Webster’s Dictionary defines a festival as “a time of celebration marked by special observances.” If that’s the case, then Edmonton is Canada’s most observant city, or in real speak, it is Canada’s ‘Festival City.’
As thrilling as this title sounds, earning it is no easy feat. The responsibility requires the planning, foresight and capacity to hold over 30 celebrations a year – not to mention the diversity and culture to have enthusiastic crowds for everything from the eclectic (The International Street Performers’ Festival) to the big guns (the Edmonton Folk Festival).
With so much action in the city, it’s easy to get confused – which is why we’re offering our ‘insider’ information on the biggest and brightest attractions. With that said, here is a quick fire list of hot tips of catching the best of E-town this summer.
Hot Tip #1: Be a Square
No, we’re not talking about the plaid shirt, thick framed glasses and ironic moustache kind of square, we’re talking about the heart of Edmonton’s Downtown core: Sir Winston Churchill Square. As the city’s famed centennial park, there are countless celebrations held here throughout the summer including: Edmonton Pride Festival, The Edmonton International Street Performers’ Festival, A Taste of Edmonton, Cariwest, The Edmonton International Jazz Festival, Movies on the Square , The Works Art & Design Festival and more. You can pretty much catch a stage performance here on any given day of the week, but, as usual, all the best ones happen on the weekend. The critics’ choice? Hands down, it would have to be The Edmonton International Street Performers’ Festival
Hot Tip #2: Get Down in Gallagher Park (or nearby)
As the biggest folk music celebration in North America, The Edmonton Folk Festival is certainly one of the best parties all year long. Luring thousands upon thousands of tourists from all around the world (20,000 people per day for four days to be exact), this annual event, held in the picturesque beauty of Gallagher Park, lets you catch great tunes, some sun and that wholesome beatnik vibe that is oh-so-hip right now. If you’re looking for more fun in the surrounding area, the entire region near Gallagher Park is flush with movement. Popular events situated around the “River District” (named as such because of its proximity to the Saskatchewan River) include the Edmonton Heritage Festival, Labatt Blues Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and Symphony Under the Sky Festival.
The pick? It’s hard to compete with the Folk. The sheer size, scale and calibre of performances are unlike anything else in the city. Plus, with new walkways, bike lock-up service and tons of volunteers, you could say the experience is near flawless.
Hot Tip #3: Find Some Fringe in Old Strathcona
The area may be old, but the vibe is definitely new. Often referred to as the cultural hub of Edmonton, this colourful hot spot hosts a perfect blend of independent art workshops and large festivals like the International Fringe Theatre Festival (North America’s largest live theatre event with over 500,000 visitors to over and 1,000 live theatre performances each year).There are also countless funky clothing, antique and book stores, plus a farmers’ market, great eats and some of the most interesting commercial developments in Canada.
Critic’s Pick: We love the Fringe, but it can be intimidating at first, so we suggest to follow your curiosity and don’t be afraid to see bold and outrageous performances.
Hot Tip #4: Think Theatre. Go Gallery. Do Dance
In addition to earning the title of Festival City, Edmonton was also designated as ‘the Cultural Capital of Canada’ back in 2007. Permanent art venues like the 85,000 sq-ft Alberta Art Gallery, the Alberta Aviation Museum, The Royal Alberta Museum, Fort Edmonton Park, the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium and Winspear Centre have an endless assortment of galleries, exhibits, and dance shows all year round to prove it too! Whether you want to take in a musical or concert at the ‘Jube’ or see Canada’s most talented dancers at Winspear; you’ll always have a large variety of choices to pick from. Also, don’t forget the ever-popular Gallery Walk of Edmonton. Held 3 times a year, a collective of some 60 odd art galleries in the 124 Street area of Edmonton make a grand event by inviting the public to take a gander at the diverse collections. Always a great place to catch the best up and coming artists in the industry, this is the most interesting 12-block walk you’ll ever take.
Critics Choice: The Fort Edmonton Park where time has stopped and you can walk back in history to experience life in historical periods between 1846 and 1929.
Hot Tip #5: Stay with Sutton
Right in the centre of town, just across the street from Sir Winston Churchill Square and walking distance to other exciting venues (the Citadel Theatre, The Art Gallery of Alberta, City Hall and the Stanley Milner Public Library), you can’t get more in the middle of the fun than with our gorgeous Edmonton property. Upholding a renowned standard of luxury and service, we take pride in helping all of our visiting guests experience the best that the city has to offer. Whether you need help finding the fastest route to your concert, or simply need some assistance planning your day, we can accommodate you with that famous friendly smile!
For more information about local events click here.
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