Albertans love a good gathering and we’re famous for hosting some of the top festivals on the planet. For more than a century, Calgarians have been celebrating the Calgary Stampede, the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Edmonton hosts a heap of annual festivals – more than 60 at last count. But no matter where you go in Alberta, you’re sure to find yourself in the middle of a good time. Here are five festivals guaranteed to please.
Get your Groove on in Edmonton’s River Valley
Each year as the sun sets on the closing night of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Gallagher Park fills with a parade of lanterns with thousands of festival goers singing along to a well-known folk song, likely from the 1960s. This iconic Edmonton event in August always draws a huge crowd. Past festival headliners include k.d. lang, Van Morrison, Sarah McLachlan, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Earle, John Prine and Lyle Lovett.
Ten Days of Astonishing Street Artists
Entering the square, you are immediately surrounded by stilt-walkers, jugglers, magicians, acrobats and unicyclists. The annual Edmonton International Street Performers Festival in July is a celebration of colour, music and amazing acts. Admission to the Edmonton festival is free – but you are encouraged to show your appreciation for the artists at the end of each performance. You will find all the fun at Sir Winston Churchill Square in the heart of downtown Edmonton’s arts district.
Fireworks, Food and Friendship in Calgary
Music echoes through the park. Quickly you gaze upwards as the sky explodes with choreographed fireworks – the competition has begun. Which country will be crowned champion this year? Every August, thousands of locals and visitors alike gather in Elliston Park to cheer on their favourite fireworks performances at the international GlobalFest competition. A bustling night market, colourful multi-cultural pavilions, lively dance shows and an array of ethnic cuisine add to the excitement of this 10-day event.
Celebrate Art in the Canadian Rockies
As the concert starts, you breathe in the scent of pine trees, admiring the lush gardens against a backdrop of towering mountains. Today: a concert in the park, tomorrow: dance and a literary reading. Then there are the films, theatre, opera and art exhibitions to fit in. The annual Banff Summer Arts Festival runs June through August and showcases artists and performers from around the world.
Love the Night Time in Jasper
Fall is a time to slow down and reflect on all the fun you’ve been having. What better place to kick back than the world’s second largest dark sky preserve under a gazillion glittering twinkling stars. The annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival in mid-October celebrates Jasper National Park’s special designation by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada with art displays, astronomy presentations, telescope viewing on Pyramid Island, cosmic-themed dining and family-friendly parties.