By now, Edmonton has more than earned its “festival city” moniker. There’s practically no day in our short summer season that doesn’t feature a parade, concert, food tasting event or cultural celebration somewhere in the city. This year, with the already gigantic Fringe Festival set to grow even more and Folk Fest tickets selling out faster than ever, there’s no doubt about the love this northern town has for its summer festivals.
But if you’re looking for something other than the summer’s festival regulars, there’s always something brand new to discover. From festival newborns to events that may fly just under the radar, we’re covering some other options to dig into once you’ve had your fill of mini donuts at the Exhibition grounds.
Various locations in the Old Strathcona district
Friday, June 29 – Sunday, July 1
$5 per event, $15 for a day pass, $30 for a festival pass at the door
Edmonton’s saturated festival scene can be difficult to crack, but this summer, Common Ground Arts Society is hoping to introduce some new blood. The Found Festival, a community-based, DIY performing arts festival is in equal parts an exercise in showing support for up-and-coming artists and an experiment in pushing the limits of performance possibilities. The festival invites audiences to find emerging talents in their own backyards — from a short play staged in a garage to an acoustic concert held in a grassy park.
Elena Belyea, Common Ground’s artistic director, says the festival aims to help emerging artists gain exposure while proving that creative ideas don’t need to be set aside due to financial barriers. The site-specific works taking place in a variety of venues have all been secured free of charge, illustrating a different approach to making artistic work available to the public. The festival deftly skirts the often-prohibitive costs of booking traditional performance spaces, establishing community support for artists through a different approach.
With an open mind as it tests the waters for its first year, the Found Festival is carving out a brand new space for itself in Edmonton. Belyea is excited for the unexpected elements for the first attempt at the festival and the feedback that both Common Ground and the participating artists will have a chance to hear. And if nothing else, the festival is a great chance to spend time with a group of like-minded art lovers in the city, discovering new talent in the back alleys and front porches of Old Strathcona.
Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 15 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
82 Ave. between 100 St. and 108 St.
For one weekend in July, artists move their studios outside onto the sidewalks of Whyte Avenue. Eight solid blocks of shops and restaurants transform into an outdoor gallery where artists create, display and sell their work. Not only does this give the public a chance to interact with art in a familiar, relaxed setting, but the artists themselves can also share their creative process with others, giving them new opportunities to showcase what they do.
The Art Walk has been sponsored and organized by The Paint Spot for almost 20 years. Debuting in 1995 with 35 artists out on the streets, the event now accommodates more than 400 artists who show their wares to thousands of visitors along the avenue. And for everyone involved, the festival is far more than a simple art show: it’s a unique opportunity for artists to receive feedback and raise their profile amidst a welcoming intersection of art collectors, creators and critics coming together for an exchange of artistic ideas.
It’s hard to find something not to like here — with artists from a massive variety of backgrounds working in every medium imaginable, the scope of local art talent might just be enough to spur the beginning of your own original art collection.
With The Beauties, Hawksley Workman, Randy Newman, Blue Rodeo and others
Heritage Amphitheatre, Hawrelak Park (9930 Groat Road)
Friday, July 27 – Sunday, July 29
$59-169 at Blackbyrd or sixshooterrecords.com
The Americana genre is a broad category of all music originating on our continent, including a multitude of categories like roots, folk, rock n’ roll, gospel and bluegrass. But amongst festivals dedicated to jazz, opera and blues, until now, Americana has been left out in Edmonton. But this July, the first-annual Interstellar Rodeo will unite Americana artists from across North America under the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park.
Shauna de Cartier, former Edmontonian and founder of The Interstellar Rodeo, explains that the festival is something of a “curation” of the genre’s best live acts. Even though it’s new to the festival scene, with headliners like American songwriter Randy Newman, the Interstellar Rodeo is already delivering big names, and the rest of the three-day event showcases a varied group of artists ranging from the country-rock ballads of Blue Rodeo to the more electric tracks of Hawksley Workman. And music isn’t the only focus over the weekend — festival-goers can also sip on wine specifically paired by local wine expert Gurvinder Bhatia to be “best enjoyed” with the artists currently onstage.
The Interstellar Rodeo’s first year hasn’t been without its challenges: ‘90s pop superstar Sinead O’Connor was scheduled to headline the festival’s opening night, but cancelled all 2012 tour dates this April, leaving festival organizers with the challenge of filling a significant gap in the lineup. But Gillian Welch and Alejandro Escovado have been added to fill O’Connor’s place, providing a chance to highlight the southern side of Americana.
Despite a few organizational challenges early on, the Interst-ellar Rodeo stands out against Edmonton’s already impressive summer lineup. With an exciting schedule for wine and music lovers alike, the festival is laying some promising groundwork to earn a permanent spot in Edmonton’s summer music schedule.
Tuesday, July 3 – Sunday, July 8
Edmonton’s history can be tricky to uncover. With many of the original buildings from the city’s earliest days now lost, our heritage isn’t always a visible part of our daily lives. But Doors Open Edmonton gives Edmontonians a chance to dig into the past, unearthing the city’s backstory through a wide range of activities, events and tours.
An effort of the Edmonton & District Historical Society, the festival provides a unique opportunity to gain some elusive cultural education. From the city’s initial founding as a fort along the North Saskatchewan River to its establishment as Alberta’s capital to present day, the festival has all the information a history nerd could ever desire about how the city came to be.
The Historic Festival also gives more in-depth tours about specific sites in Edmonton and a behind-the-scenes look at the stories about them and the people who built them. For many, this is also an opportunity to trace their family history through the centuries past, with further chances to search archives in pursuit of documentation. The final two days of the festival host The Speakers’ Studio, an annual feature with presentations about Edmonton’s history from local experts.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.