festival
Dates: 27 – 29
Highland Games (piping and drumming, highland dancing and traditional athletics) and the Scottish Festival.
The New Brunswick Highland Games Festival is a volunteer, not-for-profit, charitable organization.

NotaBle Acts Summer Theatre Festival
Dates: July – August
The NotaBle Acts Summer Theatre Festival (nbActs) puts New Brunswick playwrights at center stage. Exciting daytime Street Theatre at various downtown locations accompanies nightly main stage performances in the varied theatres of our great city.

The Bon Ami Festival
Dates: July – August 2012
The Bon Ami Get-Together Festival has become a legend in the Town ofDalhousie. The Festival offers 10 days of entertainment, pageantry, fireworks, music, local cuisines, and a beach party.

NB Highland Games Festival
Dates: July 2012
Bagpipes, Celtic music, highland dance, traditional Scottish athletics, food. Listed as one ofNew Brunswick’s “Top Festivals”, the New Brunswick Highland Games Festival is one of the largest events of its kind in Atlantic Canada and is certainly a favourite amongst competitors and visitors alike.

International Homecoming Festival
St. Stephen
Dates: July – August 2012
International Festival began in 1974 as a three day event. It has now grown to a ten day event, bringing home friends and family – hence the name International “Homecoming” Festival.

54th Annual Miramichi Folksong Festival
Dates: July – August 2012
The Festival is rooted in the tradition of ballads which told the stories of the times; often they narrated daily life, but they also included newsworthy events. Many of the authors and singers of these ballads worked as fisherman, or in the logging camps.


George Street Festival
St. John’s
Dates: 6-8
With 22 pubs, clubs and bars on George Street, you will find all types of music to listen to —  Irish, blues, country, dance, rock and roll and traditional music will keep the party going until3amon weekends.

Big Droke Heritage Festival
Bird Cove
Dates: 14-31
For over 5,000 years the Great Northern Peninsula on theisland of Newfoundland has been providing rich resources from the land and sea for diverse groups of people.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Wreckhoue International Jazz and Blues Festival
St. John’s
Dates: 4-7
Over the course of the last 9 years the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival has entertained a captive audience of 26,000 on 15 stages throughout the historic downtown area.

Bird Island Puffin Festival
Dates: July, 2012
Live local entertainment and traditional meals served from the kitchen. Come and view many of Elliston’s 135 root cellars. Take a walk back in time and enter cellars originally built in the 1850s, many of which are still used today to store root crops.

Stephenville Theatre Festival
Dates: July – August 2012
Stephenville Theatre Festival is widely recognized for the substantial contribution it has made to the development of theatre in Newfoundland and Labrador during the past 34 years.

Fish Fun and Folk Festival
Dates: 23-29
Every summer during July Twillingate throws open their doors to the world and invite them to join us for the Fish Fun and Folk Festival. We hope you’ll be joining us this year, and we guarantee you’ll have one of the best weeks of your life!

Shakespeare By the Sea Festival
St. John’s
Dates: July 8 -August 13, 2012
The Shakespeare By The Sea Festival is the longest running outdoor summer theatre event in the St. John’s area and celebrates its 20th season in 2012.

Southern Shore Shamrock Festival
Avalon Peninsula
Dates: 21 -22
The Shamrock Festival has attracted great interest from both musicians and the public alike and has achieved significant growth since its inception.

North West River Beach Festival
North West River
Dates: 28-29
25+hours of non-stop live music, events for the whole family, great food, including some traditional Labrador recipes, and a wide variety of arts, crafts, and souvenirs for sale.

Northwest Territories

Great Northern Arts Festival
Dates: 13-22
For 10 days each July, over 60 visual and performing artists gather in Inuvik, NWT to celebrate northern art and culture. Representing communities from across the Arctic, from Greenland to Nunavut to Alaska, the Festival allows the visiting public to participate in events and activities to truly immerse themselves in the northern art experience.

Nova Scotia

Lebanese Festival
Dates: 7-10
Relax while enjoying Lebanese music and food, take in the exhibits and buy handcrafted works of art at the Artisan Gift Shop or visit Cafe Al-Arz – known for its Lebanese coffee, baklava, maamoul and namoura.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! TD Halifax Jazz Festival
Dates: 6-14
Jazz East brings a great deal of value to the cultural landscape of Atlantic Canada, and now there are more reasons to be a part of the action.  Join other music and culture lovers to have fun and make a difference.

Dragon Boat Festival
Date: 14
Today dragon boat races are held on six continents. In Canada alone festivals are held in 24 cities from coast to coast and each festival brings together thousands of people from the public, private, and volunteer sectors. In addition to the races, participants and spectators alike enjoy exciting performances and interesting cultural displays.

Acoustic Maritime Music Festival
Kempt Shore
Dates: July 2012
Everything from blues, folk, country and jazz to Texas swing, all done through microphones as much as possible  and not electronically augmented, allowing the artists to show their special talents.

Halifax Pride Week 
Dates: 17-24
Exciting parade, festival events, dance parties.

Alexander Keith’s Natal Day Festival
Dates: July 28-August 15
Parades, breakfasts, live entertainment, festival tents, sporting activities, family events and the biggest, most elaborate Bridge Fireworks display of the year

Festival acadien de Clare
Dates: July 28 -August 15
The Festival acadien de Clare is the oldest Acadian festival in the world and has always been a celebration of Acadian culture and heritage. Thousands of people from all over the world gather every year in the Baie Sainte-Marie region for over two weeks filled with plenty of activities for people of all ages.


Brantford International Villages Festival
Dates: 4-7
The 2012 festival features 15 villages for you to enjoy. Festival passports will be available at Brantford Tourism onWayne Gretzky ParkwaystartingJune 19th 2012.

RBC Royal Bank Ottawa Bluesfest
Dates: 4-15
Shake it up and have a great time at Ottawa Bluesfest!

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Mississauga Waterfront Festival
Dates: 17-19
Voted one of Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals nine years in a row, MWF has set new standards for excellence, earning accolades from industry peers, business partners, media and attendees.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! The Fringe
Dates: 4-15
Toronto’s largest theatre festival, featuring 150+ artistic creations that welcome 90,000+ patrons every year. 12 days of fun, with a Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s –Toronto’s hottest pop-up patio, where you can enjoy a cold drink at our licensed bar and out the artist alley.

Mosaic Festival
Dates: July 6, 2012 throughSeptember 3, 2012.
Traditional and contemporary fields of music, dance, film, theatre, literature, poetry, cuisine, arts & crafts. A celebration of Canadians originating from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

International Villages Festival 
Dates: 4-7
39 years of bringing you world class memories. The 2012 festival features 15 villages for you to enjoy. Festival passports will be available at Brantford Tourism onWayne Gretzky ParkwaystartingJune 19th 2012.

St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival
Dates: July-August
Great line up of Sunday Series events including a return visit from local opera stars Christopher Coyea and Alex Fleuriau Chateau, madcap comedy from Bain and Bernard, our annual Revelers Showcase and a reading of a brand new play commissioned by the Festival called Men, Maids and Muskets!

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Beaches International Jazz Festival
Dates: 20-29
Big Band, Swing, Dixieland, Smooth, Post-Bop, Afro-Cuban, Fusion, Funk, R&B and Soul are just some of the great acts that are featured this year.

Kapuskasing Lumberjack Heritage Festival
Dates: 27-29
Get a glimpse of the past and celebrate the future at the 13th annual Kapuskasing Lumberjack Heritage Festival, rated as one of the top 100 festivals in Ontario by Festivals and Events Ontario.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Collingwood Elvis Festival
Dates: 26-29
Get all shook up at this unique and crazy festival.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Rideau Canal Festival
Dates: July – August 2012
This year’s festival will celebrate theRideau Canal’s 180th Anniversary with the biggest floating Birthday Party Ottawa’s ever seen. The party will also honour the 5th Anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage designation of this monumental early 19th-century engineering wonder.

LINK Picnic Festival
Date: July 31
Experience and be thrilled by African and Caribbean culture.

Prince Edward Island

Victoria Playhouse Festival
Dates: July 2 -September 18 2012
Welcome to the Victoria Playhouse. If you are a new visitor, the charm and warmth of the Victoria Experience awaits you and if you are a repeat visitor… welcome home.

PEI Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival
Dates: July 2012
The PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Society is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of bluegrass music in Prince Edward Island.

Cavendish Beach Music Festival
AvonleaVillage, Cavendish
Dates: 6-8
The LOTTOMAX presents Cavendish Beach Music Festival welcomes more than 60,000 visitors each July to the coastal community of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. The festival features world-class country entertainment, camping, dining and more than 30 acts.

Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival
Dates: 20-22
If you’re planning your summer’s get-a-way in eastern Canada you won’t want to miss our festival. It is the perfect spot for the whole family. We have modern on-site facilities and the best traditional music you’ll find anywhere.

Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival
Wood Islands Lighthouse
Dates: 20-22
The Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival is the only festival of its kind in Canada.  It celebrates Sea Glass AKA mermaid tears.

Northumberland Fisheries Festival
Murray River
Dates: 26 – 29
The Murray River Fisheries Festival is a lot of fun and the community organizes lots of activities for you to participate in.
The have a parade, dory rowing contest, log roll contests, ferries pagent, fashion show and more for your enjoyment.

Emerald Junction Summerfest Music Festival
Dates: 26-28
A mid summer weekend full of great musical entertainment featuring up close and personal concerts with local and regional performers.


Tremblant International Blues Festival
Dates: 6 – 15
Head for Tremblant and listen to some of the best Blues masters on the planet.

The Saguenay International Rhythm of the World Festival
Dates: July 15 -August 15, 2012
This edition promises a highly diversified and festive program. Nearly 1,000 artists and artisans will display their multiple talents for the enjoyment of festival-goers.

Festival International Nuits d’Afrique de Montréal
Dates: 10 – 22
The best music from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Quebec City Summer Festival, Festival d’été de Québec
Québec City
Dates: 5 – 12
One of the best music festivals in the world featuring jazz, metal, hip-hop, and rap – to name a few.

Montreal International Dragon Boat Race Festival
Date: 20 – 22
Come out and enjoy the live entertainment, the various arts and crafts, the ever popular Children Drawing Contest, plus many more activities.

Montréal MEG Festival
Date: 26 July to August 5
This year, the MEG has 9 indoor venues, 2 open-air venues and 1 boat… Get ready for some wild nights.


Regina International Fringe Theatre Festival
Dates: 4-8
Theatre lovers and performers will come from across the province and around the world for the festival running concurrent with Buffalo Days. Fringe is cutting edge entertainment bringing together performers and audiences in a fun, safe and exploratory environment.

Ness Creek Festival
Big River
Dates: 20-22
An annual festival held in July to celebrate music, arts, community and ecology in the boreal forest of Saskatchewan. Artists from across Canada featured.

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival
Dates: July 11-August 26
Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan is pleased to return in 2012 for its 28th season of “Villains and Heroes” featuring Hamlet and As You Like It.

Saskatchewan Festival of Words
Moose Jaw
Dates: 19 – 22
Storytellers, novelists, filmmakers, poets, dramatists, songwriters and journalists.

Colonial Days Fair
Dates: 11-14
Annual fair features midway, grandstand entertainment, chuckwagon races, agricultural events, trade show, petting zoo, home arts, demolition derby and more.

Motif Moose Jaw Multicultural Festival
Moose Jaw
Dates: 13-15
The Moose Jaw Multicultural Council welcomes and integrates newcomers to Canada and helps organize this festival.

Gateway Music Festival
Dates: 27-29
Two stages for performing artists, great food and a childrens play area. Performers include: The Road Hammers, Constantines, George Leach,LandofTalk, The Higgins, Ridley Bent, Matt Andersen, Nathan, Pacific Curls and more.

Saskatchewan Festival of Words
Moose Jaw
Dates: 19-22
Celebrating creative language” novels , poetry, drama, film, nonfiction, songs, 5 Day Youth Writing Camp, Teen Writing – you name it!


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Dawson City Music Festival
Dates: 15 – 17
A three-day celebration of music and dancing under the midnight sun. Folk, rock, blues, world beat, traditional, jazz, hip-hop and more! Dubbed “Canada’s tiny perfect Festival” byVancouver’s Georgia Straight, the Dawson City Music Festival has been a fixture of theYukoncultural calendar since 1979.


Vicky is the worldly publisher of Vacay.ca. 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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