24 January 2017: Alberta, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. But aside from that, there’s a ton of other reasons to visit this incredible destination in 2017. Five National Parks, spectacular Rocky Mountain landscapes, world-class ski resorts, cultural cities, five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, First Nations culture and dramatic Badlands scenery filled with dinosaur heritage. Here are 10 unmissable events taking place throughout 2017.
- Edmonton’s Ice Castles (January-March): Edmonton’s breath-taking ice castles are back at Hawrelak Park until 15 March. Explore an acre-sized winter wonderland crafted by hand using only icicles and water, with sights resembling organic formations found in nature, such as frozen waterfalls, glaciers or ice caves.Entry costs from $12.95 (around £8) for adults and $9.95 (around £6) for children (aged 4-11). icecastles.com/edmonton
- Jasper in January (12-29 January): The ultimate winter festival set in Jasper National Park running over four weeks and offering activities and events including fat bike races, dark sky storytelling, learn to snowshoe and winter camp sessions, brewery tours, wildlife camera safaris, dog sledding, sleigh rides, slalom races, and ice walks around Maligne Canyon. Events and activities are priced individually. jasperinjanuary.com
- Ice Magic Festival (19-29 January): Set amidst the spectacular surroundings of iconic Lake Louise, this world-class event has been running for over 20 years. The festival centres on a 34 hour ice carving competition at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park where talented ice artists from around the world skilfully combine gruelling physicality with precision artistry. This year’s theme is Canada – True North and visitors can wander amongst the sculptures, voting for their favourites. Entry costs $10 (around £6.20) for adults and $5 (around £3.10) for children (aged 3-17). banfflakelouise.com/ice-magic-festival
- Ice on Whyte Festival (26-29 January and 2-5 February): Two long weekends of winter fun in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona neighbourhood on Whyte Avenue including activities such as a professional International Ice Carving Competition (requiring 155,000 pounds of ice), gigantic ice slide rides, learn to ice carve sessions and demonstrations of an ice sculpture melted back to H2O by fire. Entry costs $7.50 (around £4.65) for adults and $4.50 (around £2.79) for kids. iceonwhyte.ca
- Waterton Wildflower Festival (15-20 June): Taking place in Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta, this event celebrates the more than 1,000 vascular plant species located in the Rocky Mountain region, including 175 species that are considered rare and 20 species that can only be found in this special corner of the province of Alberta. The festival celebrates natural beauty with wildflower photography and painting classes, wildflower identification activities, horseback rides, the iconic Waterton Lake Cruise wildflower tour and afternoon tea with local wildflower experts. Ticket prices and sales available from April. watertonwildflowers.com
- The Calgary Stampede (7-16 July): A high-energy annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held in Alberta’s largest city, which offers a true introduction to the Wild West. Daytimes see cowboys and cowgirls compete in an attempt to reach Showdown Sunday – Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon and win over $2 million in prize money. Evenings are focused on the GMC Rangeland Derby and the TransAlta Grandstand Show which combines nine heats of four chuck wagon races with elaborate song and dance numbers, acrobatics and fireworks. A two day ‘Thrill Package’ costs from $299 (around £185) and includes entry to Stampede Park, the Rodeo, Evening Show, WestJet Sky Ride Tickets and souvenirs. calgarystampede.com
- Taste of Edmonton (20-29 July) / Taste of Calgary (10-13 August): Local summer foodie festivals that celebrate talented chefs, local ingredients and popular restaurants that the cities have to offer. Geared toward food-enthusiasts, the festivals offer visitors the chance to sample dishes from a wide range of cooking styles. Complementing the range of flavours are live performances by local musicians. Free event entry. Food sampling tickets from $1 (around 60p). tasteofedm.ca / www.tasteofcalgary.com
- The Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede (26-29 July): One of the oldest stampedes in North America, a trip to Medicine Hat’s annual event offers a great taste of the Wild West and a chance to explore a lesser known area of Alberta, the Badlands. Find it three hours from Calgary. Entry costs from $20 (around £12.50) for adults and $14 (around £8.70) for kids (aged 12 and under). mhstampede.com
- Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival (17-27 August): As North America’s largest and longest-running Fringe Festival and the second biggest in the world after The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, attracting 700,000 visitors each summer with 1,600 performances from worldwide artists. Individual show tickets start from around $16 (around £10) and festival passes go on sale in early August from around $115 (approximately £71). fringetheatre.ca
- Jasper Dark Sky Festival (13-22 October): As daylight hours begin to recede in Jasper National Park, stargazers come out to explore the night sky. Named one of Canada’s largest Dark Sky Preserves, Jasper National Park has very little light pollution, making it an ideal location to see the stars. Lucky stargazers are sometimes treated to a performance by the elusive Northern Lights. During the festival, night sky experts gather to provide tours of the constellations, stars and planets above, while during the daytime, space-related activities take place around the Rocky Mountain town of Jasper. Most events are free entry, but some activities may be ticketed. jasperdarksky.travel
Summer: Canadian Affair (0203 424 6306/ www.canadianaffair.com) has seven nights in Alberta for the Calgary Stampede Extravaganza Holiday from £1,635pp (save £50pp if booking before 31st January). The price is valid on departure on 7 July 2017, and includes Air Transat flights from London Gatwick, seven nights’ accommodation, and car hire, based on two adults sharing room only accommodation.
Winter: Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194, www.bon-voyage.co.uk) has seven nights in Alberta from £1,325 per person. The price is valid for departures from the UK 8-13 October 2017 (to coincide with Jasper Dark Sky Festival) and includes return flights from LHR to Calgary, one night in Calgary, four nights in Jasper and three nights near Lake Louise plus car hire for the duration, based on two adults sharing room only accommodation.
For more information on Alberta, visit www.travelalberta.co.uk
Notes to Editors
Media images available from: http://multimedia.travelalberta.com