Fireworks in Montreal, Vancouver, Rocky Mountaineer Railroad, Banff or Calgary

While trying to decide what to do for our summer vacation, my wife and I are considering a trip to Canada. We’d love to go to Copper Canyon in Mexico, but we’re thinking it will be pretty hot down there so going North (or further south) makes more sense in terms of weather.

Anyway, there are a few great things to do in Canada so here’s a preliminary vacation plan. This is still a work in progress and right now it is a bit flawed as it involves flying to Montreal, from Montreal to Vancouver, and then flying home from Calgary (with an option to go from Calgary to Montreal, back home). I haven’t checked out these flights to see if there are one way tickets that make sense…

Day 1: Wednesday, July 11 2007 is a good day to arrive in Montreal because that night you can see some fireworks from Hong Kong, China’s Pyromagic Productions Ltd. If you need to change the date but want to arrive on a day with fireworks, check out the schedule here. The link to buy tickets is broken and I’m not entirely sure why you need tickets since fireworks should be visible from a few places…

So day 1 consists of arriving in Montreal, checking into your hotel, getting dinner, and watching fireworks.

Hotel Nelligan (106 Saint Paul St. W., Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1Z3, Canada) is somewhat expensive but comes highly recommended. It’s very nice and conveniently located near Place D’Armes metro station.

Day 2 (July 12): In the morning, visit Montreal’s oldest Catholic church, Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame). Don’t miss the stained glass inside that depicts the history of Montreal.

Then it’s time to visit Montreal’s oldest art institution, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts). There are several excellent collections in one of Canada’s finest museums including many works by Canadian artists.

That evening, take a stroll through Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal). You could also take a bike or a horse-drawn carriage. Enjoy narrow cobblestone streets in Montreal’s Parisian-style historic district. It should be no trouble to find a restaurant and then later a sidewalk cafe. This area is featured in 1,000 Places to See before You Die and they recommend L’Express for a moderately priced dinner or Toque! for something more extravagant.

Day 3 (July 13): Fly to Vancouver. One attraction you want to see is the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It’s open on the 13th of July (a Friday) but closed on Mondays and in winter.

Day 4 (July 15) and Day 5 (July 16): are spent on The Rocky Mountaineer. This train travels only in daylight and takes you from Vancouver to Banff (or you can take it to Calgary which is my choice because it should be easier to fly from Calgary). Highlights include Fraser Canyon, Spiral Tunnels, Stoney Creek Bridge, Hell’s Gate (200 million gallons of water surge through a 110 foot gorge each minute), and Rogers Pass.

Day 6 (July 17): It’s time to check out of your hotel, spend the day in Calgary and go home. I would go to Fort Calgary because I like a little history and forts are cool. Then I’d go to Calgary Tower for views of the city.

If you want to extend the vacation a bit you could go back to Montreal for more fireworks.

Optional Day 7 (July 18): Tonight is the night Fireworks Spectaculars Canada puts on their show for the Montreal Fireworks festival.

I might try to work in a couple of days in Toronto, as I’ve never been there, but for now, this itinerary is what I’ve got. Any comments or suggestions?

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  1. Roy says:

    I wouldn’t to discourage anybody form the excellent opportunities in Canada, but I do dispute your premise. While I would find much of Mexico unbearable in mid-summer, the Copper Canyon’s elevation makes it an exception. I was there in early September 2005 (using Sierra Madre Express), and the weather was excellent.

  2. LB says:

    You will love the Rocky Mountaineer. We took the trip in 2006 and it was perfect!

  3. John Bishop says:

    Hi James, I know this post is over 3 years old but what did you decide in the end? Sounded like a great itinerary and I was keen to do something very similar with my wife for her 60th. I contacted Rocky Mountain Holidays regarding the Rocky Mountaineer ( ) and they said they could take care of almost all the travel in Canada. Who did you book with in the end? Thanks and appreciate you help. Best regards, John.

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