Edmonton, Canada Road Trip Guide for Music Fans

Edmonton, Canada Road Trip Guide for Music Fans

When visiting the City of Edmonton, the original home of musical greats such as Barry Allen, Doug Edwards, and k.d. Lang, the best time of year to do so is between late spring and late fall. This is especially true if you wish to avoid the bitterly cold Canadian winters have been known for. From mid-June until mid-August, Edmonton is at its liveliest as one of the busiest cities, with one major festival after another. In June, it starts with the TD Edmonton International Jazz Festival. Immediately after this, it’s the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival.

Without taking a break, Edmonton then hosts K-Days, a famous festival previously known as Klondike Days. No sooner does this finish; the city hosts the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, then the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, and then finally the Purple City Music Festival. The one thing Edmontonians certainly enjoy is music. Speaking as a fan of classic rock who knows the city very well, the best radio station to listen to is K-97 Classic Rock. Another really good rock station is 100.3 The Bear, as it taps into classic rock and the most popular modern rock.

Approaching Edmonton

By car, the most popular routes motorists take going into the city are Yellowhead Trail (Highway 16) and Gateway Boulevard (Highway 2 South). When approaching Edmonton, Alberta from the east, the Yellowhead invites a scenic road trip through some great towns before it reaches the city and all it has to offer. Upon approaching Edmonton from the west, motorists have the opportunity from the Yellowhead to stay on the highway if they’re just passing through or stay on what eventually becomes Stony Plain Road.

As for motorists entering Edmonton from Highway 2, it becomes Gateway Boulevard as soon as they approach the city limits. Eventually, Gateway Boulevard ends once it reaches Saskatchewan Drive. You can only turn eastbound from here but this will take you to Edmonton’s downtown core if that’s where you want to go. This is also the road that will take you straight to the Edmonton Convention Centre. It’s a popular downtown venue known for holding great music concerts and other cultural events. As recently as May 1, 2023, Megadeath performed there, along with Bullet for My Valentine.

As for driving into Edmonton from the north, this is rarely taken by tourists who are taking a road trip. Should this be you, the majority of the motorists travel Highway 2 as this takes you to the Yellowhead Highway. From there, you can navigate where you wish to go. If it’s West Edmonton Mall you seek, turn right and head for the 170th Street southbound turnoff. If you’re aiming for downtown, head east on the Yellowhead until you reach the 97th Street southbound turnoff. Even as you drive into Edmonton from the east or the west using the Yellowhead, these two southbound turns are your best options if you wish to maximize your road trip experience inside the city.

Road Trip Recommendation

Before taking your road trip, plan ahead. If Edmonton is at least one of your destinations and music is at least part of the reason, check to see if there are any major concerts or events going on in or near the city during the timeframe you will be there. This will save you disappointment and headaches, especially when it comes to finding accommodation. Also, be sure to obtain important highway information before you go. While between mid-April and mid-September seems to be the favorite time for motorists to visit Edmonton, it’s also the preferred schedule for construction workers and road crews. It would also be advised while driving around in Edmonton to have a radio station like K-97 on as it frequently lets drivers know what’s going on as far as accidents and other incidents that are causing enough traffic congestion to slow you down.

For international visitors not from Canada, checking out the Canada Border Services Agency website would be recommended. You’ll learn everything you need to know when it comes to safely visiting the Great White North. You’ll also likely learn about Canada’s usage of the metric system to determine measurements. Instead of miles, Canadians use kilometers. For every one mile traveled, it is the equivalent of 1.6 kilometers. This also applies to volume measurements. One gallon of gas is about the same as 4.5 liters. When driving around, instead of the maximum highway speed limit of seventy-five miles per hour, it’s one hundred and twenty kilometers per hour.

Edmonton Accommodations & Attractions

West Edmonton Mall & Fantasyland Hotel

West Edmonton Mall has been one of the city’s main attractions for a variety of reasons. At one time, it was the world’s largest shopping mall before it was dethroned in 2004. It’s still a popular hangout for locals and tourists alike, as there is more going for this mall than its size. It’s also an excellent place for people taking a road trip to check out its music scene. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a place to stay, the Fantasyland Hotel is attached to the mall as an accommodation facility that has themed rooms that start at $400 per night. If this is beyond your price range, the hotel offers regular rooms for half the price. What makes this hotel so appealing for music fans is the quick walk through the mall to access the bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops that seem to have it all.

Speaking as a former resident of Edmonton, Alberta, and a former employee of Fantasyland Hotel, this is a great pit stop for music fans no matter what time of year you embark on your road trip. The hotel, as well as the mall, is an excellent playground for music fans, especially when it comes to Bourbon Street. Imagine walking up and down a street that has a collection of bars, clubs, and restaurants lined up next door to each other, and you don’t have to worry about unfavorable climate conditions. You’re doing this indoors. If you really want to rock it up, the Five & Dive would be the place for you. Here, it’s all about the music, the booze, and the food. When visiting on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, it’s all live music. For heavy metal fans, Mondays would be the day for you.

Sunrise Records

What’s also great about West Edmonton Mall is the shopping. If you’re looking to expand your record collection, Sunrise Records has just about everything a fan of music could possibly hope for. In Edmonton alone, Sunrise Records has four locations. This is one of Canada’s favorite record stores, with locations as far west as Victoria, British Columbia, and as far east as St. Johns, Newfoundland. The one in West Edmonton Mall is massive, with two stories of shopping paradise for music lovers. Since 1977, Sunrise Records has been in business as one of the elite music stores that has a massive record collection of every musical genre you can think of. There are also some pretty cool collectibles you can find here, including turntables so you can play your favorite tunes on vinyl. The location of Sunrise Records is in the mall’s Phase I, which is clean on the other side of where the Fantasyland Hotel is located as it sits in Phase III.

The hotel at the mall has everything a road traveler needs in one convenient location. If you’re only intending to spend one or two nights in Edmonton with no desire to visit its downtown core, then staying at West Edmonton Mall’s hotel would be your best option. However, if you want to venture further into the heart of the city, another decent hotel pick would be the three-star Matrix Hotel. Located at 10640 – 100 Avenue, this puts you in downtown Edmonton with great access to the city’s nightlife. This also puts you nice and close to some great venues, including Rogers Place. From here, you are an eight-block walking distance from a multipurpose arena that has rocked the audience since 2016 with concert performances by a long list of musical legends, including Chicago, Def Leppard, John Fogerty, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Matrix

The Matrix is hard to miss with its contemporary design, along with its red and white decor, as if proudly displaying the colors of the Canadian flag. Staying at this hotel is also friendly on the budget, with room rates starting at about $160 per night. What’s also great about this hotel’s location is that there are some fantastic bars and nightclubs you can either approach by foot or reach within a matter of a few short minutes by car. The hotel sits one block south of downtown Edmonton’s busiest street, Jasper Avenue.

Edmonton’s Music History

Fans of k.d. Lang are likely to know she was born in Edmonton, Alberta. However, she grew up about three hours southeast of the city in Consort as her family moved there when she was nine months old. She became more familiar with Red Deer, the go-between city on Highway 2 that sits between Edmonton and Calgary. The influence of this musical superstar came from the country meets punk experiences she had while living in the Canadian Prairies. After graduating from Red Deer College in 1982, Lang moved back to Edmonton with the intention of pursuing a musical career. It was here she and her Patsy Cline tribute band, the Reclines, debuted with its single, “Friday Dance Promenade” at Sundown Recorders. The label’s Larry Wanagas became Lang’s manager. While in Edmonton, the Reclines were regular performers at the Sidetrack Cafe. It wasn’t long after this that Lang became an international superstar in the music industry.

Edmonton Exhibition Grounds & Commonwealth Stadium

The Edmonton Exhibition Grounds continues a legacy of hosting fantastic concerts between its Edmonton EXPO Centre and the city’s exhibition grounds. Whenever K-Days is in full swing for ten days during the second half of July, this is where music fans should go. Iconic groups such as Nazareth and Quiet Riot have performed there, and it continues to be a summertime fan favorite for music enthusiasts. There is also Commonwealth Stadium, an outdoor multipurpose venue not far from the grounds. Situated on 11000 Stadium Road, this iconic location has hosted a variety of concerts and sporting events that continue to keep Edmontonians and travelers entertained. The very first concert the Commonwealth hosted was the August 7, 1983, live performance by David Bowie. Opening for him that evening was Peter Gabriel and The Tubes. In 1987, Bowie came back, this time with Duran Duran, The Georgia Satellites, and The Northern Pikes.

My favorite concert held at the Commonwealth took place on June 28, 1994, when Pink Floyd was on The Division Bell Tour. I still remember this concert as if it happened yesterday. When I lived in Edmonton, I wasn’t far from the Commonwealth. I could hear the concert performances even if I wasn’t in the stadium. Should you take a road trip to the city and you know there is a concert scheduled at the stadium at the same time and you don’t have tickets, conveniently park your car at the Stadium LRT Station parking lot, which is across the street from the stadium. However, odds are the lot will be full so get there early. I did this in 2007 when The Police had its reunion tour. All we did was roll the windows down and listen.

On the Rocks

It would be highly recommended for road trip enthusiasts who have a love for rock music to visit On the Rocks on 11740 Jasper Avenue. This is where the locals, rockers, and out-of-towners go to make some noise and have a great time. There is no shortage of great live performances and classic hits as the venue remains steadfast to the motto of eating well and partying hard. East of this favorite hot spot along Jasper Avenue is a collection of fantastic bars and clubs up to 104th Street. Also in the area, whether it be a few blocks north or south of Jasper Avenue there are fantastic nightclubs such as Arena 7 Lounge on 10586-109th Street and 99ten on 9910-109th Street. In Edmonton, the bulk of the city’s best cultural and nightlife entertainment venues sit within the districts of Oliver and Old Strathcona, as well as Edmonton’s downtown area and West Edmonton Mall.

Local Hangouts

Strathcona and its favorite street, Whyte Avenue, are a must for travelers when taking a road trip into Edmonton, especially if you’re a music fan. Otherwise known as 82nd Avenue, the stretch between Gateway Boulevard and 109th Street offers lots of cultural, historical, and musical opportunities for travelers to take in. If you’re looking for potentially hard-to-find vinyl records and CDs, Blackbyrd Myoozik may have something there you can’t find anywhere else. This one sits at 10442-82nd Avenue. This has been a favorite hangout for locals and record collectors since 1993.

DaDeO New Orleans Diner & Bar

Should your tummy demand the need to be fed while in the Old Strathcona district, DaDeO New Orleans Diner & Bar is your ticket to eat some cajun-style grub and take in the musical sounds of the American South. Speaking from personal experience, this place on 10548a Whyte Avenue is phenomenal. I’m a sucker for a good jambalaya, and the experience is even better when chowing it down and taking in the diner’s vintage ambiance. The music and decor offer a 1950s flavor to enhance an era when the world seemed to be a much happier place.

What’s great about visiting Edmonton as part of your road trip is the city’s diversity when it comes to art, culture and music. Whatever brand of music suits your fancy, this city has it. As a resident who once upon a time called Edmonton her home, I often wondered if the Beach Boys made reference to the city when it sang about the “northern girls” keeping their boyfriends warm at night whenever they sang “California Girls.” On August 21, 1968, the group from the Golden State held its first rock concert at the old venue, Edmonton Gardens.

River Cree Casino

On July 29, 2022, the Beach Boys returned to Edmonton for the nineteenth time, this time playing at the River Cree Casino during its Sixty Years of the Sound of Summer Tour. Actually, this was in Enoch, a First Nations community less than fifteen minutes southwest of West Edmonton Mall. Since it was established in 2006, the River Cree has been another favorite venue for people living in or near Edmonton, as well as travelers choosing to drive there. Should you pay the casino a visit, be sure to check the wall of donated guitars from legends like Chubby Checker, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, and Burton Cummings, just to name a few.

Edmonton, Canada Road Trip Guide for Music Fans article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain Creative Commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article. Album Cover Photos are affiliate links and the property of Amazon and are stored on the Amazon server. Any theft of our content will be met with swift legal action against the infringing websites.

DMCA.com Protection Status

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Johnny Marr Albums
Complete List Of Johnny Marr Albums And Discography
Classic Rock Christmas Songs
Our 10 Favorite Classic Rock Christmas Songs
A Thousand Horses Albums
Complete List Of A Thousand Horses Albums And Songs
Blackmore's Night Albums
Complete List Of Blackmore’s Night Albums And Discography
Christmas Vinyl Albums
Rockin’ Christmas: 5 Rock-Oriented Albums for Vinyl Lovers
Can Albums
Top 10 Can Albums
Kiss Bootlegs
KISSteria on Vinyl: Ten’ 70s-era Bootlegs for Records Collectors
10 Essential Metal Albums Released Between 1970 and 1995
10 Essential Metal Albums Released Between 1970 and 1995
Mick Jagger and Sammy Hagar
Will Sammy Hagar or Mick Jagger Be The First 100 Year Old Rockers?
Comic Con 2023
Comic Con 2023 Rocks New York City
The Misunderstanding Of The Way AI Was Used In Now And Then
The Misunderstanding Of The Way AI Was Used In Now And Then
Beatles Song Now And Then
Just Saying “New Beatles Song Released Today” Is Breathtaking
Tim Lefebvre Interview
Tim Lefebvre: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Liberty DeVitto: 10 Albums That Changed My Life
Liberty DeVitto: 10 Albums That Changed My Life
Rob De Luca of Spread Eagle, Sebastian Bach & UFO: 10 Albums That Changed My Life From humble East Coast origins to grandest stages worldwide, veteran bassist Rob De Luca has seen and done it all. De Luca first hit the local Boston rock and metal scene in the late 80s after meeting guitarist Paul DiBartolo, bonding over Van Halen before forming Bang. Regional success came quickly, but eventually, the members of Bang went their separate ways, with De Luca and drummer Tommi Gallo heading to NYC and hooking up with Ray West and, later, DiBartolo to form Spread Eagle. By 1990, Spread Eagle was on the fast track, with a contract through MCA Records and a self-titled debut album poised to crush skulls. But poor timing and MCA's sad indifference left Spead Eagle out in the cold despite being a hard-boiled answer to Guns N' Roses's West Coast sleaze. Spread Eagle's first chapter came to an end in '95. As for Rob De Luca, his nimble fingers and gift for melody and songwriting kept him moving forward. Soon, he found a gig with former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach and the legendary outfit UFO. And in 2010, after coupling up with Ray West and his cousin Rik De Luca, Spread Eagle retook flight. During a break from Spread Eagle's increasingly busy touring schedule, Rob De Luca dialed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to run through the ten albums that changed his life. But only after adding, "I made a playlist of these songs, including some I've written or co-written. Do you hear any of these albums' influence on me?" Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3LWJuhDrE8JmzhsmTeIDUq 10) Gentlemen by Afghan Whigs (1993) Here's an entry that was so important to me. This may be the darkest break-up album of all time. Greg Dulli has been in many projects, but I feel Gentlemen is his zenith. Somewhat undefinable at times but always profound and honest. Listen to "Gentlemen," "Fountain and Fairfax," and "What Jail Is Like." 9) In on the Kill Taker by Fugazi (1993) By this time, I had been sucked in and spit out by the major-label record industry. Glam came and went; grunge was history, too. I was searching for new sounds. When I heard Fugazi's twin guitar approach, I knew this was what was missing. Fugazi may be considered a less polished sound than the albums above; however, once you "get it," it hits you like a ton of bricks, and there's no going back. From the moment I heard Fugazi, I went to every NYC show after. It's easily some of the best concerts of my life, and possibly my favorite bassist in Joe Lally. And their DIY ethics refused to charge us more than $5 a show! In on the Kill Taker is a powerful album demonstrated in songs such as "Smallpox Champion," "Great Cop," and "Public Witness Program." 8) Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses (1987) I discovered many of these albums (sometimes long) after they were released. However, I was at the right place at the right time for this one. Steve Ostromogilsky had a Berklee College of Music lunch card and used to sneak out sandwiches for me. One day, he invited me to hang out at his place and listen to music. As we got off the train, he put Sony Walkman headphones on my ears and said, "Hey, check out this brand-new group." A song like "It's So Easy" was so different from the popular Sunset Strip sound at that time. Me and about 499 other informed rockers were lucky enough to see them on their first East Coast tour at the sold-out Paradise on Commonwealth Avenue, Boston (the same street Aerosmith started on). I saw Gn'R every tour after until I took a break when Buckethead joined. Gn'R is the band I've been lucky enough to see the most times live, almost 100! Everyone on this album is just stellar. Axl [Rose] had the tones, power, melodic sensibilities, and foresight to do what no other singer did then. Slash's playing was beyond memorable. Duff [McKagan] is one of the most underrated bassists in rock history, and learning his Appetite basslines is a masterclass. Steven [Adler] had the natural swing, and Izzy [Stradlin] was the secret weapon songwriter. Everything that's been heralded about this gem is deserved and true. Check out "It's So Easy," "Out Ta Get Me," and "Mr. Brownstone.' 7) Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (1975) Another contender for my favorite album and band of all time. Using The Beatles machine (same recording studio, engineer, record label), Pink Floyd made what I feel is their strongest, most cohesive album (my second favorite of theirs would be Animals). This list mainly consists of bands with an instantly recognizable sound. Floyd is certainly no exception to that! This album included a solid handful of undeniable rock radio classics, bookended by two halves of the mind-blowing song "Shine on You Crazy Diamond.' That song was written about former band member and founder Syd Barrett. It would be hard to live in a world without this album. Check out "Welcome to The Machine," "Shine on You Crazy Diamond (parts 6-9),' or even better yet, listen to the whole thing in one sitting! 6) Decade by Neil Young (1977) About this time, I started playing guitar. As a beginner, it was comfortable jamming to this album because the chord changes were simple—a great "first ten years" retrospective of Neil's stunning, unique songwriting. Neil is a treasure who always writes from the heart and stands up for what's right. Check out "Southern Man," "A Man Needs a Maid," "Down by The River," and "After the Goldrush." 5) Highway to Hell by AC/DC (1979) When I heard this album, I was firmly "me." My life would be 100% focused on hard rock music forever. AC/DC are like air; they're ubiquitous. Everyone knows them and their incredible songs. However, as a young teen in Wilmington, Delaware, I only had WMMR 93.3 FM Philadelphia and a few friends to inform me about the world of Rock outside my bedroom. AC/DC had not gone mainstream, and their albums were available primarily in the USA as imports. To put things more in perspective, I only knew two people in the world who had heard of AC/DC. A friend had an import that we played in Steve Buckley's basement, which sounded ripping. When Highway to Hell was released, WMMR started spinning the title track, and I immediately bought the album, listening to it every single day after school. Then WMMR announced AC/DC was coming to the Spectrum in Philly, supporting Ted Nugent! I liked Ted but loved AC/DC, so my good friend Mick Cummins and I bought tickets, and he drove us up to the Spectrum (where we saw most of our concerts). Bon Scott was in fine form, and the band went over great. Although the crowd knew Ted better, Angus [Young] wouldn't let anyone upstage him. I'll never forget it! Unfortunately, Bon would be gone in 6 months. Check out "Walk All Over You," "Touch Too Much," "Shot Down in Flames," and "If You Want Blood (You Got It)." 4) Toys in the Attic by Aerosmith (1975) By the time I heard this, I was now in my teens. I had a childhood friend up the street, Jim Linberg (we're still good buddies). His older sister had a great album collection, including Toys in The Attic. Once I heard that groove, my taste changed. I lost interest in rock music that didn't have some sort of "swing" feel to it. I think Rocks is a slightly better Aerosmith album (and possibly my favorite album of all time), but both are perfect or very close. Check out "Uncle Salty," "Adam's Apple," "No More No More," "Round and Round," and "You See Me Crying." 3) Alive! by Kiss (1975) When I was still a little kid, I asked for Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke album for Christmas. The entire family came over for an enormous feast, and I dropped the needle. When my mother heard the content, she turned off the album and said I had to exchange it. My mom was cool, but I was young and knew much more about life than she suspected. Anyway, the next day, she drove me back to the store. In the music section, promoted on an "endcap" was a Kiss Alive! display. I had never heard of Kiss, but that cover picture told me I had to have it! My first foray into hard rock. Check out “Strutter.” I went through my Kiss phase very quickly, I believe in a matter of months because I discovered the previous entry, Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic. 2) Honky Chateau by Elton John (1972) When I was a wee lad, my parents bought a used Volkswagen camper van from my uncle Ozzie. My favorite Elton John album is Yellow Brick Road, but Honky Chateau is great and easily one of his best. It sent me down a lifelong rabbit hole of loving everything about the 1970s partnership between Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin. The simple beauty of voice, the master songwriting, the perfect backing band, the clear, unobtrusive recordings, and always Bernie's incredible lyrics. The day this album was released, Elton became an unstoppable force that conquered the music industry. Check out "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" and "Rocket Man." 1) Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles (1967) Another tape that was included in the VW Camper. The van had a bunch of music tapes, and one was Sgt Pepper. I was too young to understand the sophistication of the music, but that was one of the many skills of The Beatles. They attracted listeners at every level, even little kids. I still feel that immediate connection to Sgt Pepper; now, I hear so much more. It's an album that changed the world and the world of music. Check out "Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds," "A Day In The Life," and "Fixing a Hole."
Rob De Luca of Spread Eagle, Sebastian Bach & UFO: 10 Albums That Changed My Life
Jim Suhler Interview
Jim Suhler: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Fit For A King Albums
Complete List Of Fit For A King Albums And Discography
Eric Clapton Live Albums
Complete List Of Eric Clapton Live Albums
Dave Edmunds Albums
Complete List Of Dave Edmunds Albums And Discography
Jon Anderson Albums
Complete List Of Jon Anderson Solo Albums And Songs
Classic Rock Bands Still Together But Overdue For A New Album
Classic Rock Bands Still Together But Overdue For A New Album
When Glam Bands Went Grunge In The 1990s
When Glam Bands Went Grunge In The 1990s
25 Most Famous Female American Singers Now!
25 Most Famous Female American Singers Now!
The Grateful Dead's Keyboard Players
A Look Back At The Grateful Dead’s Keyboard Players
The Chick Corea Elektric Band The Future Is Now' Album Review
The Chick Corea Elektric Band ‘The Future Is Now’ Album Review
In Harmony albums
A Look Back At Both ‘In Harmony’ Rock Star Children’s Albums
John Miles Rebel Albums Review
John Miles ‘Rebel’ Album Review
Aimee Mann’s Solo Debut Album "Whatever."
30 Year Look Back At Aimee Mann’s Solo Debut Album ‘Whatever’