Whether you’re traveling to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on business or taking advantage of its nature gateway status to access such attractions as Jasper National Park or the Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, you’ll find the city has much more to offer than overnight accommodations and Ikea browsing.
Art: The Art Gallery of Alberta houses works from a number of artists for a $12.50 entry fee. The best value, however, is the family pass, which allows two adults and up to four children to experience the gallery for $26.50. Along with natural history displays, the Royal Alberta Museum celebrates a traditional tribal art form with a fairly extensive First Nations’ feathered and beaded clothing exhibit. Adult tickets for this venue ring it at $10 each, although half-price entry is available 9-11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. To see the work of local artists for free, check out the Gallery Walk of Edmonton and the Alberta Craft Council, which showcases fine crafts from artisans throughout the province. Interested in art shopping while you eat? The Blue Plate Diner offers cheap eats in a quirky, funky atmosphere that includes wall art that’s for sale. Value offerings include such items as $5 maple-glazed grilled cornbread and a $6 vegan onion cake with spicy dipping sauce.
Performances: In addition to the downtown arts district’s five-stage Citadel Theater and the intimate Francis Winspear Center for Music, home to the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, live performances also abound in Old Strathcona. This area boasts a hip street scene with outdoor murals, international eateries and indie theater offerings. Teatro La Quindicina hosts a variety of plays and has a fun, edgy urban vibe. Alternatively, the neighborhood’s Varscona Theater makes its home inside a historic fire house. For those interested in exploring Old Strathcona extensively, the Metterra hotel provides trendy, mid-range accommodations within walking distance to most attractions and performance venues. With no rental car necessary, and breakfast and evening wine-and-cheese sessions included, the rooms offer a significant value.
Festivals: Also known as Canada’s festival city, Edmonton is home to a wide variety of celebratory cultural events. The city hosts one of the world’s largest fringe festivals, allowing visitors to experience diverse theater groups and single-artist acts for far less than what it would cost to travel to all of the performances independently. The folk festival is also of note, bringing in musical acts from around the world. Other fun celebrations include Improvaganza and Ice on Whyte, a winter festival in January. Festivalcity.ca has further details.
Shopping: The city’s largest claim to shopping fame is the world-famous West Edmonton Mall. Boasting roughly 800 stores, two hotels, a water park, ropes course, roller coaster rides and a Vegas-style re-creation of Bourbon Street, it’s a retail extravaganza.
Myscha TheriaultMcClatchy-Tribune News Service