11 Edmonton festival favourites to kick off summer

May 18, 2017

By Cynthia Wandler

Edmonton’s festival season kicked off in earnest in early May – and there’s no shortage of exciting events on the way in June to ring in summer. From opera to hip hop, improv to sand sculptures, opportunities abound for feeding your artistic spirit, supporting local artists and trying something new in Alberta’s capital city. [Photo credit: The Works Art and Design Festival]

11 Edmonton festival favourites to kick off summer

Hip Hop in the Park

May is the kick-off month for outdoor arts festivals in Edmonton. With green grass, fresh leaves and warming weather, it’s a beautiful time to be out in the city and check out a variety of art forms. Head to Boyle Street, one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, for Hip Hop in the Park, a music festival which began in 2007.

Opera and storytelling

If opera is more your musical taste, the six-week (yes, six-week) NUOVA Opera and Music Theatre Festival begins in May and runs into July, featuring 80-plus performers and concert venues around the city. Rounding out the month of May is the TALES Storytelling Festival, which features a story slam competition and narratives in the oral storytelling tradition for both adults and children.


NextFest is an offering for those who like multiple artistic mediums, including theatre, dance, music, film, spoken word and visual art. Festival performances can be found in nightclubs, theatres, concert venues and found spaces throughout the city.

Sprouts Festival

Created in 2001, the Sprouts Festival is just for kids. Targeted at children aged two to 12, take advantage of the low ticket prices to introduce your little ones to the joys of the performing arts. Families are welcome to bring lunch and take in the shows.


If your idea of the arts is abstract paintings and champagne, Rapid Fire Theatre’s Improvaganza is sure to give you a new perspective. In their shows, national and international performers put themselves on the spot for your entertainment and might teach you how to get a few laughs yourself through their workshops.

Freewill Shakespeare Festival

Edmonton’s river valley is an inviting setting to enjoy the words of the most famous bard during the Freewill Shakespeare Festival in the outdoor amphitheatre at Hawrelak Park. The festival generally features two different plays each year.

The Works Art and Design Festival

With Churchill Square as the main venue alongside more than 20 around the city, The Works Art and Design Festival features exhibits, events and performances for nearly two weeks. Touting itself as North America's largest free outdoor art and design festival, there is sure to be something that appeals to everyone at this celebration of the arts.

Edmonton International Jazz Festival

If the sound of a piano or the call of the saxophone is more your style, take in the Edmonton International Jazz Festival, which features award-winning and international artists.


Discover more fun things to do in Edmonton:


Sand on Whyte

Edmonton may not have its own beach, but that doesn’t stop national sand carving artists from travelling to the city at the end of June to show off their performance art for Sand on Whyte, a nine-day festival leading into the Whyte Avenue Art Walk in July. Fifty cubic yards of sand are brought into the heart of Edmonton’s arts district for the event.

No matter your tastes, there is a summer arts festival for you in Edmonton. Enjoy the creativity and vibrancy of artists from around the world who use Edmonton as their canvas.

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