Summer in Canada means that it’s time for camping, cottaging and generally enjoying the great outdoors. Of course, this isn’t for everyone, what with the bugs and roughing it in the middle of nowhere. Luckily summer is also one of the best times to enjoy the wonders of the country’s cities and larger towns. Here are some of the best cities in Canada to visit during summer.
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Even though there are nearly 24 hours of sunshine on summer days in Iqaluit, you’ll still wonder how to fit in everything there is to do. Outdoor activities are plentiful, with everything from kayaking to berry picking and hiking to scenic Apex Beach, one of those secret places locals don’t want you to know about. July 18 sees one of the city’s most popular events: the Alianait Arts Festival, so be sure to get yourself to this must-visit Canadian city this summer.
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With its many Victorian buildings, it’s not for nothing that Stratford is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Canada. To make summer even better, the city hosts the Stratford Festival where you can see some of the world’s most renowned thespians grace the city’s stages.
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You may not be able to skate on the Rideau Canal in summer but the warmer weather means it’s the perfect place for a lazy afternoon of boating. Of course there is more to Ottawa in summer: visiting museums, neighbourhood fairs and the ByWard Market make it one of Canada's best cities.
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Summer in Calgary means only one thing: the biggest party of the year. The city is one of the best places to visit in July, since the Calgary Stampede, held from the 5th to the 15th, is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2018.
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Montreal is famous for its international festivals celebrating everything from jazz to the circus. If you’re in town between August 8 and 15, don’t miss the multidisciplinary Montreal First Peoples Festival, which celebrates Quebec’s First Nations.
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Street fairs, arts festivals, music and theatre and among the most restaurants per capita than any of the other cities in Canada: Saskatoon is much more sophisticated than many people think. A must-do in summer is to take a boat down the South Saskatchewan River.
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Vibrant, cosmopolitan Toronto is even better in summer, when the beach is the place to be. You can even pretend you’re in the Caribbean during Caribana Toronto, held from August 2 to 6. This Caribbean festival with its colourful parades makes the Canadian city one of the best places to attend Carnival, especially if you can’t wait for February.
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Victoria, British Columbia
With its historic buildings, Victoria is beautiful any time of year but come summer, the city is simply gorgeous. Soak up the sun with a stroll among the blooms in Hatley Gardens. Even better, head to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, where more than 70 species of butterfly are a-flutterin’.
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Long, sunny summer days make Winnipeg one of the best places to visit in August. The city comes alive with various festivals and since the Planetarium is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, there will be laser shows throughout the warmer months.
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Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Golf under the Midnight Sun, boating or fishing on the Great Slave Lake, hiking, Folk on the Rocks: there’s more than enough to keep you busy in Yellowknife in summer. Come late in August and you may even be able to see the Northern Lights.
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Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec City is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Canada. In summer, you’ll want to explore on foot or by bike, watch the street performers and, throughout August, even take in a free outdoor circus show.
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St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
Its colourful row houses make St. John’s one of Canada’s most Instagram-worthy cities. The warmer months are when you want to get out on the water, though. Do what the locals do and go windsurfing on Quidi Vidi Lake, for example.
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Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax is known for its rocking nightlife but the many things to do during the day explain why the city is one of the up-and-coming spots for 2018. For example, you can go hiking or kayaking, hit the beach or gorge on seafood at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. To get you in the mood for the night’s activities, relax in one of the city’s pubs or beer gardens.
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Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Quaint little Charlottetown will make you forget that you actually came to Prince Edward Island for the beaches. The city is compact enough for exploring on foot and admiring the red brick buildings. It’s a foodie paradise too and these days there’s a burgeoning microbrewery scene.
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Fredericton, New Brunswick
Fredericton is quite the summer destination for lovers of culture, with many museums and art galleries to explore. There are outdoor concerts and performances of Shakespeare’s plays throughout the season. From July 27 to 29, be sure to don your best tartan for the New Brunswick Highland Games Festival.
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Vancouver, British Columbia
Stanley Park, the Seawall, Granville Island, Grouse Mountain, the Capilano Suspension Bridge: Vancouver is definitely a summer city. At night, hit the eateries, galleries and indie boutiques of Gastown for some sophistication. It’s no wonder that Vancouver is one of Canada’s top tourist attractions.
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Regina is one of those cities with a summer music festival for every taste, whether you prefer country, folk, African or chamber music. Queen City Ex is the biggest event of the year but if you’re more into sleight of hand, be in Regina from July 25 to 28 for the ReginaCadabra Magic Festival.
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In summer, Whitehorse sees 19 hours of daylight. This gives you more than enough time in a day to go hiking, kayaking, river rafting, fishing or just watching the Yukon River flow by. The city hosts several summer festivals, including the Adӓka Cultural Festival from June 29 to July 5.
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In winter, Edmonton is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. It’s in summer though that the city really comes into its own. There are farmers’ markets, more than 150 km of hiking and biking trails, sunny patios where you can sit back and relax with a drink and so many festivals you’ll never want to leave.
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Kamloops, British Columbia
Kamloops is a fantastic off-the-radar destination for outdoor activities like mountain biking, fishing and rock climbing. The nightlife’s pretty decent too. For an event with a difference, be in Kamloops from August 3 to 5 for the spectacular Kamloopa Powwow, one of the biggest of its kind in Western Canada.