Canada’s 150th birthday is something to celebrate! We’ve sussed out and rounded-up the best family-friendly events to get your patriotism on in and around the city.
July 1 used to be called Dominion Day, and you can still celebrate the old fashioned way at this historical village. There’s free pancakes for the first 2,017 guests, a parade and a tiny horse rodeo. You can also meet our newest citizens, as 100 Canadians take their official oath of Citizenship. Warning: it’s a tear jerker! Afterwards, join dancers, fiddlers and Métis artists as they party 1880s style. The big draw this summer is the new A Journey of A Lifetime exhibit – a completely restored 1905 wooden Colonist Rail Car that brings to life the experience of thousands of settlers who travelled across Canada.
Who can say no to a petting zoo, live music and a chance to dress-up like a Mountie? Throw in a free pancake breakfast, children’s craft stations and an opportunity to be part of a living flag (wear red or white) and you’re at one fantastic bash. Be sure to check out the kids’ nature walk from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., too!
Riverfront Avenue and China Town
Multicultural performances that range from Bollywood dancers to First Nations throat singers to taiko drumming take place on the North Lawn of the Harry Hays Building. If you’ve got teens there’s a free Tegan and Sara concert at 10 p.m. Stroll over to ChinaTown for a special parade beginning at 11 a.m., followed by a kite Flying Festival at Sien Lok Park.
For a quieter celebration, head to this large library located across the street from Olympic Plaza (where musical acts perform all day long). Settle wee ones down at the arts and crafts stations, with campfire stories or in the large LEGO contraction pit. Don’t forget to snap photos at the selfie station and explore the 150 acts of reconciliation. At anytime, you can play on the (real!) firetruck parked near the entry or head up to the children’s section on the second floor.
Prairie Winds Park
Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamā’at organizes a very special day of celebration at this northeast Calgary park. Watch children’s performances, meet emergency services workers and take part in the many family games being organized. There’s a free BBQ lunch, vendor stalls and guided tours of Baitun Nur, one of the largest mosques in Canada.
Prince’s Island Park and Eau Claire Market
Witness the pageantry of a Powwow grand entry followed by First Nations dances. There’s live music throughout the day, and the island’s large playground is mere paces away from the main stage. Cross the pedestrian bridge into Eau Claire Market for an artisan fair, face painting, petting z00 and free ice cream for the first 1,000 guests (beginning at 11 a.m.).
There are 40 different musical acts performing July 1-2 during Diamond Music Festival at Erma Joy Brown Park in Black Diamond. Festivities kick off with a pancake breakfast, followed by a Canada Day ceremony and First Nations drum and dance performances. Entertainment gets going on the main stage all afternoon and evening. There are food vendors, a market and carnival games running all day, too.
Surely the award for the most quintessentially Canadian small town celebration would be given to the tiny town of Rosemary. Situated less than two-hours away from Calgary, it’s worth the drive for this community bash. Things kick off with the Boy Scout pancake breakfast before the 10 a.m. parade, followed by a beach volley tournament. All day there’s a petting zoo, food trucks, bouncy castles and a kid’s obstacle course. In the afternoon, the tots can climb aboard pedal tractors and bounce on a bungee trampoline, while teens take part in paintball.
Those who want to celebrate in the great outdoors should look no further than Mount Engadine Lodge. This front country resort situated in Kananaskis Country just 40-minutes outside of Canmore is hosting a Canada Day BBQ from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the big day. The hills (er, mountains) will be alive with the sound of live music, and with any luck, you’ll spot a few of the moose who love lingering by the massive outdoor patio. It’s a ticketed event, so you’ll want to nab yours here (special pricing for kids).
In Canmore itself, the parade kicks off at noon and runs along Main Street. There’s a pancake breakfast at Centennial Park that morning and live entertainment held there afterwards. Parking is tight, so plan on arriving early and walking into downtown.