Canada turns 150 in 2017, and across the 'Great White North' celebrations are taking place. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the British North America Act of 1867 that formed the basis of the Canadian Confederation we recognise today, the official date of modern Canada's birth is July 1st, but the entire year is being honoured throughout the country. Since then, the shape of the country has changed over time, with provinces and territories joining and separating from the union over the centuries. Indeed, it wasn't until 1982 that Canada declared its independence from Great Britain, signing the Constitution Act on July 1st and renaming the day 'Canada Day' in honour of the nation's newfound sovereignty.
This year, there are parties up and down the country in honour of this very special anniversary. The Canadian capital of Ottawa is hosting events year-round, including a skating competition on the Rideau Canal and spectacular celebrations on Canada Day itself, including live concerts and street parties throughout the city. One of the capital's most memorable performances of the year is expected on April 30th, when the Snowbirds will perform a flyover in Ottawa's skies, in a sensational display dubbed 'Air 150'.
Yet, Ottawa is not alone in commemorating Canada's 150th birthday. Canada's 47 National Parks are offering complimentary entrance to some outstanding sites throughout 2017, allowing visitors to explore the glories of stunning Canadian scenery entirely for free. So, from the shimmering waters of Alberta's Lake Louise, to the dense trees of Ontario's Rouge National Urban Park, nature lovers can experience the beauty of Canada's protected spaces without charge, for this year only.
For those who prefer to celebrate in musical style, Toronto has you covered. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra plans to celebrate by commissioning 40 new pieces of music, to be written and performed by orchestras across the country, creating a musical mosaic. Performances will take place throughout the year and the nation, and in addition, the orchestra has recorded the Canadian national anthem in no less than 12 languages, including Cree, the most widely-spoke Canadian aboriginal language - all of which are available to hear on its website.
Another homage to Canada's ancient roots can be found in contemporary Vancouver, where celebrations this year are being taken up a notch. Although already famous for hosting one of the most energetic displays of cultural pride outside the capital each Canada Day, for 2017 Vancouver is looking to the country's past, welcoming a festival of the First Nations alongside live music, fireworks over the bay and even a mass citizenship ceremony, bringing brand new Canadians into the fold.
There are dozens of ways to join in the fun of Canada's 150th birthday, with cities and towns across the country all taking part to celebrate the relatively short but sweet history of this impeccable nation. If you've never visited before, this is the perfect time to introduce yourself to Canada's superb shores. Celebrations are taking place throughout the year, though to join in the peak of the action, make your way to one of the bustling cities in time for July 1st, and ring in the biggest Canada Day in history so far.