With Canada’s 150th birthday just around the corner it’s the perfect time to visit St. John’s, one of the country’s oldest cities. Here are 10 things to do in Newfoundland’s capital city between now and September.
Be among the first to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday
Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s most eastern province, which means it will be the first to officially reach Canada Day (and Canada’s 150th birthday) on July 1. In St. John’s, head to Confederation Hill, Quidi Vidi Lake and Signal Hill National Historic Site to participate in celebratory events from dawn until dusk. Along with family-friendly activities and live music, there will also be a special ceremony at sunrise and evening fireworks to end the big day with a bang.
Dance and party the night away at the annual George Street Festival
Don’t miss out on the George Street Festival, one of the city’s most anticipated events of the year. For six days (July 27 to August 1), the bars of downtown’s George Street are filled with high-energy musical performances from local and international artists. This year’s headliners include Sam Roberts Band and Blue Rodeo.
Catch a rowing race at The Royal St. John’s Regatta
Dating back to 1816, The Royal St. John’s Regatta is North America’s oldest organized sporting event. The annual rowing competition takes place the day after the George Street Festival (August 2) on Quidi Vidi Lake and is a civic holiday for the province. Join thousands of spectators to cheer on the male and female rowing crews as they race for gold.
Picnic at an historic lighthouse
Drive one hour south from St. John’s to the red and white Ferryland Lighthouse built in 1870 in the town of Ferryland. Stop at Lighthouse Picnics to pick up a gourmet picnic basket (pre-order it online) filled with dishes like ham and brie sandwiches, crab cakes, peach shortcake, cranberry scones and freshly made lemonade. Lay down a blanket outside the lighthouse to watch the waves crash against the shore while you eat.
Explore the city’s culinary scene on a local food tour
Get acquainted with the downtown food scene on a three-hour walking tour with So-Full Food Tour, which run every Saturday. Tour stops include local favourites such as Newfoundland Chocolate Company, Tavola Restaurant & Wine Bar, YellowBelly Brewery & Public House, Rocket Bakery & Fresh Food and O’Reilly’s pub. Register for the tour at least 48 hours in advance.
Jam to the music at the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival
From August 4 to 6, locals and visitors will fill Bannerman Park for the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival. Now in its 41st year, this annual festival features musical performances from more than 30 local, national and international artists including Sarah Harmer, Matt Andersen, The High & Lonesome Ramblers, Sullivan & Slaney and more.
Listen to ghost stories at Signal Hill National Historic Site
Halloween isn’t the only time you can listen to ghost stories. On Friday and Saturday evenings from July 8 to Aug. 27, visit Signal Hill’s Queen’s Battery Barracks to hear local folklorist Dale Jarvis tell spooky, historical tales as part of Parks Canada’s “Ghosts of Signal Hill” program.
Nosh on pizza and Iceberg beer at the recently opened Olio Pizzeria
Head downtown to visit the city’s newest pizzeria. At Olio Pizzeria, choose from 27 toppings to build your own pizza, or opt for one of the eatery’s own creations like the Five Brothers Smoked Cheddar Cheese pizza, topped with bacon, chicken, green pepper, barbecue sauce and locally made cheese. Pair it with an Iceberg Beer from Quidi Vidi Brewing Company.
Shop for fresh produce and gifts at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market
This month, the St. John’s Farmers’ Market reopens at the Lion’s Club Chalet. The market, which runs through to December, is filled with tasty fare and locally made products such as cinnamon buns from The Old Dublin Bakery, fresh veggies from Fire Hill Farms and soaps made with local seaweed from Kelp Me!
Watch one of the Bard’s famous plays during the Shakespeare By The Sea Festival
The unique landscape of St. John’s provides the perfect backdrop for a theatrical performance. Starting in June, the Shakespeare By The Sea Festival returns for its 25th season with five different productions presented around the city. Catch The Tempest at Signal Hill National Historic Site from July 14 to Aug. 12, or Timon of Athens (a first-time production for the company) at Kenny’s Pond Park from July 2 to Aug. 7.