Last updated: March 20th, 2020
Smack dab at the top of Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula, St. Anthony’s is a great place to experience Newfoundland culture during the Iceberg Festival. Beginning around early to mid-June, the Iceberg Festival was built to celebrate the arrival of the icebergs and offers a unique chance to experience Newfoundland culture that few tourists would see otherwise. Since we had only four days to explore the festival, we reached out to the Viking Trail Tourism who agreed to help us out with an itinerary and to help sponsor our visit.
We began our drive up the coast on June 12th, as the rain poured down. Spring is an unpredictable season in Newfoundland, and the chances of getting rainy, cloudy, and foggy days are higher than in the summer. It’s all part of the experience though if you’re hoping to see icebergs. After all, these are gigantic ice cubes.
Full Day 1: Small Towns and Viking Settlements
Before heading all the way up to St. Anthony Newfoundland, we decided to jet off on highway 432 and spend the night at Tuckamore Lodge, which is located near Main Brook. We decided to stay at Tuckamore Lodge so that we could go out with Mayflower Adventures (located in Roddickton) the next day. It’s a popular spot for hunting and fishing, but we were just there for the night, enjoying the views and warming up in their dry sauna, a pleasant way to rid ourselves of the spring chills. Due to the rain, we couldn’t do too much, but we did enjoy a delicious dinner, consisting of Cod Au Gratin, berry salad, and some home-baked bread. It was my dad’s birthday as well, so the cook prepared him a mini cake.
In the morning, we were notified that our boat trip with Mayflower Adventures was canceled due to high winds but that there were two icebergs sitting close to the shore of Englee. With nothing on the schedule until the afternoon, we jumped in the car and made our way to the iceberg. The rain persisted, but once we arrived, we climbed up Barr’d Island Trail and admired the giant ice cube floating out in the Atlantic. Even with clouds and fog, the iceberg was impressive to see. Majestic even. Plus, it was an opportunity to see some small fishing villages that we hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately, our time was a bit rushed, so we didn’t have time to visit any other towns nearby. We had a meeting at L’anse aux Meadows scheduled for 2 PM and being two hours away, we jumped back in the car and headed North.
L’anse aux Meadows is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only Viking settlement in the Americas. While the strong winds and cold air persisted, the clouds did move away for a while, giving us some time to see the dramatic views of the ocean. Since we were also making a video about the area, not having rain for a few hours was a welcomed relief. As with any historical park we explore, we began our visit by touring the information centre and learning about how the settlement was formed. Then, after looking at various Viking artifacts, we joined one of the free 45-minute guided tours, which was hosted by a man who was born and raised in the area. As a kid, he witnessed the first excavations that led to the park’s creation. He told us all about the history and helped make the site come alive for us.
As we walked around the boardwalk, we got to see the actual archeological site before touring the re-created Viking village, which had some actors giving us insight into what it would have been like many centuries ago. This was a small encampment, housing anywhere fro 70-200 people at any given time, and was likely just used as a place to repair ships during a long voyage. One of the benefits of going on a colder day is experiencing just how warm the sod-covered buildings are. With two-foot slabs of sod covering each building, they retained heat quite well. We got to see where people would have slept, ate, worked, and relaxed. We got to see the building where the blacksmith would have worked and also the smaller dwellings where the slaves would have slept. There’s also a chance to get interactive, such as watching the blacksmith work and making some flatbread over a fire. In fact, there’s even a Viking helmet, shield, and sword that you can try on and get some Instagram-worthy photos with.
Next up on the agenda was Northern Delight, a local restaurant in Saint Lunaire-Griquet. Not only do they serve lots of local dishes, but they were also putting on a show for the Iceberg Festival, including local musicians and mummers, which is normally a tradition reserved for the Christmas Holidays. This is why the Iceberg Festival is a great way to experience Newfoundland culture. Even as someone with half their family living in Newfoundland, I had never seen mummers before, so it was a cool experience to finally experience what it’s all about. Even my dad loved it, as he had not experienced mummers since leaving Newfoundland more than 40 years ago. The food was great as well. We all opted for seafood since that’s what Newfoundland is best known for. Karla and my mom opted for fish n’ chips, while I decided to be slightly healthier and order the pan-fried cod. My dad ordered deep-fried scallops and we all shared a little bit of each. Whatever you do, don’t miss eating codfish while in Newfoundland. That would be pure blasphemy.
Full Day 2: Boat Tours, Nature, and Newfoundland Culture
The next day was packed again, starting with a boat tour with Linkum Zodiac Tours to see some big icebergs. Located in Quirpon, this boat tour takes you around Quirpon Island, giving you all sorts of scenic views with explanations about the history of the area. It was an incredibly foggy and rainy day but we persisted anyways, with a goal of seeing some massive icebergs. It was a pretty rough day in the Atlantic Ocean, but eventually, we came up close and personal with two massive icebergs. It was difficult to see them from a distance due to the fog, but once we got up close, we had a clear view of their splendor. It’s truly incredible to get up close to these ice giants while imaging the other 90% of them that lies beneath the water. It’s also quite remarkable how much cold air the icebergs give off.
After snapping some photos, we continued on our tour around some small fishing villages before heading back for a much-needed warmup. As we drove back to St. Anthony, we stopped by the Dark Tickle Company Economuseum to explore the world of Newfoundland berries. This place is famous for their various jams (we bought a jar of Partridge Berry jam to bring home with us) but they also have a restaurant upstairs called Café Nymph. With all of us still having the chills from the morning boat tour, we all ordered hot seafood chowder, which was very, very delicious. Then we had some hot drinks. I had a baked-apple hot drink infused with Newfoundland Screech while Karla had a hot chocolate. However, I also ordered a Partridge Berry Latte because you won’t find it anywhere else. It was the perfect way to warm up.
Bellies full, we jumped back in the car and drove up to the historical village of Raleigh to go on a tour with Burnt Cape Tours. This place reminded us so much of the Arctic, back when we drove up to Tuktoyaktuk. It’s very barren, but yet is home to a variety of rare plants, which live in Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve. During our short tour, we were shown all sorts of beautiful tiny flowers, some of which grow nowhere else on the island. Had we been here in July, the place would be in full bloom and I can only imagine how incredibly beautiful it must be. We then stopped at a massive sea cave where they once found a polar bear eating a whale carcass. Can you imagine witnessing that? This is about as wild as it gets.
As we walked around, our tour guide mentioned some of the delicious food he prepares at his restaurant in Raleigh, such as sea snails and cod tongues. For those of you who cringe at those words, let me tell you this: They were both exquisite. The sea snails were served with melted cheese and looked like stuffed mushroom caps. They sort of reminded us of calamari. The cod tongues were soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, a Newfoundland delicacy cooked perfectly. We paired them up with Viking Pilsner, which is brewed specially for the Viking Trail by Quidi Vidi brewery.
It was now time to head back to St. Anthony’s and get ready for a traditional Kitchen Party being held at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre. For those who don’t know what a kitchen party is, it’s what traditional Newfoundland “house parties” are called. Basically, a musician(s) usually play music while a bunch of locals dance, drink, and have fun while local food is served. Without knowing locals, however, you’re chances of experiencing a Kitchen Party is pretty slim. That’s what’s great about the Iceberg Festival. You can go to these types of events and get a taste for true Newfoundland culture. The only difference is that it’s not in someone’s house. However, the music, which was put on by Jim Payne and Fergus O’Byrne was as traditional as it gets. Everyone had a great time. Plus, many of the people there were locals, which means it’s really good!
This was our last night up in Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula. The next morning, we battled the rains again as we drove 5-hours south along with stunning coastal scenery, passing through Gros Morne National Park and arriving at my uncle’s house in Deer Lake. Even for my dad, who grew up in Newfoundland, it was his first time venturing this far North. It was just a small taste of what the Viking Trail has to offer and has inspired us to go back one day and dive deeper into the incredible beauty and culture of the area.
Where We Stayed – St. Anthony Newfoundland Hotels
We stayed a total of three nights in the area, which only gave us two full days to explore. The drive is approximately 5-hours from Deer Lake. We stayed at three different properties, two of which were in St. Anthony’s.
Tuckamore Lodge (Main Brook)
This beautiful lodge is located near Main Brook is a beautiful quiet bay. It’s most famous for its fishing and hunting package. However, you can just use it as accommodation and as a base for exploring the area. We loved the views and especially loved the dry sauna. There’s also a delicious breakfast and dinner and the rooms are beautifully rustic.
Grenfell Hotel & Suites (St. Anthony)
This is kind of like a historical building. In fact, it’s right next to the Grenfell Historic Properties. We had a suite here, which gave us tons of room for all of our gear. It would have been perfect for a small family as our unit had a small kitchen, living room, and bedroom. It’s also centrally located.
Haven Inn (St. Anthony)
This is another comfortable property with guest rooms and premium suites. What sets this hotel apart is their on-site restaurant called Cartier’s Galley Restaurant. Here you can enjoy a big breakfast or some Newfoundland dining, such as Pan-fried Cod, Fish Cakes, Cod Tongues and more.
Thank you to the Viking Trail Tourism Board for supporting our visit and creating the itinerary.
Want more Newfoundland Travel? Check out these articles below:
- Best Things To Do in Newfoundland
- Best Things To Do in St. John’s
- Newfoundland Travel – The Viking Trail
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