Celebration by Kool & the Gang should be adopted as our Canadian summer theme song. Or perhaps Dancing in the Streets by Martha and the Vandellas is more apropos. After enduring a long winter and fickle spring weather patterns, our souls scream to be unleashed as we spill out onto the streets to embrace summer in all its glory. Rain or shine, Canadians from coast to coast are notorious for celebrations and festivals. So grab your favourite party hat and join the throngs to dance, sing, feast and rejoice with total abandon.
I would venture to guess that nothing gets Canadian feet moving and hips gyrating more than Caribbean music. Also known as the Festival of Joy, the Toronto Caribbean Carnival (torontocarnival.ca) is a four-week spectacle featuring Caribbean music, cuisine and revelry. It is among the largest outdoor events in North America, so you know you’re in for a good time. Scheduled to take place from July 7 to August 11, 2019, this year marks the 52nd anniversary of the carnival in Toronto. The three highlight events are the Gala on July 26, the King and Queen Showcase on August 1 and the Grand Parade on August 3. Of course, Caribbean culture is celebrated elsewhere as well: Caribbean Days Festival 2019 (caribbeandays.ca) in Vancouver, July 27–28; Calgary’s Carifest (carifest.ca), August 16–17; CariSask 2019 (carisaskregina.com) in Regina, July 19–20; and Carifiesta Montréal 2019 (carifiesta.com), July 6. In Winnipeg, Caribbean flair is captured at the Soca Reggae Festival (socareggaefestival.com) from July 12–14 and, from August 30 to September 1, Halifax celebrates the region’s vast array of colourful cultures at the Mosaic Festival (mosaicfestival.ca).
From late June into July, jazz and blues lovers gather at festivals held nationwide, from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Victoria, B.C. Featuring such renowned artists as Diana Ross, Bryan Adams, Peter Frampton and Norah Jones, some of the most popular include the TD International Jazz Festival series in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Niagara, Toronto, Markham, Ottawa, Montréal and Halifax. A full listing is found at jazzfestivalscanada.ca.
However, one should never discount the festivals held in smaller communities across Canada. For a healthy dose of local culture, few come close to the Celtic Colours International Festival (celtic-colours.com) in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Between July 5 and August 4, classical music enthusiasts will be gathering at the Festival de Lanaudière (lanaudiere.org), a region on the north bank of the St. Lawrence River just east of Montréal, to listen to great artists from Canada, France, Italy and Germany. Jazz lovers might want to check out the very popular outdoor Trius Jazz and Trius Blues festivals held every July and August respectively in the vineyards at Trius Winery at Hillebrand in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario (triuswines.com). If your taste in music is eclectic, from July 14 to August 10, you can experience a little bit of everything at the TD-sponsored Music Niagara (musicniagara.org), also in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where venues range from outdoor vineyards and parks to historical churches. In B.C., head over to the Kaslo Jazz Fest (kaslojazzfest.com) from August 2 to 4, when world-class musicians will perform on a floating stage against a breathtaking backdrop of mountains and sky.
Even if music is not among your top interests, there is never any shortage of Canadian festivals planned for summer 2019 and findfestival.com is a good place to begin your search for what is happening in communities across Canada. May your summer rock!