Not even New Brunswick’s cold weather stalls the province’s steady stream of festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Seafood plays a major role in many events, like Campbellton’s Salmon Festival and Shediac’s Lobster Festival, as do the province’s strong Scottish and Acadian communities. However, one of New Brunswick’s most popular festivals is Plaster Rock’s World Pond Hockey Championships, where up to 120 hockey teams across the globe take to the ice to compete on frozen ponds in northwest New Brunswick’s chilly February temperatures.
Gigantic ice slides carved from mountains and elaborate snow mazes are just two highlights from Fredericton’s annual February winter festival. The Enbridge Gas Polar Bear Golf Course offers half a dozen challenging holes and visitors can try their hand at polar bear curling or bowling. Children and animal lovers may enjoy the festival’s pony rides, nature walks, or petting zoo, while art admirers can silently bid on original works by a dozen local artists on behalf of kids in need. Visitors can end each active day by admiring elaborate snow sculptures on a relaxing horse drawn sleigh ride.
World Pond Hockey Championships
In 2002, Plaster Rock held its first World Pond Hockey Championships to raise money for a new recreation center. Although the northwest New Brunswick town’s sports complex was completed in 2007, Plaster Rock Tourist Park’s frozen Roulston Lake continues to be the venue for this ever-growing event. Up to 40 of 120 participating hockey teams play at the same time on 20 frozen outdoor rinks during the second frigid weekend of February each year.
Gathering of the Scots Festival
Each May, the small northwest New Brunswick village of Perth-Andover celebrates Scottish culture with this annual gathering of the clans. A kilted golf tournament is just one of this festival’s highlights, which also includes traditional Scottish athletic events, a clan march, and a lively céilidh party, a traditional Gaelic festivity filled with music and dancing. Distinctive thistle signs guide visitors towards the Baird Campground location.
Shediac Lobster Festival
The bright red Mr. Lobster mascot is the star of Shediac’s annual mid-July Lobster Festival. The youngest visitors receive surprise loot bags during the children’s parade, while older attendees can purchase tickets for beer and whisky tasting workshops. Visitors of all ages can enjoy delicious lobster or merely watching other people chow down on the bright red crustaceans as quickly as possible during the lobster eating contest.
La Foire Brayonne
During the first five days of August, New Brunswick’s northwestern-most city of Edmundston celebrates its unique culture with one of Canada’s biggest Francophone festivals outside of Québec. Younger visitors can get their faces painted and play games at the children’s village, while adults can sample traditional buckwheat pancakes called ‘ployes’ while live music plays in the background. People in period costumes and a porcupine mascot named Typique roam the streets of Edmundston.
The American Bus Association has repeatedly placed Caraquet’s Acadian Festival on its list of 100 best events in America. During the first two weeks of August, this lively festival showcases a traditional fleet blessing, live musicians, poetry slam, and fireworks. Visitors can make their own elaborate masks, hats, and costumes in workshops before joining in the festival’s final and loudest celebration, a raucous noisemaking parade called Tintamarre. 2012 marks the festival’s 50th anniversary.
Chocoholics certainly won’t want to miss St. Stephen’s annual Chocolate Fest. Each August, this southwest New Brunswick border town serves up chocolate mousse, pudding, cake, and other tasty treats. Children can decorate chocolate chip cookies, observe the creation of St. Stephen’s famous Ganong Chocolates, and take part in a treasure hunt. Many visitors also add a visit to Canada’s Chocolate Museum to the festival’s already jam-packed schedule.
Kedgwick Fall Festival
Some of New Brunswick’s most colorful autumn foliage falls from the trees in the forests surrounding the northwest New Brunswick town of Kedgwick. Each October, Kedgwick hosts one of New Brunswick’s liveliest celebrations welcoming fall with a parade, live music, dancing, and sporting events. The festival’s official mascot is a friendly partridge named Wick.