The discounted Edmonton Heritage Pageant will resume after the COVID hiatus

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One of Edmonton’s premier summer festivals has returned after a COVID induced hiatus.

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A scaled-down iteration of the Edmonton Heritage Festival kicked off Saturday in Hawrelak Park. Due to the pandemic, capacity at the multicultural celebration is being kept at around half the normal level, while the number of pavilions has been limited to around two-thirds of the average.

“We’re all excited,” said Executive Director Jim Gibbon. “It’s a really nice day and we have nice, safe and socially distant crowds here. The restaurants are full, but the people stay safe and everyone treats everyone with respect. “

He called the planning for this year’s festival “stressful, but joyful”.

The Edmonton Heritage Festival was launched in 1974 to celebrate multiculturalism. It has been carried out every year since then, with the exception of the COVID-19-related cancellation in 2020.

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The aim is to promote intercultural exchange and reduce discrimination. The festival website cites a 2020 poll that found 60 percent of respondents think racism was a serious problem in Canada, 13 points more than in 2019. A third said they’d experienced racism in the past year.

“I think it’s the most important festival, maybe in western Canada,” said Gibbon. “It’s a blessing and important because that’s what Canada is about.”

The 2021 festival offers around 45 pavilions from countries and cultures from around the world, including the newcomers Togo and Dominica. Gibbon said the largest event ever included around 75 pavilions.

“That’s the lowest in a long time,” he said. “We tried to keep the pavilions at two-thirds and the visitors at half.”

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The event features music, dance, and the arts, but the main focus is on food, with most pavilions offering traditional meals and snacks for a fee.

Past events were so popular that they caused traffic jams outside of Hawrelak Park. ETS offers park and ride locations across the city.

Around 150,000 advance sale tickets are made available free of charge on the festival website for certain time slots. The festival lasts until Monday.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Heritage Festival would run until Sunday. The festival runs until Monday, August 2nd.

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