Edmonton, Alberta – The Festival City Goes Green!

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Folk Music Festival, City Skyline, Edmonton, Alberta. Photo: Travel Alberta

With more than 30 festivals going on throughout the year, Edmonton, Alberta, takes its nickname — Festival City — seriously. But what’s even better than a city that knows how to celebrate? A city that celebrates while respecting the environment.

Under a new initiative called EcoVision Edmonton, the city is working diligently to become environmentally sustainable. Spreading the word with the message Go Green! It’s Our Nature, the city is encouraging residents to be greener and more eco friendly every day. There are a host of environmental initiatives going on, including a push to reduce each resident’s carbon footprint through ZeroFootprint Edmonton.

In keeping with the theme of environmentalism spreading throughout the city, Edmonton is gearing up for four eco-friendly festivals that will appeal to young, old, and in-between. Consider making Edmonton your vacation destination this summer.

The Green Festival: July 18

Devonian Botanic Garden, near Edmonton. Photo: Travel Alberta

The first of the four eco-friendly events is The Green Festival, to be held July 18 at the beautiful Devonian Botanic Garden. At The Green Festival, you’ll learn simple and practical ways to be more environmentally friendly and to reduce your carbon footprint. You’ll also take home  a wide range of tips on green energy, eco-friendly housecleaning, recycling, making and using compost, environmentally friendly gardening, and more.

The Devonian Botanic Garden, which is part of the University of Alberta, is well worth a visit in itself. The grounds are a showcase for “manicured gardens, mixed woodland vegetation and an extensive nature trail system,” according to the University’s website. Plan for plenty of time to wander through the 190-acre property and explore the peaceful Kurimoto Japanese Garden; the herb, healing, and sensory gardens; ornamental flower gardens; cactus and butterfly houses; and alpine gardens.

Capital EX: July 23 – August 1

Join fellow celebrants at Capital EX, often called, “Edmonton’s biggest summer celebration.” It’s a family friendly outing that’s every bit as much fun for singles. And while you’re exploring the live music, midway rides, multicultural foods, and handmade Aboriginal crafts, be sure to stop by the “green zone” in the Family Fun Town. Here, children (and parents) will learn how to treat the earth with care.

The 10-day Capital EX festival kicks off with a parade down the streets of Edmonton on July 22. If the 22,000 visitors from last year are any indication, the streets will be packed with spectators. So get there early to claim your spot along the parade route and watch local residents show off their community pride.

If you’re a kid with talent — singing, dancing, instrumental, or “variety” — be sure to register for the Northern Star Talent Search that will take place during Capital EX. The contest is open to amateurs between the ages of 5 and 21, with prizes, money, and scholarships awarded to the winners.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival: August 5 – 8

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Photo: Travel Alberta

Quite possibly the greenest event of the summer, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival is scheduled for August 5 – 8. Visitors are encouraged to bike, rather than drive, and an on-site, bike lock-up service makes that a practical choice. An ambitious recycling crew will be working to recycle everything possible, leaving a tiny footprint in terms of waste. The festival also adheres to a “no Styrofoam” policy among food and drink vendors. And, the event will be partially powered by solar panels.

Gallagher Park, the event venue, is located in the stunning river valley, a prized feature of Edmonton. North America’s largest urban green space, the river valley area is 22 times as large as New York’s Central Park. There are miles of walking and biking trails to explore. And festival organizers will carefully construct temporary walkways within Gallagher Park to keep damage to the river valley minimal — even with the tens of thousands of people expected to attend.

Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival: August 12-22

Edmonton International Fringe Festival. Photo: Travel Alberta

If you enjoy plays, musicals, and street performers, you won’t want to miss North America’s largest live-theater event. The 29th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is expected to draw 500,000 visitors to the Old Strathcona area of the city, to enjoy more than 1,000 live theater experiences. Even with such huge numbers, the Fringe is dedicated to being an eco-responsible festival.

Solar and LED lighting will reduce dependence on the power grid. Guests will be able to refill their water bottles at several water stations. And food from vendors will be served with bio-degradable cutlery, plates and cups.

The Fringe will be set in the Old Strathcona area, which has won accolades as one of the top places to shop in Canada. The owner-operated stores are well known for being funky and picturesque. And the historic buildings will take you back to an earlier time in Edmonton’s history even while enjoying Canada’s modern-day theatre.


A large part of any festival is its volunteers. Edmonton is proud of its “Magical Volunteer Army” — people of all ages, who pitch in to help events like these run smoothly. You can “meet” a few of these volunteers at the Folk Fest Volunteer Army’s website. If you’re a local, why not join the Magical Volunteer Army? Bet you’ll be glad you did!

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)