By Alex MlynekUpdated May 30, 2016
1. Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival of the Arts This epic, annual kids’ arts and culture festival takes place over several sites on the banks of the Sturgeon River in St. Albert, Alberta. There are eight feature performances this year, including concerts by beloved kids’ musician Fred Penner and a musical of Freckleface Strawberry, plus many others! There are tons of fun interactive activities, such as arts and crafts, dance and storytelling, throughout the sites, including making origami and creating butterfly kites. Kids ages four and under will have a blast in Toddler Town, which features a play area, performances geared to younger ones, storytelling and more.
When: May 31 to June 4 More info: childfest.com
2. The Works Art & Design Festival When we give them a chance to observe it, most kids are fascinated by art—especially large-scale interactive exhibitions and installations, which this free festival has in spades. The Works Art & Design Festival takes place in pop-up galleries throughout Edmonton’s downtown core. When you’re ready for a different take on art, there’s also live music at the Works Street Stage in Churchill Square, as well as tons of food options. And if your kid is feeling inspired, he can get creative in the Family Program WorkShop tent for free, where educators will be on hand to teach kids of all ages about art theory and kids can use supplied art materials to create a masterpiece. On July 1, the workshops and arts and crafts will be centred around Canada Day.
When: June 23 to July 5 More info: theworks.ab.ca
3. Edmonton International Street Performers Festival Each July, Churchill Square transforms into performance central. This is where storytellers, balloon artists, circus performers, musicians, face painters, dancers, sword swallowers, mimes and more delight crowds with their busking talents at the city’s International Street Performers Festival. Workshops and kid-friendly stage performances round out this bash, so there’s tons of fun to inspire your little one. The cost is pass-the-hat, so you pay what you can.
When: July 8 to 17| More info: edmontonstreetfest.com
4. Parks Day Celebration at Elk Island National Park Bring your family out to celebrate nature with a visit to this breathtaking national park. Located 50 kilometres east of Edmonton, the park was first founded in 1906 as a wildlife reserve for its namesake animals. There will be live music, and you’ll get a chance to try out traditional camping activities such as canoeing and building a fire. Aside from elk, this park is also home to plains and wood bison and holds an annual Bison Festival, which takes place on August 13 this year, to honour these animals.
When: July 16 More info: www.pc.gc.ca
5. K-Days There’s much family fun to be had at this annual fair. Aside from rides for little ones in Kiddieland, kid-friendly entertainment in Kids Town, rides for older children and games at the Midway, there’s tons of cool stuff to do in Klondike Park. Here, you’ll find the Chilkoot Goldmine, where kids under 14 can compete for prizes in the gold-panning competition. Got a choo-choo lover at home? Don’t forget to take a ride on the Panda Hut Express. Finally, if you have older kids who can stay up for it, there are fireworks every night at 11 p.m.
When: July 22 to 31 More info: k-days.com
6. Servus Heritage Festival Take your kids on a trip around the world—for free!—at this year’s Servus Heritage Festival, which has been running for 41 years! This year, you’ll be able to sample delectable food, dance, handicrafts and more at 60 pavilions that feature more than 85 cultures. Families will love the 2,000-square-foot Kidzworld pavilion, with crafts and games for kids (including an international wall mural that little ones are encouraged to contribute to), face painting, sand tables and fully enclosed bouncy inflatables where they can shake their sillies out. Visitors are encouraged to bring a donation for the Edmonton Food Bank.
When: July 30 to August 1 More info: heritage-festival.com
7. Movies on the Square Movies light up Churchill Square on the first four Tuesdays in August for Movies on the Square. Your family will have a blast taking in pre-show entertainment like musical performances and stilt walkers, which get underway at 7 p.m. Then, at dusk, it’s time for the main show: a blockbuster that will be screened on a three-storey-high inflatable screen. The first one up is Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This event is free. Tip: Bring lawn chairs for your crew.
When: August 2, 9, 16 and 23 More info: edmonton.ca
8. Edmonton Folk Music Festival The littlest music fans are very welcome at this super-popular music festival, which features folk, world music, blues, rock, gospel, bluegrass and more on a main stage and several side stages in Gallagher Park. Kids aged 11 and under get in for free, and there’s a special family area featuring activities like face painting, bouncy castles, a splash park and a tent for reading or quiet time. The organizers who planned this event must be parents because one of the side stages is close enough to the family area that parents can watch family-friendly acts perform while their kids get to play. Genius!
When: August 4 to 7 More info: edmontonfolkfest.org
9. KidsFringe Let your kid show her dramatic side at this annual mini-fest that’s part of the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. Kids 12 and under can watch interactive performances on the Kidstage, listen to stories in the Book Nook, create a masterpiece using recycled materials at Craft Corner and play games at Centre Square. There’s even a special spot called Tots Tent for little ones under five that features puppet shows, songs and games for the teeniest Fringe-goers. And all of this fun is free!
When: August 11 to 21 More info: fringetheatre.ca
10. Telus World of Science Edmonton How cool is this? At the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes exhibit, which is on at Telus World of Science Edmonton (TWOSE) until September 5, curious kids ages five and up can collect evidence and conduct experiments designed by real forensic specialists. The event is packed with interactive fun, plus everyone will feel like they’re right back in the Victorian era thanks to the Holmes-specific props, costumes, artifacts and original manuscript publications on hand. If your little one is more of a nature baby, she’ll love watching two new IMAX films at TWOSE this summer: A Beautiful Planet and Jean-Michel Cousteau's Secret Ocean 3D. And we can’t forget to mention the Science Garage, a maker space staffed by TWOSE scientists where kids can try their hand at challenges like building catapults and circuit boards.
When: Until September 5 More info: telusworldofscienceedmonton.com
What did we miss? Tell us about the can’t-miss summer events in your city by emailing us at email@example.com.