Festivals and Events
The International Children’s Festival (780/459-1542, www.childfest.com) takes place the weekend closest to June 1 in the Arden Theatre, St. Albert. Acts from around the world include theater, music, dance, storytelling, and puppetry.
During the last week of June through early July, the Edmonton International Jazz Festival (780/990-0222, www.edmontonjazz.com) is held at various indoor and outdoor venues, including the renowned Yardbird Suite. Many foreign performers make appearances.
For 10 days in early July, downtown’s Winston Churchill Square comes alive during the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival (780/425-5162, www.edmontonstreetfest.com), with almost 1,000 performances by magicians, comics, jugglers, musicians, and mimes.
The 10-day Capital Ex (780/471-7210, www.capitalex.ca) beginning on the third Thursday of each July, kicks off with a massive parade through downtown. Much of the activity is centered on Northlands (7300 116th St.), featuring a midway, casino, free music concerts, gold-panning, the Alberta Tattoo, the RCMP musical ride, thoroughbred racing, the Global Connections pavilion featuring an international marketplace, and a trade show of upscale arts and crafts. This is the city’s biggest annual event, attracting approximately 800,000 visitors, so be prepared for big crowds everywhere.
Running in conjunction with Capital Ex is Taste of Edmonton (Sir Winston Churchill Square, 780/423-2822, www.eventsedmonton.ca), where visitors can sample signature dishes from Edmonton’s wide range of restaurants.
Fifty outdoor ethnic pavilions at Hawrelak Park are just a small part of the Heritage Festival (780/488-3378, www.heritage-festival.com), which is held on the August Long Weekend as a celebration of the city’s multicultural roots. Visitors to the festival have the opportunity to experience international singing and dancing, arts-and-crafts displays, costumes, and cuisine from more than 60 cultures.
During the Edmonton Folk Music Festival (780/429-1999, www.edmontonfolkfest.org), held on the second weekend of August, Gallagher Park comes alive with the sound of blues, jazz, country, Celtic, traditional, and bluegrass music. Tickets are $55 per day, although advance weekend passes are better value for keen folkies.
Quickly becoming one of the city’s most popular events is the Fringe Theatre Festival (780/448-9000, www.fringetheatreadventures.ca), a 10-day extravaganza that begins on the second Thursday in August. It is held throughout Old Strathcona, in parks, on the streets, in parking garages, and in the area’s historic restored theaters. With more than 1,000 performances and a crowd of half a million looking on, the festival has become North America’s largest alternative-theater event, attracting artists from around the world. Tickets are generally inexpensive.
Symphony under the Sky (780/428-1414, www.edmontonsymphony.com), held on the weekend closest to August 31, is the last gasp in Edmonton’s busy summer festival schedule. Led by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, this five-day extravaganza of classical music takes place in William Hawrelak Park.
Fall and Winter
Farmfair International (780/471-7210, www.farmfairinternational.com) showcases some of North America’s best livestock through sales and auctions, but exhibits, a trade show, the judging of Miss Rodeo Canada, and thousands of farm animals draw in casual visitors. The fair takes place at Northlands the second week of November.
That same week, Rexall Place hosts the Canadian Finals Rodeo (780/471-7210, www.canadianfinalsrodeo.com). This $500,000 event is the culmination of the year’s work for Canada’s top 10 money-earning cowboys and cowgirls in seven traditional rodeo events. The action takes place Wednesday–Sunday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition