The 9 best car shows in Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 29 Jun 2023

If you’re a car enthusiast living in Canada, you have fabulous luck. This beautiful country hosts some of the world’s best car shows, featuring everything from classic cars to high-tech supercars. With so many options to choose from, it can make it hard to know where to start. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the 9 best car shows in Canada that every motorhead simply must attend.

1. Importfest: The Ultimate Custom Car Show

Do you have a fascination with modified cars? Look no further than Importfest, the ultimate custom car show in Toronto. This event is a must-visit for anyone who loves cars and wants to see unique and customized vehicles from both Canadian and American car owners.

Importfest doesn’t just showcase cars; it also provides a competition where car owners compete for prizes, including magazine features and trophy awards. The event’s organizers call it “Canada’s biggest and baddest car show.” Even better, since it happens indoors, weather never derails your visit. It also has 1,700 indoor parking spaces for easy access.

What to Expect at Importfest

Once you arrive at the show, you can expect to see hundreds of custom cars that will leave you in awe. From powerful Mustangs to quirky Honda Civics, you’ll find something for everyone at Importfest’s 185,000-square-foot space. The cars serve as one attraction, while a festival vibe arises due to live performances, music, and even arcade games. In the past, this show has welcomed NBA players and actor/drag racer R.J. de Vera of The Fast and the Furious films.

If you love music, you’ll enjoy some of the best local DJs and performers. You can dance to the latest beats while admiring the stunning cars on display. And if you feel competitive, you can even challenge your friends to a game of arcade basketball or racing.

Importfest has come a long way since its inception in 2001. The inaugural event drew 25,000 car enthusiasts to see more than 450 show cars at the Skydome (now the Rogers Centre). Since then, it has since grown into a major festival for the Canadian car community. Today, Importfest has gone on to become the longest-running after-market car show in the world. 

The growth of Importfest speaks to the passion and dedication of the organizers who worked tirelessly to make it succeed. They have created an event that not only showcases the best of custom cars but also brings people together in a fun and exciting atmosphere.

In conclusion, if you seek an event that combines the best of modified cars and festival vibes, head to Importfest. With its impressive history and growth, it’s no wonder why Importfest is considered the ultimate custom car show in Canada.

Who is Importfest show for: Fans of modified cars, typically men between 15 and 40

How much does it cost to attend Importfest: $35.56 plus parking

When does Importfest typically occur: Every year in July

Where does Importfest take place: Metro Toronto Convention Centre

2. Canadian International AutoShow: Toronto’s Premier Car Event

If you’re looking to see the latest and greatest from major car brands, the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto suits you. This is the largest auto show in Canada, featuring some of the newest cars, concepts, and prototypes from around the world. It began more than 50 years ago and welcomed 350,214 people in 2023 alone.

To get a sense of its scope, the largest iteration invited Alfa Romeo, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Genesis, GMC, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Nissan, Polestar, Ram, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Vinfast and Wagoneer. These companies created a buzz with one global vehicle debut, a North American debut and nine Canadian debuts. Oh, they also featured more than 75 all-electric vehicles and test drives on an indoor EV Test Track.

Tips for Attending the AutoShow

With so many cars to see, it’s important to plan ahead, so make sure to check out the show schedule and map ahead of time. The AutoShow runs for a few weeks in February, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore every corner.

If you love high-end cars, expect to see displays by Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Polestar, McLaren, Porsche, Ferraris and Lotus. For the kids, Hot Wheels and LEGO helped build a family atmosphere with special games and displays.

Make time to see new concept cars every year, including those manufactured in Canada. Recently, the show added an Electric City showcase feature for EVs, vehicle charging options, green electricity and electrified micro-mobility alternatives. If you have yet to buy wheels of your own, you can get to the show via a shared ticket and ride with GO Transit.

Who is the Canadian International AutoShow for: Enthusiasts who want to see the latest models and technologies

How much does it cost to attend the Canadian International AutoShow: $26 for adults, $17 for seniors, $16.50 for youths 

When does the Canadian International AutoShow typically occur: Every year in February

Where does the Canadian International AutoShow take place: Metro Toronto Convention Centre

3. Vancouver International Auto Show: Western Canada’s Largest Auto Show

For those living in western Canada, the Vancouver International Auto Show dominates as the largest auto show in the region. This show has thrived in Vancouver for more than 100 years and continues as one of Western North America’s premier automotive exhibition events. The New Car Dealers Association of B.C. owns and operates the show, which draws 115,000 attendees per year. The show returns in 2024.

Like other premium auto shows, this one gives consumers a chance to speed up their fact-finding about various makes and models in one place. They can even test drive a variety of vehicles on their wish lists.

Special Events and Attractions

At this show, CleanBC Go Electric will offer test drives of various clean energy vehicles that qualify for BC’s point-of-sale purchase incentives. Buyers can tap into rebates ranging from $2,000 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and up to $4,000 for battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. British Columbia proudly has the highest per capita adoption of clean energy vehicles. Further, it boasts the longest charging network in Canada. 

Overall, the Vancouver International Auto Show celebrates the current and golden age of the automobile. With its dedication to showcasing latest innovations and a variety of special attractions, you’ll enjoy this exciting annual event.

Who is the Vancouver International Auto Show for: Fans of the latest trends and models

How much does it cost to attend the Vancouver International Auto Show: $19 for adults on weekdays, $21 on weekends, $14/$15 for seniors

When does the Vancouver International Auto Show typically occur: Every year in March

Where does the Vancouver International Auto Show take place: Vancouver Convention Centre West

4. Edmonton Motor Show: The Biggest Auto Show in Alberta

If you live in Alberta and you’re passionate about cars, we suggest you check out the Edmonton Motor Show. This larger-than-life event takes place over four days and features more than 750 different cars from around the world.

The Edmonton Motor Show is the perfect place to see the latest and greatest cars from your favourite brands. From the newest Corvette to the classic muscle cars like Ford Mustangs, every car enthusiast will find something of interest. You can also expect exhibits from brands, such as Infiniti, Land Rover, KIA, Lexus, Jeep, Chevy and more. 

The Edmonton Motor Show earned its reputation with its impressive selection of cars, trucks and SUVs. It has shone as a premier automotive event for the last 45 years and the largest show in Western Canada. Come see classic, exotic or custom cars, plus the latest from manufacturers. Here, they get a chance to show off all the newest vehicles and technically interactive elements.

Just a few years ago, car fans had a chance to see the Felino, the second Canadian-built supercar and Jeep Gladiator for the first time. Also, they tried out drift demonstrations and placed bids at the collector car auction. If you buy one of these marvels, make sure to either get collector car insurance.

Meanwhile, the opening-night gala premier celebrates the excitement before the doors open to the public. This sneak peak also serves as a charity event with proceeds going to high school shop programs and post-secondary scholarships.

With its impressive selection of cars and activities, the Edmonton Motor Show makes the perfect destination for car enthusiasts of all ages. Make sure to mark your calendar and plan your visit to the Edmonton Motor Show today!

Who is the Edmonton Motor Show for: Fans looking to see the latest and greatest models on the market

How much does it cost to attend the Edmonton Motor Show: $40 for a family pass, $15 for adults and $13 for seniors and students

When does the Edmonton Motor Show typically occur: Previously every April but returning in autumn 2023

Where does the Edmonton Motor Show take place: Edmonton Expo Centre

5. Quebec City International Auto Show: A French-Canadian Automotive Experience

Of all the shows in Canada, the Quebec City International Auto Show runs the longest as a week-long extravaganza. This unique event brings together automotive companies from across Canada and beyond.

The show opens Monday with a Soirée-Bénéfice Preview night that raises money for worthy charities. At the same time, attendees hobnob with the elite of the business community. Next, the event runs until Sunday, wrapping up with a Family Day on Sunday, where kids up to age 12 get in for free. (On other days, they usually pay $6 if they are over age six.)

Unique Features of the Quebec City Auto Show

The Quebec City International Auto Show features themed areas for Corvettes, Lamborghinis, first responders’ vehicles, 1980s cars, Westfalias and more in the Quoi Faire Space. Also, treat yourself to views of exotic cars worth more than $30 million: Bugatti, Ferrari and many others to make you dream and drool.

For adults, they have dozens of customized vehicles and some racing simulators. If you bring the kids, they can enjoy the family zone with more than 10,000 square feet of inflatable games and other activities for kids under 12.  

The organizers of this show, trucking giant Mobilis, also owns the Quebec Electric Vehicle Show. Did you know that almost half of all EVs sold in Canada are purchased in Quebec? Fittingly, the Quebec City International Auto Show offers EV road tests for those interested in buying one.

While you can park onsite, you may want to consider walking to the venue. The show takes place in the heart of Quebec City, giving visitors the chance to explore the city and all its charm before and after the show.

Who is the Quebec City International Auto Show for: Car admirers with a special interest in sports cars, emergency response vehicles or Westfalias

How much does it cost to attend the Quebec City International Auto Show: $40 for a family pass, $18 for an adult and $9 for youths

When does the Quebec City International Auto Show typically occur: Every year in March

Where does the Quebec City International Auto Show take place: Centre de foires Expocité

6. Atlantic Nationals Automotive Extravaganza: Eastern Canada’s Classic Car Celebration

The Atlantic Nationals Automotive Extravaganza takes place at multiple locations in and around Moncton. This must-see event for car enthusiasts includes creative festivities over five very full  days. Get ready to dance, drive and meet celebrities from the car world.

The Extravaganza opens with Maurice’s Magical Mystery Tour and Cruise followed by a cruise-in and street party. While most of the action unfolds in Centennial Park on the weekend, it also hits other parts of the city. 

For instance, the Atlantic Nationals Classic presents automotive gems from 1900 through 1987. Meanwhile, the Modern Muscle Area features everything performance-related from 1988 to date. Between them, expect to see close to 2,500 vehicles.

Special Events and Awards

You can meet Joe and Amanda Martin from Iron Resurrection and Paul Rossi, the famous driver of the Direct Connection championship Super Stock Drag Race Team. Next, check out automotive  sculptures by local artist Larry Dutcher and the amazing scale model masterpieces at the Bernie Melanson Scale Model Show.

While there, have your vehicle checked and obtain your Atlantic Nationals and NSRA Safety Lane certification. Further, you can register any car newer than 1987 for the awards program. This show offers “tons of prizes” in the largest car show prize pool in North America. For example, in 2023, the grand prize is a custom-built 1952 Chevrolet Skyline Deluxe Bel Air.

If you attend the Atlantic Nationals Automotive Extravaganza, don’t miss the classic car parade on Saturday night. Typically, all the cars on display drive out of the event venue and into Moncton’s streets. Also, plan to attend the Good Old Maritime Kitchen Party.

Who is the Atlantic Nationals Automotive Extravaganza for: Social car enthusiasts who want more than the usual show

How much does it cost to attend the Atlantic Nationals Automotive Extravaganza: $50 for one car with a single driver and one guest

When does the Atlantic Nationals Automotive Extravaganza typically occur: Every year in July

Where does the Atlantic Nationals Automotive Extravaganza take place: Moncton, New Brunswick

7. Driven Aftermarket Car Show: A Showcase of Modified Vehicles

For fans of the look of modified cars, the Driven Aftermarket Car Show comes to you rather than you traveling. Canada’s largest car tour show begins in Toronto in June. From there, it repeats in Edmonton, Saskatoon and Vancouver (June), Winnipeg (July), Ottawa (August) and Regina (September). Watch for it to come to Halifax and (back to) Calgary in 2024.

The Best of the Aftermarket Scene

The Driven Aftermarket Car Show features cars heavily customized in unique ways, with vibrant colours, unique exhaust systems and high-quality audio systems. It also gives fans a chance to interact with specialized businesses and special guests from Canada and beyond.

For instance, you can meet car designers while seeing more than 500 cars and displays, including a RWB Porsche. Each event also has a festive vibe with hip hop dance crews and other styles of dance and music. It only stops for one day in each location, so don’t miss it.

Who is the Driven Aftermarket Car Show for: Fans of show cars across much of Canada

How much does it cost to attend the Driven Aftermarket Car Show: $25 for adults and $10 for kids under 12 

When does the Driven Aftermarket Car Show typically occur: Every year in June

Where does the Driven Aftermarket Car Show take place: Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga then additional cities

8. Luxury & Supercar Show: B.C.’s High-End Auto Event

For car enthusiasts who adore the highest quality cars on the market, prepare to bask in the Luxury & Supercar Show. Instead, revel in the latest innovations in car design and beauty of luxury vehicles.

The show targets those who truly appreciate luxury and craftsmanship. Take this chance to lay eyes on luxury, exotic, electric and supercars on a well-manicured lawn with a drink in hand. For instance, enjoy 75 years of Porsche history, the colours of Ferrari and six decades of Lamborghini design. More currently, you can see the latest Lincoln Navigator and test drive the newest Tesla model.

For a taste of what to expect, check out this guest list: Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Bugatti, Cadillac, Lyriq, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford GT, Genesis and Hummer. You’ll also see cars from Koenigsegg, Land Rover, Lucid, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls Royce, Zenvo and more.

Exclusive Events and Experiences

In total , the event will feature more than 80 vehicles. Many consider Vancouver and Richmond the luxury and supercar capital of North America, as they contain the most supercars per capita.  Thus, a pent-up demand to see displays of multi-million dollars of new luxury cars and supercars

Additionally, Diamond Rally will host a special display of award-winning racing and wrap liveries. Organizers also host the Cars and Hoops Charity Festival, bringing together luxury and supercars with high-level basketball players. It raises funds for local children’s charities. 

Who is the Luxury & Supercar Show for: Owners and admirers of luxury, exotic and supercars

How much does it cost to attend the Luxury & Supercar Show: $30 for youths, $58 for adults, $280 for a VIP pass

When does the Luxury & Supercar Show typically occur: Every year in July

Where does the Luxury & Supercar Show take place: Richmond Olympic Oval Riverside Plaza

9. Motorama: Toronto’s Custom Car and Motorsports Expo

If you’re into custom and classic cars, the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo perfectly suits you. It celebrates all things related to hot rods, modified cars and customizations with more than 200 cars in its competitions alone and 225,000 of display space.

This event taps into the passion for getting your hands dirty, while creating a new generation of automotive tradespeople. DJs pump out tunes in the Mayhem Room as tools buzz and rework metal into art.

Celebrating the Art of Customization

From the paint jobs to the roof chops, Motorama’s main attraction lies in its custom vehicles. For starters, come see first-hand how masterful builders can push the limits of flexibility in panel discussions and in-person encounters. Likewise, several podcasters and YouTube stars will drop in to see the fun and record some shows.

The show started in 1950 and, after a hiatus, returned in 2015 to become a Toronto institution. It has inspired a new generation of car enthusiasts and growth in the field of customizations and hot rod events.

The weekend wraps up with the Miss Motorama Pinup Pageant, a ceremony to honour 80 racing champs and the Racing Zone Race Car Awards and Spring Fever Car Awards. The grand finale arrives by announcing the Motorama Grand Champion, who wins a $5,000 prize.

Who is the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo for: Fans of hot rods and short-track racing

How much does it cost to attend the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo: $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, $17 for youths

When does the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo typically occur: Every year in March

Where does the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo take place: The International Centre in Toronto

The Bottom Line

Attending a car show makes for a thrilling experience for any auto enthusiast. The shows we’ve listed above rank as some of the best car shows in Canada. Ultimately, they offer the chance to see the latest and greatest cars in the world, as well as the rarest and most beautiful classics.

Whether you long for classic hot rods, luxury cars or modified vehicles, a car show in Canada will meet your every need. Take a trip to any of these amazing car shows and indulge in your passion for automotive excellence.

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications