Canada is famous for many things – gorgeous scenery, the magnificent Niagara Falls, friendly people, and a healthy hockey obsession – but not necessarily for its cuisine. In fact, if you think of Canadian food, you probably think of poutine or pastrami.
However, Canadian cuisine is so much more than gravy and cheese curds over French fries. There are many ways to discover the foods Canada is known for, and our favorite is by planning a culinary vacation around one of Canada’s best food festivals. You will love these delicious events!
» Let us help you plan! Check our our guide on traveling in Canada.
8 Best Food Festivals in Canada
Montreal’s Grand Ribfest
Cost: Free to enter, purchase your own food
No less than seven masters of BBQ prepare their famous ribs for festival goers at annual Montreal Grand Ribfest event held every year in September at Jacques Cartier Quay in the Old Port of Montreal. Ribbers from Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, Florida and Ontario all converge in the city to put on this delectable event.
All of the chefs are competing for top awards during the event, with the culminating awards ceremony taking place at the end of the event. If you’re a BBQ lover, you don’t want to miss this awesome food event.
It’s free to enter this event that spans four days. You’ll just pay for whatever food and drinks you want once you’re inside. While you’re wandering around eating, you can also be sampling local microbrews, listening to live music, and enjoying the family zone with your kids.
Taste of the Danforth
Where: Toronto, Canada
Cost: Free to enter, purchase your own food
Inspired by the U.S.’s Taste of Chicago, Canada’s Taste of the Danforth is held every year on the second weekend of August for three days in Toronto, Ontario. It is the country’s largest street festival, and one that you definitely don’t want to miss. The celebration stretching for over three kilometers on Danforth Avenue.
You might be expecting Canadian food at this event, but it’s actually all about Greek food. At “The Taste,” expect to gorge yourself on gyros, souvlaki, spanakopita, and wine, plus so many other Greek specialties. They’ll have to roll you out of there by the time you leave. The food is served in small portions for around $5 each, so you can try as many things as possible.
It’s not just a food festival. There are a lot of cultural activities happening as well, like plate breaking (yes, you read that right!) music, and dancing!
Vancouver, British Columbia, is a fantastically diverse city for a culinary journey every day of the week (read our Vancouver food guide here), but to have a festival dedicated to bringing all of that delicious food into one place is just magical. Eat! takes place in November and tickets go on sale in September.
The Eat! Vancouver Food + Cooking Festival is one of Canada’s most anticipated culinary festivals of the year. Guests come from all around North America to take part in the festivities, which include hosted dinners at restaurants around town, expert classes you can take part in, and special grand tastings for sweet and savory.
The Eat! Harvest is the main event, where 15+ world-class chefs prepare canapes to serve to the crowd of food lovers. This event is held on Friday night and the ticket price is around $135 (at time of publication).
If you’re more of a sweets person, you’ll want to attend the Pastry Day events on Saturday, that include a grand tasting in the afternoon, as well as demos and classes throughout the day. Tickets for that start at $89.
Le Festival du Voyageur
Held every February in Winnipeg, this festival is about as stereotypically Canadian as you can get – think beard growing contests, whisky, and maple syrup taffy. Known by many as the world’s largest kitchen shindig, this event is about celebrating the Canadian fur trader through traditional French-Canadian cuisine.
Unlike most festivals, this one lasts for 10 full days. It attracts up to 100,000 visitors each year. Tickets go on sale in December and cost around $25 for adults and $5 for children (under 5 are free).
Prince Edward Island Fall Flavors Festival
Where: Prince Edward Island
The Prince Edward Island Fall Flavours Festival is a five-week culinary celebration showcasing the tastes, the people and the places that make Canada’s Food Island a must-visit destination for food lovers.
Over the course of a month from September to October, this culinary marathon is an umbrella for many smaller festivals, such as the International Shellfish Festival, the Beef N’ Blues, and the Lobster Party on the Beach (is your mouth watering yet?). Events around the island range from cooking classes and tasting tours to celebrity chefs doing what they do best.
You can go on a deep sea fishing adventure with a BBQ lunch, brewery and distillery tasting tours, oyster shucking trips, clam bakes, shellfish lunch tours… the list is endless. If you love getting involved in food experiences, you can’t miss this festival. You can pick and choose your adventures. Each requires a separate ticket and spaces in each are limited.
Tickets for each event range in price from $50-$200, depending on what you choose.
Watch a YouTube Video about the festival
Canada’s Largest Ribfest
Where: Burlington, Ontario
Every September in Burlington, Ontario, this Labor Day weekend event draws hundreds of thousands of rib-lovers together for a good cause – to raise money for charity. Organized by the Burlington Lakeshore Rotary Club, proceeds from the festival go to Burlington’s local businesses, organizations, and hospitals.
Expect stiff competition between grill masters trying to win over your taste buds (it’s a buyer’s market!) with 150,000 pounds of ribs being consumed in one weekend. There are competitions going for the best sauce and best ribs. And of course, there are dozens of other foods available besides ribs, like chicken wings, hot dogs, sausage, corn, etc.
The festival takes place from Friday to Monday, from 11am-11pm. It’s free to get in, but you’ll pay for food and drinks. Be sure to bring cash as the food vendors don’t accept cards. If you’re attending the festival you can even get a discount at local hotels through the website.
Devour! The Food Film Fest
Where: Nova Scotia
Held in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, this festival is especially unique because it combines cinematic excellence with extraordinary gastronomic activities. Attend film screenings, cooking workshops, discussion panels, and collaborative dinners hosted by Canada’s top chefs as well as guest chefs from around the world.
The annual event hosts over 100 activities throughout the 6 day festival, and you can participate in as many as you like. There are tickets that give you access to all films during the 5-day festival, all the way up to a full-access pass for the entire event. The cost ranges from $50 to $1000.
Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival
When: October & November
Where: Calgary & Edmonton
Held in two locations (mid-October in Calgary, Alberta, and the beginning of November in Edmonton, Alberta), this event combines wine, liquor, and food pairings over three days.
The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival has grown over the past 20 years to become one of Alberta’s largest and most anticipated wine and food events, with hundreds of booths and over 25,000 guests each year. The Grand Taste Event takes place on at three different times – Friday afternoon, Saturday day and Saturday evening, so you can choose the time slot that works best for you.
You need both a ticket to get in and sampling coupons. Tickets range from $17 to $35, depending on which session and level of ticket you want. There’s general admission to VIP available. Sampling tickets are $0.50 each and can be purchased inside the event. The food samples all require a different amount of tickets, set by each vendor.
Tour the world through tastings of international wines (around the world in 80 sips, anyone?) and fill yourself with delicious dishes contributed by local restaurants. Here’s a tip: take a cab home from this one, trust us.
Final Thoughts on Canada’s Best Food Festivals
For more tips on how you can survive and thrive at your next food festival, check out this piece on how to get the most out of a food festival.
As you’ll probably have guessed, arriving hungry in Canada is the best way of ensuring that you get to enjoy all of the gastronomical delights that the country has to offer. Choose to attend one or all of these great culinary festivals – a fun and delicious way to experience Canada throughout the year.
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