Spring in Canada: Destinations & Travel Tips
Canada experiences all four seasons, and each season brings in a different look, and vibe, if you will. If you are heading to Canada in the springtime, you will find this post helpful. We have included everything from travel tips, packing list to temperatures and epic destinations to visit in spring in Canada.
Spring in Canada: Springtime activities, months & temperature
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When does spring start in Canada?
So when does the spring season start in Canada. Our spring months are from March to May. Canada is the second largest country by area, so expect a variation in temperatures, and sightseeing activities.
Typically with the advent of March, the temperatures are a bit warmer, and in various areas, you can expect the snow to melt. The melting of snow means the roads and sidewalks are muddier, slushier, and you can no longer indulge in winter sports like skiing or enjoy skating in natural ice rinks/frozen lakes. Spring skiing is possible in only a handful of resorts.
Many destinations on the west coast area like Victoria, Vancouver Island experience milder temperatures and you can enjoy lovely walks in the gardens, go whale watching and participate in outdoor activities from hiking, biking, and light strolls.
Canada seasons temperatures by region
- East/Central Canada – In major cities like Toronto and Montreal (provinces of Quebec and Ontario), temperatures are still colder at a high of 53 F (11 C), and a low of 34 F (1 C). So in March and April, these provinces are still hungover from the winter cold. From May onwards, the temperatures are warmer. Being huge provinces, you can expect variations.
- Western Canada – In the extreme west end of the country, along the Pacific Ocean coastline, expect spring to come in early. Cities like Vancouver, Victoria, and Vancouver Island are perfect for a spring break. Temperatures hover around 55 F (13 C) and low of 41 F (5 C). On average, these places receive 10-12 days of rain. When you travel to Whistler or Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rockies in BC, there is still snowfall in April and into late May.
- Prairies – The provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta are called the Canadian Prairies. We have lived in 2 of the provinces and traveled to all 3. Winters here are harsher as compared to east/central Canada, and average temperatures are around 48 F (9 C) high, and a low of 27 F (minus 3 C). During our 6+ year stay in Alberta we have experienced super mild winters, and extreme ones too, and that reflects the spring temperatures. In our 4.5 year stay in Saskatchewan, spring had been delayed by many months, and in one year spring didn’t even arrive, it was summer already from winter. Spring kicks in from May and is usually warm in the summers/crossover months.
- Maritimes/ Atlantic Region – On the Atlantic coast, milder temperatures are felt from April onwards. Nova Scotia usually has a slightly earlier spring than the rest of the Atlantic region. Halifax in April experiences a high of 48 F (9 C), and a low of 34 F (1 C).
- Northern Canada – In the northern territories, the spring season is very short. But they move swiftly to summer with the spring equinox, and you can experience the midnight sun here in the summer months.
Festivals to enjoy in Canada in the springtime
During the months of March, April, and May, there are 2 – 3 statutory holidays where residents enjoy 3 day long weekends. In the month of March, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated, although this is not a stat holiday, you can expect restaurants and bars to be all decked up in clovers and pretty green color.
In April, Good Friday and Easter are statutory holidays (some employers provide both days as holidays, some provide either one, as a stat day off). Canadians commonly refer to Easter as the period from Good Friday through Easter Monday.
So celebrations and gatherings culminate on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Sunday Monday, which mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Although a religious festival, many celebrate with treats and candies. Children especially, look forward to receiving chocolate bunnies, and other gifts on Easter. Decorating Easter eggs is also a fun activity. Easter egg hunts are organized, where people look for eggs hidden outdoors.
In May, we celebrate Victoria Day, to honor Queen Victoria. It is a federal holiday that occurs on the last Monday preceding May 25. It was initially held/celebrated in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday and has been observed since 1845.
Fun fact: Queen Victoria ruled Great Britain and Ireland for most of the 19th century. Victoria Day also marks the beginning of the summer season in Canada.
Other festivals across Canada
We have included some of the popular culinary and music festivals in Canadian cities during the spring months. Take a look,
- Dine Out Vancouver Festival, Vancouver (BC) – Feb-March
- Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (BC) – March – April
- The Canadian Film Fest, Toronto – March
- London Farm Show, London (ON) – March
- BC Uncorked, New Westminster (BC) – April
- Snowbombing Canada – music fest, Sun Peaks (BC) – April
- Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, Elmira (ON) – April
- Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation, Winnipeg (MN) – April
- Winnipeg Wine Festival, Winnipeg (MN) – April
- Tastemaker Toronto, Toronto (ON) – May
- Canadian Music Week, Toronto (ON) – May
Reasons to visit Canada in spring
Canada is one of those countries where every season has its little flavor that is worth exploring. We plan a lot of domestic travel during the spring and fall months in Canada, which are off-seasons. Here are some of the reasons for planning a trip to Canada in the spring,
Off season: Cheaper Accommodation & fewer crowds
Spring months are off-season in Canada. If you are hoping to explore the Canadian Rockies or the urban landmarks in cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, you can score cheaper accommodation and flight deals.
Unlike summer, tourist attractions are not super crowded, making it one of the best times to visit Canada prior to the summer madness. Ideally late April and early May is the perfect sweet spot to enjoy walks and hikes outside, and explore museums, and attend festivals.
Sightseeing in Spring in Canada
Just like elsewhere in the world, Canada kicks in the cherry blossom season in March and April in Vancouver. Toronto celebrates the season towards the end of April to May.
Ottawa, Canada’s capital city celebrates the world’s largest tulip festival in May. Canada and the Netherlands share a deep bond, where the former provided refuge to the Royal family during World War II. And the Dutch Royalty thanked Canada by sending in thousands of tulip bulbs.
Whale watching season also begins in spring. From March onwards, Tofino in British Columbia, and Tadoussac, Quebec kick in whale watching tours.
Hiking starts in many parks in the urban centres, and provincial parks. In the Canadian Rockies expect some trails and roads to be closed up until the beginning of May. Lake Louise will be half frozen, so although you can’t skate, their ski resorts might be open for spring skiing. Whistler Blackcomb has snow well into May, and you can go skiing there as well.
City Breaks: Spring festivals & events
We highlighted the prime holidays and spring festivals above, as they are seasonal they can be only experienced in those months. So if any of them fancies your interest, do book your trip around those fests.
Where to go in Canada in spring: Best Destinations to visit in Canada in spring
Victoria, British Columbia
Enjoy spring in one of the prettiest cities in Canada, and the capital of the province of British Columbia – Victoria. Named after Queen Victoria, this city is super compact and is filled with cultural delights. Perfect for a spring weekend away, you can expect warm temperatures and gardens in full bloom.
As part of your Victoria itinerary, visit the Butchart Gardens, the Legislature buildings, and the waterfront area. You can attend a performance at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival, or learn more of the city’s history at the Royal BC Museum.
This city is not only known as the ‘city of gardens’, it is also an amazing foodie destination. Enjoy a lovely brunch or coffee at a downtown cafe, or join a food tour in the city.
Victoria is also a perfect base to explore more of Vancouver Island. Embark on a day trip to Tofino, and enjoy whale watching on BC’s shores.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver is one of our favorite cities in Canada. Located in BC, Vancouver experiences milder temperatures in the spring but does get a lot of rain. Spring is off-season in Vancouver, so you can score a nice hotel or an Airbnb in downtown Vancouver for 20-30% lower than normal.
Sightseeing bus tours and downtown lanes see fewer crowds, and you can easily go exploring Vancouver covering the landmark attractions such as the waterfront area, Stanley Park, Olympic Cauldron, ChinaTown, Sun Yat Sen Gardens, and pigging out at the Granville Island.
In April and May, Vancouver is sprinkled with cherry blossoms. And there is a Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the season if you are in the city at that time.
Vancouver is perfect for a weekend break. We do recommend carrying a warm cardigan, and a waterproof jacket/trench coat as it could rain on most days in the city.
From Vancouver, you can enjoy a day trip or a weekend stay at the mountain resort town of Whistler. Ski resorts are open until May here.
Calgary and Canadian Rockies, Alberta
If you are planning a visit to the Canadian Rockies, spring is a good time to visit. It is a crossover season where the parks experience fewer crowds, accommodation is cheaper, and visitors can enjoy some of the summer and winter activities.
Spring hiking is possible on certain trails (near Banff town, Canmore and Kananaskis, and Lake Louise). Sunshine and Lake Louise Ski Resort are open until May for skiing.
For those looking for slow travel, or romantic weekends away, the Canadian Rockies in the spring is a perfect time. Restaurants in Banff town are not crowded, and you can easily book a nice spa and stay at the Banff Springs Hotel.
A lot of our visitors ask us about the color of Lake Louise, and if it is all pretty and turquoise-sy in the spring, and we are sad to say that for most of spring the lake has snow/thin ice. You can’t skate nor can you go canoeing. Canoeing starts in the summer, sometimes even late May (depending on the weather). However, trails near the lake are open. The popular hike to Agnes Tea House won’t open until the beginning of summer.
Calgary is the closest city to Banff, and it is a nice place to enjoy shopping, culinary and cultural delights (Calgary Tower, Stephen Ave Walk, Art Museum, etc).
When you visit the Canadian Rockies, ensure you carry your woolen jackets, warm socks, and boots. The temperatures drop a lot in the evenings, and some days you can also see snow showers in the mountains.
Toronto and Niagara Falls, Ontario
Toronto is a great option for a spring break in Canada. From outdoor festivals to museums, concerts, and sightseeing activities, Toronto will not disappoint you.
Flights to Toronto in the spring months will be cheaper as compared to fall (other off-season), simply because August/September brings in a lot of international students as the semester starts.
Experience spring in Toronto in style by booking a hotel near the waterfront. Explore world-class attractions – CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, and join food tours at the Kensington Market, and the popular Distillery Market, minus the crowds.
Ferries to the Toronto Islands starts in April. In late April – May, you can see cherry blossoms in Toronto’s High Park.
From Toronto, you can easily take a day trip to Niagara Falls. It is off-season, so another great reason to extend your stay and book a hotel near the Falls. Although boat tours are closed in March/April you can still check out the falls from the viewing platform or head to the Skylon Tower.
Niagara on the Lake opens up its restaurants and wineries for guests at the annual festival – A Taste of Niagara – held at the Niagara on the Lake Community Centre from late April to early May.
The capital city of Canada – Ottawa decks up in pretty spring colors from late March to May. You will definitely enjoy the tulip festival in the city, held annually in May. Enjoy them at the Commissioners Park, which is home to the largest and most impressive tulip displays in Ottawa. Other areas for Tulip sightings include – Dows Lake along the Rideau Canal, Major’s Hill Park, and the Parliament of Canada.
If you are visiting in March and April, book a tour of the Parliament building, and learn about our history. Ottawa has a ton of impressive museums that are open during the spring months, such as – Canadian Museum of History, Canadian War Museum, and Canadian Museum of Nature.
You must take a stroll by the Rideau Canal in the spring, or go boating in late spring months.
In the Springtime in Ottawa, don’t forget to visit a sugar farm and try out maple syrup (or take some back home as a souvenir). Maple trees start producing sap when the weather warms up, and locals have been tapping them for decades (producing over 106 gallons of syrup per 1000 trees). The Sugar Festival takes place in late March and lasts early April at the Vanier Museopark in Ottawa.
Montreal is another spot to relish maple syrup, and all things sweet and yummy. (Don’t forget to pig out on delicious poutine, and bagel). Quebec, just like Ontario is home to over 200 sugar shacks, and you can easily find one near Montreal or Quebec City.
Other than taking in the sugar rush, Montreal opens its doors to amazing culinary, cultural, and musical festivals in the spring. All of the prime attractions are open for visitors, making Montreal one of the best city break options in the whole of North America. And….April-May is one of the best times to experience the city.
Although a bit chilly in March, April kicks in the Montreal Nuit Blanche, a must-attend cultural festival of music, poetry, dance, and other performing arts. With fewer crowds in the spring months, you can take your time at the Old Montreal neighborhood, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral for Easter, or hop on a sightseeing boat tour at the old port.
Being a lovely cosmopolitan city, you can go clubbing, enjoy an active nightlife, and visit museums, and the Olympic complex in the spring for a perfect weekend away.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia rings in warmer temperatures sooner than its counterparts in the Maritimes/Atlantic. Here you can enjoy the city’s public gardens, photograph them or go on a lovely walk.
During these months, patios are set up (already) to welcome guests to lobster rolls/seafood and drinks. This time is also perfect to embark on short day trips or road trips to nearby towns and coastal areas.
If you want to stay active during your stay, join a bike tour of the city, cycling through different neighborhoods. Or go surfing! Halifax is close to so many amazing beaches, and during the spring months the waves are small – and great for those wanting to learn to surf!
During springtime in Halifax, you can expect food festivals in the city as well.
We had to include a gem from the Canadian territories. How about the Iceberg Alley in Newfoundland. And you can explore icebergs via boat and sightseeing kayak tours from April to May. It also extends to the early summer months, and the season stretches a bit longer as you go north. For optimal viewing times, head there in late May.
Iceberg Alley is the area that stretches from the coast of Labrador to the southeast coast of the island of Newfoundland. Note that many of the sightseeing points to the Iceberg Alley are open all year round, namely St. Lewis, Battle Harbour, Red Bay, Point Amour, which are located on the coast of southern Labrador.
What to pack for Canada in the spring
As you can see, there is quite a varied temperature and regional differences when it comes to Candian destinations in the spring. We have tried our best to include a set packing list for you, and provided a few exceptions or add-ons to carry for certain destinations.
- Long sleeve tops, blouses, shirts, or hoodies
- Bottoms, jeans
- Light insulated waterproof jacket (for evenings, early morning sightseeing)
- Warm jacket (if heading to the mountains, or for spring skiing activities. Same applies if you are visiting the Prairies in early spring)
- Comfortable walking/hiking shoes, if waterproof, the better
- Pack a warm scarf for comfort
- Umbrella or raincoat for the west coast
We hope you enjoyed our guide on spring in Canada. If you have any questions or want us to add another destination, let us know in the comments below!