‘A big blowout in the square’: Canada Day celebrations beyond the country’s borders

'A big blowout in the square': Canada Day celebrations beyond the country's borders
People celebrate Canada Day in Trafalgar Square in London, Eng. in a July 1, 2023 handout photo. As Canadians celebrate the country's 157th birthday this weekend, one of the biggest parties will take place across the Atlantic Ocean.

As Canadians celebrate the country’s 157th birthday this weekendone of the biggest parties will take place across the Atlantic Ocean.

The annual Canada Day bash at London’s Trafalgar Square – home to diplomatic outpost Canada House – drew more than 30,000 people last year and organizers say even more are expected at Sunday’s daylong party.

The event, organized by the non-profit Celebrate Canada Worldwide, will feature some notable names in Canadian music, Canadian-themed food and NHL’s travelling hockey fest. Ontario indie rock band Tokyo Police Club and Newfoundland musician Alan Doyle, the founding member of Great Big Sea, will be capping off the day with live performances.

Tokyo Police Club keyboardist Graham Wright expects those in attendance will be more focused on the music compared to Canada Day events at home.

“We’ve done some Canada Day or Canada Day-adjacent stuff here and you often get a lot of folks wandering around in Ottawa or whatever, just taking in the activities and you’re sort of co-headlining with the air show,” Wright says.

“It seems to me that because it’s farther away from Canada, you’re going to get people who are maybe more stoked on the band than on the waving a little paper flag aspect of things.”

READ ALSO: Where to celebrate Canada Day on Vancouver Island

The band recently kicked off their final tour, and this performance will mark their last European show.

“A big blowout in the square is as good a way to go out as any,” Wright says.

Doyle, who has performed at Canada Day concerts in Ottawa, says he always wanted to be part of the celebration in London and he was delighted to finally get that chance.

“It’s going to be the greatest kitchen party in the history of the U.K., simple as that,” he says, adding that his style of Celtic music is especially well-received across the pond.

Canada Day at Trafalgar Square may be one of the most high-profile expat parties, but it’s not the only one. Statistics Canada estimates that more than four million Canadian citizens were living abroad in 2016, with the biggest expat community in the United States, followed by the U.K. and Australia.

Canada Day celebrations south of the border will include a party in Los Angeles on Sunday, hosted by non-profit organization Canadians Abroad and sponsored by the local Canadian consulate.

The event will feature Canadian menu staples such as Caesars and poutine, along with a DJ playing the Tragically Hip, Justin Bieber and The Weeknd. Up to 300 people are expected to attend, but Canadians Abroad chairman David Ivkovic says a smaller crowd doesn’t mean less enthusiasm for the occasion.

“It’s just another day down here so we try and make the best of it,” he said.

Another celebration is planned south of L.A. in Orange County, Calif., where the Canadian Expats organization is expecting 200 people to gather in a park.

Organization co-founder Robert Kelle says it’s especially important for Canadians in the U.S. to celebrate the holiday.

“What we typically find is that those people who first get here are maybe a little bit more susceptible to detaching themselves from their Canadian roots,” Kelle says.

“It takes a few years of people … living here before they start to remember that there is a difference in our cultures and that it’s nice to have that connection to home.”

 This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2024

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!