One of Kaleido Family Arts Festival’s greatest strengths is that it presents art and performance in a casual way to everyone.

Another strength is the community focus. Artistic director Christy Morin explained the heart of Kaleido has always been local talent, including organizers, performers, athletes, and artisans.

That’s because 11 years ago, the festival began with a grassroots group of artists from the Alberta Avenue area. Morin explained Kaleido began as a way to show Edmonton the robust community of artists who live and work around Alberta Avenue.

When the festival began to grow, the doors flew open, welcoming talent from across North America.

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Listen to a variety of musical performances during Kaleido Festival. Credit: Epic Photography.

“Expanding is exciting and we always welcome the travelling talent,” Morin said. Regardless of the free agents that come to the festival, Kaleido’s core talent, both production team and performers, remain predominantly locally sourced.

Every year, festival organizers add something new for people to enjoy. This year, new features include lip sync battles, a night market, basketball skill competitions, and a series of front porch performers along Alberta Avenue from 90 to 95 Street.

Embracing Alberta Avenue’s history, this year introduces a five-year partnership with the Enoch Cree Nation. Indigenous performers and artists will be featured throughout the weekend.

“They are very excited to be a part and it is important to us as well being on Treaty 6 land and having such strong indigenous roots in the community,” Morin said.

Fire dancers are a regular part of Kaleido Festival. Credit: Epic Photography.
Fire dancers are a regular part of Kaleido Festival. Credit: Epic Photography.

William Prince, a Winnipeg-based storytelling singer-songwriter whose vocals organizers compared to Johnny Cash, will perform this year.

Some new far-travelling performers include Ottawa-based Peking Opera Soirée performing Friday and Saturday night, a Nashville singer-songwriter performing Sunday afternoon, and New York saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart performing jazz Friday and Saturday.

Of all the talent being debuted, one series seems to capture Kaleido’s essence best. The Front Porch Series features performers set up on various front porches along 118 Avenue in the afternoons. “The series is meant to welcome festivalgoers to our community and showcase our beautiful streets and homes,” Morin said.

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Watch bellydancing performances at Kaleido Festival. Credit: Epic Photography.

Also new is a night market on Friday, which kicks off the festival after the parade. Organizer Katt Bell said festivalgoers could expect to see various vendors, artisans, buskers, and food trucks.

“The atmosphere will be warm and ambient with string lights and acoustic guitars—maybe even some saxophone players,” she said. Birds of Bellwoods, a new folk-urban band from Toronto, will entertain on Friday night. Beyond a lovely place to soak in a fall evening, the night market will be a great place to shop for Christmas gifts, Bell said.

“We have five blocks of the Avenue that we use as our canvas and we bring in artists from the Alberta Avenue community, from Edmonton, from the province and then from outside the province as well to create the festival’s environment of imagination and creativity,” Morin explained.

She added, “Kaleido is a ritual in our community at this point and I think traditions are important for our community because we have specifically worked to foster ways to bring the human spirit back to the neighbourhood. For our families and our neighbours it is like a barn raising for our community now.”

Header Image: Last year’s festival included aerial performances. Credit: Epic Photography.

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Take in all the family-friendly activities. Credit: Epic Photography.

Kaleido Family Arts Festival

September 9-11
Along 118 Avenue from 90 to 95 Street
Friday: 7-11 pm. Parade at 7 pm.
Saturday: Noon-11 pm
Pancake breakfast: 10 am–noon. Fireworks at 11 pm.
Sunday: Noon-6 pm.

Eleven insider secrets for Kaleido’s 11th year:

  1. Look for puppets and puppeteers throughout the weekend. See how many puppets you can find!
  2. Check out a roaming Shakespeare play and watch part of it in a neighbourhood home.
  3. Sip wine and listen to Jacques Schwarz-Bart’s gritty alley jazz between 93 and 94 Street.
  4. Look up! Edmontonian Boris Derow will sing opera to market shoppers from a balcony on Friday night.
  5. Head to Alberta Avenue Community League for the Kaleido After Dark comedy improv show.
  6. Watch a lip synch battle in the beer gardens on Friday from 8-10 pm.
  7. Watch Andrew Parker from A.G.P Flight School guest judge Saturday’s dunk competition.
  8. See the Stilt-o-rama Extravaganza and Stiltsville in the Family Fun Zone!
  9. Tour ArtsHub 118 in the open house on Saturday.
  10. Listen to Clusterfunk, a ten-piece funk band.
  11. Stop by several front porches transformed into stages on Saturday and Sunday afternoon around 92 and 93 Street. Soap Box Duo is one of the performers!