Summer Festivals in Edmonton

Summer festivals in Edmonton give visitors a chance to party By: Debbie Olsen
Edmonton’s Fringe Theatre Festival is the oldest and largest fringe festival in North America. // © 2011 Edmonton Tourism
Edmonton’s Fringe Theatre Festival is the oldest and largest fringe festival in North America. // © 2011 Edmonton Tourism

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For a complete festival calendar, visit the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation's website
When Edmontonians decide to party until the sun goes down, they mean business. At the peak of summer solstice, there are more than 17 hours of daylight per day and twilight extends throughout the entire night. The long daylight hours of this season bring locals and visitors out in droves to celebrate music, dance, visual arts, performing arts, sports and film. With more than 30 annual festivals, some of the largest of which occur during the summer months, Edmonton has a firm lock on its unofficial moniker of Canada's "Festival City."

In Edmonton, the summer festival season begins with the International Children's Festival in late May and ends with the Dragonboat Festival and the Blues Festival in late August. If you are planning a summer visit to the capital region of Alberta for clients, here's a rundown of the signature festivals of the summer season. It's a good idea to buy tickets in advance if possible, as the best acts at many of these festivals sell out.

Edmonton International Street Performers Festival
(July 8-17)
The first festival of its kind in North America, during the past 27 years, the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival has become one of the most popular festivals of the summer. The festival brings together more than 1,500 musicians, jugglers, acrobats, magicians and comedians from around the world, all performing in and around Sir Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton. It is a family-friendly festival with face painting, Kid's World activities and "Be Your Own Busker" workshops for younger visitors.

Capital Ex (July 22-31)
The city's longest-running summertime exhibition, Capital Ex includes a parade, a midway, a casino, free entertainment, food vendors and nightly fireworks. The 10-day, carnival-style event takes place annually at Northlands festival grounds.

Edmonton Indy (July 22-24)
Indy racing is relatively new to Edmonton, but the event is becoming very popular with locals and visitors alike. Attendees get to see the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers up close -- including Andretti, Castro-Neves, Franchitti, Kanaan, Patrick, Power and Tagliani. Go once, and youíll have a new appreciation for life in the fast lane.

Servus Heritage Festival (July 30-Aug. 1)
This free festival celebrates Canada's multiculturalism by showcasing 85 cultures from around the world in 63 pavilions at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton's River Valley. The heritage festival has been in operation for more than 35 years and is incredibly popular with locals who enjoy sampling ethnic foods, watching creative performances and purchasing crafts and artwork.

Edmonton Folk Music Festival (Aug. 4-7)
For more than 30 years, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival has been showcasing the best bluegrass, Celtic and blues gospel singers and songwriters in Edmonton's Gallagher Park each summer. The festival is run by one staff member and 300 volunteers and is sponsored by many local businesses. This means that organizers can bring in world-class acts from around the world while still managing to keep ticket prices low. As the organizers say, it's all about the music.

Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival (Aug. 11-21)
The Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is North America's oldest and largest such festival. It is an unjuried, uncensored series of live performances presented at a range of unusual venues -- including on playgrounds, in parks and even in skating rinks in the historic Old Strathcona District of Edmonton. The 11-day event was originally inspired by the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has stayed true to its roots -- providing the opportunity for festival goers to choose between hundreds of performances of song, dance, comedy, drama and a mishmash of everything in between. Fringers can also sample food from various vendors, relax in the beer tent or shop at the souvenir shack.

Labatt Blues Festival
(Aug. 19-21)
This festival is three days of blues heaven at the Heritage Amphitheatre in Edmonton's River Valley. Considered one of the top festivals of its kind in Canada, the event features an eclectic group of bands and performers that run the gamut when it comes to blues music. This year's line-up of talent includes Grammy Award winners alongside Blues Award winners and nominees. Headliners include The John Nemeth Soul Revue, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band and Guitar Shorty.
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