Calgary Stampede Isn't the Only Attraction in Alberta this Summer: Discover Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton 2024

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Calgary Stampede Isn't the Only Attraction in Alberta this Summer: Discover Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton 2024

Get ready to unlock the secrets of Edmonton's past with the highly anticipated Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton event! This year from July 7 to July 14, 2024, the Edmonton and District Historical Society (EDHS) proudly presents the annual Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton. This celebration offers a unique opportunity for locals and visitors alike to explore some of Edmonton's most treasured historic buildings and sites, many of which are typically closed to the public. This year’s event celebrates the theme of Innovation, honours the legacy of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and features aviation history tours. For our readers who have been following the Doors Open Ontario series, you'll be excited to discover what Alberta has in store this month. While the Calgary Stampede garners much attention, the Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton provides a compelling reason to venture further north and delve into Edmonton's vibrant history. Read on for Teachers on Call’s interview with Kelsey Kendrick from the EDHS for the inside scoop on this year’s event.

Alberta is buzzing with exciting events this month, including the famous Calgary Stampede. While the city of Calgary may draw larger crowds, the Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton, which takes place the same week, is certainly worth exploring for those interested in uncovering the rich history and architecture in Edmonton. The event engages the community by offering a wide variety of tours and activities designed to appeal to all ages and interests. This year’s festival theme is Innovation, celebrating the instrumental role the Royal Canadian Air Force has played in our country. To mark this year’s event, Teachers on Call’s online and in-person tutoring service is covering it for the first time with an interview with Kelsey Kendrick from the Edmonton and District Historical Society to learn what’s in store for 2024.

How to Plan for Doors Open Edmonton

Planning for Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton in Alberta’s capital city, with this year's festival theme of Innovation, requires a bit of preparation to make the most of the week-long event. Start by reviewing the official festival guidebook, which lists all the participating sites and activities, including any special tours or new additions for the year, and when they are taking place. Prioritize the locations you’re most interested in, keeping in mind the variety of options available—from historic buildings and virtual experiences to hands-on activities and carriage rides. Make sure to check which events are free and which charge a fee, as well as those requiring pre-registration. Consider transportation and parking, as some sites may be spread across the city. In Teachers on Call’s in-person and online tutoring team’s interview with Kelsey Kendrick from the EDHS, there are more helpful tips to take advantage of, so read on!

This Year’s Festival Theme of Innovation

This year’s festival theme is Innovation, celebrating the instrumental role the Royal Canadian Air Force has played in our country. Throughout the week guided aviation history tours will be offered from the Alberta Aviation Museum (11410 Kingsway NW, Edmonton, AB T5G 0X4). Teachers on Call’s math and science tutors appreciate how aviation experts use mathematics in nearly every aspect of their work, from calculating flight paths to designing aircraft. Aeronautics, the science of creating machines that can fly, offers countless opportunities for teachable moments, making this event a rich educational experience for all attendees.

An Interview with the Edmonton and District Historical Society (EDHS)

How did Doors Open Edmonton originally get started? 

This is our 28th year, so in Edmonton we can say it started 28 years ago in 1996. Doors Open Days and Festivals didn't start here though, the first one was in France in 1984. The idea was to create a day where people could visit historic buildings for free, especially buildings that might not normally be open to the public. Doors Open Days and Festivals now occur all over Europe and North America.

In what ways does the event aim to engage students and young people in learning about Edmonton's history and architecture?

We aim to provide a wide variety of events and tours over the course of the week. Variety in terms of location, topic, time, accessibility, delivery method, pretty much everything. So if you are a homebody, we want to have some virtual things for you. If you can't go on a walking tour, we have carriage rides and speakers you can see. If you learn by doing: we have hands-on activities.

Can you share any success stories or specific examples of how Doors Open Edmonton has had a positive impact on participants? 

A lot of our participants tell us that they have been looking forward to the festival all year. They also frequently tell us that they have a tradition to come every year with family or a group of friends. And for the organizations that work with us we often hear that the festival dates are the busiest days of the year for them.

What are some of the most notable venues participating in this year's Doors Open Edmonton? 

This year we have a lot of programming from Métis Crossing that offers something for everyone! They are doing tours about wildlife, dance performances, and even a Sunday brunch!

Location: Métis Crossing, 17339 Victoria Trail, Smoky Lake, AB T0A 3C0

Date/Time: Monday, July 8 - Sunday, July 14, 2024 from 10:00am - 4:00pm

Are there any new or particularly unique locations being opened to the public for the first time this year? 

Alberta Food Tours is offering a food tour of Old Strathcona where you get to sample something tasty from different restaurants and bakeries. I think it's a great example of a new way to see and experience a very popular historic location. 

Locations: Alberta Food Tours covers 5 locations:

1) MEAT restaurant in the Old Strathcona, 8216 – 104 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 4E5.

2) Family-owned bakeshop, Sugared and Spiced (10334 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1Z8);

3) PACT Coffee (10370 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 1Z8);

4) Made By Marcus Ice Cream (10426 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 2A2);

5) Remedy Cafe on Whyte (10479 82 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 4Z7)                                                                                                                         

Date/Time: Sunday, July 14, 2024 from 11:00am - 2:00pm

We also have a tour with the Granite Curling Club that's new this year!

Location: Granite Curling Club, 8620 – 107 Street, Edmonton, AB T6E 4L3

Date/Time: Sunday, July 7, 2024 and Sunday, July 14, 2024 from 1:00pm - 3:00pm

How does Doors Open Edmonton involve the local community, including volunteers and local organizations? 

Every event in our festival is facilitated by local organizations, many of whom are being led by volunteers. As the festival organizers we are setting the date and creating the guidebook, essentially giving the organization the spotlight to encourage new visitors to come visit. Without the local community and the efforts of all our partners this festival could not exist.

Can you share a memorable moment or personal highlight from your experience with Doors Open Edmonton? 

Every year, I try to take in as many events as I can to support our volunteers, presenters and partner organizations. Last year every event I went to was either sold out or having their busiest day of the year. Our festival was hit particularly hard during the pandemic, so seeing so many people out enjoying local history and seeing so many tour guides and facilitators so excited about the turn out was really amazing.

What do you hope participants take away from their experience at Doors Open Edmonton? 

Be a tourist in your own city! Often we don't take time to explore the place where we live, exploring your hometown and learning its history is a great experience.

What is your favourite tip to share about your event? 

Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton welcomes new participants every year! I highly recommend finding a place in the guidebook that you've never visited before. I try to find a new place every year. And don't skip over the smaller homes and museums, often you'll end up on a private tour with a very excited guide when you visit one of the less "flashy" locations.

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We hope you enjoy learning about the 28th annual Historic Festival & Doors Open Edmonton. Remember to keep checking our blog for upcoming events. If you are looking for more community festivals in Western Canada this month, check out our blog on Vancouver’s Honda Celebration of Light

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