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EXPLODING PUMPKINS, MOONLIGHT CORN MAZES AND OTHER AUTUMN ADVENTURES YOU MUST DO BEFORE THE SNOW FLIES

Author: Heather Egger

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You know us autumn people – we love this time of year in Alberta. We’re happy to wear sweaters and scarves again. We appreciate cool mornings, fluttering yellow leaves and red harvest moons. We buy different kinds of pumpkins – and not just orange, but cool blue, knobby green and tiny bright white ghosts. 

Soon enough, we’ll be blanketed in glittering snow, so here are five ways to fall in love with fall in Alberta. 

Get lost in a corn maze 

You deke right then left, lean into tight turns, and then run headlong into a dead end. Lost already? Welcome to the corn maze, an always fun, sometimes perplexing, Alberta fall tradition. Farmers across the province cut new mazes into their tall stalks of corn each year and challenge visitors to find their way through the puzzle. This season, celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with a moonlight run through one of the province’s largest mazes at the Kraay Family farm near Lacombe. Or visit the Lethbridge Corn Maze to puzzle your way through their challenging sesquicentennial design then cuddle up around a roaring campfire.

Shop, eat and stroll 

Fall is a perfect time to swap your city for new neighbourhoods, street-front shopping and swanky fireplace suites. In Edmonton, eat, shop and lounge on Whyte Avenue, take an art gallery walk along 124th Street or hit the downtown market among the converted brick warehouses of 104th Street. An autumn urban getaway in Calgary must include shopping for handmade and vintage goodies in Inglewood, eating local on pedestrian-only Stephen Avenue downtown or learning something new, hand-in-hand with a loved one at a nerd-hip adults-only science night at Telus Spark. 

Wonder at the world

Feed your curiosity on a cornucopia of festivals throughout Alberta this fall. Both Edmonton and Calgary host literary festivals, international film festivals and lively Oktoberfests – plus celebrations of dance, burlesque and wine & food. This fall in Jasper, get even closer to the stars with a night-time ride up the SkyTram, walk on an ancient glacier after dark for a photography workshop and marvel at the wonders of the universe with superstar particle physicist Brian Cox during the mountain park's annual Dark Sky Festival. 

Destroy stuff with pumpkins 

Here’s another fall tradition across Alberta: exploding pumpkins! The Calgary Corn Maze specially prepares their pumpkins to be blown up, sending a rain of candy down for the kids to enjoy. At Prairie Gardens, just outside of Edmonton, a mighty pumpkin cannon sends the gourds through the air for a satisfying splat that also raises money for the city’s youth shelter. And if you really want to see a giant exploding squash, witness a 500 kg (1,000 pound) pumpkin crush a car to smithereens at the Smoky Lake Pumpkin Fair every October. 

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