15 Ways to Celebrate 150 Years of Canada

Posted on 02/28/2017

In 2017, Canada is rolling out all the stops to celebrate the 150th anniversary its confederation. Throughout the nation, cities and
organizations are rolling out larger-than-life festivals, programs and events. There are so many ways to celebrate, and the following events are really easy on the budget.


Visit a National Park (Nationwide)
A great way to say “Happy Birthday, Canada” is to start with an exploration of the nation’s national parks. Among the most famous is Banff National Park, among the five oldest national parks on earth. But each province has plenty of nationally designated parks, marine conservation areas, historic sites and lighthouses that are begging to be explored. What’s more, travelers can apply for a Discovery Pass online, which means admission to these sites is totally free throughout 2017.

Take a Virtual Train Ride (Nationwide)
Much of Canada’s history was forged along the transcontinental rail lines. Even tourism got its start with passengers riding the rails, and many of the nation’s grand five-star hotels were developed by rail companies as pit stops along the route. To celebrate this heritage, the CBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, is unveiling Train 150, a “television, digital and social media event.” This show takes place on an actual train, which will cross the country from east to west, and showcase the nation’s natural beauty as well as share personal stories of rail passengers over the years.

Canada 150 Mosaic (Nationwide)
This national art project unfolds in a number of communities throughout Canada. Each project will feature 400 to 750 individually painted tiles that celebrate the nation’s rail history and are designed to represent a train moving through town. Each mural reflects the personality of its community while also showcasing the individual pieces of a collective nation.

SESQUI Cinema (Nationwide)
SESQUI, an immersive cinematic experience, unfolds in a full dome that surrounds guests with 360 degrees of images, interactive content, storytelling and activities that showcase Canadian art and innovation. The SESQUI dome and its feature film, Horizon, is a travelling show and will visit communities throughout Canada all year long.

National Canadian Film Day (Nationwide)
On April 19, celebrate National Canadian Film Day, by exploring your favorite Canadian filmmakers or finding a new favorite. This nationwide film fest will include showings online, on TV and in more than 800 libraries, theatres, city parks and other public venues across the country.

Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta (Quebec City, Atlantic Canada)
While the Canadian rail gets most of the love with respect to Canada’s history, its famed waterways such as the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River have obviously contributed more than their share to Canadian history. In celebration of Canada’s waterways, the
international Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ship Regatta, which features more than international 40 tall ships will make its way through Canada. The international race begins in England on April 13 and finishes in France in late August or early September. In Canada, the ships are scheduled to arrive in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on June 30 and will sail into Quebec City for a lively celebration from July 18 to 23. Along the way, they’ll visit more than 30 Canadian ports, including a final stop in Halifax before crossing back to France.

Celebrate Montreal’s 375th Birthday (Montreal)
While Montreal also celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday this year, it has bigger fish to fry. On May 17, Montreal also commemorates 375 years since French missionaries arrived there. Head to Montreal anytime this year for huge, noisy, lively spectacles and concerts that range from an interactive lighting project on the city’s Jacques-Cartier Bridge to an operatic remake of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips (Ottawa)
This year, Ottawa continue its annual Canadian Tulip Festival, which its been celebrating since 1953. This year, look for the specially bred Canada 150 tulip, an “elegant white bloom with red flames (to bear) a striking resemblance to our maple leaf flag.” Some 300,000 of these distinctive hybrids are being showcased during the free event, which runs May 12 to 22. The tulip has been Ottawa’s official flower since 1945 when Princess Juliana of the Netherlands sent 100,000 tulips to the Canadian people to thank the nation for sheltering her and her children during World War II.

Visit the National Gallery (Ottawa)
Canadian art will abound this year at Ottawa’s National Gallery, which will host “Our Masterpieces, Our Stories.” Special exhibitions include contemporary art and photography, as well as a re-imagined Canadian Indigenous Galleries, which opens to the public on June 15. Admission to the National Gallery is CAD $12 for adults, CAD $10 for seniors and students and CAD $6 for children age 12-19. Members are free.

Ottawa Welcomes the World (Ottawa)
Throughout the year, the Ottawa Welcomes the World project, features a series of events that showcase the City of Ottawa and the many international embassies located there. Embassy events include Turkey (April 23-25), Ireland (June 16), India (September 29) and many others. Although each program varies, many will include food tastings, musical celebrations and artistic displays.

Open Doors (Ottawa, Toronto)
Doors Open Toronto and Doors Open Ottawa were designed to welcome guests to architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings, monuments and landmarks. The Toronto event takes place May 27-28, while the Ottawa event unfolds June 3-4. With the theme of “Fifteen Decades of Canadian Architecture,” each event includes highlights from each decade since the 1860s. Doors Open Toronto, the largest event of its kind in Canada and one of the three-largest Doors Open events in the world, attracts more than two million visitors and unfolds at nearly 700 locations across the city.

Canada Rocks 150 (Toronto)
With the intention of becoming the largest rock concert ever, Canada Rocks 150 is hoping to bring together some 1,500 musicians from across Canada to break the Guinness World Record for most participants. The collective band will perform four iconic Canadian rock songs.

Spirit of 150 Victoria (Victoria)
The city of Victoria will celebrate the nation’s sesquicentennial with the Spirit of 150 Victoria festival, featuring 11 days of free outdoor
events in the city’s Inner Harbour. The full schedule is still being hammered out but will include live music, activities and, of course,
food samplings. A final stage show and fireworks will celebrate the nation’s birthday on July 1.

The Canada Show Returns (Vancouver)
A popular but retired component of the Vancouver Fringe Festival is The Canada Show, where three comedic historians retell 15,000 years of Canadian history in an hour-long program. The re-boot takes place May 31-June 2, seven years after it retired. The show is being billed as everything from “the Bering Strait to Justin Trudeau in 60 laugh-packed minutes.” Tickets are CAD $25.

Canada 150, plus (Vancouver)
Canadians know that while the nation’s confederation may only be 150 years old, the history of Canada actually stretches back millennia. To acknowledge the country’s vast history, the City of Vancouver is hosting Canada 150+, which shine a light on pre-Canada Canada, with a special emphasis on aboriginal and indigenous cultures. Major events include the Gathering of Canoes in Vancouver Park (July), a 10-day festival in downtown Vancouver (July) and a Walk for Reconciliation (September.)

For more tips and ideas on what to do in Canada, contact Flair Travel: we have amazing deals in store for you!