It may be festival season all summer long, but in Alberta, August is when the action really ramps up. Whether you’re into country music or culinary events, stage shows or rodeos, the province truly does have it all this month.
THE BIGGEST TICKETS
Country music fans can kick off the August long weekend right at the multifaceted Big Valley Jamboree (Aug. 1–4). Go for a day, or camp for the duration, while taking in shows by the likes of Toby Keith and Brooks & Dunn—plus bull riding, line dancing lessons, a family parade and more. Keep your boots and Smithbilt handy, because Country Thunder rumbles into Calgary two weeks later (Aug. 16–18), with Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen and Jason Aldean on the marquee. AMA members save $20 on a three-day Country Thunder pass with promo code CTAMA2019 until the day of the festival! (Cannot be combined with other offers.)
Not to be outdone, the provincial capital claims a pair of tuneful weekends, with the Edmonton Folk Music Festival (Aug. 8–11) hosting everyone from traditionalists like John Prine to eclectic acts like Digging Roots and Nuela Charles, and the Edmonton Blues Festival (Aug. 23–25) riffing with Curtis Salgado, Sonny Landreth and harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite. Farther north, Grande Prairie’s family-friendly Bear Creek Folk Festival (Aug. 16–18) sees headliners including Feist, Blue Rodeo and Dan Mangan take the stage on Borstad Hill.
EVEN MORE MUSIC
Some of Alberta’s favourite summer getaway spots also offer added value this month, with more intimate but not less festive celebrations of song. Once you’ve had your fill of swimming, boating and watersports (though is that even possible?) Sylvan Lake’s Jazz at the Lake Festival (Aug. 16–18) beckons with performances by Juno-winning vocalist Laila Biali and other Canadian talents. Likewise, the Pigeon Lake Music Festival (Aug. 2–4) boasts a similarly patriotic lineup, including The Rural Alberta Advantage and Bedouin Soundclash, plus heritage acts like Prism and Honeymoon Suite, while the Canmore Folk Music Festival (Aug. 3–5) presents roots, blues, alt-country, Celtic and global folk tunes against a majestic Rocky Mountains backdrop.
SOMETHING TO HOLLER ABOUT
Southern Albertans get a music fest and much, much more when Whoop-Up Days (Aug. 20-24) returns to Lethbridge. The annual exhibition features a huge tradeshow and midway, a giant Lego park, display of venomous creatures, and daily shows by First Nations performers, circus artists and magicians. By night, Exhibition Park hosts big-name artists including Corb Lund, Lil Jon and Arkells.
UNDER THE BIG TOP
Calgarians can proceed from literal feasts to a feast for the eyes as Cirque du Soleil brings its touring show, Luzia (Aug. 16–Sept. 22), to Stampede Park. The vibrant display of acrobatic derring-do is presented as “a waking dream of Mexico,” where hoop divers, contortionists, aerial strap artists and other performers interpret the country’s myths, history and culture. AMA members save up to 20% on tickets to this big-top show.
WELCOME TO FLAVOUR COUNTRY
It’s a truly epic time to be a foodie, with events this month highlighting Alberta’s agricultural prowess and culinary bounty. New this year is Alberta on the Plate (Aug. 9–18), a 10-day affair where participating restaurants in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lacombe and Medicine Hat proffer prix-fixe menus that give prominence to local growers and producers. Taste of Calgary (Aug. 8–11) offers a similarly diverse—but also more concentrated—experience: Tasting tickets in hand, attendees can sample dishes and drinks from dozens of the city’s top eateries.
Intrigued by these meals’ provenance? Alberta Open Farm Days (Aug. 17 & 18) provides the chance to visit and learn from growers and ranchers Lethbridge to Lac la Biche—and maybe even take home some of their delicious ingredients for your own kitchen. And don’t forget the agriculturally inspired Taber Cornfest (Aug. 22–24), which celebrate’s the town’s famously sweet vegetable with food, a family-friendly fair, a show and shine and fireworks.
INDIES ON STAGE
Equal parts thought provoking and fun, fringe theatre festivals bring unique new productions traditional and non-traditional venues, often for a very affordable price. This year’s Calgary Fringe Festival (Aug. 2–10) spreads its shows—from the Brit hit Death—A Romantic Comedy to Calgary mentalist Jeff Newman’s Mind Games—between the East Village, Inglewood and Ramsay neighbourhoods, with all tickets going for just $15. Later in the month, the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival (Aug. 15–25) returns for its 38th year, with more than 1,600 Canadian and international performers, plus a KidsFringe component where youngsters can create, play and bring out their inner artist.
From mutton bustin’ to bronc riding to steer wrestling, Alberta’s rodeo circuit is Wild West spectacle at its best. Check out all the rip-snorting excitement at the Strathmore Stampede (Aug. 2–5), Elnora Brahma Rama (Aug. 9 & 10), Pincher Creek Pro Rodeo (Aug. 15–18), Okotoks Pro Rodeo (Aug. 23–25) and Cochrane Lions Club Labour Day Rodeo (Aug. 31–Sept. 2).
Don your best and brightest and show your support of Alberta’s LGBTQ2S community during Calgary Pride (Aug. 23–Sept. 2). More than a week of events, performances and workshops culminates in a colorful parade through downtown and massive, free Pride in the Park party on Prince’s Island, featuring musicians, food trucks, a family zone and more.