The people of Newfoundland and Labrador love to party and always welcome visitors who wish to join them. St. John’s combines its three biggest summer festivals into one giant bash called St. John’s Time. However, most of Newfoundland and Labrador’s smaller communities have their own lively events like the Exploits Valley Salmon Festival in Grand Falls-Windsor. One thing's for sure, though, Newfoundland and Labrador holidays are not-to-miss cultural celebrations.
The March Hare
The biggest poetry festival in Atlantic Canada is Corner Brook’s March Hare, named after the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland character. What began as an intimate poetry gathering at a local country club has evolved into a high-profile festival attracting many of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most talented poets, authors, and storytellers. Although the event now travels across Canada and even to Ireland, the main March Hare still takes place in Corner Brook in early March.
Cain’s Quest Snowmobile Endurance Race
Labrador City’s Cain’s Quest is to snowmobile what Alaska’s Iditarod race is to dog sledding. None of Canada’s other snowmobile races can match the distance or the challenge of this 1,739 mile odyssey through some of Labrador and northern Québec’s harshest terrain during the middle of March. The last Cain’s Quest race had 35 teams competing from around the world.
One of Canada’s leading television networks recently named western Newfoundland’s Snow West one of the country’s finest winter festivals. During days late in March, the festival features skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding, snowshoe tours, snow kiting, and even ice sculpting. Visitors can stay warm during the nighttime comedy routines and live musical performances.
Western Newfoundland continues to party once spring arrives in late May. Visitors can enjoy the warmer weather on guided Humber Valley hikes or by watching the over 200 bird species fly by during the Feather and Folk Nature Festival. Gros Morne National Park provides the stunning backdrop to the Tales, Trails and Tunes Festival, while the June 10 Iceberg Festival provides the perfect opportunity to spot giant ice slabs floating down western Newfoundland’s waters.
Exploits Valley Salmon Festival
Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest five-day festival takes place each July in central Newfoundland’s biggest town, Grand Falls-Windsor. The first Salmon Festival took place in 1985 as a modest Atlantic Salmon tribute, but today has international acclaim. In addition to salmon dinners, the event highlights traditional Newfoundland music and food during Newfie Night and attracts some of the world’s best-known musicians during the day-long Splash Concert.
North West River Beach Festival
Labrador’s largest and liveliest outdoor music festival happens at North West River’s Lester Burry Memorial Park, also known as the Waterfront, during the final weekend of July. Musicians play for over 25 hours while spectators browse arts and crafts tables and sample traditional Labrador dishes. North West River’s population triples each year during this lively event.
St. John’s Time
Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial capital has combined at least three of its liveliest gatherings into one large ‘time’ spanning 11 days between late July and early August. Bannerman Park’s three-day Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival is the second oldest in the country, while the Royal St. John’s Regatta is North America’s oldest sporting event in existence. Although the regatta must sometimes be changed due to unpredictable weather, the festive atmosphere is always filled with food and friendly folks. North America’s largest cluster of bars per capita is at its peak during the six-night George Street Festival, which officially concludes on Tuesday night before the Royal St. John’s Regatta.
Bakeapple Folk Festival
The bake apple, Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial berry, is celebrated during this annual Labrador Coastal Drive summer fair. Visitors can sample these orange-red delicacies for themselves in pies, jellies, and syrups during this two-day festival in early August filled with traditional music, crafts, dancing, games, and other entertainment.