9 reasons why you need to go to Canada this year: from fabulous free national parks to festivals of fun
It’s Canada’s 150th anniversary this year and there are celebrations going on from coast to coast.
From the best hotspots for soaking up the country’s culture and history, to the festivals and parties you simply won’t want to miss, get ready for some major travel inspiration from the Atlantic to the Pacific and all the points in between.
It definitely should go on your travel bucket list for the rest of the year…
1. FREE ENTRY TO NATIONAL PARKS
With more than 45 national parks and 150 heritage sites, there’s no better time to enjoy Canada’s incredible scenery – they’re free all year to mark the anniversary.
Travel through the Canadian Rockies in the west or to the Bay of Fundy in the east… it’s incredible wherever you go. If you’re travelling with family or in a group, you only need to sign up for one free Discovery Pass which lasts all year.
2. POUND STRETCHERS
Unlike many other currencies, the Canadian dollar is relatively affordable for Brits, making it a good-value destination. Compared to mid-January, sterling is actually UP 10% against the Canadian dollar, meaning travellers pocket around $80 extra on every £500 exchanged.
3. BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS
Get there for Canada Day on July 1 and the fun goes from coast to coast, including the spectacular President’s Choice fireworks display in the capital Ottawa. Prepare to be astounded.
4. SEE THE CANADIAN MUSEUM OF HISTORY
If you are in Ottawa, immerse yourself in the special exhibit on Canada’s 150 years. It runs up to July 1 when the Canadian History Hall opens, presenting key moments from history that have helped shape the country. From Viola Desmond challenging racial segregation to the Fraser River gold rush, learn about Canada’s fascinating history and culture.
5. ANOTHER BIG BIRTHDAY
Jacques Cartier Bridge, Montreal
Canada’s second-largest city is also celebrating – Montreal turned 375 this year and it is hosting many events. The famous Jacques Cartier Bridge is lighting up in different colours every day, with the movement, speed and intensity changing with to the traffic and weather.
Montreal’s vibrant neighbourhoods are filled with activities too, including a historical exhibition at the McCord Museum plus food, music, theatre and arts. Dive in.
6. BEST OF THE FESTS
Just for Laughs is one of the many annual festivals that takes place in Canada, and the July 12-31 event is the largest international comedy festival in the world. The fun in Montreal includes the likes of Jerry Seinfield, Judd Apatow and Kevin Hart.
Or try the Toronto Fringe in the first two weeks of July. This year’s indie festival is packed full of funny female performers.
7. ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
The Rocky Mountaineer train
The Rocky Mountaineer scenic train is the only passenger service on the spectacular 1885 Canadian Pacific route between Banff and Vancouver, and is a fantastic way to experience the Rockies in style.
8. RIDE ‘EM, COWBOY
The Calgary Stampede
Saddle up for the world-renowned Calgary Stampede rodeo in Alberta – visited by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011 – where the best cowboys and cowgirls compete for more than $2million in prize money.
The centre of Calgary will host a 10-day celebration of all things Western, including rodeos, parades, chuckwagon racing and an epic evening show. Get your stetson and boots packed for July 7-16.
9. DRIVE OF YOUR LIFE
You’ll never forget a drive through the stunning scenery of the Rockies in British Columbia and Alberta – they’re one of Canada’s most iconic and inspirational destinations.
Start in Vancouver and head through British Columbia’s varied rolling landscape over the border to Alberta.
Canadian Affair has holidays across Canada with flights from Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester.