The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival takes place in July. // © 2013 Edmonton Economic Development Corporation
Summertime might as well be called “party time” in Edmonton, a city that is famous for the huge number and diversity of festivals that take place all year long and reach their peak during the summer months.
The Works Art & Design Festival, touted as the largest free outdoor art and design festival in North America, will run June 20 to July 2. The 13-day event’s theme this year will be “Human Energy,” showcasing established and emerging artistic talent from a variety of genres, as well as featuring a large number of diverse musical performances. Last year’s festival featured 53 unique installations and exhibits and more than 250 special events and performances.
June will also see the start of the Freewill Shakespeare Festival, which will host its 25th season from June 25 to July 21. Put on by the not-for-profit theater company Free Will Players, the festival aims to offer innovative productions that remain accessible to all audiences. This year’s season will feature “King Lear” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” outdoors at the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park.
In July, the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival will include more than 1,500 performances from international street artists such as musicians, jugglers, acrobats, unicyclists and more. The festival also features “Be Your Own Busker,” a free artist-led workshop for artists of all ages and abilities. Visitors can take part in the fun July 5-14 at Sir Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton, with free entrance and performances offered throughout each day.
Culinary enthusiasts will rejoice in July, when the annual A Taste of Edmonton event offers special menus from the city’s finest restaurants. One of the city’s most popular festivals, a variety of multicultural area eateries will gather in Churchill Square from July 18-27 to offer samples of their culinary delights to the approximately 500,000 people who attend each year. Live music will also take place at this family-friendly food festival, which is free to enter. Purchase tickets to taste delicious food and drink from around the world.
K-Days (the annual celebration formerly known as Capital Ex) will take place July 19-28 this year, with all the trappings attendees have come to know and love. Festivities include live bands, family entertainment, midway rides and games and a nightly fireworks display. The celebration kicks off with the 2013 K-Days Parade on the 19th, and also includes The Grand Shopping Experience, which offers a dynamic array of commercial exhibits, quality displays, live demonstrations and one-of-a-kind art. A newly developed experience is The Grand Emporium, an elevated section in the heart of The Grand Shopping Experience that will highlight specific products.
Last year introduced the Interstellar Rodeo to Edmonton, a celebration of music, food and wine. The Rodeo received such positive feedback that it is set to return this year from July 26-28 in Hawrelak Park. Star-studded performances are scheduled to take place from bands and artists including Alabama Shakes, Serena Ryder, Sarah Harmer, Steve Earle and The Dukes and Edmonton legend Jr. Gone Wild, to name a few. Two new musical features will be part of the Rodeo this year, including The Interstellar All-Stars on July 28, a “songwriter supergroup” event featuring Jim Cuddy, Danny Michel and Quique Escamilla, who will learn each other’s songs and put on a show. The second new feature will be the Interludes, short sets spotlighting 23 singer-songwriters in an effort to showcase as many artists as possible.
August brings some of Edmonton’s most well-known festivals, including the Servus Heritage Festival. From Aug. 3-5, the festival will feature 63 pavilions representing more than 85 worldwide cultures, including some with displays of photos, paraphernalia and stories. Admission is free, and attendees will have the opportunity to sample culinary delicacies, watch creative performances and shop for arts and crafts.
Also taking place in August are the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and the Edmonton International Fringe Theater Festival. Dedicated to bringing international folk music to the city, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival will return this year on Aug. 8-11, in Gallagher Park. Artists currently slated to appear include Loreena McKennitt, Bruce Cockburn, Cold Specks, The Head and the Heart and others. Then, from Aug. 15-25, the 32nd Edmonton International Fringe Theater Festival will take the stage in Old Strathcona and beyond, bringing more than 200 indoor and outdoor fringe theater acts to the public.
Though this list may seem extensive, a variety of other festivals will also take place throughout the summer as well. A full calendar of the city’s offerings can be found online through Edmonton Tourism.