July 1, or Canada Day, is the anniversary of the formation of the Dominion of Canada, within the British Empire. It was on that day in 1867 that the separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick united to form the single entity we celebrate today – and at the time, was made up only of parts of present-day Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The other provinces would follow, from 1870 – 1949, with Canada only drafting its own constitution, separate from Britain, in 1982. But wait – you’re not here for the history, you say? You just want to know where and how to celebrate our big 150th birthday with as much style as possible? Right! Read on, dear reader, read on.
Option #1: Staying in the northeast: a free outdoor festival at the Genesis Centre
Bring your family, your blanket and a lawn chair to the Genesis Centre on Canada Day, as they’ll be hosting an outdoor festival from 12 pm to 8 pm. Admission is free, and you’ll be treated to live music, family activities, food trucks, and exhibits from local businesses.
Option #2: Explore downtown: concerts, activities, food and fireworks
There’s something for everyone at the many party locations across downtown Calgary. Take a walk down Riverfront Avenue for live music, food and art, including performances by Tegan and Sara, the Calgary Multicultural Orchestra, and Midnight Taiko Drumming. Continue walking to East Village, where food trucks, an artisan’s market, and a full program of events at Studio Bell are taking place. Alternatively, spend your time at Olympic Plaza, where family-friendly music and activities will be taking place, including performances by Ian Tyson, the School of Alberta Ballet, and the Bach Tots Dance and Theatre for Young Children. Wander into Chinatown and explore the amazing food options, a parade, or the kite-flying festival. Or spend your time on Prince’s Island, where great musical performances by Francophone and Indigenous groups join Canadian military demonstrations. Finally, the City’s fireworks display will take place on the Centre Street bridge from 11-11:30 pm, and at a full thirty minutes long, they’ll be bigger and better than ever.
For the City of Calgary’s interactive map of downtown festivities, click here.
Option #3: Family-friendly (and likely less busy) fun: Confederation Park NW
True to its name, Confederation Park will be hosting its own Canada Day festival from 9 am to 1 pm. Enjoy a free pancake breakfast, horse-drawn wagon rides, live entertainment, and the opening of a 1967 time capsule (buried on Canada’s centennial in the same year).
Option #4: Traveling back in time: Heritage Park
Enjoy Canada Day back when it was called Dominion Day at Heritage Park. Festivities will kick off at 10 am with a pancake breakfast, which will be followed by a parade, crafts, a magic show, and family games. The celebration will also see the unveiling of a new exhibit: “The Journey of a Lifetime”, which is a restored wooden rail car that allows you to experience the journey across Canada that many settlers experienced when arriving in the country for the first time. The party winds down at 5 pm, giving you lots of time to get downtown for more activities.
Option #5: Do your own thing: Picnic in the park of your choice
Competition will be fierce, but if you can snag one of the city’s many first-come, first-served or reserved picnic sites across its park system, you’re guaranteed to have a great day with family and friends. Click here for the City’s picnic site reservation system, or take your chances and grab a spot in your favourite park bright and early on Canada Day.
Option #6: Take a hike: Get away from it all in the mountains
Maybe Calgary will feel too crowded for you on Canada Day, and you just want to get away from it all and enjoy Canada in the most literal sense – by immersing yourself in some of the nation’s most iconic mountain landscapes. While we suggest hitting the road early to avoid traffic, if you can make it, Lake Louise, Banff, Peyto Lake, and Kananaskis promise some of the best scenery in the Rockies.