Still Standing

Small Canadian towns with famous festivals

the best, weirdest, and most interesting festivals from small towns across Canada

The best, weirdest, and most interesting festivals from small towns across Canada

Jonny Harris enjoys Spock Days in Vulcan, Alta. (Still Standing/CBC)

If you visit almost any small town in Canada, someone will tell you that you really need to come back for the Strawberry Festival, or the Peach Festival, or the Fall Harvest Celebration, or the weekend in July where they just set up a beer tent in the town square because they can. (We're looking at you, Goderich, Ont.)

Here are a handful of the best, weirdest and most interesting festivals from small towns across Canada.

The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba: Islendingadagurinn, Gimli, Man.

Here's a little-known fact: Canada is home to the largest ethnic Icelandic population in the world, outside of Iceland. Manitoba is home to the country's largest Icelandic-Canadian population. The town of Gimli, just over an hour north of Winnipeg, was founded by Icelandic settlers in 1875, many of whom had left Iceland following a volcanic eruption. Every summer, people of all backgrounds flock to the Gimli for Islendingadagurinn, also known as the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba. In addition to a film festival, multiple music stages, and an exhibition of traditional Icelandic culture, the festival also features a Viking battle every afternoon. Seriously.

Weinerfest, Embro, Ont.

You might think it was a celebration of the hot dog, but Weinerfest is actually the largest breed-specific dog event in Canada. Every June, the Southwestern Ontario town of Embro becomes a celebration of all things Dachshund. Weinerfest features a costume contest, and something called a yogurt licking competition, but the highlight of the day is the Weiner races, in which these tiny dogs run as fast as their little legs will carry them.

Spock Days, Vulcan, Alta.

During Spock Days, the Southern Alberta town of Vulcan pays tribute to it's unusual name with games, costume contests, bands and a parade. The local dentist sponsors a float telling people to "Live long and flossper."

Shambhala, Salmo, B.C.

For most of the year, Salmo, B.C. is a quiet village of just under 1,200, nestled in the beauty of southeastern B.C.'s Selkirk mountain range. But for four days every August, Salmo is home to one of the best parties in Canada. Shambhala is one of the largest electronic music festivals in Canada, and has grown from a few hundred ravers partying on a farm, to an event that draws over ten thousand attendees, artists from around the world, and includes immersive art exhibition, yoga and meditation workshops.

Sunrise Festival, Inuvik, N.W.T.

Every year, in early December, the sun sets in the Northwest Territories town of Inuvik, and doesn't rise for another 30 days. In early January, when the sun finally crosses the horizon again, people are ready celebrate. The Sunrise Festival makes the most of its environment, featuring snow yoga, a snow carving contest, and a sno-pitch tournament. (It's like slo-pitch, but, y'know, in the snow.) The highlight of the festival is fireworks and a bonfire.

Fogfest, Campobello Island, N.B.

You'd think Campobello Island's Fogfest would be constantly marred by bad weather, but according to the fest's website, there's not actually a lot of fog during Fogest. What there is is five days of music — ranging from hip-hop to country to traditional Celtic music — as well as art, beach yoga, whale watching, storytelling and a quilt show. Campobello Island is in a unique location. It sits on the Bay of Fundy, and the only way to get there via land is to cross the border into the United States, and then cross back from the neighbouring town of Lubec, Maine. If that doesn't appeal to you, you can catch a ferry from Deer Island, N.B.

Originally posted October 2018