Summer travel fun: Canadian style
Polar vortex be gone! Summer is at our doorstep.
Polar vortex be gone! Summer is at our doorstep. We can feel the heat, which means it’s time to shed the winter fur and head for the great outdoors – from coast to coast, activities abound in this vast country of ours.
But every year it may feel like just more of the same. Thankfully, if you’ve been to one too many rib fests, or have had enough family picnics, there are alternate options. Here are some of Canada’s not-so-usual activities.
Spock Days Festival, Vulcan, Alberta
If your town is named VULCAN, what is there to do? Put on a Star Trek festival and invite the world. Boldly going for twenty two years, it’s the ultimate trekkie gathering. Descend onto the Canadian Prairies to the official Star Trek Capital of Canada (who knew we had one?) for a weekend of extra-terrestrial family fun. This year it runs from June 13-15. The Town of Vulcan, Alberta is recognized around the solar system and throughout the alpha-quadrant for its coincidental relationship to Star Trek and Mr. Spock’s home planet. Vulcan has embraced the “space culture” with green aliens on road signs, and Star Trek tributes all down the main street. Fascinating.
|Spock Days Festival [source: festivalseekers.com]|
|Icelandic Festival of Manitoba [source: winnipegfreepress.com]|
|Chocolate Festival [source: tourismnewbrunswick.ca]|
|Elvis Festival [source: collingwoodelvisfestival.com]|
|Sign Post Forest [source: watsonlake.ca]|
Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, Gimli, Manitoba
Embrace your inner Viking at the 125th annual Islendingadagurinn festival taking place this year from August 1 to 4 in Gimli, 100 kilometers north of Winnipeg. This is possibly (absolute proof is not available) the second oldest festival in North America. Highlights include the selection of the Fjalkona (Maid of the Mountain), considered the female incarnation of Iceland. There is a Viking Encampment, Viking warfare tactics demonstration and, of course, no festival is complete without a parade.
Chocolate Festival, St. Stephen, New Brunswick
St. Stephen is Canada’s chocolate headquarters—but this is not a Willy Wonka imaginary town. It is a real place, filled with real people who are blessed with whiffs of chocolate floating through the air. As the home of world-famous Ganong Brothers Chocolate, St. Stephen, naturally, hosts an annual Chocolate Festival. Its mascots, The Great Chocolate Moose and his lovely wife, Tiffany, play hosts to the thousands of participants who flock to the festival each year for a chance at anything chocolate. Activities include Chocolate Cake Cutting and the Chocolate Run (which includes a children’s 1K run). This year the festival runs from August 2th to the 9th.
Edgewalk, Toronto, Ontario
This one isn’t a festival, but according to Guinness World Records, the CN Tower walk is the “Highest External Walk on a Building.” Known as the “Extreme Urban Adventure,” the walk is 356 meters above the ground, and takes about 30 minutes to complete – hands-free around the edge of the tower. At one point during the guided tour, participants can lean over the edge of the walkway, backwards. This activity takes place from May to October, and is only cancelled in the case of electrical storms or high winds.
Elvis Festival, Collingwood, Ontario
Elvis may have left the building, but he is alive and well in Collingwood, Ontario, from July 23 to 27, the date of the 2014 festival. The entire town gets all shook up to welcome Elvises from every era. You can Dine with the King or see Elvis at the Movies; enjoy a Gospel Brunch, or Dance to the Legends. Suspicious minds may think there’s not enough to keep everyone busy, but rest assured, there are plenty of events to keep all Elvis fans from crying in the chapel. You may have lost that lovin’ feelin’ for those old blue suede shoes, but put them back on your feet because this is one festival where you’ll find a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on. You’ll want to be there.
Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake, Yukon
This forest of signs in Watson Lake, Yukon, was started in 1942 by a homesick US army GI working on the Alaska Highway. He posted the first sign, which showed the name of his hometown and the mileage to it. Since then, travelers passing through the area have nailed thousands of signs, which today tops well over 70,000. While in the vicinity, pop into the Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre for information on the territory, along with history on the highway. And of course, leave your own hometown sign.