Trip Tips: Where to Play and Stay on Canada Day

- Joy Pecknold, Passport blog editor

July 1, 2012 marks Canada’s 145th birthday. We’ve rounded up the best places to celebrate across the country, from Vancouver to a tiny island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Ground zero for Canada Day festivities is (aptly) Canada Place. First, there’s the free Waterfront Party from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. offering live entertainment on three stages. Then from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. the 4th annual Canada Day Parade moves along West Georgia from Broughton Street, down Burrard to West Hastings Street. After that take a breather from all the red and white by knocking back a cocktail at the nearby Fairmont Pacific Rim Lobby Lounge or Tableau in The Loden before heading out again to see the fireworks at 10:30 p.m.

There’s an array of celebrations happening around the city, but for a uniquely Canadian and Calgarian experience, arrive on Canada Day and stay until the July 6th when the iconic Calgary Stampede, celebrating its centennial, kicks off. Rest your saddlebags at either Hôtel Le Germain or the Kensington Riverside Inn.

The biggest Canada Day bash in the whole country takes place, where else, in the country’s capital on Parliament Hill. Two sets of shows, one at noon and one at 7:30 p.m. will feature homegrown bands, including Feist and Simple Plan. Both The Westin Ottawa and Fairmont Château Laurier are steps from the action.

Electronic music fiends will want to check out the two-day outdoor Digital Dreams Festival taking place at the Flats at M.C.A., a venue on its own island in Lake Ontario that offers views of the downtown skyline and a sandy beach. Acts include Kaskade and Major Lazer. The festival’s official hotel, The Thompson is also throwing a P. Diddy-esque White Party on Canada Day. Their chic rooftop bar is a great vantage point for inadvertently catching a fireworks display.

The Canada Day action centers around the Old Port. In past years events have included everything from a yoga fest to motocross demos. The closest hotel to the action is Place d’Armes Hotel & Suites in old town.

One could also pay homage to the vastness of Canada by getting away from it all and staying somewhere luxuriously devoid of throngs of other people, at say the King Pacific Lodge or Domaine du Vieux Couvent.

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