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Arts, culture and heritage are such an integral part of community life in Edmonton that Alberta’s capital city was selected as the Cultural Capital of Canada in 2007 — a prestigious national designation that recognized the city for its tradition of excellence in arts and culture and provided funding to create a lasting legacy for the arts. Five years later, Edmonton is more committed to promoting the arts than ever before with even more attractions, celebrations and events. This vibrant arts and culture scene makes Edmonton a unique and fun place to explore all year long. Visitors can experience arts festivals, explore art galleries and enjoy a variety of live entertainment.
Where to GoA walk down the streets of Edmonton’s Old Strathcona neighborhood, a designated Provincial Historic Area, is a journey into the city’s past in what has been described as one of the coolest neighborhoods in all of Canada. Frequented by the university crowd, this neighborhood is home to a wide range of interesting boutiques, as well as the city’s largest variety of jazz, blues, folk, country, rock and pop music and dance clubs. The Old Strathcona Theatre District has nine theaters with live performances taking place year-round.
In the heart of downtown Edmonton lies the Edmonton Arts District, Chinatown, City Hall and a variety of shopping venues. The Frances Winspear Centre for Music, the Citadel Theatre and the Art Gallery of Alberta are the three key venues of the City Centre Arts District. Sir Winston Churchill Square is at the center of this district and is the place where many of the city’s festivals are held.
West of the downtown core, near 124th Street, is the Gallery Walk District, a 12-block neighborhood with live theater venues, shops, restaurants and art galleries. The Gallery Walk Association was the first organization of its kind in Canada and was created to promote art and artists of merit — particularly Canadian artists. Formal unguided gallery walks are planned twice a year and group walks take place throughout the year.
What to SeeThe relatively new Art Gallery of Alberta is a 85,000-square-foot facility that is one of the more architecturally interesting structures in Edmonton’s downtown core. Inside is an ever-changing diversity of art styles and genres from international, Canadian and First Nations artists as well as an excellent on-site restaurant.
The Alberta Ballet, Canada’s third-largest ballet company, was founded in 1958 and operates from venues in both Edmonton and Calgary. At the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, audiences can see classical ballet performances, theatrical ballet and cutting-edge shows.
The Edmonton Opera is the fourth-largest opera company in Canada and the oldest and largest year-round opera company in the Prairie Provinces. The company has been in operation since 1963 and stages a variety of great performances year-round. The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) is so renowned that it was recently selected to participate in the Spring for Music Festival 2012 in New York City at Carnegie Hall. ESO was the only Canadian orchestra invited to participate in the festival.
Special DealsThe Edmonton Attractions Pass is a money-saving pass that can be booked by travel agents for their clients. The pass allows access to 15 attractions year-round for just under $60, or visitors can choose four attractions in seven days for $30.
In addition, many Edmonton hotels offer great packages to experience the arts. Packages include theater venues, the Art Gallery of Alberta or dinner theater experiences. A listing of the most current arts and accommodation packages can be found at the official Edmonton tourist information site.
Art Gallery of Albertawww.youraga.ca
Edmonton Arts Package Informationwww.edmonton.com/for-visitors/the-arts-packages.aspx
Edmonton Attractions Passwww.edmontonattractions.com
Edmonton Symphony Orchestrawww.edmontonsymphony.com
There are dozens of art and culture festivals held throughout the year in Edmonton. For a complete listing, visit FestivalCity.ca.