Report by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor
On Wednesday, Canada will celebrate birthday number 148. Whether you’re interested in good food, a romantic excursion, fun concerts or a boisterous outing in the streets with other revellers, Canada Day has something for everyone.
This year there are several unique twists to the festivities. In Montreal, a special moment will be remembered — the city will mark the 70th anniversary since the end of the Second World War. Regina will be creating a living flag. The Calgary Stampede kickoff will be only two days away when Calgarians celebrate the birth of the country. And what better way is there to say Happy Birthday in Edmonton than by watching some of the best female soccer players in the world go head-to-head in a FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final game?
Obviously, there isn’t enough room to mention every party in every part of the country. But we have listed some of the more notable ones. For a full list of Canada Day activities, click here to access the Government of Canada website.
You can celebrate Canada Day anywhere in the country and have a wonderful time, but Ottawa is the place to be and frankly if you’ve never experienced Canada’s birthday in our nation’s capital you’re missing out.
Streets close and become pedestrian walkways and the city turns into a sea of red and white. Parties spring to life for people of all ages. Parliament Hill, Major’s Hill Park and Jacques Cartier Park become the nation’s night clubs. The entire city is in a state of play on July 1.
Things kick off at 9 am on Parliament Hill with the flag-raising ceremony, followed by the Changing of the Guard ceremony at 9:30 am. Throughout the day visitors can enjoy awesome attractions like The Snowbirds and cultural entertainment as well as games and activities for families.
This year acts on The Hill include Canadian artists Magic!, country music singer Gord Bamford, Francesco Yates, Marc Dupré, Cassidy Mann and Karim Ouellet. As usual there’s the main event — a giant fireworks display over Parliament Hill.
Where to start? As if there aren’t enough awesome events in Edmonton, the city will also have the FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-finals at Commonwealth Stadium. You can celebrate Canada Day by supporting the outstanding job our country has done hosting this prestigious event. With some luck, attendees might even be cheering for Team Canada. The women’s national team faces England on Saturday in a quarter-final match in Vancouver. The winner advances to the July 1 game in Edmonton.
[box_light]Read: FIFA Women’s World Cup ready to amaze[/box_light]
Canada Day activities are planned for City Hall, the Alberta Legislature, the Muttart Conservatory, the Valley Zoo, the Art Gallery of Alberta and Mill Woods Park. The lighting of the High Level Bridge will take place at 11 pm, the same time as the fireworks that will display over Edmonton’s river valley parks and the North Saskatchewan River.
Vancouver will feel the fever of the Women’s World Cup too. The FIFA Fan Zone has been a massive hit with soccer maniacs during the tournament. Even though Vancouver doesn’t host the semi-final game, the fan zone figures to be packed with fans watching the live broadcast from Edmonton. Should Canada be in the contest, the fan zone will be in pandemonium with the excitement of possibly seeing the host team in Vancouver for the July 5 championship match.
Elsewhere in the city, the Vancouver Jazz Festival wraps up its 30th edition on July 1 with free shows throughout the city. One of the favourite spots for music lovers to see these shows is on Granville Island, where concerts will begin at noon and end at around 10 pm. At Canada Place in the city’s downtown, revellers will be entertained by live music, street hockey games, kids’ activities and a circus show.
Fireworks begin at 10:30 pm with barges off of Coal Harbour in Vancouver and Dundarave in West Vancouver. Find details here.
HALIFAX / DARTMOUTH
Everyone will be wearing red and white in Halifax for a full day of events. There will be a pancake breakfast, celebrations on Citadel Hill and a Tattoo Parade downtown. There will be a free concert featuring Juno Award winners Arkells, who will be joined by Glorious Sons, Party Boots, Laura Roy and Halifax’s own Elephants in Trouble.
Start the day with a buffet breakfast and official ceremonies and celebration cake at 10 am. Entertainment on the main stage begins at 11 am and runs all day, ending with fireworks at 10:30 pm.
Montreal is planning to recognize the 50th anniversary of our flag, as well as the 70th year since the end of the Second World War. Several fun events are planned for the day, including a cake cutting at 12:30 pm, face painting and the closing show featuring Élizabeth Blouin-Brathwaite, a dance number by Olivier Loubry, Lisbonne Télégramme, Paul Kunigis, Bleu Jeans Bleu, Cindy Bédard and Too Many Cooks. Fireworks start at 10 pm in the Old Port.
Have you ever wanted to be part of a living flag? The first 500 people to show up on Canada Day at 1 pm at the West Lawn, Legislative Building get to participate. Main-stage performances include Crystal Shawanda, Rum Runners, Miss Fits, Harlequin and Chilliwack.
Fort George National Historic Site, which helped turn the tide of the War of 1812, will open its doors for free to the public on Canada Day. The festivities start with a pancake breakfast at nearby Simcoe Park and a parade led by the 41st Regiment Fife and Drum Corps through Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Old town. There will also be a night of entertainment at Fort George and a fireworks show.
Looking for another great Canada Day idea in the Niagara Region? Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours is offering jet boat rides from the mouth of the Niagara River through the Class 5 Devil’s Hole Rapids and to just below the incredibly powerful Niagara Whirlpool. A bit too intense? Visitors looking for a more leisurely boat tour on the Niagara River can go for a ride on the Niagara Belle, a fully restored New Orleans-style paddle wheeler. The Belle is offering a special three-hour Canada Day dinner cruise where passengers will end the night watching the spectacular fireworks show off Fort George from aboard the boat.
In Niagara Falls, the 2015 Canada Day Celebrations will take place with a parade at 11 am.
GREATER TORONTO AREA
You will be spoiled for choice in the Greater Toronto Area (all of these events are free).
One of the best places in the city to enjoy Canada Day is Toronto Harbourfront, which will have activities going on from June 27 until July 1. Mel Lastman Square in North York will feature a fun-filled evening of live music and dance performances, family activities and a spectacular fireworks show choreographed to music.
Festivities will be going strong in Peel Region. In Mississauga, DJ Starting From Scratch will be performing along with Peter Katz, electric violinist Kytami, pop heart throb Scott Helman, and Kardinal Offishall. The band Walk Of The Earth will be headlining Canada Day celebrations in Brampton.
In Durham Region celebrations are at Lakeview Park in Oshawa from 2-10 pm. Enjoy family, food, entertainment and the fireworks display at the end of the evening. In Halton Region, Burlington will have free Canadian-themed activities and entertainment all day at Spencer Smith Park. Celebrations in Oakville will take place at Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park from 11 am until 11pm.
Celebrations at Shipyards Park will include an annual parade that ends at noon with a swearing-in ceremony and awards presentation.
Enjoy Canada Day events all day in Charlottetown. Holiday features family activities, a 10-hour outdoor concert starring PEI musicians.
Events will be happening all over Calgary, including a First Nations pow-wow, food truck rally, Chinatown festival, and fireworks. Another reason why it’s awesome to be in Calagary for Canada Day? The Calgary Stampede, of course. Although the 10-day event kicks off on Friday, there are many cowboys and cowgirls already beginning to party.
Vacay.ca’s Adrian Brijbassi contributed to this report.