To get a read on what's going on in Edmonton's vibrant cultural scene, pick up a copy of See (www.seemagazine.com), the local free arts and entertainment weekly. There, you'll find listings for movies, art openings, upcoming concerts, clubs, and theater.
The Performing Arts
In the downtown cultural district, the Winspear Centre (4 Sir Winston Churchill Sq. NW; tel. 780/428-1414; www.winspearcentre.com) is home to major cultural organizations like the Edmonton Symphony (tel. 780/428-1414; www.edmontonsymphony.com), the Edmonton Opera (tel. 780/429-4040; www.edmontonopera.com), and many big-name traveling performers. The Citadel Theatre (9828 101A Ave.; tel. 780/425-1820; www.citadeltheatre.com) is the city's premiere live theater venue in a city known for theater, with a resident company that's generally acknowledged to be among the country's best.
Edmonton's theater scene is world-renowned, with a massive annual Fringe Festival that all but takes over the city every August. If you're not in town for the Fringe, there are a smorgasbord of local theater troupes -- far too numerous to list here -- to choose from year-round, performing at a variety of formal stages and informal venues, like pubs. Check your copy of See to see what's current.
The Club & Bar Scene
Downtown, you've got to be careful not to get caught when the streets fold up at night, but Whyte Avenue, always busy during the day, kicks it up a notch after dark. Bar Wild's (10551 Whyte Ave; tel. 780/504-7777) name says it all -- it's the Whyte Avenue night-time scene in a nutshell. Bar Wild draws a young crowd, many of them U of A students, bent on drowning the week's mind-expanding educational experience in beer. The Black Dog Freehouse (10425 Whyte Ave; tel. 780/439-1082) is a popular, pubby spot in the summertime, with its large rooftop patio, while Devlin's Cocktail Lounge (10507 Whyte Ave; tel. 780/437-7489) is Whyte Avenue spiffed up for the young professional set, with its look-at-me front windows out on to the Whyte Avenue stroll.
You'll find live music on weekends at some of the many, many pubs on Whyte, like the venerable Blues on Whyte (10329 Whyte Ave; tel. 780/439-3981), the Empress Ale House (9912 Whyte Ave; tel. 780/758-1164), or the Backdraught Pub (8307 99th St.; tel. 780/430-9200), whereas the Pawn Shop (10551 Whyte Ave, 2nd floor; tel. 780/432-5058) is one of the best venues for both the local and popular traveling indie bands.
And Whyte Avenue really is one-stop bar-hopping: If you're looking for dance clubs, there's a plethora of those here, too. Suite 69 (8232 Gateway Blvd.; tel. 780/439-6969) is an upstairs dance club one block off Whyte Avenue, featuring popular local DJs; Krobar (10551 Whyte Ave; tel. 780/916-1557) cranks up the intensity with club music that's loud, fast, and hard.
For a quiet drink, you're best off at one of the many restaurants, just sitting at the bar. Packrat Louie is one of the best; the old building, with its exposed brick, is a cozy oasis and shelter from the socializing storm that exists just outside.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.