How to Have a Sensory-Friendly Canada Day Celebration

Are you planning a celebration for July 1st, Canada Day? Canada Day events typically involve friends and family celebrating together. There may be a BBQ, a pool party or a gathering in the garage. Furthermore, fireworks are often part of family, neighbourhood or community celebrations. However, if you have a child or family member with sensory sensitivities, celebrations are stressful. Loud noises, especially fireworks, large groups of people, and unfamiliar activities are overwhelming. As a result, many families hesitate to participate in Canada Day celebrations. If this is something that you can relate to, a sensory-friendly Canada Day celebration is the answer for you!

This blog post shares ways you can adapt your Canada Day to be include more people.

Infographic highlighting 7 ways to host a sensory-friendly Canada Day event.

Plan in advance

An essential aspect of a sensory-friendly event or celebration is to plan the day in advance. For many people who experience sensory overload, a change in their daily routine is stressful. Therefore, to alleviate stress, share as much information with guests in advance. For example, include details about the location of the event. Add a breakdown of the schedule, too. So, not just start times! But, stop times/end times. Highlight when food will be served. And be sure to indicate when fireworks will occur.

In addition, give your guests with information about the different activities. For example, if you hosting a fireworks show, let your guests know! Fireworks are difficult for people with hypersensitivities to light and noise.

Invite a small number of people

Another part of creating a sensory-friendly celebration: limit the number of people. A significant issue for many people with sensory sensitivities is a crowd of people. It adds noise and movement. Both can feel overwhelming.

So think about the space you will be using. Your backyard? A community area or space? Then think about a comfortable number of people that can fit in that space. Consider making sure that there is lots of space around people. Make your guests feel comfortable.

Create a designated quiet zone

Furthermore, to help establish a sensory-friendly celebration, offer a designated quiet zone. A quiet zone is an area for people to rest in a relaxing space. Ideally, make this a separate space. Be sure to add some sort of buffer for noise. Give people places to sit. Add a sign that says it is a quiet zone. Add sensory tools, too!

Mother and child sitting on lawn holding Canadian flags.

Provide sensory tools

Offer your guests sensory tools to be sensory-friendly. The most common sensory tools are noise-cancelling headphones and sunglasses. Celebrations, even those with quiet spaces, come with noise. Therefore, noise-cancelling earmuffs help your guests reduce noise.

Remind your guests to bring their own sunglasses for outdoor, daytime events. And they help with the glare of fireworks, too!

Have some fidgets, both children and adults will enjoy them!

Prepare sensory-friendly activities

Sensory-friendly Canada Day-themed activities will be a hit at your celebration. Think of things like red and white arts and crafts. And, even Canadian-animal themed yoga.

For sensory-friendly Canadian-themed activities, check out And Next Comes L’s blog post on 6 sensory activities for Canada Day!

Host or attend a sensory-friendly fireworks show

A popular Canada Day activity is watching a fireworks show. However, the lights and sounds of fireworks shows can be stressful for people with sensory sensitivities. As a result of this, many people may not feel comfortable attending events with fireworks.

Find ways you can host a sensory-friendly fireworks show.

Adjust your expectations

Lastly, adjust your expectations as a parent, host or guest at a sensory-friendly Canada Day celebration. Know that that your celebration might look different than most. For example, maybe not all your guests will stay for the whole event. Or some people might not feel comfortable participating in all the activities. Be welcoming.

For more information on ways to adapt celebrations to become more accessible, check out:

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