Canada’s 153rd birthday will be unlike any before it in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gone are the concerts, huge gatherings and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds viewing fireworks. Instead, with social distancing measures still in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, events will be much more low-key or entirely online.

While restrictions are easing in some parts of the country, as of Tuesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported 103,918 reported cases of COVID-19, including 8,566 deaths across the country. 

Canadians are being encouraged to celebrate in safe ways to prevent the spread of the virus. Alternatives to crowded events include backyard barbecues with close social bubbles, and checking out livestream celebrations taking place. 

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The annual shows in Ottawa will be streamed at midday and in the evening. And the 53 bells of the Peace Tower will still ring today, with two special recitals streamed live.

Some parts of the country will still feature real-life fireworks displays. Earlier this week, Alberta eased restrictions to allow outdoor “audience-style” gatherings of up to 200 people.

Other areas will feature some unique ways to mark the holiday. 

In Vancouver, the PNE is hosting a “drive-thru” Canada Day and parade featuring some of their favourite fair food. And an Avro Lancaster WWII bomber will do a fly-over of the Toronto and Hamilton areas today in memory of Capt. Jenn Casey, the Snowbirds pilot who died in a crash in April. 

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The City of Toronto is hosting live streams throughout the day of everything from a pancake breakfast with Mayor John Tory to concert performances. And at 10 p.m. EST, the city will livestream the CN Tower Canada Day Light Show for 15 minutes set to music by Canadian artists. 

And if there aren’t fireworks in your area, don’t worry! At the end of the day, there will be virtual fireworks using augmented reality, produced by Heritage Canada. At 10 p.m. local time, head to this link, point your smartphone or tablet to the sky, and enjoy the show. There’s also a static video option for the less tech-savvy.

With files from the Canadian Press.


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