The Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton is not to be missed—particularly the Syncrude Gallery of Aboriginal Culture; with more than 3,000 pieces, it is the largest collection of First People's material in North America.
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Calgary's Glenbow Museum, western Canada's largest museum, is home to more than a million artifacts and 28,000 works of art, largely featuring Canadian and Asian art, with an additional focus on cultural and military history.
No matter what time of year you visit Alberta, you will likely come across a major festival, fair, rodeo, or other fete. While Canadians across the country love their celebrations, Edmonton has been dubbed "Canada's Festival City" and key events there range from the Heritage Festival to the International Film Festival to the Symphony Under the Sky. Not to be outdone, the Rockies, Calgary area and Alberta south, central and north offer a plethora of options including the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, the Waterton Wildflower Festival at Waterton Lakes National Park and the Banff Summer Arts Festival.
From the artistic community of Vancouver's Granville Island where painters, metalworkers, ceramicists and other artisans ply their trades, to Hazleton's 'Ksan Historical Village, a recreation of the ancient Gitanmaax village, British Columbia offers culture seekers myriad options.
The Victoria Classic Boat Festival brings up to 130 boats together over Labour Day weekend and bestows awards like the Best Restored Sail to attendees who have painstakingly worked to preserve or restore their vessels. The event is free to the public and many boats are available for walkthroughs.
The Pacific Rim Whale Festival, held in March on the west coast of Vancouver Island, brings visitors to the water during the peak of gray whale migration. Nearly 22,000 whales make the annual pilgrimage from the Mexican Baja Peninsula to arctic waters, all but guaranteeing sightings aboard boats and float planes or from public viewing stations at Amphitrite Point Lighthouse and Wickaninnish Centre.
British Columbia is home to Canada's only desert and the The Nk'Mip (in-ka-meep) Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos hopes to teach visitors about the fragility of the area. The Centre, which opened in 2006 and sits on the 200-acre Nk'Mip Resort, was designed to co-exist with its surroundings; it was built into a hillside, using desert-like material such as rammed earth walls and a green roof. Guests explore indoor and outdoor gallery spaces, walk 50 acres of self-guided trails through the Great Basin Desert, and observe the Western Rattlesnake, considered a "threatened species" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The Osoyoos Indian Band, in partnership with the Canadian Wildlife Service, launched the Rattlesnake Research Project and the centre offers public viewing areas where visitors can watch researchers capture rattlesnakes and tag them with microchips so they may be observed in the wild.
In July, Manitoba is awash in color as residents celebrate the annual Neepawa and Area Lily Festival. As of 2004, Neepawa was home to more than 2,000 named varieties of lilies, many in the five lily parks throughout town. During the three day festival, 11,000 to 12,000 people join the fun for activities like bus tours, a Breakfast among the Lilies, a barbeque, dances and a quilt show.
Dauphin is home to a variety of sites celebrating the area's Ukrainian Heritage. The more than 10,000 seat Selo Ukraina amphitheatre hosts Canada's three-day National Ukrainian Festival annually, the largest of its kind in North America, and the Ukrainian Heritage Village, with its homes, farm buildings, church, school and artifacts, depicts a pioneer town between 1896 and 1925.
For the artistically inclined, a visit to New Brunswick should include a visit to The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, where the crown jewel in a collection of primarily Canadian and British paintings, tapestries and furniture, is Salvador Dalí's Santiago el Grande.