Out for a stroll on Mt. Norquay's Via Ferrata (photo: Banff Norquay)

Things to Do in Alberta: July 2019

By Sandra Sperounes

Could it really be? Yes. Oui. Absolutely! Summer is finally on the way, and here to stay—if for only a few short weeks.

Here are some ideas to make the most of your July in Alberta.

Start the month off with fireworks! Check out one of the dozens of Canada Day celebrations across the province, such as the village of Champion’s lawnmower races and Fort McMurray’s Canada Day Parade. Or head to the provincial capital for pancakes, Alberta musicians (including Lucette, Kat Danser and The Dungarees) and family-friendly activities at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton. Happy July 1st!

Have you had your daily recommended intake of iron? If not, you might want a dose of Mt. Norquay’s Via Ferrata—or iron road. Climb one of four routes (of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty) on the iconic Banff mountain, with the help of a certified guide, ladders and suspension bridges. Enjoy the stunning views… and perhaps even make a pit stop at the Cliffhouse Bistro. AMA members save $10 on family annual Parks Canada Discovery Passes.

Looking for an eggs-tremely awesome celebration? Visit Vegreville for its 46th annual Ukrainian Pysanka Festival. The three-day event, which kicks off July 5 at the Vegreville Exhibition Grounds, features Ukrainian music, dancing, pioneer activities, folk arts and, of course, food. Admission is free.

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Riding the Jasper SkyTram (photo: Roth and Ramberg/Travel Alberta)

OK, so maybe mountain climbing isn’t your thing. Perhaps you’d rather shuttle up to (or near) the peak. Take a seven-minute ride aboard the Jasper SkyTram to experience what it took millions of years for Mother Nature to create: the Canadian Rockies. Savour the panorama, grab a bite at the Summit Restaurant, hike another 1.2 kilometres along the Summit Trail to the top of Whistlers’ Mountain… or 6.6 kilometres back down to the Lower Station. AMA members save 15% on regular adult and youth tickets.

Peace Country is about to get a whole lot noisier as it plays host to the 2019 Jet Boat Championships. Cheer on racers from Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and New Zealand as they barrel down the Peace and Smoky rivers at speeds of up to 240 km/hour. The 10-day championships includes races near Whitecourt (July 12 & 13), Peace River (July 14 & 15), Grande Prairie (July 17 & 18) and Taylor, B.C. (July 20 & 21).

Peter Lougheed wasn’t the only politician in his family. His grandfather, James, was a senator in the late 1800s and early 1900s. You can visit the latter’s Victorian mansion, Lougheed House, nestled in Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood. Restored in the early 2000s, the sandstone structure is ornate yet far from ostentatious—featuring an 1881 step organ, stained-glass windows, pop-up parties and a charming café—all surrounded by relaxing gardens. AMA members save more than 50% on admission and 10% on regular priced gift merchandise.

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Cypress Hills’ Dark Sky Preserve (photo: Jeff Bartlett/Travel Alberta)

Be mesmerized by the night skies at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park in southeastern Alberta. Every Saturday at sunset, join astronomer Rod DeVries for Dance of the Dark Sky, a tour of the constellations, planets and other celestial bodies at the Learning Centre in Elkwater. Sign up at the visitor centre or campground booth for the July and August sessions. Cost: $5/person.

It’s easy to forget Elk Island National Park is only 35 minutes east of Edmonton. Jump in your car (or take a shuttle bus) and spend a few hours where the bison roam. Hike along one of the park’s 11 trails, canoe on Astotin Lake, or learn more about the majestic beasts—and Elk Island’s conservation efforts—during 30-minute “Backstage Bison” tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. AMA members save $10 on family annual Parks Canada Discovery Passes.