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Canada’s 9 Best Victoria Day Celebrations

See you later, spring! Summer unofficially arrives during Victoria Day weekend, so get ready for some fun in the sun with Canada’s 10 best parties and destinations for May 19.

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It’s Time To Party

The calendar states that Queen Victoria’s May birthday is in the spring, but for most Canadians the three-day Victoria Day weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer fun! But where do you go during the long weekend if you’re not cottage-bound? From traditional parades and parties fit for royalty, to mountain-side festivals, car racing and urban beach escapes, here are 10 crowd-pleasing Victoria Day destinations to explore in Canada.

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Victoria Day SpeedFest Weekend, Clarington, Ont.

Go full throttle with a weekend of exhilarating on-track action. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park fulfills your need for speed with its jam-packed schedule of NASCAR, Trans-Am, Canadian Touring Car, Porsche GT3, and Canadian Supercar races from May 16 to 18. Roll up in your RV for a trackside camping experience, or purchase a single day admission. Traditional Victoria Day fireworks will cap off Saturday evening’s festivities. Advance tickets from $50.

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Paddlefest, St. Andrews, N.B.

Welcome to Paddlefest, an annual celebration of music and water-bound adventure! During the Victoria Day weekend, the charming resort town of St. Andrews awakens from its winter slumber to toast the arrival of sun-filled days and enthusiastic tourists. Funk, pop, folk, alternative and rock acts wow music fans from centre stage, while kayak and canoe excursions introduce visitors to the beauty of Passamaquoddy Bay and the Magadavic River. Hiking, craft vendors, and a children’s program featuring music, BBQs, and face painting round out the festive holiday weekend.

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Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg, Ont.

Journey back in time at Upper Canada Village for an outdoor birthday party fit for a queen! This authentic 1860s village invites everyone to their special celebrations on both Saturday May 17 & Sunday May 18. Watch costumed villagers toast Queen Victoria’s birthday with historical speeches, military maneuvers and a rousing rendition of ‘God Save the Queen.’ Visitors can test their sporting prowess in 1860-style athletic games, and then reward themselves afterwards with a well-deserved slice of delicious birthday cake.

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Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alta.

Dinosaur hunters of all ages will dig Alberta’s world famous Dinosaur Provincial Park. The Victoria Day weekend (May 17) kicks off the park’s seasonal program of must-see events: scale sandstone ridges on the exhilarating Centrosaurus Quarry Hike, explore the badlands via the Explorers’ Bus Tour, or discover turtle, mammal and dinosaur remains on the popular Fossil Safari. This UNESCO site rich in breathtaking vistas and intriguing fossils provides a unique and unforgettable adventure on Victoria Day.

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Kaslo May Days, Kootenay Rockies, B.C.

Nestled on the shores of Kootenay Lake in the shadows of the Purcell Mountain Range, Kaslo is a small town that’s big on hospitality. Every Victoria Day weekend – since 1892 – Kaslo hosts May Days, a three-day jamboree featuring music, sport, helicopter tours, vintage cars, and delectable food. Crowds gather annually to marvel at North America’s fittest Logger Sports athletes as they compete in axe throwing, log rolling, springboard chopping and tree climbing. A softball tournament, the Show ‘n’ Shine car fair, Garden Fest horticultural marketplace, May Pole dances, and Music in the Park make this a go-to destination for long weekend fun (May 17 to 19).

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Prairie Dog Great Train Robbery, Man.

Hands up! Your picturesque journey is about to be interrupted by bandits on horseback. Manitoba’s Prairie Dog Central Railway has a special event that will entertain tourists of all ages. On Sunday, May 18th, take the trip of a lifetime aboard a vintage steam train. Riding the rails to Grosse Isle, you’ll take part in an old-fashioned robbery. Not to fear, this madcap adventure is all in good fun – all money pocketed goes to charity. Adult tickets: $29.95; children: $21.95.

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Zip and Sip at Cypress Hills, Sask.

Raise a glass to Victoria Day with Saskatchewan’s unique off-the-ground adventure, Zip and Sip. A winery tasting and zip line excursion might seem like an odd pairing, but for Eco-Adventures in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, they make the perfect match. Release your inner thrill seeker by flying 40-feet above the ground along six different zip lines. Once you’re back on solid ground, reward your bravery, and quench your thirst at Cypress Hills Vineyard and Winery. Guests are invited to taste a selection of wines made on the premises while sharing tales of their high-flying pursuits. Cost is $95 per person.

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Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon Weekend, Halifax, N.S.

2014 ushers in Halifax’s 11th annual Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon. From Friday, May 16 to Sunday, May 18, 14,000 runners, walkers and volunteers will raise money for charity during the Victoria Day weekend. Encompassing five different marathons, this three-day celebration of athletic and charitable pursuits also includes post-race mixers, parties and an enticing Pasta Village. Join the race,or shout encouragement from the sidelines – everyone is welcome!

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La Baie de Beauport, Québec City, Que.

Québec City invites you to unwind and indulge amidst its downtown summer paradise. Only 5 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, La Baie de Beauport offers 1 km of sun-kissed sandy beach and endless possibilities. Hugging the St. Lawrence River, this recreational goldmine urges you to kick off your shoes for beach volleyball, canoeing, stand up paddling, kayaking, and beach soccer. A sailing school, grassy picnic area and chic snack bar help fashion La Baie de Beauport into an urban oasis for warm weather worshippers. On May 17, the Victoria Day weekend unveils the official seasonal opening.