As December turns into January and 2014 slips into 2015, winter has all but fallen on much of Canada. It’s not like this is a bad thing – the ponds freeze over for long nights of skating and playoff races are just starting to get interesting in the National Hockey League. But after a long winter of heavy snow that traps you inside your house, it can be easy to develop a case of cabin fever.
Most people take tropical vacations when the dead of winter really sets in, but if you want a more Canadian experience, then hold your horses and wait until spring. That’s when the country sheds its stereotypical snow-covered image to reveal vibrant colours, engaging cultures and so much more. If you’ve been hankering to get back on the road as soon as all this snow and ice melts away, check out these four spring vacations that you should start planning now.
1. Cherry Blossom Festival - Vancouver
What says spring has come more than the first blades of grass or flower petals that start to peek through melting snow? You’ve waited all winter for warmer temperatures, though, so it’s safe to say that walking your neighborhood and gazing at a few gardens isn’t going to do the trick. You might need to head west to Vancouver and one of the most visually striking events in North America.
The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is a veritable rite of passage for spring in Canada. For a few days every April, the roughly 40,000 cherry blossom trees originally gifted to Vancouver from Japan begin to bloom and shed their petals in quick succession. The result is a mesmerizing pink and white sheet of flowers dancing on the wind and a sight you’ll never forget.
That is, if you got laser vision correction when you had so much free time during the winter.
2. Ottawa Tulip Festival – Ottawa
If British Columbia is too far of a trek for you, how about Ottawa? Canada’s capital may not be known for ostentatious displays of colour and spring vibrancy, but that doesn’t mean that a piece of history half a century ago can’t lead to the establishment of one of the largest flower festivals in the world.
You might know the tulip as the international symbol of the Netherlands – if you Google the two words, you’ll see fields of the things. When World War II broke out and Germany occupied Amsterdam, the Canadian government harbored the Dutch Royal Family in Ottawa for the duration of the war. When the family was returned to their home in 1945, they were so grateful that they sent along a number of gifts, which included 100,000 tulip bulbs. For the next 40 years, the Dutch government would continue to send 1,000 bulbs every year.
So what has Ottawa done with all those tulip bulbs? Only start the largest tulip festival in the world with more than 500,000 visitors annually. This month-long event isn’t all about sitting and staring at flowers, though – with live music, free food, group exercises and so many more acts to name, tulips might actually be the last thing on your mind.
3. Maple syrup farms – Quebec/Ontario
Melting snow doesn’t just reveal pretty flowers – higher temperatures give Canada’s vast forests a chance to kick themselves back into gear. This is exactly what hundreds of farmers and tens of thousands of visitors are banking on when they circle maple syrup harvesting times on their calendars.
BBCanada.com explained that Canada produces 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup – 91 percent of that comes from farms in Quebec, while the remaining 9 percent is thanks to Ontario trees. The real attraction starts in March, though, when farmers start to boil off maple sap to produce the syrup you know and love. Beauceron, south of Quebec City, draws about 50,000 visitors between March 16 and 24 when “sugar shacks” boil off their sap and invite the public to taste to their hearts’ content.
Sure, you don’t need great eyesight to enjoy this spring getaway, but remember, maple syrup can get everywhere. If you’re farsighted, you might miss that big gob that just fell on your shirt. Might as well get laser vision correction to be safe.
4. One last ski trip
Odds are the last thing you want to see in spring is more snow, but taking one last ski trip during warmer temperatures could be just what you need to bid the winter adieu.
SkyScanner.net explained that most resorts see less traffic during the spring, so they charge lower rates for lift passes and hotel rooms. The source chose Whistler-Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia as its resort of choice, but you can choose a closer location if you’re not into extreme skiing.
Just remember – higher temperatures in spring usually mean more direct sunlight reflecting off of pure white snow. If you have poor eyesight already and neglected to undergo laser vision correction or bring a pair of UV-blocking glasses, you might find yourself wishing for dark winter nights again.
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