When to go to Canada
Canada by season
As the second largest country in the world, there’s truly never a bad time to visit Canada. With little location-dependent variation in weather patterns, when to visit Canada depends purely on your interests. Visit in spring for vibrant wildflowers, in summer for the long hours of sunshine, in autumn for the spectacular fall foliage and in winter for the skiing.
March – May
As Canada emerges from the icy winter, melting snows flow into raging rivers, and the forests and meadows spring to life. The lush greenery attracts wildlife, making this a good time to look for moose in Algonquin Provincial Park on the east coast. Spend sunny, blue-sky days hiking and exploring the national parks or taking a relaxing stroll around Vancouver, although bear in mind there may still be a chill in the air.
Whale watching: head for the Atlantic coast and keep your eyes peeled for humpback, minke or beluga whales.
Vancouver International Wine Festival: in a country filled with fine wines, Vancouver celebrates the best of them in March, with proceeds going to the local theatre company.
June – August
By June temperatures have increased sufficiently for hiking trails and attractions to be open countrywide. There’s plenty of wildlife about too, including bears in British Columbia and the Great Bear Rainforest. As temperatures hover around the mid to high twenties, the remote Yukon area becomes more accessible and towns and cities across the land throw lively festivals and concerts.
Calgary Stampede: In July, over a million visitors flock to Calgary for parades, stage shows, concerts, chuckwagon racing and one of the world’s largest rodeos.
Orca watching: look out for orcas along the west coast. Between June and October try Robson Bight, just north of Vancouver, for a good chance of spotting them.
September – November
Ask anyone in Canada’s eastern towns and they’ll tell you that fall is the best time to visit. It’s this time of year that the leaves turn numerous shades of gold and orange, and the parks and lakes around Ontario are at their most spectacular. Although temperatures begin to cool, outdoor activities are still possible and, if you’re in the far north, look out for polar bears returning home.
The Salmon Run: from late August to November, salmon flood Canada’s west coast rivers ready for spawning, attracting large numbers of bears on the lookout for food.
Toronto International Film Festival: a 10-day celebration of all things cinema, this prestigious event, held in September, attracts celebrities and movie buffs in their droves.
December – February
As the days begin to shorten and the snow starts to fall, ice skating rinks open across the country. Wrap up warm as its cold out there; -40°C is not unheard of. Now’s the perfect time to ski in the Rocky Mountains or perhaps go dog sledding or ice fishing in the eastern forests. And by far the best reason to visit is the fabulous spectacle of the northern lights dancing in the skies. You’ll need to head to the Yukon and Northwest Territories to see them at their best.
Quebec Winter Carnival: in late January and early February, Quebec City hosts the world’s largest winter carnival, including a masquerade ball and some impressive life-sized ice castles.
Canyon Lights: between November and January, head to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver for thousands of coloured light displays, all in aid of local charities.