12 of the Strangest Festivals in Canada - Refresh Financial

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12 of the Strangest Festivals in Canada

When you think festival, you usually think a stage with some folk or rock music, perhaps a few food trucks, and maybe a bouncy castle or two. Maybe there are a few booths selling merchandise and perhaps a beer garden. You probably don’t think dozens of Elvis's, do you? You’re probably not imagining a hair freezing contest, are you? Well, these things do happen at festivals across Canada, I’ve come to discover, and they’re not even close to being the only strange festivals across this vast land. Apparently, and I say this gently, Canada, we Canucks are weird.

Here are 12 of the strangest festivals across Canada:

takhini hot springs

Photo: takhinihotsprings.com

The International Hair Freezing Contest - Takhini Springs, Yukon - Each February, the Takhini Hot Springs, just outside of Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon, hosts a hair freezing event. People from every corner of the globe come to soak in the springs and let the steam create condensation on their hair, which promptly freezes in the winter air. The idea is to create the wackiest, most creative frozen hair sculpture, and winners receive hefty cash prizes.

Festival Du Cochon - Sainte-Perpétue, Quebec - If you’ve ever lamented the fact that there’s nowhere you can show off your special skill of wading through mud to catch a greased up pig and put him in a barrel, lament no more. Quebec has got you covered. Each August, the pigs and pig-chasers are joined by musicians, frosty brews, tons of food and other strange contests like the horse pull, to make the Festival Du Cochon, or Pig Festival, a reality.

Icelandic Festival of Manitoba - Gimli, Manitoba - This July 29th, the 127th consecutive Islendingadagurinn will begin in Manitoba. It is the second oldest ethnic festival in North America, and features lots and lots and lots of vikings. There’s a viking battle, a viking village, and the crowning of the Maid of the Mountain. There is a team frisbee event, a huge parade, and a sandcastle contest as well. The music is Icelandic, the food is Icelandic, and by the end of the three day festival, you might be convinced you’re Icelandic, too.

The Hot Chocolate Festival - Vancouver, BC - This is a very different sort of festival that sees participants visiting a multitude of different vendors throughout the west coast city. The idea is to try each of the crazy and strange new flavours of hot chocolate invented by the vendors - that’s 59 flavours in 30 days. Different flavours are only available on certain days, so you have to stay on top of your calendar. It looks and sounds delicious, though, and the goal is to raise money for the downtown eastside women’s job training program by the PHS Community Services Society and East Van Roasters, which essentially gets women afflicted with addiction, back on their feet through job training.

Gibsons Landing Fibre Arts Festival - Gibson’s Landing, BC - Fibre arts means just what it sounds like: knitting, quilting, crocheting, you name it. If it uses some sort of textile fibre, it will be celebrated here. It’s said that this is one of the best places to buy gorgeous, unique blankets you’ll be passing down for generations.

Chocolate Fest - St. Stephen, New Brunswick - Sample chocolate every day from July 30th until August 6th, at the St. Stephen Chocolate Fest. There’s also a chocolate scavenger hunt, chocolate trivia, chocolate treasure hunt, chocolate pudding eating contest, chocolate cocktail hours, cupcake decorating, cookie decorating, and much more. Everyday, you’ll be able to make your own chocolates, enjoy a chocolate heritage walking tour, and enjoy music, dancing and other activities, all for the love of chocolate.

The Annual Penticton Elvis Festival - Penticton, BC - Each June, dozens of Elvis impersonators swarm into town to get their chance to prove their Elvis-ness on stage. The show takes place on picturesque Lake Okanagan, where the best Elvis impersonators are chosen from the bunch. Eventually, after a few days of listening to Jailhouse Rock, a winner is chosen and will be the reigning champ until next year’s Elvis festival! If you love the King, you gotta see this.

The East Coast Garden Party - Grande Prairie, Alberta - Yes. You read that right. It’s an East Coast Garden Party in Alberta. This celebration is for all the East Coasters who’ve been uprooted and resettled in Grand Prairie and Fort Mac. They fly in East Coast seafood, and drink East Coast beers while enjoying live music, a great family atmosphere and tons of fellow East Coasters.

Pingfest - Halifax, Nova Scotia - If you love the television show, Coronation Street, and you think you know everything there is to know about it, this is the festival for you. Essentially a large meetup for Coronation Street fans, it features trivia, discussion and the occasional appearance by a cast member.

The Festival of Northern Lights - Owen Sound, Ontario - this celebration runs from November to January each year and sees brilliant lights take over public city spaces. It is considered one of the most beautiful festivals in all of Canada and has been known to attract upwards of 20,000 visitors each year.

The Friendship Festival - Fort Eerie, Ontario - an annual celebration of the continuing friendly cooperation between Canada and the USA, this festival is held in Fort Eerie, Ontario and Buffalo New York - two cities connected by the Peace Bridge. There is a Miss All Canadian Pageant, archery, a car show, a cheerleading show, tons of music, a midway and countless other attractions.

The Sun & Salsa Festival - Calgary, Alberta - Enjoy tasting the entries into a world class salsa competition (the sauce, not the dance). Entrants can win for the most creative salsa, best presentation salsa, and the best overall salsa at the event. I’ve heard things can get a little spicy at the Sun & Salsa Festival.

What is your favourite sort of festival? Do you know of any strange Canadian festivals we didn’t mention here? Let us know in the comments!

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