Let the festivals begin: Plenty to see and do in Central Alberta this summer
‘Too much to do and too little time’ about summarizes summer weekends in Central Alberta.
When there isn’t a farmer’s market going on somewhere, there’s probably an outdoor festival or two to attend. And these just might introduce you to some great new music, a new culture, some thrilling entertainment, good food, imaginative local artists, or even a slice of Alberta’s rich heritage.
This summer brings back an assortment of favourite festivals that draw big crowds including Red Deer’s Centrefest and Westerner Days Fair and Sylvan Lake’s Jazz At the Lake.
While two other events that have been around a few years are no-gos this summer — Red Deer’s Central Music Festival and Sylvan Lake’s Shake on the Lake — a couple of new festivals have cropped up to book-end the warm months.
Heavy rock lovers can enjoy One Bad Son and a lineup of other bands at the Tail Creek Mud and Music Festival near Alix later this month, while country music fans will be entertained by Ridley Bent, Tim Hus and other artists at the Boomtown Music Festival at the Ol’ MacDonalds Resort north of Stettler early in September.
Here are some of the other special events happening around Central Alberta:
June 6 and 7 — Central Alberta Children’s Festival offers a plethora of children’s activities and colourful performers at the Rotary Recreation Park in Red Deer. For more information, please see www.centralalbertachildrensfestival.ca.
June 13-15 — Sylvan Lake honours its heritage with 1913 Days. The main event is a street festival along Lakeshore Drive on Saturday, June 14, with a parade, aboriginal dancing and drumming, acrobatic street performances, a petting zoo, a drive-in movie and more. For more information, please visit www.sylvanlake.ca.
June 13 — You don’t have to be Icelandic to go to Markerville’s annual Icelandic Picnic, with kids’ games, Viking fighting demos and a potluck dinner. Other events are held throughout the summer, including Taste of Markerville on July 26 and Cream Day on Aug. 10. For more information, please visit www.historic markerville.com.
June 14-21 — Local creativity is showcased at the Red Deer Artwalk Festival, featuring artist demonstrations throughout town. The festival will culminate on June 21 at the Rotary Recreation Park with musical entertainment and an array of booths selling paintings, ceramics and jewelry.
June 25-July 1 — The Ponoka Stampede offers some world-class rodeo action, as well as entertainment by Hurtin’ Albertan singer Corb Lund (June 25), the U.S. country duo Big & Rich (June 30) and others. Tickets from Ticketmaster.
June 27-29 — The Tail Creek Mud and Music Festival brings a heavy lineup of rockers, including Korn, Five Finger Death Punch, Theory of a Deadman, One Bad Son and The Glorious Sons to the Tail Creek Raceway near Alix.
July 1 — Canada Day celebrations go off with a brilliant fireworks display — as well as a kaleidoscope of multicultural singers, dancers and assorted food booths at Bower Ponds.
July 11-12 — A Calling-All-Drums Pow Wow is slated for the Rocky National Historic Site. Everyone is invited to watch the aboriginal dance competitions and celebrate the people and traditions of the fur trade. Family friendly activities, interpretive demonstrations and programs area available for the site entry fee.
July 12 — The Bluebird Festival takes off at the Ellis Bird Farm, north of Red Deer, with live music, crafts, nest-box building, and other children’s activities.
July 13 — You might not know what Ableskiver is, but you’ll probably enjoy eating it. The Danish Canadian National Museum in Dickson is holding an Abelskiver ‘n’ Jam Day, that’s all about Danish pancake dumplings and saskatoon berry jam. It’s all-you-can-eat for $8 ($5 children). Also local musicians will entertain all day long. For more information, please visit wwwdanishcanadians.com.
July 16 to 20 — The Western Days Fair launches a five-day party with a parade, livestock shows, carnival rides, midway foods and a wide range of entertainment at the Westerner Park exhibition grounds. For more information please visit www.westernerdays.ca.
July 17-20 — Lacombe Days is underway with a youth street festival, kiddie carnival, museum and walking tours, fireworks, a parade, show and shine, art in the park, quilt show and more. For more information, please visit www.lacombedays.ca.
July 17-Aug. 3 — Prime Stock Theatre’s Bard on Bower Shakespearean festival returns with productions of Hamlet (July 17-Aug. 2) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (July 24-Aug. 3) on the outdoor stage at Bower Ponds.
July 26 and 27 — The Centrefest street performers’ festival transforms downtown Red Deer into an acrobatic outdoor circus with music, comedy and various vendor booths.
Aug. 14-17 — Sylvan Lake’s Jazz at the Lake festival brings performances by virtuoso artists Jack Semple, Tuck and Patti, the Alberta Playboys and many more at venues around town. For more information, please visit www.jazzatthelake.com.
Aug. 14-17 — The Ivan Daines Friends and Heroes Country Music Picknic: “Stars of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” features 100 performers — everyone from Spirit of the West to world-champion yodeller Rod Erickson. Tickets to the event on the Daines Ranch, six km north of Innisfail, through Black Knight Ticket Centre or Innisfail Auction Mart.
Aug. 16 — The Fiestaval Latin street festival takes over Ross Street with spicy music, dancing and food. For more information, please visit fiestaval.ca
Aug. 16 and 17 — Pioneer Days are celebrated with tractor parade, threshing demonstrations, homemade pie and other old fashioned delights at Sunnybrook Farm in Red Deer. There are children activities, concession, face-painting and more. Cost is $15 per family or $5 a person (food sold separately).
Aug. 23 and 24 — Fort Normandeau Days from noon to 5 p.m. are a chance to “have a blast from the past” with various demonstrations of what life was like back in 1885. Admission by donation.
Aug. 29-31 — Alberta’s Own Independent Music Festival brings 35-plus bands over three days to the Tail Creek Raceway near Alix. Stay tuned to www.albertasown.ca.
Sept. 5 and 6 — Ridley Bent and Tim Hus lead a long lineup of entertainers, including T. Buckley and the Misery Mountain Boys, at the Boomtown Music Festival at the Ol’ MacDonalds Resort, north of Stettler. Tickets are available on www.boomtownmusic.ca or by calling 403-742-6603.
Sept. 20 — Nuit Blanche brings a night-time festival of lights and artworks to downtown Red Deer.
Sept. 26-28 — Alberta Culture Days showcase the area’s culture, heritage and diversity with live music, chalk artists, pop-up galleries, art demonstrations and children’s activities in downtown Red Deer. For more information, please visit www.reddeer.ca/culture.