Downtown has Big Charm

What do you find charming about Downtown? Perhap it’s your regular wine bar for date night or playing chess in Churchill Square. One thing’s for sure, what makes Downtown charming isn’t just the new buildings or the big events. It’s the small joys we stumble across in our day-to-day lives. They’re elegant in simplicity, and delightful in their surprise. Below are a few ideas, from ambitious to whimsical, to get you started, but we really want to know is: what do you find charming about Downtown?

The Downtown Big E has Big Charm

The Gazebo at Dick Mather Memorial Park

The inside scoop is that the Dick Mather Memorial Park (beside McKay Avenue School) is the place to be on weekends. Downtown residents bring their kids (including the 4-legged kind) and friends to exercise in this small urban park.

Photo courtesy of Allison Dragsten
Photo courtesy of Allison Dragsten

Hidden Ghost Signs

Vintage clues of Edmonton’s commercial past are sprinkled throughout the Downtown and the Quarters. Have you seen the ghost signs of Downtown?

Koermann Block in the Quarters on 96 Street.
Koermann Block in the Quarters on 96 Street

Coming Soon…Harry Potter Stairs

Be charmed by the magical spell of the MacEwan University Centre for Arts and Culture staircases. The new building’s staircases twist, turn and wind their way through the atrium, conjuring allusions to our favourite witchcraft and wizardry academy. (Motion sickness? Fear not: these ones are stationary.)  No word yet if MacEwan will be offering courses in spells anytime soon. The Centre for Arts and Culture opens in fall 2017.

Photo courtesy of MacEwan University
Photo courtesy of MacEwan University
Photo courtesy of MacEwan University
Photo courtesy of MacEwan University

Alberta Craft Council Gallery and Shop

Have you taken the Downtown Art Tour yet? This pilot project takes you on a walk through the eclectic, interesting and sometimes controversial art of Downtown. It also brings you to one of the province’s craft gems: the Alberta Craft Council and Gallery Shop. ext time you walk past this shop on 106 street and 101 ave, step inside and let the world of craft artisanship explode in front of you.

Photo courtesy of Alberta Craft Council
Photo courtesy of Alberta Craft Council


Live music? Swing dancing? Skating? ALL AT ONCE? On most Sundays in the winter, City Hall turns into a dance and skate party for all ages. If you haven’t checked out the Edmonton Art Council and City of Edmonton’s Swing’n’Skate, then you truly haven’t experienced Downtown.

DECL space with I<heart>yegdt

Do you <heart> Downtown Edmonton? Then come get your picture taken beside this icon neon sign and share the love. This is especially fun when you tag your friends from Calgary. The sign is found in the Downtown Edmonton Community League window at 10042-103 Street.

Photo courtesy of Chris Buyze
Photo courtesy of Chris Buyze

Ship at top of Citadel Atrium

We could probably dedicate an entire blog post to the really stunning fountains of Downtown. But until we do that, we encourage you to stop by the Tucker Amphitheatre at the Citadel to take a picture of Edmonton’s third most famous ship (after the Edmonton Queen and the Santa Maria, obviously).

Photo credit: Gilbert Davis
Photo credit: Gilbert Davis

The ‘Alley of Light’ Pocket Park

Led by the community, the once underused alley space on 104 Street (tucked between Evoolution and the former Sobeys) has been transformed into a pocket park. With landscaping, lighting, benches, and public art, this formerly “lost” space is now one of the delightful corners of Downtown.

Urban Kids Night

Urban Kids is a Downtown Edmonton Community League (DECL) initiative that helps connect families living and raising children in the heart of our city. The group hosts  board game nights, play groups, neighbourhood outings, and Sunday afternoon swims at the YMCA. For more information, visit their Facebook Page.


During the winter, look up to catch a glimpse of the cloud installation on the north wall of  the parkade at 10045-102 Street. The work, commissioned by The Places and designed by Gordon Ferguson, brings the vast prairie sky to the heart of the city. But during the summer, the art installation is obscured by huge green trees, so like many things in Edmonton, it’s best appreciated during the winter.

clouds w capt.psd

For a Better Date Night, Look for the Purple Flag

Responsible Hospitality Edmonton and the 104 Street Action Committee are committed to bringing the charm to Downtown nightlife. Edmonton is in line to be the first city in North America to receive Purple Flag district for 104 Street District. In order to be gain accreditation, cities must meet rigorous safety guidelines for lighting, reducing alcohol misuse, parking, policing and more. It’s a race against Chicago to be the first, and we think our odds are pretty darn good.

Urban Balcony — Coming soon!

Imagine walking hand-in-hand with your sweetheart along beautifully widened sidewalks towards a river valley vista. In the works for the Quarters Downtown, the Urban Balcony will open up at the end of the soon-to-open Armature (96 Street). Still in its planning stages, the urban balcony will provide an opportunity for Edmontonians and visitors to enjoy Edmonton’s biggest gem: the river valley.

Urban Balcony (2)
96 Street leads to the River Valley (right); where the urban balcony will go

Now it’s your turn. What are your favourite Downtown charms?