Festival Survival Guide

Festival Survival Guide: Edmonton

Dustin Bentall performs at the Edmonton Folk Festival // Meaghan Baxter
Dustin Bentall performs at the Edmonton Folk Festival // Meaghan Baxter


Beaumont Blues & Roots Festival / Fri, Jun 19 – Sun, Jun 21 / bbrf.ca
Just south of Edmonton awaits a music festival that boasts 100-percent Canadian performers. The fest includes headliners Doc Walker and Moon vs Sun featuring Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk. You’ll discover Canadian talent like Del Barber, the 427s, the Boom Chucka Boys and local singer-songwriter Justine Vandergrift. If a fusion of folk, blues, or country is your jam, make the 15-minute trip south of the city to get your live-music fix. (Four Seasons Park, Beaumont)

Seven Music Festival / Sat, Jul 4 / sevenmusicfest.com
This brand-new festival is sure to be a keeper. Sam Roberts Band is the headliner of the inaugural festivities, along with performances by Current Swell, Scenic Route to Alaska, Jeff Stuart & the Hearts, Tupelo Honey, Daniel Wesley and Jack Semple. (Mission Park, St Albert)

Interstellar Rodeo / Fri, Jul 24 – Sun, Jul 26 / interstellarrodeo.com
St Vincent, Elle King, LeE HARVeY OsMOND, the Wet Secrets, Buffy Sainte-Marie and a host of others will all be playing under that big white Heritage Amphitheatre tent. Regardless of your generation, there’s something stellar for you at the Interstellar Rodeo. (Hawrelak Park)

Big Valley Jamboree / Thu, Jul 30 –Sun, Aug 2 / bigvalleyjamboree.com
Here’s one for all the country fans out there. Big Valley Jamboree 2015 headliners include the Dead South, the Band Perry, Reba, Brad Paisley, Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans and Lady Antebellum. (Camrose)

Blueberry Bluegrass & Country Music Festival / Fri, Jul 31 – Sun, Aug 2 / blueberrybluegrass.com
Tent? Check. Activities? Check. Music? Check. This fest has all the necessities for summer fun in Stony Plain. Camp out the whole weekend and enjoy food, workshops, crafts and the music, of course. (Heritage Park, Stony Plain)

Rock’n August / Tue, Aug 4 – Sat, Aug 8 / rocknaugust.com
Classic cars and music combine to make up Rock’n August. See over 500 treasured and immaculate cars while enjoying pancake breakfasts, music, barbeques and a drive-in movie. (Servus Credit Union Place, St Albert)

Folk Fest / Thu, Aug 6 – Sun, Aug 9 / edmontonfolkfest.org
In the scenic Gallagher Park awaits fun and folk music. The lineup will be announced June 3. As always, get your tickets early, because this fest sells out fast. (Gallagher Park)

Edmonton Blues Festival / Fri, Aug 21 – Sun, Aug 23 /bluesinternationalltd.com
Spend the day or weekend under the Heritage Amphitheatre tent soaking up blues from around the world. This year’s fest features Elvin Bishop, Sugaray Rayford Big Band and Canned Heat. Even if you don’t know any of the acts, you’re sure to enjoy every minute of it. It’s a festival where 20-year-olds and 70-year-olds can come together and soothe their souls with some sweet tunes. Plus, the fabulous food trucks will soothe your stomach, too. (Hawrelak Park)

Symphony Under the Sky / Fri, Aug 28 – Sun, Aug 30 / edmontonsymphony.com
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra conductor Bob Bernhardt leads the orchestra and audience on a symphonic journey. There are nights for Mozart, Broadway, Hollywood, Motown and families. Take your pick and discover classical renditions of your favourite songs. (Hawrelak Park)

Sonic Boom / Sat, Sep 5 and Sun, Sep 6 / sonicboomfestival.com
This year’s Boom lineup is said to be one of the most diverse yet: Ellie Goulding, Hozier, Mother Mother, Tenacious D and a special appearance by Alexisonfire. The two-day alternative music fest is moving to a new home at Borden Park, which should make for a comfier fit than the concrete at Northlands. (Borden Park)


Nextfest  / Thu, Jun 4 – Mon, Jun 15 / nextfest.org
Emerging artists, dancers and filmmakers push the boundaries of creativity over the course of this 11-day festival. Some of Edmonton’s top creative talent got started at Nextfest,  so you never know where this year’s crop will end up. (Various venues)

Improvaganza / Wed, Jun 17 – Sat, Jun 27 / rapidfiretheatre.com/festival/improvaganza-2015
Rapid Fire Theatre, Edmonton’s longest-running improv theatre group, plays host to top-notch improvisers from around the world. Workshops are also hosted so you can get your funny on—just like the pros. (Citadel Theatre)

The Works Art and Design Festival / Fri, Jun 19 – Wed, Jul 1 / theworks.ab.ca
The largest free outdoor art and design festival in North America turns 30 this year. This fest exhibits 43 unique installations of art, gives you the chance to meet the artists and be entertained by performances across one square kilometre in downtown Edmonton. It’s a fest that treasures creativity and questions, so use your imagination and ask away. (Downtown Arts District)

Freewill Shakespeare Festival / Tue, Jun 23 – Sun, Jul 19 / freewillshakespeare.com
Get thee to a nunnery! Wait, scratch that. Get thee to a performance! This year’s featured plays are the comedy As You Like It and the tragedy Coriolanus. Being outside makes it a theatre experience like no other, with birds sometimes chirping lines, becoming a part of the play. (Heritage Amphitheatre, Hawrelak Park)

Found Festival / Jun 25 – Jun 28 / commongroundsarts.ca
Since its creation in 2012, Found Fest has put theatre in spaces theatre rarely goes, and in lively, often interactive ways. Anchoring itself in and around Old Strathcona, there’s been productions in the river valley, on the High Level Bridge, in old school buildings and back alleys. Bring good shoes and a mind open to experiencing scripted work in a totally different way. (Old Strathcona)

Edmonton International Street Performers Festival / Fri, Jul 3 – Sun, Jul 12 / edmontonstreetfest.com
Get lost in the crowd of over 1500 international performances at Churchill Square. Whatever tickles your fancy, there’s a musician, juggler, acrobat, magician or artist for it. Take in the wondrous sights and performances, but remember to bring some cash for when they pass the hat. (Churchill Square)

Fringe Festival / Thu, Aug 13 – Sun, Aug 23 / fringetheatre.ca
There’s so much to see when you hit up Whyte Avenue for the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. This year has been dubbed SupercaliFRINGEilistic, with more than 200 shows to choose from. The entertainment is non-stop with theatre, vendors and street performers lining Whyte, so get there early and get fringing. (Various venues)

Culture / Heritage

A Taste of Edmonton / Thu, Jul 16 – Sat, Jul 25 / tasteofedm.ca
Treat your taste buds to the culinary delights of the finest restaurants in Edmonton with the festival that sees 500 000 people annually. Try dinner, desserts and beverages (of the adult variety, too) as you walk around Churchill Square. Entertainment is on throughout each day of the festival, and you can catch main stage headliners such as Alee, Revenge of the Trees, the Glorious Sons, Skratch Bastid and Hollerado. There are even foodie workshops if you want to be a part of Edmonton’s rich food culture. (Churchill Square)

K-Days / Fri, Jul 17 – Sun, Jul 26 / k-days.com
A short LRT ride away from Taste of Edmonton is K-Days. Shop in the Expo Centre or check out the rides and games on the midway. There’s plenty of deep-fried fare to try, including Oreos, cookie dough and butter. Unusual foods are also part of the fun at K-Days, like the mealworm pizza for those brave enough to give it a try. As if the selection of activities wasn’t enough, the concerts on the north and south stages are included in the price of admission. The musical headliners are yet to be announced. (Northlands)

Servus Heritage Festival / Sat, Aug 1 –Sun, Aug 3 / heritage-festival.com
The Servus Heritage Festival, aka Heritage Days, turns 40 this year. Experience diverse cultures and try their cuisines. Share stories, shop for art and watch performances. Admission is free, but be sure to bring a food bank donation and some cash for tasting tickets. (Hawrelak Park)

Cariwest / Fri, Aug 7 – Sun, Aug 9 / cariwest.ca
Be part of the wide spectrum of colour and culture at this year’s Caribbean Arts Festival. See international musicians and dancers perform as well as Cariwest’s Grand Costume Parade—it’s a party that takes over downtown. The carnival is free and open to everyone, so be part of one of Edmonton’s most vibrant festivals and learn something new about Caribbean culture. (Churchill Square)

Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival / Fri, Aug 14 – Sun, Aug 16 / edmontondragonboatfestival.com
The nail-biting races make for an exciting weekend down by the river. Competitors row the 400-metre event, rain or shine. There are also vendors and entertainment, in case there wasn’t already enough to see. (Louise McKinney Park)

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