11 fun things to do in Canada this spring

April 04, 2024

Spring is a time of fresh beginnings. Especially after spending months in the good old Canadian deep freeze. The flowers start to grow, colours intensify, and the sun’s rays become stronger and stick around for more hours of the day. We can almost taste summer now. With the spring season, there comes a desire to explore and experience the world around us. Luckily, this year, Canada presents many options to indulge your spring fever with events that capture culture, flavours, and the great outdoors. If you’re just crawling out of your hibernation, these are the events you’ll want to head to!

Victoria, B.C.: Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Royal BC Museum

From March 1st to June 2nd, the Royal BC Museum hosts an exhibition of 100 photos of wildlife from around the world. Even though Victoria itself is already the home to lots of wildlife, from playful seals bobbing their heads above the water to wide-eyed deer scampering through the forests, this exhibition can be a great way to spend a couple of hours seeing even more. The photos feature animals on the verge of—or making a comeback from—extinction. That not only allows the possibility of becoming familiar with rare creatures, but also raises awareness about animal advocacy and environmental conservation. A general admission ticket gives you access and there’s a discount if you are a student!

Banff, Alberta: Made With Love Food and Cocktail Festival

Drinking and eating while surrounded by mountain peaks? What more could you ask for? Near the end of April until early May, Banff is set to embark on a festival that not only welcomes you to try great food and drinks but also gives you the opportunity to learn how to make your own. One of the events, for example, invites you to embrace your inner foodie and drink connoisseur by teaching you how to make cocktails. If alcohol isn’t for you, there’s always a wide choice of mocktails, and events with live music and barchef competitions on the street. Spending some time in Banff? HI Banff Alpine Centre is a lively hostel located close to all the fun in the village. Give Banff life a try!

Calgary, Alberta: FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival

No matter where you happen to be in Calgary, at least one of the 11 venues hosting the FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival, should be located conveniently enough so that you can get out and enjoy some belly-aching laughs. Starting on May 29th until June 9th, the festival features 70 performers. Get out with your travel buddy, newly made hostel friends, or even a first date and benefit from what some say is the best medicine. Pssst! Our Calgary hostel is located downtown and near the CTrain if you’re looking to crash at a spot near the festival.

Vancouver, B.C.: Avril Lavigne: The Greatest Hits Tour

“Chill out, whatcha yellin' for?” Could it be the upcoming Avril Lavigne concert in Vancouver? On May 22nd, the Canadian icon will be performing at the Rogers Arena for her The Greatest Hits Tour. Rogers Area is a major venue located in downtown Vancouver, making it the perfect spot for a night out in the city. Perhaps you could stop by Frankie's Italian Vancouver, located right by Rogers Arena, for some comforting pasta and drinks before heading to a nostalgic show that’s sure to leave you voiceless. P.S. Our downtown Vancouver location is perfectly located to crash before the Avril concert and enjoy all the downtown core bustle.

Edmonton, Alberta: 2024 Dreamspeakers International Indigenous Film Festival

This spring, Indigenous folks from around the globe come together for a festival made up of filmmakers, performers and artists. The festival is put on by the Dreamspeakers Festival Society— a non-profit that has been highlighting Indigenous work since 1993. Their goal, as stated on their website, is to create meaningful connections and learn about the needs of artists and the community. So on top of having the opportunity to watch dozens of films from around the world, it’s also an opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture and connect with the community. Afterwards, kick back and chill in the games room of our Edmonton hostel or rent one of our bikes to cruise around and see the sights. Even if you’re not in the area for the dates, you can watch some of the festival online.

St. John’s, Newfoundland: St. John’s Farmer’s Market

What better way to celebrate spring than to bite into fresh, seasonal produce while enjoying time outside? If you’re on the East Coast, St. John’s farmer’s market is calling you. Expect local produce, fresh baked goods, crafts, music and more every Saturday at the market. Accessible by public transit, the market is a great and easy way to spend an afternoon. Maybe you're a waffle person or interested in trying Syrian or Chilean food. Either way you can taste it here, because the market hosts over 100 diverse vendors. All in all, it's truly a place where people come together. So if you want to experience the community of St. John’s and gather with locals and travellers alike, this is where it’s at. After your market visit, HI St. John's City Hostel is around the corner for a good long nap.

Victoria, B.C.: Ska and Reggae Festival

Live music, a vibrant energy and dancing are par for the course at the Ska and Reggae Festival in June. This year’s program has eight performances (including some that are free) around Victoria. The musicians hail from all over the world with some being local to B.C. while others coming from as far as the United Kingdom, New York City, Mexico City and more. The festival aims to be both accessible and inclusive with wheelchair-accessible events, family-friendly shows, and recycling and composting measures to protect our environment. So, if you’re looking for a welcoming atmosphere and a taste of music from around the world, this festival is for you.

Halifax, Nova Scotia: Canada Sail Grand Prix

The salty ocean breeze ruffles your hair and the cheers from the crowd rise in bursts around you as you watch sailboats race across the water. This is what the vibe will be like at the Rockwool Canada Sail Grand Prix. On June 1st and 2nd, national sailing teams will come to Halifax Harbour to race. The boats can get close to 100 kilometres-per-hour and race close enough to the shore to be easy to watch from land. The race will allow you to experience high energy from the racers and crowds while enjoying time near the Atlantic coast. (Psst, our hostel in downtown Halifax is reopening later this summer!)

Montreal, Quebec: Montreal Salsa Convention

Do you know how to salsa? The Montreal Salsa Convention from May 16-20th is an exciting festival with live music, competitions, workshops and more. Watch experts gracefully twirl across the stage, hear lively salsa music and experience Latin dance and culture. Taking place right in downtown Montreal, this event is conveniently located. Afterwards, explore the city’s cobblestone streets, unique cuisine, and drop by the Old Port of Montreal which sits on the Saint Lawrence River.

Charlottetown, P.E.I.: DiverseCity Festival

Despite being a fairly small city on the far East Coast of Canada, Charlottetown hosts a vibrant festival celebrating Canadian multiculturalism. On June 23rd, downtown Charlottetown will be a space taken over by music, dance, crafts, art and food. The event is free and run by Immigrant & Refugee Services Association P.E.I. The festival is a chance to not only eat, listen to music and dance, but also to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity in Canada. DiverseCity explains its mission as one that helps welcome newcomers and supports inclusion and anti-racism. Need a place to sleep on the island? HI Charlottetown Backpackers Inn is in the heart of it all.

Quebec City, Quebec: Carrefour International De Théâtre

Night owls who tend to be awake from midnight until six in the morning are being asked to call in and leave anonymous voice messages as a part of an audio project called “Ligne de Nuit,” which will be featured in the Carrefour International De Théâtre (a short taxi from HI Quebec City). These anonymous callers answer questions like, “Why are you awake” and share personal anecdotes. If this sounds interesting to you, it's one of multiple exhibitions and possible experiences from May 23 to June 8th in Quebec City. Since 1992, the festival has long hosted and celebrated national and international theatre.

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