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Three Quirky Canadian Festivals

Festive gatherings.

It seems, nowadays, there is a festival tailored to just about every passion one could have. From Alba, France’s celebration of white truffles, to the Setouchi Art Festival dappled across a dozen Japanese islands, to the Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival. Indeed, Canada has its fair share of quirky gatherings, many of which are worth journeying for.

Pumpkinferno in Upper Canada Village, Ontario

Entering its fifth year, Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village (a heritage park in eastern Ontario) showcases up to 7,000 hand-crafted artificial pumpkins carved by young artists from throughout the Eastern Ontario region. Running throughout October every year, guests meander along a glowing walkthrough to take them all in. The carvings make up an eclectic mix exhibits featuring images from mythology (consider the Hall of Horoscopes or the Dragon’s Lantern Lair) to representations of local wildlife. This year, the brightly lit festival features a new exhibit called Day of the Dead, which festival manager Susan Le Clair notes will showcase “the artistic talents of our team but also new elements of colour.” Sure to be a showstopper, Pumpkinferno invites guests to view this hauntingly beautiful display of intricately carved, neon-luminous skulls.

Edmonton International Cat Festival in Edmonton, Alberta

Only three years old, the Edmonton International Cat Festival is but a kitten (albeit one with big plans for the future). The festival, which takes place on one day in May, offers cat lovers the opportunity to meet celebrity cats (such as the Instagram-famous Nala) and dine at the pop-up cat café. One popular event last year was the Cats on Your Mat Yoga class, where owners were led in a class of stretching and breathing exercises alongside their furry friends. The festival is not only the perfect space for proud cat owners, but also those seeking to start a feline family by adopting a kitty—with proceeds going to local rescue organizations.

International Garden Festival, Grand-Métis, Quebec

From June to October each year, the Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis, Quebec plays host to over 150 participants in the International Garden Festival. Since 2000, over 900,000 visitors have attended the event, which invites architects, landscapers, designers, and horticulturists from around the world to create conceptual gardens. Out of the 26 gardens on display this year, five are newly sprung from the minds of designers from Canada, Switzerland, France, and the United States. From minimalist displays like Le Caveau, for which a garden is suspended in a room of stone, to grander sights such as Cyclops, for which 100 eight-metre timber planks form an inverted cone, the Reford Gardens captures the spirit of gardening at its most ambitious.