Saddle bronc riding at the Calgary Stampede that takes place in Canada. The Calgary Stampede is also a good way to celebrate the 150th year celebration of Canada. Photo: Flickr

‘Sesquicentennial’ is hardly a word that rolls off the tongue, but you’ll likely be hearing it a lot this year. That’s because it’s Canada’s 150th anniversary, and there will be plenty of special celebrations taking place across the country to mark 150 years of history, culture and Canadian innovation.
 
From the fjord-slashed coastline to the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, there are all manner of geographical gems and archaeological sites to discover stretching back multiple millennia. To help you hone your explorations, Pieter Beyers of Insight Vacations has compiled five of the best reasons to visit Canada in this special anniversary year.
 
Seriously Fun Festivals
 
From the Calgary Stampede to the Montreal Jazz Fest and everything in between, Canadians love a good old get together. Billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Calgary Stampede is a celebration of all things Western Canadian. With rodeos, chuckwagon racing, lashings of local country music and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about ranch animals you’re sure to enjoy every foot-stomping moment.
 
Remember to pack your biggest belt buckle, a cowboy hat, jeans and boots so that you look the part.
 
Niagara Falls
 
Straddling the border with America, the sonic boom of Niagara Falls hits the ears long before its frothy, cascading water can be seen. One of nature’s greatest wonders, one fifth of all the fresh water in the world lies in the four upper Great Lakes, and they all empty over the falls. Scuttle down its various tunnels if you want a closer peak at Horseshoe Falls (which gushes 128 million litres a minute), or stay to read recollections of daredevils, from Annie Taylor to Kirk Jones, who have each gone over the edge in a variety of death-defying ways.
 
Halifax Citadel
 
No military force has ever dared enter this castle; set overlooking the harbour, the present fortification (built in 1856) is a distinctive star-shape, with vast ditches, towering walls, and innumerable cannon. Visitors, however, are another story. Wander down its corridors to explore magazines and barracks, or watch the noon salutes and hourly sentry change. Some visitors are even lucky enough to see the 78th Highlanders re-enact their 19th century antics, from patrols to target practice.
 
Quebec City
 
Set atop the cliffs at a narrowing of the St Lawrence River, Quebec’s Old Town is rich in charm and stuffed with places to see. Visit the Latin Quarter, the Plains of Abraham (where the Brits took the city from the French), the National Assembly, Place-Royale and City Hall. But whatever you do, make sure to leave time for the Basilica. As old as the nation itself, it features the first Holy Doors to be made outside Europe – these grand sealed portals can only be opened by pilgrims when the Pope grants a Jubilee year.
 
Banff National Park
 
In a country spoilt with spectacular natural sites, Banff still manages to stand out. Whether visitors relax by Lake Moraine, grab a bite to eat at one of its historic teahouses, or head out on a hike to the forest that’s crowned by the glistening Victoria glacier, a trip to this stunning region is without doubt one of the best reasons to visit Canada. One never-ending procession of river, canyon, lake, waterfall, forest and mountain, the best way to get around is in fact by canoe…perfect for a scenic paddle around Lake Louise.
 
Make the most of Canada’s sesquicentennial at these spectacular spots when you book a place on the Majesty of the Rockies priced from  R81 300 journey or the Indulgence in Eastern Canada and Cruise priced from R43 300. Contact Insight Vacations on (011) 280 8450 or visit www.insightvacations.com for more information.