With its colourful history, vibrant art and social scene, thriving economy and booming downtown – thanks to an impressive waterfront rejuvenation project – Saskatoon is quickly becoming a must-experience destination for any traveller looking to partake in the best festivals and events Canada has to offer.
Named as one of Canada’s fastest growing cities by the Conference Board of Canada, Saskatoon is increasingly receiving recognition by event organizers from around the country, and in recent years has played host to national and notable events including the 2010 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships and the 2007 JUNO Awards. In 2012, Saskatoon will welcome the Canadian Country Music Awards and the Tim Horton’s Brier, Canadian Men’s Curling Championships.
Saskatoon offers an amazing variety of festivals and events, drawing visitors to the city year round. The city’s diverse mix of cultural events and festivals make it an ideal destination for an active getaway. Here are some highlights:
Saskatoon’s multicultural festival, Folkfest (www.saskatoonfolkfest.ca) has been celebrating the city’s diverse cultural heritage since 1980. This three-day, annual festival offers visitors the chance to experience a wide array of sights, sounds and tastes as they explore up to 25 ethnic pavilions located throughout the city. Incredible entertainment, delicious cuisine and unique shopping are the hallmark of this event, which has become one of Saskatoon’s most popular summer attractions for locals and tourists alike.
For automotive enthusiasts or anyone feeling the need for speed, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (www.autoclearingmotorspeedway.ca) continues to make annual tracks in Saskatoon. Based on the CASCAR Super Series founded in 1981, this annual event is typically standing-room-only – so get your tickets early.
Lighting up Saskatoon’s sky every Labour Day weekend, the PotashCorp Fireworks Festival (www.potashcorpfireworksfestival.ca) offers two days of family-friendly excitement, and entertainment. This annual event features world class fireworks and a vibrant mix of entertainers, vendors and activities for people of all ages to enjoy.
One of Saskatoon's favourite summer festivals, the PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival (www.potashcorpfringe.org) attracts more than 40,000 people to its outdoor activities, welcomes approximately 12,000 theatre patrons and features 200-plus theatre shows and an outdoor craft market. The Fringe premiered on Broadway Avenue in 1990, the perfect backdrop with cool shops, pubs and great nightlife. That inaugural year drew in 6,000 people, a strong start that laid the foundation for future success.
Established in 1988, the Saskatchewan Children's Festival (www.saskatchewanchildrensfestival.ca) has been part of the cultural and social ecology of the province for many years. Located on the riverbank of Kiwanis Park in downtown Saskatoon, this non-profit arts festival is regarded as Saskatoon's “best-loved” family event.
Music lovers rejoice! For 10 days each summer, Saskatoon is alive with the sound of music as the annual SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival (www.saskjazz.com) plays host to hundreds of world-class artists. Each year, more than 70,000 visitors sway to the beat, making their way to Saskatoon to take in the sounds of jazz, blues, funk, pop and world music.
Fans of the bard will love Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan (www.shakespeareonthesaskatchewan.com), featuring the poet and playwright’s greatest works, performed along the sunny banks of the South Saskatchewan River. Since 1984, this memorable festival has been a must-see, as some of Saskatchewan’s finest actors transport attendees back in time to the Shakespearean era, and give the Shakespearean stories a modern twist.
“Epicurious” visitors and locals looking to sample Saskatchewan’s delicacies won’t be disappointed by the city’s annual Taste of Saskatchewan (www.tasteofsaskatchewan.ca), serving up everything from succulent entrées to delicious deserts from more than 30 of Saskatoon’s finest restaurants. Set in the beautiful Kiwanis Park, this event also features more than 55 of Saskatchewan’s premier bands and performers, giving guests a taste of Saskatchewan’s musical talents.
Part wakeboarding competition, part music festival, WakeRide (www.wakeride.ca) features some of Canada’s hottest bands playing alongside professional wakeboarders from all over North America. This summer event offers an action packed weekend, ideal for adrenaline junkies and music lovers alike. Best of all, every dollar raised from the event goes to support Saskatoon inner city youth programs.
One of Saskatoon’s “coolest” annual events - WinterShines! (www.potashcorpwintershines.ca) packs in 16 days of wintry fun with activities like ice and snow carving, kite-boarding and more. Among the many spectacles, visitors can watch ice carvers from across the Prairies show off their talent, watching in awe as they create a snow home from nothing more than a block of ice.
For more information or to plan your Saskatoon getaway, visit www.tourismsaskatoon.com.