How to Enjoy Kid-Friendly Events in Edmonton Despite the Crowds

“I’m done here.” Little dude is tugging on my arm. “Go now.”

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I knew the words were coming. The event has started to get crowded and noisy. It’s starting to get difficult to navigate and line-ups have started to pop up at every activity station.

“Mom,” His voice is more insistent. “I want to go.”

Truthfully, I’m relieved. I’m more than ready to leave. I catch my husband’s eye and give him the NOD. Time to go – we start to make our way to exit.

How many people will be there? How much space is there? How many activities? How much is admission?  When I look at the amazing list of kid-friendly events that get posted every week, those are the questions that I consider. I am always amazed at other families that aren’t deterred by the possibility of long line-ups, crowded spaces and the noise; since they were both babies Big Dude and Little Dude have been very vocal about their dislike of all three of those things.

That’s not to say that we don’t enjoy the awesome activities that Edmonton has to offer, I’ve pick up a few tricks over the past few years that make it possible for us to enjoy ourselves at different events – as we ramp up into summer events, I wanted to share a few of them with all of you.

  • Arrive early. This works especially well if the event runs all day. We find that most of the time the first hour of an event is the quietest and we are all able to enjoy ourselves before the crowds start to appear. This trick always works well for day-trips to the beach.  We always aim to be at the beach before 10 a.m. and it’s usually an hour or two before the crowds start to appear.
  • Have a back-up plan. Last year, we drove to the Edmonton Valley Zoo for one of their events and the line-up was stretched into the parking lot. Without missing a beat, we told the kids that there had been a change of plans, and we headed over to John Janzen for a few hours of playtime instead.
  • Work backwards. If we are at an event with multiple activities, we will walk the far end of the event and work our way backwards.  Once again, it usually lets us avoid the crowd and most of the line-ups because most people tackle activities in order.
  • Skip the big events but take advantage of the smaller ones. My husband is an avid runner. There are so many great kid-friendly runs but most are way too busy for our family. The perfect fit for us are smaller events like the upcoming Run for Pie at Rundle Park. Lots of open space and a smaller crowd make it a more enjoyable experience for our crew. Plus, who doesn’t love pie.
  • Set clear expectations. When we are making plans to attend an event, especially a pricy event, we set clear expectations about how long we expect them to stay. Last year, we took them to the Big Top Circus (that was all Big Dude wanted for this birthday), before buying the tickets we explained that we wouldn’t be able to leave until intermission. We went. We had a great time. Intermission started and both boys asked to leave so we left.

I’m always looking to add to my parenting toolbox so if you have any suggestions or tricks that you use, please share.



Allison is a mom of two energetic boys.Constantly trying to balance life, often caught between the needs of her boys, financial reality and her own desire for a meaningful career, you'll find her leaning on her village in North Edmonton.Her philosophy of more experiences less stuff is constantly challenged by her kids love of all stuff.