Story Ideas

10 things you need to know about…Canada’s Francophone festivals.

Celebrate French-Canadian culture across the country, including poutine, maple sugar and great songs.

05 February 2014

Suggested tweet: Poutine, maple sugar & Acadians—enjoy Canada’s joie de vivre at 10 Francophone fests outside Quebec #explorecanada

Francophone festivals pop up from coast to coast to coast in Canada, not merely within Quebec. Join in joyful celebrations of our French-Canadian culture everywhere: we have it all—poutine, maple sugar, folk songs, Voyageurs and Acadians. Whether you are a Francophile or simply curious, come experience joie de vivre, Canadian style.

1) Savour the sweetest weekend. Vancouver Island’s Nanaimo Maple Sugar Festival showcases Quebec’s sweetest export—decadent maple sugar taffy on snow—alongside 17 eclectic performing artists, succulent street food and children’s face-painting over Valentine’s Day weekend.

2)Join the world’s largest kitchen party. For 10 days—Feb. 14 to 23—bundle up and brave the Winnipeg winter at Festival du Voyageur. Commemorate Manitoba’s fur-trader history with split-pea soup, fortified wine and spirited jigging to “The Voyageur Song.”

3. Franco-Albertan fête.Now in its 32nd year, northern Alberta’s Carnaval de St-Isidore celebrates family-style the province’s Francophone pioneers on Feb. 15. Ride a horse-drawn sleigh, eat sinful poutine and sing along to its signature song in the wintery Alberta environs.

4) Dance the log-driver’s waltz.  Festival du Bois, held in Maillardville near Vancouver, BC, is the west coast’s pre-eminent Francophone event—a three-day salute to the area’s French-Canadian pioneering past—with maple-sugar pie, music and merriment galore (Feb. 28 to Mar 2).

5) Critique the finest Franco films. Held on the first weekend in May, Saskatoon’s Cinergie is a four-day showcase of more than 35 (subtitled) French-language films, punctuated with bilingual discussions and engaging soirées.

6)A festival 400 years in the making. Samuel de Champlain paddled through Ottawa, ON, in 1613 and we’ve been celebrating it ever since. Major’s Hill Park, in Canada’s capital, is alive with music during Festival Franco-Ontarien, June 12 to 14.

7) La grande summertime celebration. Franco-Fête Toronto—Toronto’s international Francophone festival—is the largest French-culture event in Canada’s largest city. From July 4 to 6, enjoy world-class musical acts complemented by a diverse family-friendly program.

8) Meet the Acadian Canadians. At Nova Scotia’s Festival Acadien de Clare (July 26 to Aug. 3 plus Aug. 15) lively music and theatre performances lead up to thousands of raucous Acadians proclaiming their heritage with pride at the finale’s tintamarre(noise parade).

9) Down by the river. La Foire Brayonne, the biggest Francophone festival east of Quebec, beckons revellers to the banks of New Brunswick’s St. John River for buckwheat pancakes, chainsaw carving and step-dancing alongside Typique, the friendly porcupine (July 30 to Aug. 3).

10) French-flying. Newfoundland & Labrador’s Festival du Vent highlights both Francophone culture and the region’s autumn winds, featuring wine, cheese, cinema and music together with circus acts and kite flying on the picturesque Avalon Peninsula (November, dates TBA).

Like an extra slice of tasty tourtière, one can never have too many Francophone festivals and celebrations similar to these are held throughout Canada.

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