What to Do in Edmonton with Kids

City and Baby is a blog for parents with an urge to get out of the house. We explore all that the Edmonton region has to offer families with kids six and younger. From unique events, fun activities, attractions, baby-friendly businesses to product must-haves, CityandBaby.com is your guide to savouring Edmonton with your little ones in tow.


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Monday
Jul212014

8 Survival Tips: New Family, But No Family In Edmonton

CityandBaby.com contributor Jason Buzzell shares his learnings about moving to the Edmonton region, becoming a parent and not having family nearby. We know he is not alone - so please share your experience and tips in the comments below! ~Jen 

 

This week marked five years since my wife and I made the big move to Edmonton. Five years! Way back in the spring of 2009, we decided to give the City of Champs a go as a couple as she had completed her Masters Degree and I had received a job offer from the Alberta Motor Association.

Two years later, we had a baby boy named Mason and moved into the Edmonton city limits. She was teaching essentially full-time and I moved to the University of Alberta, working in their new Digital Strategy unit. We needed to be closer to the core so we found a rental in the Capilano (Gold Bar area) where we’ve now been for 2 ½ years.

It hasn’t been easy. We don’t have any close family nearby (typical of many new Edmontonian families - you're not alone!), and many of our friends either don’t have kids or have multiple kids themselves - thus babysitters, having time and getting out of the house are at an all-time low.

Here’s what I’ve learned as a family of a 1- to 3-year-old living in Edmonton with no family around:

Get involved in the Community League

This is really all over the place depending on what neighborhood you live in. Some current members are really active while some leagues seem almost dormant. The latter ones really are looking for someone like you to maybe step up. They won’t tell you or ask you to, but I do think it’s important to take a lead if you are seriously thinking you want to meet new people and define your neighborhood the way you want. If your community league is already active, be sure to attend and introduce yourself. It may seem cliquey at first, but as Edmontonians, we need people to engage us. Old-school Edmontonians are friendly, but only after you break the ice.

Do your own 'thang'

One of the best ideas I’ve seen of this is a co-worker of mine who started his own block party essentially on a large crescent in a mature area of west-central Edmonton. One cold winter day he kicked out the fire pit to the street and his kids started building a snowman, he had a couple beers and people started coming over to see what was going on. A few years later, his wife has turned it into a thrice-annual event that is planned out now with the whole neighborhood. You never know what impromptu “own thang” could lead to if you take the lead.

Travelling home

I don’t want you to lose touch with your family or never go home, but if all your savings and vacation time is spent heading home, you’re likely missing out on all the great things and people Edmonton could offer. It’s really difficult with a small child to meet people and if you are often gone or are saving up to get out of town, it makes it really difficult to meet people and build a new life here. Don’t be afraid to take a staycation one summer and plan an outing with some people you’ve met at work or know through the community league or neighborhood. Again, you might have to take the lead.

Neighborhoods

Some neighborhoods skew older. Some seem chalk full of kids. Either way, again, you may need to take charge if it’s important for you to know and see your neighbors. With winter eight months of the year and people becoming more and more constrained to their TVs and high-fenced backyards, just because you move to a newer suburb or a mature area with lots of families, doesn’t mean they’ll be right over to say hi. Introduce yourself. Go to the park and chat. Show up to board meetings and read the community paper. Even in some of the “older” neighborhoods that don’t seem to have a lot of families, there’s a small but mighty group in the same boat as you - you just may not have found each other yet.

Work-life balance

This one is tough because if you survey many of us, the reason we arrived here was for work. But if you’re like us, once you’re here with a child and family, there’s a lot to love about Edmonton. Don’t get caught up in burning the midnight oil every single week and weekend. If you don’t look up from the gig, your big paycheque and sore back will be little solace for not making any friends and having the family miss the joys of their past home. I still like to think even if you work long hours, most businesses in Edmonton let you enjoy your family and make new friends along the way by taking a few days off. Do it! You won't regret it.

Clubs (Mom’s groups)

My friend is a new papa, and his girlfriend was was leary of mom’s groups. But no matter what the age or demographic, there are more positives than negatives. As with any group, the dynamics of a couple bad apples can seem frustrating, but in the end, from what I hear and in my wife’s case, there are always a few other moms you can really bond with.

Some go back to work. Some don’t. Some have family nearby. Many don’t. We are still occasionally going to Oil Kings games or staying in touch a bit with some of the mom’s group. Again though, it will be up to you to stay in touch as people get busy, and sometimes need ideas for things to do.

There's also many formal and informal clubs or teams where you can meet other parents. Whether it's one spouse or other other going out to play ball, or just going out to eat. Share a sitter, watch each other's spouses teams or just bring the kids to the park. It's all an opportunity to have contact outside of that small world of either work or home that seems to be dominating life right now.

Getting stood up, change of plans

Whether it’s a Canadian thing, or Edmonton thing, or just a sign of the times, people won’t give you no for an answer. But then they’ll find ways to get out of doing stuff. You just need to accept that this will happen. People with families or those with set routines have things and excuses that come up continually. You can’t let that get to you. Sure, some may not like hanging out with you - though they’ll never tell you that - but there’s almost 1 million other people in this city that may.

A good friend of mine just told me the other day, “The best friends it seems are the ones that when you haven’t seen them for a while, they don’t ask, ‘Where have you been?’ or ‘Why don’t you ever see us or do anything with us anymore?’ They just pick up right from where you left off.” Those are the people you want to hang out with and be your friends.

It gets better

If you think you’re bored now, then you may want to enjoy it. Once junior hits school and joins sports, dance or piano, all bets are off. He or she will get friends. Birthday parties will come. Your life that you thought you knew, is forever changed. New friends will be forged through your little grade schooler, and Edmonton will be home for many years to come. It really is a great place, and it only gets better as they grow up and make new friends themselves. Friends that will last a lifetime.

 

Now it's your turn. New to Edmonton? Is your family outside the city? How have you coped with being away from family as new parents? 

Wednesday
Jul162014

What To Do This Weekend in Edmonton with Kids | July 18 - 20, 2014

 

It’s the middle of summer in Edmonton. Festivals are in full swing. The weather is perfect for hanging out in the spay parks and playgrounds. We have long, sunny days that linger with opportunities to explore Edmonton. This is my favourite time of year to be out-and-about. I hope you’re enjoying the summer too!

Happening this Friday is the much-loved K-Day's parade that winds though downtown. You do need to go early to get a good spot be prepared by bringing a blanket, snacks, water, sunscreen and hats. Pre-parade entertainment starts at 9am and the parade starts at 10am. Here’s a pdf of the route.

If you can’t make the Friday parade, K-Days is holding a mini-parade at the north end of the grounds July 18 – 27 at 4pm and 7:30pm. Filled with fairytale inspired mini-floats, the cavalcade of fun will include dancers, music and prizes.

That leads us into K-Days details. They have a great line-up for kids again this year. Here are some options:

  • Kids Town (Hall C): Construction Zone, Post & Doctor’s Offices, Library, Art Gallery and ‘From Farm to Fork’ Ranch.
  • Kids Stage: Performers include Splash’n’Boots, My Little Pony, Barney, Mike the Knight, Dora, Diego, Jess the Cat, Olivia and more.
  • Kids Midway: little rides for little ones.
  • At The Farm (Hall A): An entertaining, educational and interactive environment. Visit live animals, see the garden display and watch the Magic Bean Show.
  • Tech Life (Hall B): A showcase of the latest technology, innovations and other advances. There are four areas: robots, gaming, local innovators, lifestyle.  Curious minds will enjoy this feature pavilion.
  • Sports Experience (Hall C): Huge Hockey Canada experience. Synthetic ice for skills instruction, an inflatable rink for pickup ball hockey, special appearances, interactive games and dress yourself up as a Hockey Canada Superfan. Also check out the FIFA booth celebrating the upcoming 2014 U-20 FIFA Woman’s World Cup and 2015 FIFA Woman’s World Cup events.
  • LUZ (Hall D): A “techno-futuristic”cabaret that uses lasers, black light, projections, circus devices and live performers to make you feel like you’re traveling at the speed of light.

Gluten Free Pancake Breakfast is back this year. Sponsored and organized by Kinnikinnick Foods (happening on Saturday at 10940 120 Street) it supports Canadian Celiac Association. Enjoy a gluten free breakfast including pancakes, sausage patty, juice, coffee and more. Adults $6. Chidren under 8 is $4.  Other community pancake breakfasts’ details can be found on the K-Day’s website

Back Downtown Edmonton, is the Taste of Edmonton. It’s their 30th year and they’ve added 53 new dishes. The slowest time is 2-4pm so that’s a nice time to pop in for an afternoon snack and a splash in the City Hall fountain. Here’s a round up of some foods that kids might like at the Taste of Edmonton.

Speaking of food. There is a Make Something Edmonton project to plant a food forest in the Edmonton river valley. You can take your kids and volunteer on Saturday from 10am- 2pm. But wait? Can they really do that?! Absolutely! In fact, the City of Edmonton is providing all of the plant material, cranberry, gooseberry, hazelnuts, pin-cherries. Meet at Government House Park and bring your own lunch. Love this idea!

As always, Edmonton has great playgrounds, splash pads, outdoor pools and programming at Edmonton Public Library branches. Visit a new one if you need a change.

Have a great weekend! 

Thursday
Jul032014

Odysseo Rides Into Edmonton | Enter To Win Four Tickets

Image provided by Odysseo.


Odysseo
by Cavalia is a revolutionary theatrical experience imagined by one of the founders of Cirque de Soleil - it's a feast for the eyes a features 67 horses and 48 artists (trainers, acrobats, musicians and riders) in the largest touring tent in the world. 

Children, and adults alike, will be mesmorized with the enchanted three-dimensional forest, which gradually comes alive under a sky of moving clouds. The flat stage that swells and curves. Then the symphony of horses, humans, images, live music will take you on a journey to a world where dreams and reality intertwine. 

It's a truely unforgettable show.

When: Evening and matinee performances scheduled July 9 through August 3
When: Yellowhead Trail & Fort Road, 12403 Mount Lawn Road, T5B 1K5, Edmonton (AB)
Buy Tickets: Available at www.cavalia.net or by calling 1-866-999-8111. $24.50 to $219.50 + applicable taxes and fees. 

 

 

Win tickets for the whole family to see Odysseo by Cavalia in Edmonton

Enter to win four tickets Odysseo. An unforgettable experience that will take you to another world where impressive aerial acrobatics and dance are blended with the equestrian arts under the Big White Top. 

How to Enter:

Answer this City and Baby question in the comments below...

What is your favourite thing to do with kids in Edmonton?

Please include your full name and email address. (E-mail addresses are not visible to the public)


Contest Details:
 

  • Winner will recieve 4 tickets for one specific show, from a list of available shows.
  • Contest runs from Thursday, July 3 at 9:30pm - Wednesday, July 9 at 5:00 pm MST. 
  • Only one entry per adult (18+) living in Edmonton or within 100km of Edmonton city limits. 
  • Contest ballot will be drawn and individual will contacted on July 9 via email provided. They will have 24 hours to respond. A second draw will be made if the first individual drawn has not responded. 
  • This prize has no cash value. While not expected, this contest is subject to change. 

 

Good luck!

 

 

Wednesday
Jul022014

What To Do This Weekend in Edmonton with Kids | July 5 - 6, 2014

Edmonton Street Performers Festival. Image from ExploreEdmonton.com

Edmonton International Street Performers Festival
What: Ten days filled with amazing buskers – acrobats, contortionists, stuntmen, comics, dancers, clowns and more. It’s an affordable opportunity to inspire the love of performing arts in your children. Check out the Kids Corner with performances, play and activities for the young and young at heart. (11:30am – 6pm)
Where:  Sir Winston Churchill Square, Edmonton


When: Friday, July 4 – Sunday, July 13, 2014. 11:30am – 11pm (except July 14 which ends at 5pm)

 

Feats Festival of Dance
What: This dance festival features a variety of performances and classes. Families may enjoy:
- Pop-Ups! Toast Therapy by Mile Zero Dance with Gerry Morita and Jodie Vandekerkhove. Saturday, July 5. 1pm – 3pm. Old Strathcona Farmers' Market. Free.
-  Fresh Feats - A spotlight on today's generation of up and coming "youth choreographers. Sunday, July 6 – 8pm Westbury Theatre- ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 – 84 Ave). $15,$10 Students/Seniors.
-  Bach Tots' - Zoo Dances. Soulocentric's performing arts for babies, toddlers and young children present "Zoo Dances". Saturday, July 12 – 10am (45min) & 11am (45min). Sugar Foot Ballroom (10545 81 Ave). $5 single, $10 Families (cash at the door).
Where: Various locations.
When: July 1 – 12, 2014.

 

Sand on Whyte
What: Some of Whyte on Ice artists are back carving sand this time for the second annual sand sculpture exhibits.
Where: 
Old Strathcona. 81 Ave & 105 St. Admission by donation.
When: July 4 – 13, 2014. 10am – 10pm.

  

Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton
What: Visitors can explore museums and historic sites, participate in heritage activities such as tours of buildings, gardens, natural areas, and neighbourhoods.
This Sunday, check out 
Takin' It to the Streets 3. Whyte Ave from 103-104 street will be closed to host a pancake breakfast, live music, food trucks and more. Also High Level Streetcar rides are free!
Where: Edmonton and area. Check the
website for participating locations.
When: July 6 – 13, 2014.

Thursday
Jun262014

Canada Day 2014 | Family Friendly Events Happening in the Edmonton Region

 

 

Canada Day Events in Edmonton  

Celebrate Canada Day at the Legislature
What: Kids will enjoy the bouncy castles, temporary tattoos, stilt walking workshop and a legislative tour. There will also be 4 stages with over 25 live performances. Bring cash and grab lunch at one of the 20 food trucks will also be on site.  
Where: Alberta Legislature Grounds
When:  Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 10am – 10pm


Canada Day at City Hall
What: Celebrations are mixed with the Jazz Festival and The Works Festival. Go for the live music, entertainment, and kids crafts. 
Where: City Hall, Plaza and Churchill Square
When:  Tuesday, July 1, 2013. 1pm – 4pm


Boyle Street Community League BBQ
What:
Stop for a free BBQ lunch (Halal food will be available). Activities for kids follow outside – face painting and water balloons.
Where:
Boyle Street Plaza, 9538-103A Avenue
When: Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 12pm – 4pm


Celebrate Canada Day in Millwoods
What:
This event is a very popular event for families. Multicultural performances, petting zoo, bouncy castles, hay rides, pony rides, face painting, live performances and fireworks at 11pm 
Where: Mill Woods Park (23rd Ave & 66th St)
When:
Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 1pm – 11pm

 

Chinatown Night Market Time
What: A street market, cultural performances and food trucks.
Where:
Outside the Chinatown Multicultural Centre, 9540-102 Ave.
When:
4pm – 9pm
Tip: 102 Ave. will be closed to vehicles between 95 St. and 96 St.

 

Lighting of the High Level Bridge
What:
Watch history being made as 55,000 LED lights are turned on for the first time. Tune in to CKUA on your radio or smartphone, then listen, watch and enjoy as the bridge lights are synchronized to an Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performance of O Canada!
When:  Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 11pm

 

Followed by Fireworks!
Where:
Canada Day Fireworks Finale is set off from Kinsmen Park. (not open to the public)
Good viewing locations:
Alberta Legislature Grounds, Victoria Park (River Valley Road), Ezio Faraone Park (west entrance to High Level Bridge on 109 Street North), Dantzer's Hill (below Queen Elizabeth Park), and Government House Park (Groat Road and River Valley Road).
When: July 1, 2014 11:05 pm. 

 

Canada Day at Edmonton Attractions  

Dominion Day Celebration
What:
 A grand celebration of the Dominion of Canada then and now. Watch a citizenship ceremony, enjoy a parade, listen to live music, take a ride in the midway, and partake historical activities.
Where:
Fort Edmonton Park.
When:
Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 10am – 5pm.

 

Canada Day at the Edmonton Valley Zoo
What: The Zoo is also celebrating their 55
th birthday this Tuesday so there are extra activities and surprises planned. Canadian animal enrichments, Canadian Geographic GIANT Floor Map games, crafts, cupcakes and more.
Where: Edmonton Valley Zoo
When:  Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 11am – 4pm 

 

Canada Day at the Muttart Conservatory
What:
The pyramids come alive with music, crafts, tours and face painting.
Where: Muttart Conservatory, 9626 - 96A Street
When:
Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 12 – 4pm

 

Celebrate Canada Day at the Art Gallery of Alberta
What:
The AGA is offering free admission to its three floor of exhibitions and art activities for kids.
Where: Art Gallery of Alberta
When:
Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 

 

Canada Day Celebrations at TWOS
What:
 Celebrate Canada and TWOS’ 30
th birthday with science adventures. They’re rolling back their prices to $4 for admission and $4 for IMAX films.
Where:
Telus World of Science, 11211 142 Street NW
When:
Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 10am – 5pm

 

Celebrations in Edmonton's Surrounding Communities

 

Canada Day Celebration – Spruce Grove
What:
This much-anticipated party starts off with a $3 pancake breakfast and gets sweeter from there. Roving entertainment, face painting ($), Kid Zone (kids 8 and under), street performers, displays and more. Evening ends with fireworks at 11pm.
Where: Jubilee Park, Spruce Grove
When:  Monday, July 1, 2013. 8am – 11pm 

 

Canada Day in St. Albert
What:
A multitude of events across the city. Pancake breakfast is happening at Heritage Lakes. Lions Park is the primary celebration during the day. Activities include wagon rides, petting zoo, crafts and displays. Followed by a big family street dance and kids carnival. Fireworks at 11pm.
Where:  Multiple locations around St. Albert.
When: Tuesday, July 1, 2013. 9am – 11pm

 

Canada Day Festival 2013 – Sherwood Park/ Strathcona County
What:
An enormous family festival. They even have their guidebook in an app. Here are only a handful of activities: pancake breakfast, parade, live music, petting zoo, prince and princess zone, tots land (<5 year olds), photobooth, games, fire dancing, ice cream making, pedal tractors, crafts, mural painting, and fireworks at 11pm.
Where:  Various locations around Broadmoore, Sherwood Park. (maps)
When:
Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 10am – 11pm

 

Canada Day Weekend On the Farm
What:
Head to the farm and enjoy wagon rides, straw bale mazes, petting farm, face painting, train rides, puppet shows and their award-winning Strawberry Shortcake.
Where:
Prairie Gardens & Adventure Farm, near Bon Accord. (directions)
When: June 28 - July 1, 2014. 9am – 6pm. 

 

Leduc Canada Day Celebrations 2014
What: Start the day with a pancake breakfast at the Leduc Legion then watch the parade. In the afternoon there will be a tractor show and shine, wagon rides, muscial performances and fireworks at 11.
Where: Various locations in Leduc.
When: Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 7:30am – 11pm.

 

Canada Day at Elk Island National Park
What: On Canada Day, enjoy free entry to all of Canada's National Parks, National Historic Sites and National Marine Conservation Areas – including Elk Island. Go for a flag raising ceremony, cake, bouncy castles, performances from The Command Sisters and Bollywood Beats, a picnic and a nature walk.
Where: Elk Island National Park, Highway 16 East (approx. 1 hour east of Edmonton)
When: Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 12pm – 4pm

 

Canada Day Celebrations
What:
Start the day with a pancake breakfast, then watch the parade which ends in Legacy Park with the opening ceremonies. Visit the Kids’ Korner with a petting zoo, inflatable slides, face painting and a kids firefighter challenge. Car show, cupcakes, fireworks and a performance by Men without Hats are other highlights.
Where: Fort Saskatchewan (map)
When: Tuesday, July 1, 2014. 8am – 10:45pm.