In 1974 the Government of Alberta, acting through Minister of Culture Dr. Horst A. Schmidt, planted the seeds of the Edmonton Heritage Festival by declaring the first Monday in August an annual holiday to recognize and celebrate the diverse cultural heritage of Albertans. That year, and again in 1975, a multicultural concert was held at Fort Edmonton Park to celebrate Heritage Day. In 1976, however, eleven ethno-cultural communities banded together in Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park for a display of their cultures’ traditional cuisine, entertainment, interpretive materials, and crafts.
From these humble beginnings a venerable August long-weekend institution has emerged: the Edmonton Heritage Festival is now in its 40th year of operation, and has grown from a one-day event into a three-day celebration of cultural diversity with pavilions ranging from Aboriginal to Welsh, and all points between.
Since its inception, attendance at the Edmonton Heritage Festival has, with a few weather-related exceptions, climbed steadily, culminating in a record 380,000–410,000 people in attendance during the 2013 edition. We continue to honour this legacy through our mission to promote public awareness, understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity through an annual summer festival as well as to provide educational events, programs and/or projects on a year-round basis.
The Edmonton Heritage Festival is specifically designed to be a family-friendly, alcohol-free event, in which each pavilion is able independently offer a sampling of their unique foods, entertainment, arts and crafts, and customs. Patrons of the Edmonton Heritage Festival have also been responsible for making our event the Edmonton Food Bank’s single largest annual food drive, wherein approximately 50,000 kilograms of food is collected each year.
The Festival is organized by the non-profit Edmonton Heritage Festival Association, with offices at 10125–157 Street.