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May Festivals: Canadian Tulip Festival is in full bloom


The Tulip Festival in Ottawa has been a perennial spring celebration since 1953. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Report by Vacay.ca Staff

One of the coolest things about May is, and always will be, the Canadian Tulip Festival. A fixture since 1953, the festival once again has the nation’s capital ready to explode with colour and laughter. Every year, thousands of people come out to see this true expression of friendship between Canada and the The Netherlands. If you’re out east no worries — in Prince Edward Island the Points East Tulip Festival will offer colourful fun for folks who can’t make it to Ottawa.

A couple of beer festivals to tell you about, including Calgary International Beerfest and Le Mondial de la bière/Beer Festival in Montreal. On the topic of nice, refreshing drinks, the Banff Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival, The Spring Okanagan Wine Festival (Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon) and the The NEW Festival of Wines in Charlottetown also include award-winning chefs. There’s also the 4th Street Lilac Festival in Calgary, which promises lots of tasty vittles from some of the cities most popular restaurants.

Up north, the Dawson City Annual International Gold Show will be fun and educational with a showcase of the rich history of one of Canada’s famous cities.

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


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Canadian Tulip Festival
Dates: 3-20
The world’s largest tulip festival. Established in 1953 to preserve the heritage of Canada’s role in liberating the Dutch during the Second World War. Highlights include the Commemoriative Cavalcade of Classics and Opening Ceremonies and the Fire Jugglers Show.

Scotiabank Photography Festival
Dates: 1-31
Over 1,500 Canadian and international artists and photographers exhibiting at more than 175 venues throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Land of the Voyageurs Rubber Boots Festival
Dates: 11
Celebrate spring with maple syrup and music!

Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Dates: 11-12
Sponsored by The Canadian Society for the Study of Comics, and organized by Dr. Andrew Lesk, New Narrative is a full-day conference that explores comics and literary theory.

Canadian Croatian Folklore Festival
Dates: 17-19
Now in its 39th year, this festival is an event celebrating Croatian heritage and is held annually during the Victoria Day long weekend.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Barrie Waterfront Festival
Dates: 1-31
Live bands, free outdoor entertainment will be brought to the table: street buskers, a midway with rides, face painting, street vendors, fresh food, treats and contests.

Schomberg Agricultural Fair
Dates: 23-26
Several events that the whole family will enjoy, including the Miniature Horse Demonstration and a Demolition Derby.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Toronto Circus Festival
Dates: 19-21
Several events that the kids will love. Balloons, Hula Hoop Try-Outs, face painting, and awesome performers.

Orangeville Blues & Jazz Fest
Dates: May 30 – June 2, 2013
This year represents the Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival’s 11th anniversary of presenting successful musical events in the Hills of the Headwaters area.

Orleans Festival
Dates: May 31 to June 2
A new annual family-friendly cultural event born out of the community’s desire to promote local creativity and share a little taste of Orléans!

Sudbury Gardening Festival
Date: 25

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.


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Calgary International Beerfest
Dates: 3-4
Music, seminars, good times and lots of foam! Increase your beer knowledge and find a new favourite by sampling some of the more than 200 different types of beer on site.

Calgary International Children’s Festival
Dates: 22-26
Several shows that the whole family will enjoy, including many in French!

EDITORS’ PICK!!! 4th Street Lilac Festival
Date: 26
The festival is in its 24th season. Known as Calgary’s restaurant row, 4th Street boasts over 35 restaurants from countries all over the world.

St. Albert Kinsmen Rainmaker Rodeo & Exhibition
St. Albert
Dates: 24 – 26
Several fun events, including a parade, dog show and breakfast. And we heard there may even be a rodeo happening as well.

Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival 
Dates: 10-11
The largest and most exciting wine and food event in Alberta. Sample several different varieties of scotch, wine, beer and gourmet food.

Vocal Arts Festival – Opera Nuova
Dates: May 24 to June 29
The Vocal Arts Festival celebrates Canadian vocal artists while creating an accessible and unique blend of innovative and inspiring vocal performances. It is in its 15th year.

FunnyFest Comedy Festival 
Dates: May 30 to June 9
FunnyFest offers over 11,000 punchlines, 11 days and nights of comedy, 70 performers, and 20 themes. Several funny performers and workshops.

British Columbia

The Spring Okanagan Wine Festival
Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon
Dates: 3-12
One of Canada’s best small festivals.  The Spring Okanagan Wine Festival is a great way to meet the season’s new debutante wines and taste what the region is truly all about.

Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival
Dates: 11-19
You’ll love these games! Lots of events, including the Tartan Parade, Kilted Golf Tournament, and Clan Torchlight Ceremony.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week
Dates: May 31 to June 8
Nine Signature events, 6 feature events, 6 walk up events, and some epic week-long specials dedicated to all things craft beer.

Cloverdale Rodeo
Dates: 17-20
All taking place at the 125th annual Country Fair, and featuring more family-friendly entertainment than ever before.

EAT! Vancouver – The Everything Food + Cooking Festival
Dates: 24-26
Celebrity stage includes Chuck HughesRob FeenieBal Arneson and Anna Olson.

Vancouver International Children’s Festival
Dates: May 27 – June 2, 2013
The Vancouver International Children’s Festival has been educating, entertaining and inspiring young audiences since 1978.


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Winnipeg Pride Festival
Dates: May 24-June 2
Over 30,000 attend the Pride Winnipeg Festival to celebrate and to remember that there is so much to be proud of and thankful for.


Feather & Folk Nature Festival
Gros Morne National Park
Dates: May 31 to June 9
This 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.

Trails, Tales and Tunes – A Walking and Entertainment Festival
Norris Point, Gros Morne National Park
Dates: 17-26
Experience a unique blend of walks, workshops, culinary adventures, concerts and kitchen parties. Enjoy fine talent presented in intimate venues throughout the picturesque town of Norris Point.

Northwest Territories

NorthWords Writers Festival (Northern Arts and Cultural Centre)
Dates: May 30 to June 2
Canadian Author/Designer extraordinaire Douglas Coupland will be headlining the 8th NorthWords Writers Festival this year. A travelling storytelling festival with events in Behchoko, Fort Liard, Fort Simpson, Kakisa, Enterprise, Hay River, Fort Smith, and Fort Resolution.

Nova Scotia

Atlantic Band Festival
Dates: 2-3
The beautiful campus of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada is host to this, the largest band and choral festival on the east coast.

Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival
Annapolis Royal
Dates: May 19 to June 3
This year celebrates the 80th year of the Apple Blossom Children’s Parade.

Scotia Festival of Music
Dates: May 31 to June 3
Featuring international talent of the highest caliber, the festival offers concerts, recitals, open rehearsals, masterclasses, coaching sessions, lectures, and more.

Cedar Festival Halifax
Dates: May 30 to June 2
The festival can be divided into three categories: culinary, artistic and cultural, and entertainment; this main part of the festival takes place in the hall and on the grounds of Our Lady of Lebanon Church.

Prince Edward Island

EDITORS’ PICK!!! The Points East Tulip Festival
Points East Coastal Drive
Dates: 18-20
Enjoy the serenity of our stunning landscapes, unobstructed ocean views, and miles and miles of untouched beaches – some with singing sands!

The NEW Festival of Wines
Dates: 24-25
Featured chefs include Andrew Smith and Jane Crawford.


Festival musique actuelle Victoriaville
Dates: 16-19
The 29th edition of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville will include world premieres, world-renowned musicians, visual arts, and a circuit of sound installations in public places.

Anarchist bookfair
Dates: 25-26
The entire month of May in Montreal is part of the Festival of Anarchy, with diverse anarchist-themed events occurring at different venues all over the island of Montreal.

Festival TransAmériques
Dates: May 22 to June 8
Celebrating new works in contemporary dance and theatre, the Festival TransAmériques combines disciplines and artistic trends under cohesive programming.

Montréal Bike Fest
Dates: May 26 to August 2
Kids in motion! This year, kids 12 years and under ride for free in the Tour la Nuit and the Tour de l’Île de Montréal. This initiative of Vélo Québec is designed to encourage sports among young people and meet the challenge launched by the Québec government to fight sedentarism.

MUTEK, International festival
Dates: May 29 to June 2
Over the years, the MUTEK festival has presented a considerable number of renowned artists while simultaneously providing an important showcase for up-and-coming talent.  Each edition offers a notable array of Canadian, North American, and even international premieres.

Le Mondial de la bière/Beer Festival
Dates: May 29 to June 3
If you’re a fan of good beer, you’re going to love this festival.


Vesna Festival
Dates: 11
One of Canada’s largest and longest running Ukrainian Cultural Festivals.

Cathedral Village Arts Festival
Dates: 20-25
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.


Annual Crane and Sheep Viewing Festival 2013
Dates: 3-5
At the beginning of May, the Sandhill Cranes are on their way to nesting grounds in western Alaska and North-eastern Siberia. Visitors can see the birds funnel through the Yukon’s “Birdlock of Sandhill Cranes Highway” also known as the Tintina Trench.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Dawson City Annual International Gold Show
Dawson City
Dates: 17-18
Celebrating Dawson’s gold rush heritage as well as contemporary mining in the Klondike.

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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