How to Celebrate Canada Day at Home, 2020

As with most events, trips and occasions this year, Canada Day is going to be vastly different from years past. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement, as this was going to be my first Canada Day celebration in Ottawa.

Canada Day in the capital was already going to be relocated this year, due to the construction on Parliament Hill. The initial plan was to move the festivities to Major Hill Park. With the current pandemic, Canada Day 2020 is going virtual!

Follow Canadian Heritage on Facebook, or the Instagram page @o_canadiana for details on virtual events and performances. Video activities will be available online on June 29, for Canadians to celebrate together. On July 1, there are both daytime and nighttime performances, showcasing various artist collaborations, performances, and cultural diversity. Find resources through the government of Canada website.

 Family Canada Day Celebrations At Home

I’ve always celebrated and enjoyed Canada Day. I am used to a smaller celebration with family and close friends, in cottage country. I plan ahead of time, buying certain food, drinks and props, (okay, my mom usually takes care of the food to be fair).

Here are my tips for having a fun quarantine-style Canada Day;


  • Attire

    Deck yourself out in all things red and white! My family has a tradition, where we purchase a new Canada Day shirt every year. Two years ago, I purchased a cotton dress from Roots from their pride collection, with a bright rainbow beaver on the front. Coincidentally my sister bought the t-shirt version of the same style – hello matching sibling photos!

    Check out the Canada Collection at Roots, Made in Canada Gifts, or The Bay for more options. The Stronger Together collection donates $5 from each item sold to the Covid-19 Response Fund.

    Besides a festive shirt, I typically rock red shoes, a Canadian flag headband, and temporary tattoos from Dollarama. One year I even painted old jean shorts with maple leaf stencils. That is also a great social distancing craft idea beforehand – grab some fabric paint from Michael’s & cut maple leaf stencils from printed images.

    Roots Canada Day Pride Collection shirt and dress

  • Food & Drinks

    Any party or event is not complete without the right selection of eats. Personally, that means pre-made drinks, BBQ for dinner, and finishing the night off with s’mores or hotdogs over a bonfire. It is an opportunity to support local vendors also, such as those found at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market or Carp Farmer’s Market.

    Is there a certain food vendor you always purchased treats from on Canada Day in years past? My first thought is Beavertails! Whatever your tradition is, add it to your celebration at home. You can make it as Canadian as possible; start the day with Peameal bacon and Montreal-style bagels, Nanaimo bars and ketchup chips as a snack, poutine for lunch, Tortière for dinner, and pecan tarts for dessert! Ok, maybe that’s too much for one day, but all very Canadian!

    Don’t forget some Canadian drinks; Canadian whiskey, Caesars or some red Jell-o shots. Click here for my Ottawa breweries blog. Other favourites of mine include drinks from Pelee Island Winery and Georgian Bay Spirit Co.

  • Activities

    Canada Day is technically one of the two days in the year that setting off fireworks in your backyard is legal. If seeing the fireworks downtown is typically part of your tradition, it would be a fun event at home. Please make sure you are safe; do not set them off in a public park, and ensure a water hose is handy. 

    A summer holiday is also the perfect time for backyard games of all kinds! Corn hole, hillbilly golf, horse shoes, badminton, frisbee, slip n’ slide... the list goes on. Include beer pong and flip cup if it is an adult party.

Canada Day Activity Beach Ball Poolside

  • Props

    On my Canada Day celebrations I want red and white maple leaves everywhere! I’m sure that’s what you’re used to as well, if you have spent it downtown Ottawa. Canada flags in all shapes and sizes, red and white everything; cups, towels, streamers, balloons, lanterns…There are fun photo booth props you can find on Etsy, or you can simply print off some images to post around the house/yard.

    Play with some bubbles during the day. Grab some glow sticks and sparklers to enjoy post sunset!

    Polaroid Canada Day Photo - Canada Day at Home

  • Music

    On Canada Day, I’m typically with my dad (who gets first pick of the radio station) who enjoys rock music. Personally, I love country music, and playing it always feels perfect to me for a backyard BBQ vibe. The first songs that come to mind are; Canadian Girls by Dean Brody, and Stronger Beer by Tim Hicks. The type of music you play can have an effect on how you feel – make it a fun one! Whatever music reminds you of Canada, play it.

    Click here, for the ‘Stronger Together’ playlist from the artists who united on April 26 to show support to our frontline workers.

    Click here, for the playlist I created as part of the 30 Day Social Distance Challenge, entirely made up of Ontario, Canada artists.

    Check out Ottawa-based indigenous electronic group, A Tribe Called Red. They mix modern beats and hip-hop with traditional instruments and poetry.

Let's go Anywhere Canada Day Mug Red and White


I would love to hear how you celebrate Canada Day. Leave a comment below or tag @ottawariverlifestyle in your photos celebrating Canada.


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