August Festivals: Loads of folksy charm


The Hector brought 189 men and women from Scotland to Nova Scotia in the 18th century. The town of Pictou celebrates that journey in August. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Story by Vacay.ca Staff

It’s August, and with August comes a gentle reminder — summer is running out. So you better get out and enjoy it.

The good news is there are still lots of festivals happening across Canada for you to enjoy. So put the work away, get out of the house and check out what’s happening.

The ever-popular Folklarama kicks off this month in Winnipeg, with two weeks of music, food, performances and fun that the whole family will enjoy. In Ontario there’s no better way to celebrate August than with the Canadian National Exhibition, or CNE.

Lots of music to be enjoyed this month with the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship in Shelburne Ontario and the Blue Grass Festival in Sorrento British Columbia. There’s also the Edmonton’s Labatt Blues Festival and the Hector Festival in Pictou, Nova Scotia that honours the rich Celtic history in Atlantic Canada.

And if you love food, there’s lots of great choices, including the Penticton Peach Festival in British Columbia, Brantford’s Ontario’s Own Annual Ribfest, the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival in PEI and the Kent Agricultural Fair in New Brunswick.

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


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Folklorama
Dates: 5-18
Cultures from around the world come together in a two-week extravaganza full of ethnic richness and traditions. With over 40 pavilions, this multicultural event is held throughout the city.

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival
Dates: 3-5
Ukranian song, dance, costume and cuisine.  The first festival was presented in 1966 at the Dauphin Agricultural Centre and today the Selo Ukraina site has become home to the 45 year old festival.

Islendingadagurinn (Icelandic Festival)
Dates: 3-6
Second oldest ethnic gathering inCanada held in the largest Icelandic community outside Iceland. Includes midway, beach volleyball, Amma’s kitchen, folk festival, fine art show, sandcastle building contest, and a parade.

Winkler Harvest Festival
Dates: 10 – 12
The Winkler Harvest Festival and Exhibition is a celebration of agricultural heritage and the bounty of harvest time. Join us for free family activities!

Morden Corn & Apple Festival
Dates: 24-26
Everything free: shuttle bus, live stage entertainment, hot buttered corn-on-the cob, apple cider and bus tours. There’s also a midway, crafts, dances and gospel stage on Sunday.

3rd Annual Manitoba Goddess Festival
Dates: August 31 – September 3
The Manitoba Goddess Festival is proud to be Canada’s first Goddess Festival.


Canadian Guitar Festival
Dates: 3-5
Situated in Loughbrough Lake Holiday Park (neighbours include Doug Gilmour and Dan Aykroyd), the
Canadian Guitar Festival has grown into a 3 day family event.

North Bay Heritage Fesitval
North Bay
Dates: 3-5
Meat Loaf, Marianas Trench, Downchild, Jesse Labelle, The Steroes, and Dig Newton are performing at this festival.

Sioux Lookout Blueberry Festival
Sioux Lookout
Dates: 3-12
Blueberries till you drop! Recipes, a blueberry Wii tournament, and of course a blueberry breakfast.

Wikwemikong 51st Annual Cultural Festival
Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve
Dates: 4-6
Native American song and dance, traditional food, and historical displays.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship
Dates: 8-12
The festivities begin on Thursday with an evening concert; the contest proper starts with the playdowns on Friday and concludes with the finals on Saturday evening.

Manitoulin Country Fest
Little Current
Dates: 9-12
Manitoulin Country Fest has been nominated for three years (2009, 2010 and 2011) as Festival of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards.

Verona Cattail Festival
Dates: 10-12
Musical entertainment, live shows, exhibitions, marketplace, family fun and activities.

Pelee Fest
Pelee Island
Dates: 10-12
Various activities include a licensed festival tent with live entertainment, children’s inflatable activities, carnival style games, art & craft vendors, food vendors, and raffle draws.

Summerfolk Music & Crafts Festival
Owen Sound
Dates: 17-19
At Summerfolk, you can “feel the rhythm” of a festival that has been presenting the very best in folk music for three and a half decades.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Toronto Busker Festival
Dates: 23-26
This wacky and wonderful festival has evolved into the largest of its kind in North America, and a showcase for 100’s of the most spectacular street performers on earth.

EDITORS’ PICK!!!  Canadian National Exhibition
Dates: August 17 – September 3, 2012
The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is Canada’s largest annual community event. Taking place over the 18 days leading up to and including Labour Day, the CNE offers a wide variety of entertainment and events including Bandshell concerts, celebrity chef demonstrations, an aerial acrobatics and ice skating show, a dog show, a working farm, parades and a three-day Air Show, all of which are FREE with admission to the CNE.

Iron Horse Festival
St. Thomas
Dates: 23-26
The 18th Annual Iron Horse Festival is one of St.Thomas’ largest events. More than 20,000 people over the four days come from across the region to enjoy the festival.

Ottawa Turkish Festival
Date: 25
Celebrate the Scottish culture and heritage of the Ottawa Valley at the 29th annual North Lanark Highland Games in Almonte. Games are held in the historic town of Almonte at the beautiful old grounds of the North Lanark Agricultural Society on the banks of Ontario’s Mississippi River.

EDITORS’ PICK!!!  Brantford’s Own Annual Ribfest
Dates: 10-12
An astonishing amount of mouth watering ribs and chicken are prepared, sold and consumed over the weekend. Some of the best Professional “ribbers” teams from Canada will be competing for “best ribs” and other awards.


EDITORS’ PICK!!!  Tyne Valley Oyster Festival
Tyne Valley
Dates: 1 – 5
Home of the Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship. The best oyster Shuckers in the country will gather in the small rural village of Tyne valley to try and knock off last years champ Eamon Clark.

Roma Pioneer Festival at Three Rivers
Three Rivers
Dates: 11-12
Roma Pioneer Heritage Festival celebrates the pioneer experience of the settlers of Jean Pierre Roma at the Three Rivers, Brudenell site in 1730.


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Mont-Tremblant Jazz Fest
Dates: 8-12
Five jazz-filled days, presented on 2 outdoor stages in over 10 cafés, restaurants, bars and hotels in Mont-Tremblant. Sector Saint-Jovite (down town) and old village.

SAQ New France Festival
Québec City
Dates: 1-5
The Parade that marks the opening of the festival is an extravaganza for festival-goers, featuring song, dance, costumes – and of course, Giants such as Champlain, Grand-Cru or Marie-Victoire!

The Montréal Fashion and Design Festival
Dates: 1 – 31
The Montréal Fashion & Design Festival attracts some 500,000 visitors every year since 2000 on McGill College Avenue, at the heart of Montréal.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light (Fireworks Festival)
Dates: 1 – 31
Recognized as one of the top 100 events in North America (ABA), the Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light invites you to come and experience fireworks as you never have before during one of its 5 unforgettable evenings of international pyromusical (fireworks synchronized to an original soundtrack).

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières
Dates: 3-5
The Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières welcomes several major drivers such as Jacques Duval, Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, Alexandre Tagliani, Andrew Ranger, Danica Patrick, Ron Fellows, David Emprigham and Paul Gentilozzi.

International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
Dates: 11-19
125 Hot hot air balloons will fill the sky, the biggest gathering of its kind in Canada!

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Expo Québec
Québec City
Dates: 15-26
Expo Québec invites you to come pet the animals, thrill to the rides, join in a science experiment, discover gourmet foods, catch a show by one of many crowd-pleasing performers, and much more! There’s a whole host of fun and educational activities in store for visitors, so come experience the magic of this great summertime family event!

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Upper Gatineau Whitewater Festival
Dates: 24-26
The Upper Gatineau Whitewater Festival was created to promote the Gatineau River as a whitewater destination and to demonstrate to the local community the vast recreational and touristic potential of this magnificent river.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Québec City International Festival of Military Bands
Québec City
Dates: 23-25
Live the experience of the Quebec City International Festival of Military Bands. Military bands from different countries. Concerts offered in public. Visit Quebec City and enjoy the International Festival of military bands!

The Montréal World Film Festival
Dates: August 23 to September 3
Films from more than 70 countries, including those by well-known and first-time filmmakers alike, are presented.


Potash Corp Fringe Theatre Festival
Date: 2-11
Saskatoon’s Independent Theatre Festival featuring 228 Shows.

Regina Folk Festival
Dates: 10- 12
Regina Folk Festival Inc. (RFF) is a non-profit that throws wonderful events throughout the year.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! The Saskatoon Exhibition
Date: 7-12
Enjoy rock, country, hypnotists and comedy. Nightly grandstand concerts. Concession Row. Finest arts, crafts and photography. Two midways, kidsville, chuckwagon races, and a casino.

Date: 16-18
Saskatoon Folkfest is an annual, multi-cultural festival that has taken place each year since 1980 in the city of Saskatoon. The festival is comprised of up to 25 ethnic pavilions located throughout the city.

Northern Lights Bluegrass and Old Tyme Music Festival
Big River
Dates: 17-19
Big River hosts this Festival and Music Camp every August, and during the year they keep ourselves busy with Old Time dances, concerts, jams, potlucks and generally too much fun.

Regina Ukrainian Fall Fest
Date: 25
The event aims to celebrate Ukrainian-Canadian culture and recognize its people’s contributions to Canadian society at all levels.

SaskPower Regina Dragon Boat Festival
Dates: August 31-September 1
The 21st Annual SaskPower Regina Dragon Boat Festival has been a long time favourite event for paddlers, residents and visitors from across Canada.


Discovery Days Festival
Dawson City
Dates: 11 – 15
A week of special events celebrating Dawson City, including games, races, movies, a parade, and much more!

Yukon Riverside Arts Festival
Date: 11 – 14
An annual summer event that’s part of Dawson City’s Discovery Days weekend. The venue is parkland adjacent to the mighty Yukon River with participating artists coming from across the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Fireweed Festival
Dates: 25-26
Annual horticultural event and produce auction. Events for the whole family, games, swimming and dances.


Canmore Folk Festival
Dates: 4-6
Bringing exquisite folk music to the Rocky Mountains in Alberta since 1978, the Canmore Folk Music Festival is a destination for residents of Alberta and beyond!

Servus Heritage Festival
Dates: 4-6
Seventy-five cultures from all over the world – come sample culinary delicacies, see creative performances, shop for crafts, artwork, and clothing.

Calgary Fringe Festival
Dates: 3-11
The current Calgary Fringe is now a full-length 9-day Fringe, and is situated in the calendar between the Winnipeg Fringe and the Edmonton Fringe.

Rockin’ August – The Festival of Cars & Music
Dates: 2-6
With the support of the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce and the St. Albert Cruisers Car Club, this small, fun-filled event has turned into an international classic car display showcasing over 600 extraordinary automobiles.

Edmonton Fringe Festival
Dates: 16-26
The Village of the Fringed descends on Edmonton in venues throughout Old Strathcona and beyond.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! TransCanada’s Global Fest
Dates: 16-26
The festival reached attendance of close to 100,000 in the very first year, making GlobalFest one of Calgary’s top draws for local citizens and tourists alike.

Dragon Boat Festival
Dates: 11-12
Boats will surge ahead towards towering peaks surrounding a mythical mountain lake, propelled by paddles lifting and lowering in perfect synchronicity.

Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival
Dates: 17-19
The Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival Association (The Festival Association) is a non-profit organization which promotes Dragon Boat racing and its multicultural celebration in the City of Edmonton.

Expo Latino – Annual Hispanic Festival
Dates: 24-26
Western Canada’s largest latin festival,  celebrating it’s 16th anniversary.

EDITORS’ PICK!!!  Edmonton’s Labatt Blues Festival
Dates: 24-26
Western Canada’s Premier Blues Event, every August in Edmonton’s scenic River Valley in Hawrelak Park at The Heritage Amphitheatre.

British Columbia

Coombs Country Bluegrass Festival
Dates: 2-5
Coombs Bluegrass Festival is the oldest in B. C., celebrating its 34th  anniversary this summer. Come learn about bluegrass , listen to quality music and meet  great people.

Kaslo Jazz Festival
Dates: 3-5
Every August long weekend in Kaslo, B.C. great acoustics and superb musicians combine to create the Kaslo Jazz Etc Summer Music Festival. The unique floating stage rests just offshore a little, sandy beach on Kootenay Lake.

Spirit of the Sea Festival
White Rock
Dates: 3-6
This free summer festival on White Rock beach is produced by volunteers with the non-profit Community of Lights Events Society.

Filberg Festival
Dates: 3-6
Renowned 4-day festival with Canadian arts, crafts, live entertainment, delicious food held in the stunning Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Penticton Peach Festival
Dates: 8-12
Events include the Kiddies Day Parade, sand castle competition and a Grand Parade.

The Edge of the World Music Festival
Haida Gwaii,
Dates: 10-12
Performers include FM Hi Low, Aurora Jane and The Broken Mirrors.

Music Fest Vancouver
Dates: 10-19
MusicFest Vancouver brings an annual feast of classical, jazz and world music presentations.

Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival
Date: 11
Lineup includes Indigo Girls, Jimmie Vaughan, Meshell Ndegeocello and Kelly Joe Phelps.

Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts
Dates: 16-19
Join Canada’s longest running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers, featuring established literary stars and exciting, new voices… with opportunities for writers and readers to mingle amidst Rockwood’s heritage gardens.

Victoria Dragon Boat Festival
Dates: 17-19
Watch 90 Dragon Boat Teams from across North America race across a 500-metre water course in Victoria’s beautiful Inner Harbour.

Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival
Salmon Arm
Dates: 17-19
With an incredibly diverse 2012 line-up that crosses cultural boundaries and presents new forms of music while simultaneously embracing our roots (& blues!), R&B 20 is a musical feast with course after course of amazing performance.

Fringe Festival
Dates: August 24 – September 3
The Fringe is an uncensored, international festival of live comedy, drama, dance, spoken word, and more.

Alpine Wine Festival
Dates: 26-27
From 6-9pm guests will enjoy wine from various vineyards, tastings from local food producers, a silent auction benefiting the Vancouver Island Mountain Sports Society and live music by the Wire Choir Jazz Trio.

Blue Grass Festival
Date: 25
Two separate week long summer music workshops at the end of August. It’s a new name for an old friend- the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop.

New Brunswick

Miramichi Folksong Festival
Dates: 5 – 10
Canada’s Longest Standing Folksong Festival.  This is a festival of song and dance, featuring authentic traditional and contemporary folk music.

Tay Creek Folk Festival
Tay Creek
Dates: 10 -12
Folk music, country, bluegrass, Celtic and some classic rock.

New Brunswick Summer Music Festival
Dates: 13-25
The New Brunswick Summer Music Festival (NBSMF) is a professional classical chamber music festival now in its second decade.

Kent Agricultural Fair
Dates: 23-26
Four days of events with agricultural activities, craft displays, gardening and horticulture, commercial exhibits, food and fun for everyone!


St. John Dragon Boat Festival
St. John
Date: 25
The mission of the Foundation is to raise funds that help St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation for research, equipment and education.

St. John’s,
Date: 11
Road Race & Walk, car show, and a motorcycle show are just some of the events taking place at AtlanticFest.

Festival of Flight
Dates: 2 – 6
The annual Festival of Flight culminates with Gander Day festivities and includes events for all ages!

Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival
St. John’s
Dates: 3-5
The outstanding line-up includes The Once, Amelia Curran, The Dardanelles and The Raw Bar Collective.

Busker’s Festival
St. John’s
Dates: 3-5
The Buskers Festival is all about bringing it to the streets. Over three days, international, national and local entertainers create a spectacle on three stages throughout downtown St. John’s.

Brimstone Head Folk Festival
Fogo Island
Dates: 10-12
Outdoor festival, traditional Newfoundland & Irish music. Fogo Island is a 40 minute ferry ride from Farewell on Route 335. The festival features both professional & local entertainers.

Brigus Blueberry Festival
Dates: 9-12
Folk festival, parade, fireworks Sunday night. Newfie night, walking tours of Brigus and an Ecumenical Service.

Northwest Territories

6th Annual Ramble and Ride Festival
Dates: 3-5
The Ramble and Ride is an eco-friendly festival held annually in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories on August long weekend.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Folk Art Festival
Date: 5
Over 50 folk artists from around the Province will be in Lunenburg. Over 1000 people will be there to enjoy the fun.

Digby Scallop Days Festival
Dates: 8-12
Musical events, scallop shucking competitions, and parades.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Halifax International Buskers Festival
Dates: 2 -12
We welcome you to the largest, longest running outdoor festival of its kind in Canada!  The beautiful, historic Halifax Waterfront will come alive as we celebrate 26 years with hundreds of action packed, mind blowing shows from around the globe featuring the world’s most top award winning street performers from Australia, Brazil, UK, Japan, United States, and Canada to name a few!

Shag Harbour UFO Festival
Shag Harbour
Dates: 3-4
A festival of events themed around the 1967 UFO crash in Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia.  This incident is the only UFO crash recorded and recognized by the Canadian Government.

Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival
Dates: 9-12
Theme this year is “EXPLORING THE CELTIC BRAND” with Mary Jane Lamond as your host.

Halifax Seaport Beerfest
Dates: 10-11
Launched in 2007, the Halifax Seaport Beerfest has become the largest annual beer gathering on the East Coast and one of Canada’s top beer events.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Hector Festival
Dates: 10-12
This Celtic festival celebrates the accomplishments of the area’s early Scottish pioneers with music, ceilidhs, Highland dancing, piping displays and more.

9th Annual Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival
Lake Charlotte
Date: 18
Spend the day with musicians who love this unique and versatile instrument. If you have ever thought about playing the harmonica, this is the place to start.

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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