Alberta’s best festivals in July 2016

The Snowbirds in flight/CF Photo

The Snowbirds in flight/CF Photo

Long, lazy summer days are what sun-starved Albertans look forward to all winter long, so it’s no surprise that all areas of the province make the most of it as soon as Canada Day festivities wrap up. With the economy struggling and the Canadian dollar trading pitifully low against its U.S. counterpart, there’s never been a better time to get out and explore our own backyard—especially when it means cheering on cowboys, learning circus tricks, or partying like our friends from the east coast. Here are some of the best festivals happening around Alberta this July.

Rodeos

While the world famous Calgary Stampede is usually top of mind when it comes to rodeos, a number of small towns around the province also host exhibitions. Better yet, the same cowpokes tend to do the small town rodeo circuit, so you can see some of the country’s best without the crush of the crowds.

Supplied

Supplied

Notable rodeos include:

Strathmore Stampede: July 29-August 1. This popular stop on the rodeo circuit includes chuckwagon races, a rodeo, running with the bulls, beer gardens, entertainment and an art show.

Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede: July 27-30. Celebrating its 129th year, this rodeo is like a smaller version of the Calgary Stampede and kicks off with a parade. Popular events include the outdoor Stampede Summer Jam concert, a midway and Mutton Bustin’, where four to eight-year-olds will go up against a sheep.

Bonnyville Pro Rodeo & Chucks: July 21-24. The event has the traditional bull riding and chuckwagon races, along with family-friendly events such as a chili cookoff, pancake breakfast and a kids day where cowpokes age 15 and under get in free.

Teepee Creek Stampede: July 14-17. This rodeo near Grande Prairie is celebrating its 100th anniversary, so you just know it’s going to be a good time! Along with traditional rodeo events there will be a junior wild horse race and wild cow milking, along with entertainment from the likes of country singers David Lee Murphy and Tim Hicks.

RELATED: The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth: A guide to the Calgary Stampede

East Coast Garden Party

Anyone who’s ever travelled to Canada’s east coast knows that those guys can party, and now the fun is making its way west. Grande Prairie will host the East Coast Garden Party on July 22nd and 23rd, featuring fresh seafood, a kids zone and beer gardens—complete with a free designated driving service so everyone can party safely!

East Coast Garden Party/Supplied

East Coast Garden Party/Supplied

Even better, there’s a stellar lineup of performers sure to keep everyone dancing all night long, including Bif Naked, rapper Classified and rockers Theory of a Deadman. Tickets start at $75.

Note: Fort McMurray was also scheduled to host an East Coast Garden Party, but due to the wildfires the event has been postponed.

Air Shows

Calling all aviation geeks! The festival fun goes sky high at a series of air shows happening throughout the province, including:

Wetaskiwin Wings and Wheels Festival: July 20, 22, 23. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds and the CF18 demo team will show off their aerial skills at this event, before the “wheels” portion when the Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin will host the NASCAR Pinty’s Series race.

Cold Lake Airshow: July 16-17. This two day event features the Royal Canadian Air Force along with family-friendly activities such as bouncy castles and pony rides.

The Wetaskiwin Wings and Wheels festival/Supplied

The Wetaskiwin Wings and Wheels festival/Supplied

Street Performers

Back on ground, some uber-talented street performers from around the world will be entertaining audiences around Alberta during three different festivals that will no doubt leave you wondering “how did they DO that?!”

The first kicks off in Edmonton from July 8-17, when entertainers will hit the pavement for the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival. Acts include break dancing First Nations group Rhythm Speaks, Jonathan Burns who has appeared on shows such as The Late Show with David Letterman and The Jay Leno Show, and Bendy Em who is known for her ridiculous flexibility.

Edmonton Street Festival/Supplied

Edmonton International Street Performers Festival/Supplied

Farther north, the Grande Prairie International Street Performers Festival runs July 22-24. This year’s lineup features jugglers, acrobats, face painters and musicians.

Back in central Alberta, Red Deer will host the Centrefest Street Performer’s Festival on July 30th and 31st. The family-friendly event includes live music, face painting, crafts and Circus World where the kids can learn some acrobatic tricks of their own.

Street performers in Red Deer/Supplied

Street performers in Red Deer/Supplied

For even more information on the best summer festivals in Alberta, be sure to check out Travel Alberta.

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16 Responses

  1. Alberta has certainly got a lot going for it! The street performing festivals in Edmonton and other places look to be a lot of fun. The air shows are also amazing to watch. I can’t even imagine how much skill as a pilot you need to have to perform in a show like that!

  2. Danik says:

    I did the Calgary Stampee last year. Amazing experience. Love the other ideas on this post 🙂

  3. Heather says:

    The East Coast Garden Party looks like an an absolute blast! You had me at seafood and beer gardens. I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful day outdoors.
    I’ve never heard of festivals providing a free designated driving service. What a great way to keep people safe and encourage those indulging not to drive when they otherwise may have done so.
    I hope I have an opportunity to attend this festival sometime in the future.

  4. Claire says:

    I’d actually really like to see a rodeo show. Think it would be fun! Although i’m hating air shows right now. I’m back home at my mums and the Farnborough Air Show is causing havoc on the roads and i’m fed up of noisy planes practicing haha

  5. Lieurene says:

    Oh wow, its nice to see that Canada have many festivals! I haven’t heard too much about it but its good to see that there are many different activities in the summer! Perfect excuse for anyone to get out there. I think I would love to check out the East Coast Garden Party since it looks fun to do!

  6. You got me at rodeos. Aaaah, I should seriously consider visiting Canada soon! It’s such a dynamic country and your post supports that claim even more. Thanks for sharing these!

  7. Jenna says:

    These all sound like great festivals! I’d love to check out East Coast Garden Party–music festivals are always so much fun. It would be fun to check out an air show as well. I’ve never been to one but have always wanted to! All great reasons to get out and explore this summer!

  8. Rosemary says:

    Love local festivals and many of the ones you mention sound like much fun. The air show and rodeos are particularly interesting. So glad to see all the fun festivities in Alberta. Great reasons to explore.

  9. Christina says:

    Alberta has so many spectacular places to visit. We definitely can’t wait to go back and do more hiking. We hope to time it to coincide with the stampede as I am sure the children will surely enjoy it. We definitely love exploring our home country 🙂

  10. anto says:

    I’d love to visit a Stampede one day. My parents in law went to the Calgary one when they were in Canada and loved it. I think it really adds something to you Alberta trip because it’s so much more than just the Rockies, which are beautiful of course…

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