Travel

Party like it’s 2022: 5 winter festivals in Canada to kick off your year

We’ve hibernated long enough. Break out your warmest party clothes and check out these great winter celebrations of sport, food and culture.

  • Nov 29, 2021
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A DJ hypes up the crowd at Igloofest, arguably the world’s coolest — and coldest — electronic music festival. (Photo: Charles Prot)
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As the temperatures dip, and dip, and dip some more, it might be tempting to curl up in front of the fire with a good book. But we’d rather embrace the chill! Explore Canada through its cold-weather festival culture. Here are five festivals on our radar as the deep freeze descends.

FROSTival

Fredericton, Jan. 20 – Feb. 6
A campfire singalong breaks out against the historic backdrop of Officers Square at Fredericton’s FROSTival. (Photo: Fredericton Tourism)
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With the tagline “Don’t hibernate, celebrate!” FROSTival embraces the season with three weekends packed with outdoor and indoor fun. Families might opt for the horse-drawn sleigh rides and family skate events, while night owls meet for a nighttime snowshoe under the stars or a concert. The festival’s Crokicurl is a uniquely Canadian event, combining curling and crokinole (the ice rink is set up as a giant crokinole board) with competitors sliding junior curling rocks — or sometimes frozen milk jugs.

Lobster Crawl

Nova Scotia’s South Shore, February
A for Adventure’s Jan-Sebastian LaPierre and Chris Surette welcome Lucy the Lobster ashore in Barrington, N.S., Lobster Capital of Canada. Lucy the Lob-STAR makes her Groundhog Day prediction each year to kick off the Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl festival. (Photo: A for Adventure/Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl)
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Can’t get enough lobster? The Nova Scotia Lobster Crawl turns the province’s south shore into a February destination with a month-long eating extravaganza that runs from Barrington (the Lobster Capital of Canada) to Peggy’s Cove. Along with all the lobster-roll eating, events include crustacean-themed walking tours, lobster specials at dozens of restaurants, and lobster and craft beer evenings. The intrepid take the opportunity to visit Whitepoint Beach, known for its winter surfing, booking a lesson or two with an expert.

Igloofest

Montreal, Jan. 13 – Feb. 5
People-watching is part of the fun at Igloofest, as partygoers come dressed in their craziest winter gear. (Photo: Charles Prot)
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Montreal’s Igloofest is the coolest electronic music festival in the world — and very possibly the coldest because it takes place outdoors, at night, in a city that can get awfully cold in winter. With the city’s stunning skyline as a backdrop, DJs drop their beats for throngs of appreciative party-goers who come outfitted in their craziest retro snow gear.

Flying Canoë Volant

Edmonton, Feb. 1-5
Who’s crazy enough to race a canoe down a ski hill? We are! (Photo: Paul Swanson)
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Inspired by a coureurs de bois legend, the Flying Canoë Volant festival celebrates everything that is exceptional about a long winter night in a great winter city. Held the first week of February, the festival showcases the North Saskatchewan River valley and French-Canadian, First Nations and Métis cultures — from drumming to jigging and fiddling and storytelling to downhill canoe racing in the snow. There’s also a truly Canadian triathlon whose three events are racing a canoe down a ski hill, working a two-person bucksaw and axe throwing.

Niagara Icewine Festival

Niagara region, Ontario, Jan. 14-30

Sipping on a cold beverage in the middle of winter may seem counterintuitive, but you’ll want to make an exception for this. Made with frozen grapes that release ice crystals when pressed, icewines are sweet and perfect for sipping — and Niagara’s are some of the best in the world. Make the most of the festival by purchasing a Discovery Pass, which gets you access to six icewine and food pairings at some of the region’s top wineries.

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