Summer festival fever in Canada

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In cold-climate countries like Canada, where people know they need to take full advantage of the long hot days while they last, the summer festival scene goes off. Here are some great ones to head for.

The Great Canadian Beer Festival, British Columbia

Ever had a Mash Up the Jam Dry Hopped Sour? Bourbon Blood Orange Wheat Ale? How about a Reckless Abandon IPA? Canada's oldest and longest-running beer festival is held in BC's seaside capital of Victoria over a weekend at the tail-end of summer. About 75 Canadian breweries are featured and the food trucks, buskers and circus acts get the atmosphere hopping. Prior to the festival review the 250 beers and ciders on the GCBF website and plot your booth route. If that's not enough choice there are 12 breweries within walking distance of the festival grounds. See gcbf.com

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Toronto's Festival of Beer (beerfestival.ca) and Gatineau Beerfest (festibiere.ca), held riverside at the Canadian Museum of History.

Calgary Stampede, Alberta

Is this your first rodeo? A white Smithbilt hat will help you fit right into this 10-day extravaganza. It's a Western festival first and foremost with super slick rodeo, chuckwagon racing, carnival rides and stunt dogs but the so-called greatest outdoor show on earth also has silent disco, freestyle motocross demos and live music. More than 60 local and international acts always include some big-name artists like Sheryl Crow or Keith Urban. Most music performances are free with park admission. See calgarystampede.com

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There are small-town summertime rodeos throughout Alberta that offer a different atmosphere and ticket price to Stampede. And they get you closer to the action. See travelalberta.com

Veld Music Festival, Ontario

This Toronto-based festival is about cramming as much electronic dance music and hip-hop you can into 48 hours. International and Canadian headliners are the likes of A Boogie, Anna Lunoe, DJ Snake, Migos. Think massive crowds, pyrotechnics, techno, techno house, deep house, progressive house, deep progressive house, progressive house techno and dancing till you drop. Selfie sticks, pacifiers, hula-hoops and spandex onesies that cover your head aren't allowed but don't forget your CamelBak and fanny pack. See veldmusicfestival.com

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Osheaga Festival (osheaga.com) in Montreal for indie vibes. Or, for something more grassroots, try the folk at Atlin Arts & Music Festival (atlinfestival.ca) or Kamloopa Pow Wow for powerful Indigenous storytelling, song and dance (FB/kamloopapowwow).

Just for Laughs, Montreal, Quebec

What began as a two-day Francophone gathering of funny people in 1983 is now the world's largest international comedy festival. It lasts for more than two weeks and features the industry's best-known comedians and introduces lesser-known yet equally talented stand-ups, writers, actors and directors. It's a running joke that most of the two million people who attend every year are talent scouts. In addition to stand-up comedy there are parades, galas, musicals, panel discussions, films, guest speakers and podcast recordings. Performers generally agree Montreal audiences are warm, smart, enthusiastic and have a great sense of the absurd. See hahaha.com

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There are more Just for Laughs in Toronto and Vancouver. See hahaha.com

The Shediac Lobster Festival, New Brunswick

In an unlikely pairing of sideshow-alley carnival funfair and what is now considered one of the fanciest foodstuffs on the planet, this 10-day lobster fest has been serving it up for 69 years. Expect feasts prepared by celebrity chefs, wine and lobster events, craft beer tasting and people wandering around in lobster costumes. Every year the self-proclaimed lobster capital of the world challenges its own "world's longest lobster roll" record and, as of 2018, it's just over 67 metres. If you've ever had a craving to be in a lobster-eating competition there's one every day. The daily festival entry fee is as cheap as chips. See shediaclobsterfestival.ca

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Montreal's Le Grand Poutinefest (legrandpoutinefest.com) always sells out early. Or head to Prince Edward Island's International Shellfish Festival (peishellfish.com) for seafood safaris and much shucking.

Experience Canada's culture for yourself here thanks to our friends at STA Travel. 

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