When is the best time to visit Canada? We break down the seasons month by month. Every season has a reason to visit, but some a little more than others. If you’re seeking stunning natural landscapes, wildlife, and buzzing cities it’s tough to not see the appeal of a trip to Canada. Don’t let the cold detract you as Winter is rarely too cold, and summers are near perfect.
We visited just once and were convinced to move here. With stunning national parks to explore in summer and winter sports in, well, winter, there is a lot for fans of the great outdoors to do in Canada.
If you want to time your itinerary just right, however, you will want to consider: Just when is the best time to visit Canada? It’s a tough question to answer as Canada is a huge land, with so many different landscapes, seasons, and offerings. In this post, we try our best to answer now with complete with a guide to Canada’s best festivals as a bonus.
When is the Best Time to Visit Canada?
Weather in Canada in January
January in much – if not all – of Canada is the coldest month of the year. In Toronto, for example, you can expect temperatures below freezing, with average lows of -5°C. Nights are extra cold. Prepare for blizzards – and limited sunshine hours.
Needless to say, if you don’t like the cold or winter sports, then this probably isn’t the best time of year to visit Canada for you. Elsewhere, it’s super cold: the average low is -14°C in Montreal and -14.8°C in Ottawa. Layers are definitely needed. That said, Vancouver is slightly warmer (if you can call it “warm”), with an average of around 6°C and a low of 1.4°C.
If you’re a keen skier January can offer some of the best ski deals as well. Typically, by January most of all the terrain at the ski resorts is open and powder days are frequent. Some of our favorite ski resorts to check out in January are Revelstoke, Fernie, Lake Louise, Whitewater, and Whistler.
Weather in Canada in February
You may have already guessed, but February is a lot like January – freezing. It’s cold with icy winds, especially at night, and temperatures are very much at the low end of the scale (-5.6°C to 0.4°C in Toronto, for instance).
In the Yukon, daytime temperatures are at -8°C, falling to -19°C at night. Likewise, lows in Winnipeg (capital of Manitoba) are around -18°C; Alberta, meanwhile, sees lows that easily drop past -20°C.
February also sees regular snowfall, with up to nine snowy days throughout the month and a build-up of 269.2mm of snow accumulated in Toronto alone. However, it’s one of the best times to travel to Canada for winter sports.
Weather in Canada in March
March should, in theory, be spring, and in many places, things are starting to warm up a little bit. Toronto’s average high in March is 4.7°C, and Vancouver boasts an average high of 10°C. Across New Brunswick, temperatures fluctuate between around 3°C and -7°C, while in the northeast of this province it’s colder, with lows of about -12°C.
Temperatures in Newfoundland and Labrador vary, too, with highs above freezing on the Avalon Peninsula, but temperatures that don’t break 0°C in chilly Labrador. Though the mercury is nevertheless slowly climbing across the country, March is still a good time to visit Canada if you want to partake in some winter sports. The increased hours of sunshine mean there’s extra time to get out and hit the slopes. It’s particularly good if you want to head to the big ski resorts around Banff or Whistler.
Weather in Canada in April
Things really do start to get warmer in April, though in many places, it’s still cold enough for winter sports (in Whistler, for example, which hosts a ski and snowboard festival in April). Temperatures across the country range from 5 to 9°C, generally feeling much warmer than it has done for much of the winter; Saskatchewan, for example, sees highs that get up to around 12°C. Even the winds aren’t as cold and biting as they once were.
Visitors to Canada this time of year can expect greater rainfall, which leads the country into the changeable spring season. Snow, however, is still falling, with Toronto receiving about three days of snow across April and a build-up of 50mm. Skiing and snowboarding are still fantastic in Banff National Park in Alberta.
Weather in Canada in May
May is properly spring in Canada, and it shows. Toronto’s temperatures have skyrocketed and reach average highs of around 17°C in May. There’s no longer much snowfall, and many cities are positively mild. Vancouver, for instance, sees daily averages of 17°C.
Elsewhere, Whistler is still pretty chilly, with a maximum temperature of 9°C, falling to a level 0°C after the sun goes down. If you’re looking for warmth, it’s still maybe not the best time to visit Canada, but it is – at least – no longer freezing in May. This is not, however, the case in Nunavut, which is still decidedly freezing, with highs below zero and lows as cold as -15°C in some places!
Weather in Canada in June
As the country heads into June, Canada begins to usher in the summer. Toronto sees warm, pleasant spring weather for the first half of the month, with hotter weather and high levels of humidity – towards the end of the month. The average high is 23°C, with a low of 14.9°C.
June is a good time to visit Canada, especially if you want to experience that spring-like sweet spot between cold winter and hot summer. Vancouver’s temperatures are slightly lower, with a maximum high of around 20°C. The Yukon sees June averages of 18°C – and temperatures can still reach freezing in Banff at night – while Quebec if you feel like visiting during June, sees average daytime temperatures of 22°C in this month.
Weather in Canada in July
July is the start of summer in Canada. Visitors to the country this year can expect 15+ hours of sunshine a day, much warmer temperatures than any other time in the year – with an average of 25°C in Toronto. Heatwaves begin to occur this time of year, with some hitting Toronto and causing the temperatures to soar to an unseasonable 30°C or thereabouts.
It is also quite humid in July (though it isn’t the most humid month in Canada), with 82% humidity. Vancouver, though milder in winter, is slightly cooler, usually reaching around 22°C. It’s a good time to go hiking in places like Yoho National Park and Banff National Park. Long days and warm temperatures are reason enough to get outside!
Weather in Canada in August
If you thought July was a warm time of year to visit Canada, then you should try visiting in August! This month is the hottest of the year and features less rain than any other month. Humidity is also on the rise – to around 85%. Toronto has average temperatures of 25°C, Yukon is around 19°C (still falling to 6°C at night), and Montreal sees averages of 25°C.
August is one of the best times of year to visit Canada; the atmosphere is great with all the schools out and people enjoying time off at Ontario’s beaches. However, if crowds aren’t your thing, maybe you might want to postpone your trip until September. Some places, like the Northwest Territories, still aren’t overly warm at all: in the north of this province, temperatures barely reach 20°C.
Weather in Canada in September
September is when the temperature begins to drop a little bit in Canada. Toronto’s average temperature is 22°C (the high), and the average low is 13°C. While the first half of the month still feels like summer, as the month starts to wear on, the temperatures feel more fall-like.
Montreal sees September averages of 20°C, Vancouver sees similar temperatures, but Yukon falls to more chilly highs hovering around 13°C. Though it is colder in September than the previous months, temperatures do not yet dip below freezing in many places. Jasper, in Alberta, still sees daily highs in the late teens, but with cold nights (lows of 3°C).
Weather in Canada in October
October is definitely fall in Canada. It is a great time to go outdoors to explore natural parks and marvel at the incredible fall foliage that some places in the country boast. If that’s your thing, then this is a great time of year to visit Canada; the fall colors make it a popular place to visit in October.
The average high in Toronto is 14°C, but this halves to around 7°C at night. Other places are getting even colder: Yukon has daytime temperatures of 4°C, while after the sun goes down, it dips to -3°C; Whistler has average temperatures of 8°C. October is also when the snow starts falling again, but only around 1mm by this time.
Weather in Canada in November
November is now well and truly winter season in Canada. While the start of the month still has an autumnal feel to it, in most parts of the country – including Toronto – temperatures start dipping to just above zero. In Winnipeg there are lows of -9°C. Toronto sees an average of 83.8mm of snow across November, with blizzards hitting the city at night.
In Vancouver, it’s slightly warmer than in other places, with highs of 9°C and lows of 3°C. Quebec’s average temperatures range between 3 and -3°C. Yukon, as a whole, is a freezing -7°C, falling to -14°C at night! Many ski resorts will open towards the end of the month as well.
Weather in Canada in December
Canada is cold in December. It’s freezing alright, but it also happens to be the driest month of the year. Now deep into winter, Toronto’s temperatures fall below freezing, with intense blizzards and gusts making it pretty unpleasant, actually. It’s not the best time of year to visit Canada unless you head to the parks around Banff National Park. There they commonly have a white Christmas and early season skiing is reliable.
Quebec has average daytime temperatures of around -5°C, and Montreal hovers at around -3°C. For something even colder, Yukon is around -12°C. Needless to say, there is a lot of snow falling during December in Canada.
Festivals Around Canada
Spring Festivals in Canada
Winter sort of continues in April in the town of Whistler. There’s plenty of snow left around, after all. The World Ski and Snowboard Festival features plenty of ski and snowboard competitions, of course, but you’ll also get to see things like a fashion show, a silent disco, and even a dog parade. It’s wacky and fun.
Can’t make it all the way over to Japan for the cherry blossoms? Don’t worry; you can do it Canadian style in Vancouver. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is just as good in this Canadian city, with over 45,000 cherry trees (many gifts to the city from Japan) in bloom. Running from April 8 to 23, you can expect mostly free events like the “Cherry Jam Downtown Concert” or “Bike the Blossoms” – a guided tour under the pink cherry trees.
For more blossomy goodness, head to Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia for Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival, which dates back to 1933. Leading the way into summer (May 28 – June 2), this festival celebrates the natural beauty of the area, hopes for a good apple harvest later in the year, and marks the start of “tourist season” for Nova Scotia. So famous is this festival that it’s even been featured on a postage stamp!
Summer Festivals in Canada
For summer music festival goodness, early to mid-July sees the Festival d’été de Québec taking place. Since 1968, this 11-day music extravaganza formerly was used to promote Francophonie music, but today plays host to big-name artists from across a spectrum of genres.
If music isn’t your thing, maybe you want to mosey on down to Calgary, from July 8 to 17. This is when the Calgary Stampede happens. It’s a festival dedicated to all things rodeo, with bull riding and bareback horseriding taking place in the rodeo ring, and a huge parade celebrating the heritage of Canada’s cowboy city.
How about more music? In August every year, it’s time for the Edmonton Folk Festival. Taking place in Edmonton’s Gallagher Park, this festival is one of the world’s best. Tickets to this globally renowned music festival sell out within minutes of them going on sale, so you’d better catch it fast!
Fall Festivals in Canada
The Jasper Dark Sky Festival is somewhere you should think about going. The town of Jasper was designated as a “Dark Sky Preserve” in 2011, and for good reason: the night skies here, encrusted with stars and boasting Milky Way vistas, are simply spectacular. This marvel takes place in October.
Also happening in October is the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. This isn’t some twee rendition of Munich’s famous original; it’s actually the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, with 40 events to look forward to. Starting at Wilkommen Platz, enjoy drinking, dancing, and food galore across the 17 festhallen.
2020 will be the 15th year of Nuit Blanche Toronto. A sunset-to-sunrise celebration of art, this one-night-only festival takes place in October, transforming nine neighborhoods of the city into a playground of creativity. Pretty cool.
Winter Festivals in Canada
Falling somewhere around the end of January to mid-February each year – technically the first new moon after the winter solstice – the lunar Chinese New Year celebrations in Vancouver are cool to see. A parade has been making its way through town since 1979, while general festivities are must-see, and the food, of course, is must-eat.
Over three weeks in February, you may even get to skate on the world’s largest outdoor ice rink. How, you ask? By visiting Ottawa during their Winterlude festival, of course! Elsewhere, you’ll find North America’s biggest snow playground, snow sculptures to marvel at, and plenty of other events – including concerts.
When is the Best Season to Visit Canada?
High season (June-August, December-February)
In a few places in Canada, winter time and the holidays are high season. Banff National Park, Jasper, Fernie, Revelstoke, and places like Mont Tremblant see high numbers during the winter.
However, these numbers are nothing compared to summertime in Banff. Numbers balloon in national parks between June and August and while I would love to say that because of this it’s not a good time to visit I would be lying. July and August bring about the best weather in Canada. Long days and sunshine await you during the summer, however beware of crowds and high prices.
Shoulder Season (May, September-October)
The shoulder season months are still a wonderful time to visit Canada. As mentioned May is still winter in many parts of Canada, however further towards the coast you’ll see warmer temperatures.
If chasing the fall and seeing beautiful autumn colors are your thing you’ll want to visit in September and October in most of Canada, however the further north you go (like towards the Yukon) the earlier fall starts. After Labor Day the crowds start to fizzle out as the kiddies go back to school and summer vacations are over. Hiking is still great as the winter gods haven’t dumped snow yet.
Low Season (November, March, April)
These are generally cold, cloudy, and what some may call “miserable” months in Canda. Unless you like the winter, snowboarding and skiing, ice skating, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and all that other fun stuff. If you’re a winter person this is a pretty good time to visit Canada. Low numbers of tourists, low prices, and plenty of snow!
When is the Best Time to Visit Canada for Good Weather?
It depends. If good weather for you is a winter wonderland than the best time to visit Canada is between December and March.
If good weather for you means sunshine and long days then the best time to visit Canada is July and August.
When is the Best Time to Visit Canada for Skiing and Snowboarding?
The ski season in Canada is in full swing between Late November and late April/early May. The best powder is between December and February, but spring skiing is quite good in late March and April.
When is the Cheapest Time to Visit Canada?
The cheapest time to visit Canada is during the low season months. This is November, March, April, and early May. However, it really all depends on your destination in Canada.
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Plan Your Trip to Canada
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun in Canada. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
Skin cancer is for real, even in the mountains! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Canada in the summer. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.
We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
If you’re wondering what necessities to bring to Banff then sturdy shoes are perhaps the most important thing you will need before you get to Canada.
I ALWAYS have a down jacket with me on every single hike I go on in the Rockies. They aren’t just good for hikes, but doing anything in the mountains. Even in July, you may still find yourself reaching for a jacket!
Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag. Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites (hint –Feathered Friends, Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket, Patagonia Down Sweater, REI Coop Down Jacket)
We’re building up a collection of shell jackets. We always carry one in our pack and they’ve come in handy a number of times. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof. We have a bunch of different shell jackets after several years, but my favorite right now is from Arc’teryx.
Any jacket can do the job, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather.
Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourist that buys plastic water bottles in Canada. It’s a waste of money and plastic!
I love my buff. I usually wear it for keeping my hair back, but it’s also served its purpose as a scarf and wet rag too. Buffs last for years and aren’t only helpful in the mountains. I actually wear mine every day when I’m snowboarding even traveling in the desert. It’s been one of my top travel accessory investments ever!
The best way to get all around Alberta is with your own rental car. See all our tips on how to rent a car in Canada here.
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