Summer in Edmonton is all about enjoying the great outdoors while they are truly great. The long, sunny days and nights (it’s light out past 10 p.m. in July) lure Edmontonians out from hiding and into every outdoor space possible. The options are endless when you have over 160 km of trails through the North Saskatchewan River Valley—the largest urban parkland in North America.
If river valley strolls or bike rides aren’t your cup of tea, every weekend throughout the summer boasts a few festival options to choose from. There is always something going on in Edmonton. Plus, many choose the standby option to park on a patio for some quality people-watching time.
Food trucks of all flavours have been popping up everywhere around the city. It seems like anywhere you’d want to be has a food truck and some buskers ready to set the scene for an impromptu picnic. And now thanks to Make Something Edmonton, Edmonton’s new community engagement and rebranding effort, there is a handy list of grassroots initiatives and happenings that everyone can be a part of.
The most important summer accessory is a pair (or two, or three) of sunglasses (recommendation: eye-bar). Since Edmonton weather can change in what feels like a heartbeat, savvy Edmontonians dress in layers, prepared for rain or shine (Bamboo Ballroom has got you covered). With all those hours of sunshine ahead, don’t leave home without a trusty face moisturizer that has UV protection (stop by LUX Beauty Boutique for all the best options).
For those Edmonton bound, these top stops will please your need for culture and food:
1. Freewill Shakespeare Festival, June 25–July 21
Celebrating its 25th year running, Freewill Shakespeare brings two different Shakespeare productions to the outdoor stage at Hawrelak Park each year. Rain or shine (the amphitheatre is covered), catch both alternating shows—A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear.
Address: Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park, 9930 Groat Road
Cost: $25 for individual shows, or two shows for $40. Pay-what-you-will performances are Tuesday evenings and Saturday matinees.
2. Taste of Edmonton, July 18–27
A summer tradition in Downtown Edmonton, local restaurants get together in one place to provide a few of their favourite dishes. Stop by for lunch or dinner and try something new every time.
Cost: Approximately $30 for 30 tickets, with each food item costing 3-5 tickets
3. Heritage Festival, August 3-5
Heritage Festival is a three-day celebration of Canada’s vibrant multicultural heritage. Over 85 cultures from around the world are showcased through performances, artwork, clothing, and culinary delights.
Address: Hawrelak Park, 9930 Groat Road
Cost: Free, but food tickets are $1 each or 30 for $25 (food items 3-5 tickets each)
4. Edmonton Folk Festival, August 8-11
Four days of feel good, open air music, food, and drinks with one of the most picturesque views of Edmonton’s cityscape and river valley. This year’s lineup makes it difficult to choose which days to attend, so no wonder so people set up tents to camp out for the whole weekend.
Address: Gallagher Park
Cost: Tickets are currently sold out, but check back in July for resales
A festival celebrating independent theatre spanning every genre imaginable. It’s North America’s largest and oldest fringe with over 200 productions.
Address: A number of theatres, bars, and other venues around the city (mostly in Old Strathcona)
Cost: Tickets for individual shows vary, starting around $10
6. Symphony Under the Sky, August 30-September 2
Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performs five varied concerts in the outdoor amphitheatre at Hawrelak Park. Bring a blanket and sit on the grass or grab a seat under the big white tent and enjoy the symphony al fresco.
Address: Heritage Amphitheatre Hawrelak Park – 9930 Groat Road
Cost: Individual Concerts start at $25. Weekend passes start at $99.
7. What The Truck?! and Truck Stops
A mobile food court—food trucks gather together (usually with music) in a cool setting to let you try a few dishes at once or please a group of picky eaters.
Address: A different location each time—always a scenic park or trendy spot around town
8. City Market, Every Saturday 9am-3pm
The fastest growing market in the city is nestled in the heart of downtown, surrounded by some of the best locally owned shops, cafes and restaurants. Stock up for the week on groceries, pick up something new from the artisans, enjoy some street eats, and take in the sweet sounds of the city’s favourite buskers.
Address: 104 Street from Jasper Avenue to 102 Avenue
Canteen feels like you’re going to a friend’s house for a dinner party, but your friend happens to be a great chef and wine connoisseur with an eye for design. The menu changes as local ingredients are in season, so it’s totally fine to eat there every week. Make reservations.
Address: 10522 124 Street
Cost: Appies $9-17, Mains $26-32. Brunch mains under $20.
10. Tres Carnales
After three homeboys (carnales) spent weeks along the Pacific Mexican coast, they knew their lives couldn’t go on without more of those authentic tacos, quesadillas, and tortas. Good thing they opened up this taqueria for everyone to enjoy.
Address: 10119 100 A Street (by Rice Howard Way)
Cost: Food and drink, $10-15