Best Time to Visit Canada
While Canada is a worthwhile destination to visit year-round; spring, summer, and fall are the best times to visit for spring flowers, warm weather, and fall colors as well as wildlife in the far-off regions of British Columbia.
At a glance:
Spring (March-May): Great wildlife spotting opportunities, the best time to look at the flowers and cherry blossoms, and the temperature begin to warm up.
Summer (June-August): Temperature peaks (in July), the best time to do outdoor recreational activities, and a good time to spot wildlife.
Fall (September-November): The Northern Lights, the temperature begins to drop, and leaves turn a beautiful orange color.
Springtime in Canada is a welcome respite from the cold weather of winter. In the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, wildlife sightings including whales and sea lions are extremely common. The city of Victoria’s cherry blossoms start to bloom in March, and polar bears start to arrive in Churchill on the shores of the Hudson Bay on ice flows around the same time.
The world’s largest tulip festival is held every year in Ottawa during May, with fields of colorful flowers in bloom, live music, and fireworks. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, the two-week-long Scotia Festival of Music takes place in May and showcases some of the best chamber musicians in the country.
During late June and early July on Cape Breton Island in the town of Baddeck, KitchenFest celebrates the area’s Gaelic roots with music, dancing, and plenty of food and drink. Quebec hosts Le Festive! in July – a music and arts festival with circus acts that take place in 25 places across the city.
For those seeking active outdoor adventures, summer in British Columbia offers sea kayaking was paddling along with a slew of other outdoor recreational activities along the shores of the Gulf Islands. This is a great way to see whales while keeping an eye out for wildlife on land.
Sable Island National Park in the summer is home to a pack of 400 wild horses that roam the 25-mile long island and one of the largest colonies of grey seals in the world. Trips here on cruises need permission from the Canadian government, which carefully monitors the natural conditions on the island.
Fall in Canada ushers in new highlights to discover. The fall colors of the coast of Victoria light up the countryside, while the Celtic Colours International Festival in Nova Scotia is a nine-day event on Cape Breton Island that includes live music, square dances, social events, nature hikes, and boat trips to experience the fall colors, and of course, traditional food.
The Northwest Passage, only open for cruises in July, August, and September; it is often best to cross during the latter two months as the ice has melted enough to let ships through, and darker nights offer a considerably better chance to see the Northern Lights.
At the end of August and continuing into the first week of September, Quebec hosts the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, one of the largest gatherings of hot air balloon enthusiasts in the world. Balloon rides over Ottawa, great food, and music from across the musical spectrum bring people to enjoy the show before the chill of winter sets in.