City of Edmonton Information
Welcome to Alberta’s capital, Edmonton!
This city of over a million is divided by the scenic North Saskatchewan River. The river valley is one of the largest stretches of urban parkland in North America and a defining urban feature. First settled by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1795 as part of its fur trading empire, Edmonton has seen its share of boom and bust, from the Klondike Gold Rush to the discovery of oil in 1947 and several times since. Today, it’s a thriving government and resource-based city that is unpretentious, friendly and culturally ambitious, especially when it comes to fulfilling its reputation as Canada’s Festival capital.
Getting around the central parts of the city is possible by Edmonton Transit's light rail transit or bus, but having a rental car will make transportation easier. Taxis are another option. Once you’re in them, Edmonton’s neighbourhoods are well suited for strolling.
Things to Do
Festivals and Events
Edmonton’s festivals are scattered throughout the year, but summer is when the city really shines, both figuratively and literally. At the height of summer the city gets up to 17 hours of daylight! If you’re planning a trip to Alberta, it’s worth building in one of these fantastic festivals:
Edmonton International Fringe Festival (mid-August) – Performers from around the world flock to a Fringe that is 2nd in size only to Edinburgh’s. Join the happy throngs who enjoy over a 1,000 indoor and outdoor performances in historic and trendy Old Strathcona.
Edmonton Folk Music Festival (2nd week of August) – From a hillside with a stunning vantage point of the city, this world-class 4-day outdoor festival showcases international and Canadian acts from bluegrass to world-beat and more.
Taste of Edmonton (late July) – food, wine and music, combined! Sample from 40 restaurant booths, savour a glass of wine and sit back and enjoy entertainment in downtown’s Churchill Square.
International Street Performer’s Festival (mid-July) – the first of its kind in North America, only the best, quirkiest, street performers in the world are invited here. Jugglers, comedians, performance artists, stiltwalkers … the list goes on. Great for families and adults.
Capital-X (late July) – this stalwart festival, originally created to celebrate the days of the Gold Rush, will appeal to those who love a midway, fireworks, big-name music concerts, gambling and free outdoor "Klondike breakfasts."
Downtown – a district that features arts venues such as the new Art Gallery of Alberta, upscale shopping and restaurants. Check out the art on display at City Hall, then relax and enjoy the river view from the bar of the venerable Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. 104 Street from Jasper to 103rd is a bustling area, particularly on Saturdays during the Edmonton City Market. A five minute drive from downtown, the Chinatown, Avenue of Nations and Little Italy areas offer a mix of inexpensive ethnic specialty shops and restaurants, from Italian to Vietnamese and Latin American.
Old Strathcona – one of the most walkable areas of the city during the day, is also one the most pleasant, with its low-rise heritage buildings, trendy coffee shops, restaurants and funky boutiques. Take an old-fashioned street-car across the High-Level Bridge or check out the Farmer’s Market. At night, Whyte Avenue bustles with bar-hoppers and theatre-goers.
124th St. – a great place to wander art galleries specializing in Canadian artists as well as the unique shops and restaurants of the High Street. Wander the tree-lined streets of one of the city’s most elegant neighbourhoods and admire the views of the river valley, then head in to the Royal Alberta Museum to learn the natural and human history of the province.
Family-Friendly – Edmonton offers families a variety of activities, both indoors and out. Fort Edmonton, North American’s largest interactive historic park invites you to take a ride on a steam train or chat with costumed characters about the days of the fur trade. The West Edmonton Mall is still one of the world’s largest shopping and entertainment complexes, boasting huge amusement and waterparks and over 800 stores. Take a lazy cruise on the Edmonton Queen riverboat on a summer’s afternoon or explore the exhibits or Imax films at the Telus Space Sciences Centre on a rainy one. Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages should rent bikes for a day’s exploring along the trails of the beautiful river valley.
Sports – Depending on the season, sports lovers have a choice of both a professional hockey team (The Oilers) and a Canadian football team (The Eskimos) to watch. Iit’s a great way to rub shoulders with locals.
Cultural – In addition to the festivals Edmonton hosts every year, the city’s small independents or the Citadel Theatre’s acclaimed shows make it a theatre-goers dream. While the Winspear Centre is known as one of North America’s finest performance venues, the world-class River Cree Resort and Casino, headlining some of the biggest names in music and comedy, is another sure bet.
Restaurants and Shopping
Restaurants – Edmonton has an eclectic and innovative selection of restaurants, from traditional steakhouses to hip bistros and exotic eateries representing many cultures. More on Edmonton restaurants restaurants.
Shopping – Edmontonians love their retail therapy, and Edmonton definitely pulls its weight when it comes to shopping. From the chain stores of West Edmonton Mall to the independent and unique shops on Strathcona’s Whyte Avenue, to the upscale shopping to be found in the downtown core, you’ll find selection and varying ranges of quality. More on Edmonton shopping.
Edmonton has a good selection of accommodations, ranging from business class to budget. A few boutique and higher-end hotels are clustered downtown with a handful more in Old Strathcona. Budget and airport style hotels are mainly in the far south of the city enroute to the airport. More on Edmonton accomodation.
Return to the Alberta Regional Overview page.
Map: To zoom closer click the "plus" (+) button in the navigation bar on the left of the screen. To zoom out click the "minus" (-) button on the navigation bar. To navigate (move/pan your view), click and drag the map. To view street-level imagery for a specific location, click and drag the yellow man icon from left hand side bar onto streets highlighted in blue.
Photo credits:Alberta Art Gallery courtesy of Stella Blu; kids on North Saskatchewan River courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission and Dustin Parr;
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