Edmonton. To the untrained eye, it will forever be that really cold city with a large mall and a mega stellar hockey team. But look a little closer and you’ll discover a gem of a town with lots to do.
I would be failing my city if I didn’t mention the festivals. Edmonton hosts dozens of them throughout the year so the nickname “Festival City” isn’t a joke. If you’re passing through this summer, why not time it to coincide with one of these notable festivals:
- K-Days (July 17-26):
Klondike Days, Capital Ex, K-Days; whatever it’s called these days, it’s definitely one of the biggest festivals to roll through Edmonton. Check out the parade and pancake breakfast, go on rides, play the midway, or rock out to a concert—there’s tons to do both day and night.
- Taste of Edmonton (July 16-25):
It’s like a pop up shop of the tastiest restaurants in town, plus a wine tent, culinary workshops, market, outdoor entertainment and more. A definite must if you’re a foodie.
- Heritage Festival (August 1-3):
With Edmonton being as culturally diverse as it is, it makes sense that the city would practically shut down to celebrate in the form of food, drink, music and dance performances, and markets from over 80 cultures around the world (special shout out to the Philippine pavilion—mabuhaaaaay)!
- Edmonton Folk Music Festival (August 6-9):
Weekend passes to Folk Fest are highly coveted and getting a good spot on the hill is serious business. This outdoor music festival has everything you need: world-class music, balmy August weather, friendly beer gardens, beautiful Gallagher Park as a venue and most importantly, lots of dragonflies to keep the mosquitoes away.
- Fringe Festival (August 13-23):
You’re never out of options for things to do when the Fringe Festival on. Catch one of the countless shows that run throughout the city including family friendly street performances and activities on Whyte Ave.
The River Valley
Edmonton is home to a stunning river valley with over 150 kilometers of trails and dozens of parks on both sides of the North Saskatchewan. Why not go for a run along River Valley Road and enjoy the view. Or be like me and tan in Hawrelak Park with a slurpee and a good book.
No city guide would be complete without a mention of its best bars and patios. My personal best is five different patios in a night. If you’re up for the challenge of beating my record, here’s the Edmonton round up in no particular order:
- Latitude 53 (Thursday Patio Parties – Downtown)
- O’Byrne’s (Whyte Ave)
- MKT (Whyte Ave)
- BLVD (Downtown)
- Craft (Downtown)
- Sherlock’s (Downtown)
- Billiard’s Club (Whyte Ave)
- Julio Barrio (Whyte Ave)
- Earl’s Tin Palace (Downtown)
- The Pint (Downtown and Whyte Ave)
AGA Refinery Party
After getting a major facelift, the Art Gallery of Alberta has since become a go-to for trendy parties and swanky events, one of them being Refinery: a late night art party where socialites can check out the exhibits and activities, snack on light fare, drink and dance the night away. Refinery Parties are few and far between as they are typically timed and themed with a big exhibition opening, but if you’re lucky enough to attend, it’s a classy way to party without the bar scene.
I’ve noticed a sudden influx of food trucks lately and that is a good, good thing. From Brazilian barbeque to tacos to gourmet sandwiches, there’s a food truck calling your name somewhere in this city. For a most delicious tour of the city, download the Street Food app and go food truck hopping. Or if you prefer to localize your efforts, check out What the Truck?! for planned truck stops throughout the city.
The historic streetcar on High Level Bridge is a cute relic of the past, chugging back and forth over the North Saskatchewan between Whyte Avenue and Downtown. Recently it has been the venue for intimate concerts and improv theatre shows overlooking the river valley at sunset. Featuring musical acts performing unplugged to an audience of a couple dozen at most, it’s a unique, one-of-a-kind experience not to be missed.
Catching an improv comedy show makes for a great date night idea that doesn’t break the bank. For the cost of a movie ticket, theatre-goers can interact with the players or sometimes even be part of the show. My favorites are Rapid Fire Theatre and Die Nasty.
Quite a few farmer’s markets have popped up around the city in the last few years which means you can browse fresh local food and handmade crafts pretty much year round. Some notable spots to check out while out running weekend errands include Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market, Mother’s Market, City Market Downtown, Callingwood Farmer’s Market and the St. Albert Farmer’s Market.
Are you a creature of habit? I am. I do the same things over and over because I like what I know and I like to be comfortable. By the way, I am not 80, I’m 29. So really, I should be still in the discovery phase of my life. If you are like me and just need a little inspiration – we’ve created the EXPLORE WHERE YOU ARE series to give you some ideas of things to do in your city. Would you like to write about your’s? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org