When you think of Canada, what springs to mind? Amazing scenery? Skiing on snow-capped mountains? Bears? The Maple Leaf? One of its dynamic cities? Or maybe, like me, it’s a mix of all of these and more?
There’s so much to think about when planning a trip to such a vast country – from where to stay (think cosy cabins for rent in Canada!) and flights, to where to visit and what to get up to; it can be a little overwhelming.
Well, Canada has been on my bucket list for a number of years now – way before I started watching Suits on Netflix and VIP told me that the TV series is actually filmed in Canada and not New York!
Of course the possibility of bumping into the eye candy that is Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) sweetens the deal on choosing Canada as a holiday destination, especially if you are young and fancy free – unlike me.
So I’ll settle for the destination’s other plus points – namely its events, shopping, activities and adventure – and of course the spas and relaxation options.
It really does seem like the destination has something for everyone. Even VIP has mentioned that he has always wanted to visit Canada.
And after a bit of research, it appears that 2018 could be the perfect year to go with the family. Here’s why.
Canada’s cities have got it going on right now – and 2018 looks set to welcome more new developments, events and attractions.
Take Toronto as a fine example; even in winter it has that ‘instagrammable’ (is that even a word?) vibe going on, not to mention the free outdoor public art, the plethora of winter sports (both to play and watch) and not forgetting the views from the CN Tower.
And if it’s good enough for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (who were in the city to soak up the atmosphere of the 2017 Invictus Games), it’s good enough for the Wright household.
In fact, Canada’s largest city is a great base to explore wider Ontario and beyond, including Niagara Falls which is around a 90-minute drive from the city.
And if you’re heading to Toronto in winter, then why not get the kids ice-skating? The city has no fewer than 52 artificial ice-rink locations, so you won’t be short on choice.
Alternatively, if you’re a movie buff, then September 2018 might be your ideal time to visit, when the Toronto International Film Festival takes place.
If food is more your thing (I know it’s mine), then the Winterlicious food festival makes an appearance towards the end of January, where more than 200 restaurants take part.
And then of course you have things like Light Festival (January-March), the Pride Festival, Caribbean Carnival and the Toronto Jazz Festival to get your head around. Like I said – something for everyone.
And not forgetting the capital city, Ottawa, of course, which has its fair share of events too including the Winterlude Festival (in February next year), which sees the city transformed into a winter wonderland – sounds magical. Even better is that it’s free!
But don’t just take my word for it; three of the best 20 cities in the world for families are in Canada, according to a recent survey by online real estate portal, Homeday.
Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto were all named amongst the best cities, determined by categories including city infrastructure, maternity laws, healthcare quality, happiness levels, activities for children and expert perception.
Where better to educate the kids about nature than the home of the grizzly bear? Grizzlies can be seen between spring and autumn (they hibernate in winter) on guided outings.
Mind you, I don’t think I’d want to come across them while venturing out on my own, so a guided tour is probably your best option too – better safe than sorry!
And then of course you’ll also have the option to spot polar bears, wolves, moose, bison and not forgetting the beaver – Canada’s national symbol.
But we’re not done there. I bet you didn’t know you could go whale-watching in Canada? And also spot dolphins, sea lions and seals.
And last but not least, don’t forget to look up! Canada’s vast range of birdlife will have you and the kids mesmerized, particularly if it’s the migratory season when you can expect to see large flocks dominating the skies above.
Get your skates on (or skis!)
I love skiing and I really want to go skiing again – as soon as possible! And to be honest, I can’t imagine a nicer place to go skiing than in Canada – think of some of the amazing backdrops.
Heading into 2018 there are lots of new developments – from new ski areas opening up and accommodation, to guided tours that cater to most people’s whim.
And what’s great about Canada is that the world is your oyster when it comes to skiing, with plenty of places to ‘get your piste on’. Take a look at the Telegraph’s 10 best Canadian ski resorts.
But if skiing is not your thing, then you won’t lose out. How does ice walking, snow tubing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, hot springs or ice hockey sound? And that’s just a tiny selection of the other winter sports on offer.
So, now to make it happen!
If I’ve piqued your interest in Canada, then here’s what you need to know to make a trip happen.
Firstly, you’ve got to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) – and the best time to apply for one is BEFORE you book your airline fares.
The ETA costs $7 and is valid for five years and you can apply online. But a word of warning – any website that charges more than the $7 is not the official government site – so don’t get ripped off…go to the official one.
Where to go? Probably the biggest decision – and the most difficult given that Canada has ten provinces – Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. So you'll need to do your research depending on the needs of your family – here's a good place to start.
When it comes to looking at flights, a selection of airlines have you covered including Air Transat, British Airways, WestJet and Air Canada.
Looking ahead to 2018, British Airways is to add another transatlantic route to its summer 2018 schedule from Gatwick.
A three times a week Toronto flight will be taking to the air from 1st May next year, with return fares in World Traveller starting from £453.
Low-cost airline, Primera Air has announced it will start flying from Birmingham and Stansted to Toronto, Ontario in May next year, with three-times weekly flights from £149 one-way including all taxes.
And Air Canada is also jumping on the bandwagon by commencing a new service from Dublin’s Shannon Airport in June 2018.
In terms of spending money, you’ll be relieved to discover that Canada is an affordable holiday destination for most visitors, including us Brits, as the Canadian dollar is weak.
So, if the lure of amazing scenery, great value flights, cosy accommodation and plenty of activities doesn’t tempt you to take a family adventure in the ‘Great White North’, I’m not sure what it would take to get you there…a date with Gabriel perhaps? Nah, just checked – looks like he’s taken.
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