Edmonton’s energetic festival scene will keep you entertained all summer long
Photo by Edmonton Tourism
Alberta’s capital city has some fun and unusual claims to fame. The diverse city is home to some of the sunniest Canadian weather, Canada’s youngest urban centre, and the world’s largest indoor triple loop roller coaster. It is also home to one of the biggest festival scenes in Canada.
With more than 30 festivals happening throughout the year, Edmonton has rightfully earned its moniker ‘Festival City.’ Local Edmontonians and visitors alike will enjoy these exciting summer events that showcase Edmonton’s creative and multicultural community. Whether you’re in the mood for great tunes, immersing yourself in a new culture, or watching a unique performance, Edmonton’s festival scene is one you won’t want to miss out on.
Interstellar Rodeo, July 21—23
Kick off your summer festival season at Hawrelak Park with three days of indie music acts and some of Edmonton’s best food trucks. This is not your grandmother’s rodeo — the event features an eclectic lineup of rock ‘n roll, soul, indie, and alternative country artists, making it one of Edmonton’s most anticipated music festivals. Among the many talented performers this year is blues-rock quartet Alabama Shakes, folk veteran Suzanna Vega, and alt-rockers Broken Social Scene. In between performers, fill up on food from some of Edmonton’s top choice food trucks. Delicious options such as Bo Thai, Fantasia Gelateria, and The Purple Perogy will have you sneaking out for seconds in between performers. Wine and beer will also be abundant at the festival, with every drink choice carefully curated to complement the food and music by wine personality Gurvinder Bhatia. See the full lineup and find out how to purchase tickets on the Interstellar Rodeo website.
Pure Speculation, July 28—29
Continue your unique summer festival experience by venturing into the world of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. While the festival itself may be small, the love of all things Sci-Fi and Fantasy experienced at the event is enormous. Pure Speculation celebrates the literature, media, costumes, and games that make the unique genres so beloved. Harry Potter, Anime, or Star Wars — whatever your nerdy poison, Pure Speculation has got you covered. Spend the weekend taking part in a Quidditch tournament, trying your hand at the not-so-delicate sport of Parasol Duelling, or watching an action-packed lightsabre combat demo. The event also features a long list of fantasy-loving panellists and special guests who will weigh in on important themes that weave throughout the genres and their subcultures. Some of the topics this year include Fictional Witches and Feminism, Crossing the Lines in Genre Writing, and Streaming: Bane or Boon? Whether you are already a self-proclaimed nerd or are brand new to the genres, Pure Speculation is an inclusive celebration that welcomes everyone to join the Dark Side. For a full list of activities, or to sign up as a volunteer, check out the Pure Speculation website.
Servus Heritage Festival, Aug. 5—7
If you’re looking to become more cultured this summer, head to Hawrelak Park Aug. 5—7 to “experience the world in a weekend” and say Olá, Shalom, or Konnichiwa to over 100 countries from around the globe. The park grounds will be transformed into a colourful world map of pavilions showcasing Canada’s unique multicultural heritage. Experience the food, music, dance, artwork, and more, from the many cultures that will be celebrated. Sip a Turkish coffee and munch on a Chilean empanada while taking in a bold and lively Flamenco dance; enjoy an ice-cold gelato while experiencing a traditional First Nations drumming ceremony. The Servus Heritage Festival brings together many countries of the world all in one place, allowing you to globe hop at your leisure all weekend long — for free (admission is free with a recommended donation to the Edmonton food bank). For a full list of food choices, and further details on the event, check out the Servus Heritage Festival website.
Cariwest, August 11—13
Continue your cultural education with Edmonton’s biggest and boldest Caribbean party, Cariwest Caribbean Arts Festival. From Aug. 11—13, be transported to paradise without ever having to leave Edmonton, as many of the city’s streets and venues become a weekend of Caribbean celebrations. Begin the weekend at the Friday Night Extravaganza and soak up the sights of the multi-coloured, flamboyant costumes, and dance to the sound of steel pan drums. Spend Saturday following the glamorous Great Parade down the streets of Edmonton while grooving along to island sounds of Reggae, Soca and Calypso music. The weekend will culminate in a Sunday night bash at the Caribbean Village in Churchill Square where you can try Caribbean cuisine favourites, sip tropical drinks, and dance to live music well into the evening. For full details on the events, visit the Cariwest website.
Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, Aug. 17—27
Immerse yourself in the captivating and eclectic world of fringe theatre from Aug. 17—27. The Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival celebrates its 36th year of offbeat, transformative theatre with over 1,500 artists from across the world showcasing the performing arts in unique and inspiring ways. Over 200 performances will move audiences with emotional, political, and personal themes portrayed through an artistic lens. The International Fringe Theatre Festival is an inclusive event that aims to make sure that everyone has the chance to experience the performing arts by including a “Pay What You Will” ticket price option, and special performances for children, and for those with special accessibility, sensory, and social needs. The festival takes place at several venues around the city, so you will have the opportunity to discover a different part of Edmonton every night. View the full lineup of performances and venues at the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival website.
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