Jun 24 2008

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Vancouver to Montreal: Festival season across Canada

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Montrealjazzfest
By Lena Katz

Most of us don’t think about our northern neighbors enough. Well, at least I don’t; I’m a cold-weather wimp. But around June, when temperatures in California get hot enough to melt car tires (no lie), a run to the Canadian border doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Particularly since Canadians party when the sun shines.

First mention goes to Montreal — a city that never stops partying, and therefore has endeared itself to me forever. Summer here is basically one outdoor festival after another, with live music and street fairs and amazing food all over the city. The most famous of all is JazzFest (which, as Quebecois people are constantly telling me, is not just about jazz). Leonard Cohen is coming out of Buddhist retreat for a ‘pre-concert’ on June 24, but the official dates are June 26-July 6.

Immediately on the heels of JazzFest follows another huge Canadian annual that’s way over on the other edge of the spectrum: the Calgary Stampede. Oil billionaires, cowboys, city slickers, First Nations folk (Canada’s politically correct term for Native Americans), and gawking tourists from all around make up the 1 million+ Stampede participants. The 10-day program offers up rodeos, midway carnivals, and enough live country music to make your spurs jangle. Dates: July 4-13.

Making up the third part of this colorful and unlikely triumvirate is Vancouver‘s annual Pride Week. Now in its 30th year, this ever-growing celebration of diversity and "cabaret spirit" is expecting upward of 300,000 attendees. The 2008 theme is "Celebrating 30 Years of the Rainbow," and promises to be full of disco queens and house music all night long. Dates July 26-August 3.

And of course, while on the subject of Canada celebrations, let’s give a shout out for Canada Day. Happy Birthday to You, neighbor! The date of Canadian confederation is July 1, in case you didn’t know…meaning that with a little planning, people with stamina can keep celebrating straight through July 4.

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Lena Katz lives on the Left Coast and writes about
tropical islands, beach clubs and food, but her heart belongs to NYC.

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Posted on: June 24, 2008 | Tags: , , , , | Category: Gay travelCategory: International Vacations

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