Seeing stars at Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve (photo: Curtis Comeau/Travel Alberta)

Things to Do in Alberta: Labour Day Weekend and Beyond

By Craig Moy

Though it’s not the official end of summer, for many of us, the Labour Day long weekend is a last blast before we return to the reality of school and “normal” workdays. There’s much to do throughout the province from August 30 to September 2—though the fun does continue for the rest of the month too!

LABOUR DAY WEEKEND

Night highlight: Discover a galaxy not so far, far away at Elk Island National Park. Within the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, the park is protected from light pollution and is one of Alberta’s best spots for viewing the stars above. This is especially true on Milky Way Day (Sept. 1), which entices families with an afternoon of astronomically oriented activities, followed by nighttime stargazing opportunities through volunteer-provided telescopes. AMA members save 7% on family or senior annual Parks Canada Discovery passes.

CFL Showdown: This year marks the 60th Labour Day weekend clash between the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos. Amazingly, each team has emerged victorious 29 times (the 1978 game ended in a tie), though the Stamps have won the past seven matchups. Calgary’s defending Grey Cup champions will have the McMahon Stadium crowd behind them as they look to maintain their dominance of the Labour Day Classic (Sept. 2). AMA members save 20% on online purchases of all regular priced tickets for any Stampeders home game.

Party on, Wayne: Though it has fewer than 50 residents, the hamlet of Wayne, outside Drumheller, welcomes thousands of visitors each year. One reason? The Last Chance Saloon, a watering hole decorated with trophy heads and mining ephemera. The other? Its fifth annual WayneStock (Aug. 30–Sept. 2), a long weekend of fun and music featuring dozens of diverse performers. Tent and trailer camping is encouraged, and definitely stay for Monday’s all-day open mic session.

Cowpoke culture: Send off summer (unofficially) with a bang—and a few bucking broncs—at the Cochrane Lions Labour Day Rodeo (Aug. 31–Sept. 2). Now in its 53rd year, the event features barrel racing, mutton busting and many more rodeo favourites, plus live music, food trucks and a family fun zone.

Tartan time: Say “aye” to a trip to Canmore to cheer on the burly lads and bonny lasses competing in the town’s annual Highland Games (Aug. 31 & Sept. 1). Spend the day taking in Celtic dancing and caber (wooden pole) tossing before sampling some haggis while pipe-and-drum bands echo across the Rockies.

Scientific exposure: Labour Day weekend marks your final opportunity to revisit the extreme experiments of Hollywood special effects gurus Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, a.k.a. the MythBusters, at TELUS World of Science Edmonton. MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition, which featuring blueprints, gadgets and props from the show, closes on Sept. 2. AMA members save 10% on general admission to TWOSE.

things to do alberta september 2019 beakerhead calgary
Science and art collide at Beakerhead (photo: Neil Zeller/Travel Alberta)

POST LABOUR DAY

Innovative affair: The art of science is on full display during Beakerhead (Sept. 18–21), a mash-up of the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, math—and creative ingenuity in Calgary. Special workshops and science-based shows take place throughout the city from Wednesday to Friday, culminating in a massive Saturday evening “Spectacle” at Prince’s Island Park. 

Make it country: The nation’s top guitar slingers and songbirds—not to mention thousands of their fans—head to the Scotiabank Saddledome for the Canadian Country Music Awards (Sept. 8). Leading up to the big event, co-hosted by Dallas Green and Billy Ray Cyrus, music lovers can also check out intimate performances at the National Music Centre’s Studio Bell and discover rising stars at the SiriusXM Top of the Country show. 

Drink up: Alberta’s thriving craft beer, spirits and cider scenes take centre stage at The Mashing, a pair of weekend-long sampling summits in Calgary (Sept. 13 & 14) and Edmonton (Sept. 20 & 21). The immersive event celebrates brewing and distilling within a broader cultural context: Expect to see live bands, art installations and much more while you sip.

Big top fun: Food and drink is also front and centre at Circle (Sept. 13 & 14); they’re meant to fuel the fun at the family-friendly carnival-style show in Calgary, featuring everything from a kids’ circus school to weiner dog races to performances by top DJs and bands. And don’t miss the Carnival Market for diverse products from local creators and artisans.

Coming together: Experience the arts in your community during Alberta Culture Days (Sept. 27–29). Part of a cross-Canada celebration of heritage, diversity and creativity, the weekend sees municipalities throughout Alberta—from Red Deer to High River—staging unique performances, art events and other culturally influenced activations.