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Welcoming summer solstice in Edmonton with festivals, food, and fun

Every summer thousands flock to Edmonton, Alberta, to rejoice in the warm weather and celebrate a reprieve from winter temperatures. This summer will be no different as the city wholeheartedly plans on living up to its Festival City nickname.

Perhaps the biggest day of the season: July 21, the summer solstice. On this day, from the Summer Solstice Festival to the Edmonton International Jazz Festival,  there’s plenty to do and more than enough time to do it: The sun is set to shine that day for an impressive 17 hours, 2 minutes, and 46 seconds. Here are our suggestions for experiencing all Edmonton has to offer on the longest day of the year:

Early morning

North Saskatchewan River Valley. Get a running start into summer with an early morning jog around William Hawrelak Park. With a plethora of hiking trails, wildlife, and natural plant growth, the North Saskatchewan River Valley boasts the largest area of urban park in all of North America.

Mid-morning

Culina-Muttart Conservatory. Quiet your growling hunger at Culina. Tucked away in the Muttart Conservatory near the four famous glass pyramids, this eclectic café invites you to dine in the garden patio with eggs Benedict, sweet-potato toast, and strong swigs of espresso.


Fort Edmonton Park. Consider spending the longest day of summer traveling back in time at Fort Edmonton Park. Whether you’re looking to introduce your kids to some Alberta history or to plump up your own historical knowledge, this park enchants visitors of all ages. During your visit, explore the 1846 Hudson Bay Company’s Edmonton House, strike up conversation with the town’s blacksmith, and test your game skills at the Penny Arcade on 1905 Street.

Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market. Get a taste of Edmonton at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market. Roughly 130 vendors set up every Saturday at the “Old Bus Barns” on 83rd Avenue NW. Expect and respect this back-to-basics market approach, as each vendor lives by the philosophy, “We make it! We bake it! We grow it! We sell it!” Spinach, rhubarb, asparagus, and zucchini are especially in season during the month of June, so keep an eye out for these ripe veggies. Browse the stalls and stock up on homemade jams, organic produce, handmade crafts, and more.

 Afternoon

 West Edmonton Mall Surf Club. There are few better ways to kickstart summer than barreling through a rip curl. No beach? No problem! When it comes to surfing in Edmonton, you don’t need sand and sea to hang ten; simply paddle out and shred the waves at the West Edmonton Mall Surf Club. This surfable, indoor wave pool is located inside West Edmonton Mall, which is the largest shopping mall in North America. After shredding the waves, keep up with the summer theme, and relax under a palm tree on the artificial beach.

 Edmonton International Jazz Festival. This is the jazz festival to end all other jazz festivals. Beginning on June 20, this 9-day event features a variety of daily jazz performances. On June 21 at 2 p.m., the Littlebirds Big Band, MacEwan Big Band, and River City Big Band will take the stage at Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre. This jazz extravaganza is free for all who attend.

Viewfinder Tip: The West Edmonton Mall is the largest mall in North America; allow at least one full day to explore everything it has to offer.

Evening

The Marc: Considered a favorite hotspot among locals, this restaurant features an outdoor patio and French delicacies galore. The steak frites with truffle aioli are a top pick, and you can’t go wrong with the seared scallops and hazelnut crumble or the daube of lamb and chickpea cassoulet. The sun sets for the day at 10:07 p.m.

 Summer Solstice Festival: Cap off your summer solstice adventures with The Edmonton Chamber Music Society. As part of the society’s Summer Solstice Festival, soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and pianist Serouj Kradijian will perform their Songs of Identity concert showcasing Eastern European folksongs and serenades. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Convocation Hall. Stick around for the late-night concert at 10 p.m. to relish in Grisha Goryachev’s flamenco and guitar performance. At this after-hours special, dine on cocktails and appetizers while mingling with both performers and audience members alike.

 What Edmonton festivals do you most look forward to each summer?

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