Big plans are afoot for the 150th anniversary of the world’s second-largest country. Here are just a few reasons to start planning a Canadian sojourn.
Thereâ€™s no better time to embark on a trans-Canada trip and marvel at the countryâ€™s natural beauty. Throughout 2017, Parks Canada is offering free entry to all 47 national parks and 168 national historic sites under its care. Banff and Jasper in the Rocky Mountains are two of the best known, but you should also head east to wander the 18th-century French fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, or visit Newfoundland to hike the uplands of Gros Morne and join a boat tour through its towering fjords. Any Parks Canada Discovery passes bought in 2016 are now valid for two years, giving you even more reason to go back and forge new trails in another province, or view familiar ground through the lens of a different season (pc.gc.ca).
Apart from the slew of festivals lined up in Ottawa, several cultural venues are adding new attractions to celebrate the occasion. The summer months will see the opening of new galleries at the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the Canadian Museum of History, while the newly renovated National Arts Centre will be unveiled on Canada Day (July 1). November marks the reopening of the Canada Science and Technology Museum in a futuristic setting that loosely resembles an iceberg (ottawa2017.ca).
Lighting the Way
Canadaâ€™s sesquicentennial coincides with the 375th anniversary of MontrĂ©al, which will paint the emblematic Jacques Cartier Bridge and two historic neighborhoods in a kaleidoscope of colors. CitĂ© MĂ©moire, a sound and light show held throughout Old MontrĂ©al, will narrate the cityâ€™s evolution every night from May 18. Down by the Old Port, MontrĂ©al AVUDO is a large-scale multimedia show created by the artists behind the closing ceremonies of the Turin and Sochi Winter Olympics. Running from May 17 to September 2, it will explore the deep emotional ties between the St. Lawrence River and MontrĂ©al (375mtl.com).
Music will be the highlight of a four-day-long Canada Day festival held at several outdoor venues across Toronto, including Nathan Phillips Square, the civic centers of North York and Scarborough, and Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Etobicoke. The event harnesses talent from all of Canadaâ€™s provinces and territories, while performers from other countries will also make an appearance. Hip hop, indie rock, electronic, and country music are included in the eclectic lineup (seetorontonow.com).