WHEN THE WEATHER HEATS UP, so does Alberta’s festival scene. From May through August, visitors from far and wide flock to the province for a jampacked roster of events that celebrate the best of the West, from local food and music to dinosaurs and fringe theatre. Here’s a selection of the must-see fests.
Big Valley Jamboree
Set in Camrose, a small city in the heart of Alberta farmland about an hour southeast of Edmonton, this well-established country music festival is a five-time winner of the Canadian Country Music Awards’ “music event of the year” prize. The 2014 festival runs July 31 to Aug. 3 and will feature artists such as Miranda Lambert and Zac Brown Band.
Waterton Wildflower Festival
See Alberta in full bloom at this wildflower festival held June 20 to 28, 2014, in Waterton Lakes National Park. The park is home to more than 1,000 plant species, many endemic to this region. Adults and children can enjoy guided flower walks, hikes through the park and photography and art workshops, as well as local entertainment.
Families will flock to Drumheller from June 13 to 15, 2014, for DinoFest, a kidfriendly festival celebrating Alberta’s huge deposits of prehistoric fossils. Outdoor movies, stage performances and educational programming will take place at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and throughout the town that weekend.
Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival
Theatre buffs gather each year in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona district for North America’s largest and longestrunning fringe festival. The theme of the 33rd annual event is Fringed and Confused, a homage to the 1970s. The festival, running Aug. 14 to 24 this year, will range from uncensored busking and theatre performances to children’s activities and local artisans selling their wares.
Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival
Wine and dine your way through Banff’s best fare at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel May 30 and 31, 2014. Festival-goers sample local and international fare, such as bison ravioli and baklava lollipops, from some of Banff’s most popular restaurants, as well as wines, whiskeys and craft beers. Hotel packages are available in conjunction with the festival.
Calgary Folk Music Festival
Every July, more than 50,000 folkies overrun Prince’s Island Park in downtown Calgary for this annual folk music event, featuring intimate performances, collaborations and workshops. The festival, which runs July 24 to 27 this year, also offers a children’s play area, a craft market and a beer garden.
Blackfoot Arts and Heritage Festival
The Blackfoot Arts and Heritage Festival, held August 18 to 20 this year in Waterton Lakes National Park, celebrates the culture of the Blackfoot First Nations through drumming and dancing workshops, traditional crafts, kids’ programming and concerts.