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Canada flag fireworks public domain

The New Year is always a reason to look ahead and toast the future, but for Canadians, 2017 promises to be a year to remember, partly because this is the year we celebrate our 150th Birthday! There are activities and activities going on all across the country, with some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes as a backdrop for all the fun, making Canada the best place to travel this year.

But don’t just take our word for it…

Canada Named No.1 Travel Destination in 2017!

Moraine Lake public domain

Canada’s stunning Moraine Lake

The New York Times agrees that Canada is THE place to be in 2017 – they’ve just named us the Number One destination to explore this year, and not just for the birthday fireworks in Ottawa on July 1st! So if you’re looking for ways to enjoy everything we have to offer, let’s start with these 5 uniquely Canadian ways you can be part of the biggest year-long party Canada has ever thrown!

1. Say “Bon anniversaire” (Happy Birthday) in Montréal

montreal alive 375 logo
As it happens, there is more than one party happening in 2017…Canada may be marking its 150th Birthday this year, but we’re still a spring chicken, compared to the city of Montréal, which turns 375 in 2017! But don’t let its age fool you – Montréal is as youthful and vibrant as ever, and their full calendar of events proves that they will be using this excuse to throw a huge city-wide party all year long. From neighbourhood flash mobs, to art installations, to urban line-dancing parties, the city will be augmenting their already world-famous festivals with dozens of activities and events in all 4 seasons, starting now. There’s even an ambitious, interactive lighting display planned for the Jacques Cartier bridge that promises to be spectacular!

jacques cartier bridge Moment Factory

The Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal will feature an interactive lighting display *Photo: Moment Factory

2. Cross Off a Canadian “Signature Experience” From Your Bucket List

Dramatic Rock watermark

Hopewell Cape’s dramatic rock formations where you can walk on the ocean floor between tides

If you are looking for a coast-to-coast breakdown of some of the best Canadian experiences, Destination Canada has made it easy to discover them through their list of country-wide Signature Experiences. From Lighthouse picnics in Newfoundland where you can perch on the edge of the continent and watch whales go by, to walking on the ocean floor in the Bay of Fundy, this collection of exciting and uniquely Canadian experiences is enough to fill up any traveller’s wish list.

glamping Ontario

Go ‘glamping’ in one of Ontario’s forests

Is “glamping” in a boreal forest your style? We’ve got that. Are you on the hunt for spectacular Northern Lights? Check. Or do you want to learn more about Aboriginal culture? Whatever you can imagine, when it comes to experiencing Canada, this Bucket List runneth over! The best thing about this Signature Experiences Collection is that it offers travellers the chance to come home with a story, not a souvenir, and the range of adventures and activities is as varied and exciting as the Canadian landscape itself.

TIP: If you’re looking for inspiration for your next great adventure, you’ll definitely want to check out the full list of Signature experiences.

2017 discovery pass
3. Explore our National Parks and Historic Sites with a FREE 2017 Discovery Pass

There’s no better way to discover Canada than with a 2017 Discovery Pass, your free ticket to all of Canada’s National Parks and Historic Sites from coast to coast. The pass gives you free entrance to any of the more than 200 National Parks and Historic Sites from Nunavut to Newfoundandland, and covers not just one person, but the entire group who is travelling together. (Think of it as Canada’s 150th Birthday present to you!)

For a complete list of Parks and historic sites, check out the Parks Canada website.

Fort York soldier

Soldier in period costume at Toronto’s Historic Fort York

TIP: Note, this pass does not cover Provincial Parks, only National ones, but there are more than enough of those to keep you busy for the whole year!

4. Take an Off-The-Beaten-Path Road Trip

Screaming Head field with faces

84 giant screaming heads dot the landscape of the Screaming Heads farm.

If you’re short on time, or just want to uncover some of Canada’s hidden gems, check out this list of places that I recently researched for MacLean’s magazine, all of which are within a 2-hour drive of a major centre. These 12 destinations cover everything from unique art installations like Screaming Heads in Burk’s Falls, Ontario, to places where you can sleep in a floating yurt on a lake in Carleton-sur-Mer, Québec. Whether you’re visiting Saskatchewan or Prince Edward Island, you’ll find something on this list that many locals don’t even know about!

5. And Finally, Be Part of the Party in Ottawa!

Parliament Hill Ottawa public domain

A less common ‘reverse view’ of Parliament Hill in Ottawa

If a country had a city as its birthday cake, Ottawa would be Canada’s. Every July 1st, this city lights it up with a spectacular party and fireworks display on Parliament Hill, but 2017 promises to take it to a whole new level. Not only will their annual festivals like February’s Winterlude be bigger and better than ever before, but the city is planning a series of once-in-a-lifetime experiences to surprise and delight visitors who come here throughout the year. And of course, the official 150th Birthday celebrations on Canada Day will be the biggest birthday bash the country – and the city – has ever thrown!

TIP: If you are planning on visiting Ottawa on July 1st, you’ll want to book your hotel soon! This place will be selling out fast, now that we’ve officially switched the calendars to 2017.

Canada 150 logo
Whether you are a Canadian yourself or a visitor, Canada’s 150th Birthday is the perfect excuse to Keep Exploring all of the unique and wonderful experiences this country and its people have to offer.

Because if I had to think of something to wish for as I blow out our birthday candles, I honestly think Canada already has everything anyone could want.

Jane with Hat Tanzania

Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.

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