Bust out your shades, slap on some sunscreen, and get ready for the summer of your life. Yes, this year will be the year. Ditch the air conditioning and explore the awesomeness that Edmonton has to offer. Your tan may not last through the winter, but the memories sure will.
Livin’ that Patio Life
Winter is great and all, but there’s nothing quite like the fresh air on an open patio and a cold pint. Try out small but mighty patios like The Next Act, Sugar Bowl or Three Boars, and then hit up the wooftop patio at The Black Dog (get it??). The patio at Julio’s Barrio is an Edmonton staple (perfect for people watching), while Café Bicyclette is an ideal place to enjoy a pastry and catch up with friends. For those looking for a shadier option (I burn in about two minutes), the patio at Café Leva is surrounded by a canopy of trees—phew!
Explore the River Valley
From runners to cyclists and everything in between, the river valley is the place to get active this summer. My favourite: Grabbing a cappuccino at Credo or a chai at Remedy Cafe, heading down for a leisurely stroll, and watching as more hard-core individuals run the stairs. Activity is activity, right? You can even explore the valley by more unconventional forms of transportation like Segway or canoe. See things from a different perspective by riding the High Level Bridge Streetcar, which can also be used to get to the city’s biggest summer events like the Fringe. Finally, make sure to check out hidden gems like Little Brick Café and General Store—their Pine Haven Bacon and Eggs are out of this world.
Edmonton Eats (and Treats)
Food. Lots and lots of food. Need I say more? Taste of Edmonton will make all your food-related dreams come true. Gather with fellow foodies in Churchill square to sample a variety of Edmonton’s best restaurants. Load up on tickets to exchange for savoury dishes, desserts and cocktails while soaking up some vitamin D. Once you pack your plate with succulent shrimp, gourmet tacos and juicy sliders, settle in to enjoy one of our nation’s largest free concert series featuring artists like The Provincial Archive, Trevor Guthrie and throwback favourite Prozzak. Make sure to save some tickets for dessert!
I wait all year for The Edmonton International Fringe Festival, and I’m definitely not alone. Performers from Edmonton and around the world take over Old Strathcona for two weeks in August at North America’s biggest and oldest Fringe Festival. Be one of the first to check out the newly renovated Varscona Theatre which showcases amazing local favourites like Teatro la Quindincina, Northern Light Theatre and Plain Jane Theatre Company. Laugh until you cry at some improv, take in a musical, or hang out on the main grounds with buskers and green onion cakes abound. Here’s a tip: plan to spend an afternoon or evening at La Cité Francophone, a longstanding BYOV (bring your own venue) in Edmonton’s French Quarter with a reputation for incredible theatre, and its own outdoor market.
Freewill Shakespeare Festival
Remember when you played a tree in your high school play? Yeah, me too… and this is nothing like that. Brush up your Shakespeare when the Bard comes to Edmonton for the Freewill Shakespeare Festival. This year it’s the summer of love with Romeo and Juliet and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Take the romance to the next level at the festival’s Unwined Date Nights, which come with a wine tasting and food pairing, as well as early admittance. The show must go on rain or shine, but don’t worry—they’ve got you covered with a massive tent that shelters performers and audience alike.
No Passport Required
Travel around the world without leaving the city when the Servus Heritage Festival takes over Hawrelak park. The best part: you can sample perogies, samosas and spanakopita all on one plate! Over 60 pavilions will showcase cultural displays with photos, crafts, and stories about their culture or ethnic background in Edmonton. See Irish dancers, African drummers, and shop for artwork while learning something new. Though there is no public parking during the festival, you can take advantage of the ETS Park & Ride which makes access a breeze.
Slip into a low lawn chair or snuggle up on a blanket and enjoy a line-up of bands from around the world at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. You’ll find a mix of folk, Celtic, bluegrass, blues, gospel, roots, world beat, and even some alternative rock. My top picks for this year: The Head and the Heart and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Make sure to check out lesser known groups as well, you never know when you’ll discover a new tune for your playlist.
Non-Stop Fun at K-Days
There’s nothing like screaming at the top of your lungs as your rollercoaster cart reaches the peak of its climb and starts to zip down the track. The coasters at K-Days really deliver the thrills. Too scared to take the plunge? Adventurous eaters can try inventive fair-food like a rainbow grilled cheese, mac ‘n cheese stuffed burger and Oreo rice. Stick around in the evenings for killer concerts with bands like the X Ambassadors, Matthew Good and Simple Plan. When you’ve ridden every ride you can handle, cap off the day with a candy apple and watch as fireworks fill the sky above the fairgrounds.
Farmers' markets are where it’s at, and you can support local growers, makers and vendors at my favourite Edmonton outdoor markets: City Market Downtown, Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market and the 124 Grand Market. You’ll find everything Edmontonians love about summer—food trucks, live entertainment, fresh local produce, one-of-a-kind clothing and more. If you’re out and about around City Market, make sure to stop in at Honest Dumplings or pick up a lemon tart from Dauphine Bakery and Bistro—yum!