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Solar eclipse 2024 events: Best cities in Canada to experience 'astronomical' solar eclipse on April 8

From Niagara Falls to Montreal and the Maritimes, you’ll be able to find ideal vantage points — along with live music, picnics, and crafts for kids

The sun rises behind the skyline during an annular eclipse on June 10, 2021 in Toronto, Canada. On April 8, people will be travelling from all around the world to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
The sun rises behind the skyline during an annular eclipse on June 10, 2021 in Toronto, Canada. On April 8, people will be travelling from all around the world to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

On April 8, people will be travelling from all around the world to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse. Lucky for them, a number of those cities in or close to the path of totality can be found in Mexico, the U.S., and Canada, making for some picturesque road trips and flights out.

In fact, Canada is considered the ideal viewing location, as it takes up much of that path. Which is historic — the country last experienced a total solar eclipse in 1979.

“It’s an astronomical event,” says Tracy Webb, an associate professor of physics at McGill University. “Unless you're going to travel, this is your only chance to see a total solar eclipse in your lifetime.”

With Niagara Falls expecting 1 million visitors alone, it’s bound to be a congested day for many Canadians, so you’ll want to plan your route ahead (and pack snacks for the road), and maybe even spend a night or two at your destination.

Unless you're going to travel, this is your only chance to see a total solar eclipse in your lifetime.

What exactly can you expect? In simple terms, Webb explains: “The moon is creating a shadow on the earth, blocking the light from the sun. And that shadow is tracking across the earth at different times in different places. And so, at some level, you can be anywhere in the path of totality and have a really good viewing. But it's a broad shadow, and so there are places that are better than others in terms of how long the totality lasts.”

Which is why, if you’ve been dreaming of this day for some time, you’ll want to head to eastern Canada, and situate yourself somewhere on the narrow path of that shadow, that spans from Ontario, through Quebec, and into Newfoundland. While some will be able to catch an entire three minutes of the eclipse (like in Niagara), others will see about a minute (like in Montreal).

Not only can you expect to battle traffic, but the glare of the sun. Webb warns, “It’s not safe to look at it directly. The confusion is that the sun will be less bright and so it's easier to look at the sun, but it's still just as dangerous.”

Fortunately, most viewing events and schools around the country will be providing free, special glasses with filters designed to protect your eyes.

For those who won’t be able to make a trip, don’t fret: every Canadian, no matter where you are, will be able to see a partial eclipse (if you squint). Otherwise, sky-watching website timeanddate.com will be on the beat all day, with a livestream and live blog. NASA, too, will be hosting a livestream alongside conversations with space experts, which viewers can participate in.

If you’re still unsure where to catch the solar eclipse — along with a drink, a hot dog, and maybe a telescope — here’s a list of your best bets.

Niagara Falls 2024 eclipse events

Time: 3:18 p.m. ET

Length of totality: 3 mins, 15 secs

If you’re an astronomy nerd and have been counting down the days, there will be no better place to catch the eclipse in Canada than Niagara. This might be the easiest spot for most Canadians to access, though for that reason too, it’s likely to be the most congested. That means Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake are sure to be packed at all viewing parties and vantage points, though the city is actively preparing for traffic and installing safety measures.

But the trip will be worth it, with NASA and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) scientists set to talk at Niagara Parks Power Station and Old Fort Erie on the day. At the Power Station, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Astronomy in Action mobile planetarium.

Kids can enjoy interactive workshops and activities at Table Rock Centre, and STEM-related activities at the Butterfly Conservatory.

A rock concert will be held at Queen Victoria Park before and after the eclipse, alongside a fireworks display, while in St. Catharines, Brock University will host Eclipse on the Escarpment.

Hamilton, Ontario 2024 eclipse events

Time: 3:18 p.m. ET

Length of totality: 1 min, 50 secs

A simple road-trip for Ontarians, this small city is likely to be bustling on the big day. The go-to will be an all-day event held by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, natch, at Lime Ridge Mall (rain or shine, allegedly). There, you’ll be able to look through professional telescopes — with safety filters, of course — or bring your own telescope and learn how to use it. There will also be educational activities for the whole family.

The Royal Botanical Gardens will be hosting a viewing party at the Arboretum, with food, beverages, and cozy fire pits at the ready for maximum coziness.

If you’re a student at McMaster University, you can catch a viewing party at Ron Joyce Stadium, while the city will be throwing a free event at Tim Hortons Field, and various parks — including Bayfront, Pier 4, T.B. McQuesten and Confederation Beach — will offer prime viewing spots.

Kingston, Ontario 2024 eclipse events

Time: 3:23 p.m. ET

Length of totality: 3 mins, 2 secs

Queen’s University astronomers are taking the reins in Kingston, and will be spearheading viewing parties with, of course, free glasses provided. University ambassadors will be on hand at most events to guide folks through the eclipse.

A must will be the city’s Total Eclipse in the Park event, held at Grass Creek Park. It will feature food vendors, a beer tent, face painting, live music, a drag performance, and you’ll be able to build your own eclipse viewer with help from STEM Camp. And, naturally, a cover band will perform Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and other hits, because why not?

At Fort Henry National Historic Site, there will be guest speakers, children’s crafts and activities, and an artisan market, while Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area will be a prime viewing area, minus any special events for those craving a quieter experience.

Bougie types can hop on the Eclipse Cruise on the Island Queen, for a wet viewing of the eclipse with a great view from the ship’s top deck.

A man watches a partial solar eclipse at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A man watches a partial solar eclipse at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Montreal 2024 eclipse events

Time: 3:26 p.m. ET

Length of totality: 1 min, 27 secs

Here’s the thing: Montreal may not be ideal for eclipse viewing, with the city set to spend the bulk of time in darkness, but hey — it may very well be the spot with the best food, drinks, and nightlife to keep you occupied.

But before you resort to other plans, one of the biggest events will be at the Montreal Science Centre, beginning at 1pm. Free solar eclipse glasses will be distributed, while a tent will be set up where people can livestream eclipse views from Québec's Astrolab in Mont-Mégantic provincial park and from Ontario’s David Dunlap Observatory. If you’ve got kids in tow, educators will be present to share just why this event is so significant, and you’ll be able to check out a few exhibits while you’re there.

Meanwhile, almost 150,000 people are expected to drop by Parc Jean-Drapeau on St. Helen's Island, which features multiple vantage points toward the sun. Music, science kiosks and food trucks will also be part of the festivities. Mount Royal Park, too, will offer an ideal view.

McGill University, too, will be providing glasses, and will features activities and demonstrations conducted by the Trottier Space Institute.

Miramichi, New Brunswick 2024 eclipse events

4:34 p.m. AT
3 minutes and 8 seconds

If you want to head farther east, just about every town and community throughout New Brunswick will be hosting viewing events.

The best place however, with its more than three minutes of totality, is Miramichi, which will be throwing a week-long celebration leading up to the day called Total Eclipse Totale. There will be a music festival, art installations, interactive workshops, and so much more.

Another popular event will be a public viewing at the Miramichi Airport, where an astronomer will guide people through what they’re seeing, while music, food, and other vendors will also be on hand. You'll be able to land right at your destination.

Mill River, Prince Edward Island 2024 eclipse events

4:35 p.m. AT
2 minutes and 59 seconds

If you’re heading to P.E.I., there won’t be too many viewing events unfortunately, but you're bound to have a great time in Mill River, where the Mill River Resort will be hosting a viewing party all afternoon — with a free barbecue, live music, and educational presentations.

Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador 2024 eclipse events

5:12 p.m. NT
2 minutes and 13 seconds

Lightning can strike twice; for the second time in history, Gander has become a hotspot for folks all around the world, after the blockbuster play Come From Away.

Directly in the path of totality, Gander will have a few intimate events to catch the view. The big viewing will be a party following a days-long science festival, hosted by Memorial University and the Town of Gander.

Legends Lounge will host an astronomy talk led by Memorial University faculty as well, followed by space trivia (with prizes!). And those in St. John’s or other nearby cities might consider grabbing Johnson Geo Centre’s solar eclipse bus tour headed to Gander, complete with a packed lunch.

A man uses binoculars to watch a partial solar eclipse at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A man uses binoculars to watch a partial solar eclipse at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie