Join the Festivities: How Canadians Celebrate Victoria Day

Canada By Serra Pinto Avimlah May 18, 2023

If you’re new to Canada, you may not know that Victoria Day is one of the longest-celebrated holidays there. It’s also an opportunity for families and friends to get together and celebrate the start of summer.

Victoria Day has been celebrated since 1845 during the reign of Queen Victoria on her birthday, May 24th. Despite the day being different from both Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday (April 21st) and King Charles III’s birthday (November 14th), it is still widely celebrated today as the Sovereign’s birthday. In 1952, the laws were amended so that the holiday is celebrated on the Monday before May 25th.

What’s special about Victoria Day is that it’s the unofficial start to summer for many Canadians. Many people have the day off from work and celebrate with parades, fireworks, and cookouts. Plus, many summer businesses officially open on this day, and there are several country-wide celebrations to attend. Since you’ll likely have the day off, here is a list of fun activities to enjoy and make the most of the warmer weather.

Activities to do on Victoria Day 2023

Attend a parade or festival

One of the best ways to celebrate Victoria Day and enjoy your day off is to attend a holiday parade or festival. All across Canada, provinces and major cities welcome the unofficial start to summer with a large celebration. In the monarch’s namesake city, Victoria, British Columbia, has held the most prominent celebration in the country since 1898. The Island Farms Victoria Day Parade is a huge celebration with marching bands, musical floats, and cultural events, attracting tens of thousands of spectators every year.

Also in British Columbia, New Westminster celebrates the holiday with the Hyack Anvil Battery Salute, a 21-gun salute. This salute has been a tradition since 1859 and features historical information during the one-minute intervals between the 21-gun salute.

There are many Victoria Day parades and celebrations in Canada, so check out your local news or community websites to see how you can spend your day off in good spirits.

Gather for a picnic 

Since Victoria Day usually marks the beginning of warmer weather in Canada, it’s an excellent time to enjoy a picnic with family and friends. Several parks in Canada are open this holiday, so grab your picnic basket, pack some sandwiches and snacks, and head to the park or beach for a fun and relaxing day.

It’s also a great opportunity to barbecue. Nothing says summer like a barbecue, so use Victoria Day to officially fire up the grill. Invite family and friends over during the day to enjoy the weather and good company.

Go camping 

Since Victoria Day in 2023 is a long holiday weekend, it’s the perfect opportunity to organize a camping trip. As the unofficial end to the winter season, ski resorts close or switch to some summer activities and camping grounds reopen. Whether you prefer the coastline or mountain hiking, this long weekend provides the perfect chance to get outside. So, grab your tent or van and be immersed in nature for the weekend.

Watch the fireworks

End your day off from work by watching fireworks with family and friends. In addition to parades and festivals, many Canadian cities host fireworks displays on Victoria Day. One of the most famous Victoria Day firework displays is in Toronto. On the east end of Toronto, there’s an evening firework show at Ashbridge’s Bay Beach that includes over 2,000 individual fireworks.

Here is a list of the Victoria Day fireworks celebrations in Canada, and be sure to check with your city’s local list of events.

Connect with your local community

One of the best ways to enjoy your day off is to find ways to connect with your local community. Maybe organize a block party or check out your local farmer’s market. Many farmer’s markets are open on Victoria Day, so you can support small businesses and artisans while enjoying the beautiful weather.

Send money overseas

If you have family and friends overseas, you don’t have to worry about holidays interfering with your money transfer. You can still send money from Canada online or using the Western Union app to over 200 countries and territories. Your friends or relatives can then receive the money directly into their bank account, digital wallet, or pick up as cash at an in-person agent location, depending on where they are in the world and what’s convenient for them.