From forts and festivals, to shopping and bar-hopping, Alberta’s capital city is full of all-ages urban adventures.
Attractions and events
Looking for unique attractions and exciting festivals? Look no further than Edmonton, which has plenty of both.
At the top of your ‘must do’ list is West Edmonton Mall, home to over 800 shops, 100 dining options, 10 attractions, and two hotels, making it the largest indoor shopping and entertainment complex in the world. In fact, the Mall wins the ‘World’s Largest’ award in multiple categories! Think largest indoor wave pool, indoor lake, and indoor amusement park. You can shop until you drop (bonus, there’s no sales tax) while the kids hang out at the World Water Park or Galaxyland. Equivalent to 48 city blocks, this is one mall that can’t be traversed in a single visit. Book a themed room in the Fantasyland Hotel and dedicate a few days to exploring this incredible shopping and entertainment hub.
The Art Gallery of Alberta is a must for appreciators of all things art, and the architecture of the building is as fascinating as what’s inside. A collection of over 6000 works and an ever-changing schedule of exhibitions means you’ll never have the same experience twice.
History buffs will love Fort Edmonton Park. Explore a Hudson’s Bay trading fort as it was in 1846, and slowly trace the evolution of the city as you walk through the Park along streets representing the years 1885, 1905, and 1920. Take a ride on a steam train and try the rides at the old-fashioned fair ground. Stay in the historic Hotel Selkirk on-site for free admission to the park.
The Edmonton River Valley, home to Fort Edmonton Park, is an attraction in its own right. Spend a day exploring the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America, 22 times the size of New York City’s Central Park. Cycle, walk or jog in summer, or snowshoe and cross-country ski in winter, discovering 145 kilometres of trails. Take a Segway tour along the riverside or head out on the North Saskatchewan River, winding through the valley by canoe, kayak or paddle board. The river valley is also home to a zoo, several golf courses, and exciting seasonal festivals.
Nicknamed ‘Festival City,’ Edmonton hosts more than 60 festivals throughout the year. For 11 spectacular days in August, life is truly a stage in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona District as the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival unfolds its multi-coloured curtain! The largest and oldest Fringe Festival on the continent features more than 1600 live theatre performances from around the world. Kids are not forgotten - little Fringers can enjoy the KidsFringe site with its interactive theatre performances, games, and craft. Buskers take centre stage at the annual Edmonton International Street Performers Festival each July. Talent of all kinds, from juggling to street circus, is on display at Sir Winston Churchill Square in the heart of Edmonton’s Arts District.
There are all kinds of toe-tapping music festivals throughout the year in Edmonton, including the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and the offbeat Interstellar Rodeo. Annual tributes to jazz, blues, multicultural music genres, bluegrass, alternative, and good old rock ‘n’ roll can also be found on the regular playlist.
It’s worth the half hour drive east of the city to explore the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, a fascinating outdoor museum where costumed guides embody the Ukrainian pioneers that settled the region over a century ago. Explore more than 30 restored buildings, including a typical sod house known as a burdei, a blacksmith shop, and working grain elevator. Bring your appetite to sample authentic Ukrainian cooking – the pierogis (stuffed dumplings slathered in sour cream) can’t be beat!
24 hours in Edmonton
There’s so much to do in the city and so many more attractions to investigate. Here are some ideas for a fun-filled day.
In the morning, visit the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market , pick up a warm bagel fresh from the bakery oven, snack on local produce, or browse hand-made gifts, from painted glass to goat’s milk soap. Then wander along Whyte Avenue browsing its eclectic shops and galleries. On sunny days, grab a bite to eat al fresco, or in one of many funky bistros and cafes. After lunch, take a quick taxi ride across the river, then stroll the beautiful grounds of the Alberta Legislature and take a guided tour of this regal building. Inside scoop: a great way to see lots more of the city’s attractions is by purchasing an Edmonton’s Attractions Pass.
Spend the rest of the afternoon at the races. Watch dragon boats jockey for position on the North Saskatchewan River, pick your favourite horse at the Northlands Park Racetrack, or head just beyond the city and watch drag races at the Castrol Raceway.
Edmontonians love their sports. If the club is in town, catch an Edmonton Oilers NHL ice hockey game, or take in an Edmonton Eskimos Canadian football game and discover how different the CFL is from the Australian Football League.
In the evening, make your way to 124 Street, a vibrant hub of shopping, galleries, and restaurants. Give your credit card a workout – and your appetite – before spending a night on the town.
For a slice of local culture, head to the downtown Arts District and take in a concert at the acoustically brilliant Francis Winspear Centre for Music. Prefer theatre? Catch a play at the Citadel Theatre or see the latest production by the Alberta Ballet.
To cap off your evening, head back to Whyte Avenue in Old Strathcona and hit the club music scene, where you can dance the night away to anything from blues to pop and country.