Edmonton is known as the Festival City of Canada, a city that every year welcomes thousands of visitors to more than 30 festivals. The city was built on the North Saskatchewan River, and serves as the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta. Ancient evidence points to the earliest known inhabitants of the region around 3,000 BC and perhaps as early as 12,000 BC. In modern times, settlers, the fur trade, and eventually a railroad, changed the landscape, eventually morphing the town into a city that became the major cultural, governmental and educational center Edmonton is today.
The city is home to many modern attractions, including, the world-famous West Edmonton Mall, which is home to more than 800 shops, 100 dining establishments and ten world-class attractions (such as theaters, a water park, an ice palace and a full-scale, exact replica of the Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus' flagship for his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492). The Art Gallery of Alberta, which also includes the Citadel Theatre and Francis Winspear Centre for Music, is another site that should not be missed. It opened early 2010 in Edmonton’s Downtown Arts District as the flagship of the deep, creative, local culture.
Must See: To celebrate the natural beauty of the region, less than an hour from the city of Edmonton visitors will find Elk Island National Park. The park is filled with aspen trees and meandering, self-guided trails for viewing free-roaming herds of wildlife such as bison, elk, moose and 250 species of birds.
Lodging: Located in the heart of downtown Edmonton, the Chateau Lacombe Hotel is an iconic landmark hotel that offers sophistication as well as spectacular panoramic views of the North Saskatchewan River Valley. For a local, trendy experience, visitors will delight in a property such as Metterra, a luxury boutique hotel on Whyte Avenue in South Edmonton, conveniently located in one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods, and surrounded by stylish businesses, bistros, spas and shops.
Cuisine: Edmonton offers a truly cosmopolitan variety of restaurants and fine cuisine, reflective of the diversity of the region. From traditional Canadian, to Russian, to Italian, to Greek, as well as regional cuisine prepared from locally-grown bison, lamb, wild boar and produce, there is not a singular “taste” of the city. The flavors are also varied from neighborhood to neighborhood. In downtown Edmonton, restaurants such as The Marc and Tres Carnales are popular, while outlying neighborhoods are home to dining destinations including tapas, wine bars, bakeries, gourmet markets and other fine eateries.
Ground Transportation: After arriving in your private jet, there are plenty of airport shuttles, hotel transfers and private ground transportation options in Edmonton. There are also convenient connections to major hotels and other destinations across the city, as well as the Edmonton Transit Service Route 747 bus service, which connects passengers to the city bus and Light Rail Transit network.
Packing Tips: Edmonton tends to be a more casual metropolitan area. For fine dining and cultural events, business attire is appropriate. However, the winters are cold, and the summers are bright. In winter months layers including a warm coat, hat, gloves and boots are necessary. In the summer, it’s pleasant during the day, so sunglasses and shady hats would be handy—it cools at night, however, so jackets and wraps are great for summer evenings.
Recommended Book: An Edmonton Album: Glimpses of the Way We Were, by Jo-Anne Christensen and Dennis Shappka. Through a collection of historical photographs, memories, as well as moments in the history and evolution of Edmonton, are frozen in time.
Calling Code Canada: 1
Best Travel Dates: With snow from November through March, and a moderate climate the rest of the year, the time to visit depends upon your desires. There are festivals, and indoor-outdoor activities, all year round.