This post by Mhairri Woodhall was originally published on the Travel Alberta website.
Alberta’s summer days are long. Real long. At the peak of the season there will be upwards of 18 hours of daylight in parts of the province, which makes for plenty of time for after-dinner fun.
Summer nights call for sunset swims and Alberta’s clear prairie lakes stay warm long after the air has cooled. Ebeling Beach on Gull Lake, outside of Red Deer, is a top choice. It’s shallow near the shoreline, so wander out about 100 metres to swim in the deeper water. After, dry off on-shore and splurge on a burger and ice cream from the cash-concession. Further north, at Long Lake Provincial Park, a post-swim marshmallow roast around one of the beach fire pits is the best way to warm up. If you prefer to play on top of the water, rent paddleboards or kayaks on Telford Lake near Edmonton. Paddle to the centre, and watch the late night sun slowly dip into the horizon.
Golfers love Alberta’s long summer days. Where else can you squeeze in a full 18-holes after dinner? For a memorable evening, tee off around the prehistoric bonebeds at the Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club. On the back-nine, elevated tees offer sweeping views of the Canadian Badlands’ dramatic gorges and windswept hoodoos. Of course, the further north you go in the province, the later you can play. This bodes well for the Northern Bear Golf Club outside of Edmonton, which boasts 17 hours of daylight mid-summer. It’s also the only Jack Nicklaus signature course in Alberta. So grab your clubs and swing the night away.
Summer is football season in Alberta and the open-air stadiums are ideal for basking in the late evening sun. Calgary’s McMahon Stadium, home of the Stampeders, hosts legendary pre-game tailgating parties where a sea of fans in home-team red grill up their grub in the parking lot. After kick-off, watch for the Stamps’ touchdown horse charge down the sidelines when the team scores. Fans are just as passionate at the Edmonton Eskimos’ Commonwealth Stadium. Green and yellow are the colours here. Hats, jerseys, flags, wigs, and even faces sport the vibrant hues. And if Edmonton and Calgary face off, grab a cold one and enjoy the rivalry – on and off the field.
Scenic wonderlands abound in Alberta, and the seemingly endless daylight hours means you can fulfil your wanderlust and still be home before dark. Explore the lunar-like landscapes of the Canadian Badlands on a Jurassic journey along the Dinosaur Trail. Hike through winding maroon-striped gorges. Stand in awe beneath prehistoric hoodoos. Snap a sunset selfie on the edge of the Horseshoe Canyon. For soaring peaks, ancient glaciers, turquoise lakes and impromptu wildlife sightings, take a drive along the scenic Icefields Parkway. Discover Alberta’s rich western heritage on the Cowboy Trail – a pastoral route dotted with charming towns and working ranches.
Outdoor theatre is a much-loved tradition on long summer evenings in Alberta. At the Canadian Badlands Passion Play, the story of Jesus Christ is told through drama, dance, and music. The cast of almost 300 actors, singers, and musicians performs in a natural amphitheatre in the badlands of the Drumheller Valley, where blazing sunsets, wildlife, and weather add to the show’s magic. It’s a more casual affair at Calgary’s Shakespeare on the Bow, just pack a picnic blanket and enjoy a dramatic evening of the bard riverside.
Dance through dusk at an outdoor summer music festival – there’s one every weekend in Alberta. The Edmonton Folk Music Festival, held every August in Gallagher Park, features more than 100 concerts, performed on seven different stages. The beer garden, food trucks, and main stage concert keep the party going, long after you’ve watched the sun set. At the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, a killer line-up of international country-music superstars will have you dancing past sundown.
Shop ‘till the sun drops at one of Alberta’s summer night markets. Wander through historic Inglewood every second Friday for handmade goods, unique collectables, antiques, and vintage clothing. Pop into the shops on 9th Avenue S.E. – most stay open late for the festivities. In historic downtown Cochrane, farmers’ market vendors, food trucks, artists, and entertainers join local shops once a month at a lively evening street market. For a party atmosphere with cool fashion finds, check out the Edmonton Night Market. It’s a pop-up style bazaar, so each event has its own unique vibe. Shop, wine, and be merry.
Drink and dine
Outdoor dining is a summer must. Whether you’re craving casual fare, or an award-winning chef’s culinary creations, Alberta’s al fresco food scene won’t disappoint. Feast family-style with 65 new friends, in a picturesque farmer’s field. Each summer Edmonton’s Rge Rd Restaurant partners with Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm in Bon Accord for a series of field-to-fork long-table dinners. While the evening sun warms your back, enjoy six courses, prepared and served in a true open kitchen.