Adventure, Festivals Or Food: Expore Canada At Any Time Of Year
Despite what you may think, Canada is actually not covered in a year-round layer of snow and ice. There are three other seasons too, each offering distinctly different experiences.
Summer, autumn, winter or spring, Canada is a destination tailor made for exploration and adventure. The hardest decision is picking which season is right for you. Inspired by those “choose your own adventure” books, here’s our guide to choosing the perfect season.
Your friends want to go to Canada. You’re keen, but with only two weeks of leave to play with, you need to whittle it down to the right experience. Which do you choose?
I choose festivals and urban exploration: Go to summer
I choose food, wine, and adventure: Go to autumn
I choose snow, ice and northern lights: Go to winter
I choose road trips and wildlife: Go to spring
Summer (June to August)
You’ve chosen summer – a season when Canada is at its best. The sun is shining, the locals are loving life, and there seems to be a festival taking place every other weekend. The only downside is it’s also the most popular travel time. But, if you don’t mind the bigger crowds, there’s a lot of love about Canada in the summertime – especially in the big cities.
You could experience the Fringe Festival and Changing of the Guard in Ottawa, Canada’s capital; enjoy summer night markets and Theatre Under the Stars in leafy Vancouver; pretend you’re in Paris at a chic café in French-speaking Quebec; explore Toronto’s stunning Rouge Park, an urban oasis of wetlands, beaches and trails; attend Montreal’s epic Osheaga Festival, which is a bit like the Canadian Coachella (or is it Beychella now?); or maybe get a cultural fix with live street art and free outdoor concerts at the amazing Mural Festival.
Autumn (September to November)
You’ve chosen autumn – a time when the temperatures are dropping, the days are getting shorter, and the landscape is an Instagrammer’s dream with incredible changing colours. Being just outside of peak season too means prices are slowly starting to creep their way back down. The best thing, however, is almost every experience you could want is available in this one season.
Want to go whale spotting in Tofino or search for polar bears in the central province of Manitoba? Keen to go get your hike on among the trails of Banff National Park, zipline across the golden canopy of Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, or join in the wine harvest in the famous Okanagan Valley? In autumn (or fall, as the locals call it), you can do it all.
But, if you visit just one region, make it the Rockies. Banff, Jasper and Mount Revelstoke National Parks are stunning year-round, yet they’re at their most impressive in autumn.
Winter (December to February)
You’ve chosen winter – the season when Canada is at its most magical. The iconic ski resorts of Whistler Blackcomb, Sun Peaks, Kicking Horse and Big White are an absolute must if you love powder white snow, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg in this glorious season.
You could go fat biking beneath the dazzling northern lights in the Northwest Territories, which begin late autumn and run into winter; enjoy ice-carving and skating rinks at Ottawa’s Winterlude or the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival; check into the Insta-worthy Hotel de Glace ice hotel in Quebec; spice up your life at Toronto’s famous Winterlicious Food Festival; or sign up for the ultimate winter experience (think huskies and ice-fishing) at Sky High Wilderness Ranch in the Yukon wilderness. You’re only limited by your imagination.
Spring (March to May)
You’ve chosen spring – a wild season of renewal and re-emergence after the long and often harsh winter. At the start of the season, you can still enjoy many of the main ski resorts at significantly cheaper off-season prices. Once the snow is long gone, the fun continues with hiking, cycling and white-water rafting, particularly in the impressive Canadian Rockies.
With the end of winter comes the return of Canada’s abundant wildlife, from migratory birds to bears emerging after their long hibernation. British Columbia is Canada’s prime bear spotting territory, with brown bears, grizzlies and elusive spirit bears all calling this stunning region home. If you’re lucky, you may even spot them in rivers catching migrating salmon.
As the landscape bursts into bloom from north to south, spring makes an ideal time to head out on a road trip. Essential short trips would be to head off from Winnipeg and cruise along Yellowhead Scenic Highway into the heartland of Manitoba, or travel along the incredible Sea-to-Sky Highway, which links Vancouver with the alpine ski resort of Whistler.
Whatever the season, Canada is an exhilarating destination with something for everyone.
Learn more about travelling Canada here.
(Lead image: MURAL Festival / Facebook)