Edmonton’s Downtown, West End and Southside exude the attributes of a thriving metropolis. April 26, 2011
Edmonton’s Downtown, West End and Southside
Meetings & Incentive Travel Advertising Feature
With each district featuring a vast array of accommodations, unique attractions and state-of-the-art amenities, Edmonton’s downtown core, West End and Southside combine to offer a full gamut of flavours and experiences that define this truly cosmopolitan city.
The Downtown Vibe
The road to the downtown vibe begins with a collection of 17 hotels, all located within minutes of the city’s sophisticated urban scene, featuring world-class entertainment, a diversity of international cuisine and upscale boutiques. At the heart of Edmonton’s thriving arts and culture scene, the downtown core puts you front-row-centre for the city’s abundance of year-round festivals, as well as theatre performances, live music and art galleries at cultural gems including the Royal Alberta Museum and the Winspear Centre for Performing Arts.
With close to 3,000 guest accommodations and a combined 146,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, Edmonton’s downtown hotels are open for business, providing guests with easy access to the most prestigious and state-of-the-art meeting spaces in the city.
The Shaw Conference Centre is Edmonton’s premier conference facility and offers 200,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art, multifunctional space, including 82,000 sq. ft. of column-free exhibit space, a 16,000-sq.-ft. carpeted lobby and 30 state-of-the-art breakout rooms. For larger events, the $150-million EXPO Centre at Northlands is the largest trade and consumer show venue in Western Canada. The Edmonton Exposition and Conference Centre features more than 522,000 sq. ft. of contiguous space, including eight exhibit halls, a 16,000-sq.-ft. ballroom and 34 distinct meetings rooms.
The compact downtown core is also in close proximity to some of Edmonton’s most sophisticated venues, providing planners with a plethora of options for memorable off-site events. The Art Gallery of Alberta is a stunning $88-million architectural gem, which has become one of the city’s most coveted venues for special events. The AGA includes 85,000 sq. ft. of space, spread across three floors of exhibition space, an education centre, a restaurant and a 150-seat theatre. The facility also offers planners some unique spaces for creative functions, including a spacious atrium, an outdoor sculpture court and a ‘floating’ private lounge.
Despite its abundance of 21st-century comforts and amenities, perhaps the downtown core’s most unique attribute is its unparalleled balance between modern urban design and its natural surrounding environment. Just minutes from your downtown hotel, the city has the unique distinction of offering one of the largest stretches of urban parklands in North America. The Edmonton River Valley Parklands span more than 18,000 acres and feature 22 major parks and over 150 km. of trails, combining for green space that is 22 times larger than New York City’s Central Park.
Meet, Stay and Play in the West End
Just an easy 30-minute drive from Edmonton International Airport, via Anthony Henday Drive, the West End is a destination within a destination. Offering one of the city’s most diverse portfolios of business and leisure attractions and branded hotel accommodations, the West End immerses guests in the heat of the action in one of the city’s most exciting districts.
The district’s collection of 18 branded hotels can accommodate everything from budget-minded travel to high-end luxury. The properties collectively offer more than 3,000 guest accommodations and 135,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, making Edmonton’s West End a leading destination for conferences, trade shows, meetings and conventions.
When it comes to business, the West End is equipped to accommodate the needs of its clientele, with many of the properties employing experienced meeting coordinators who can assist meeting planners in the execution of successful events. The West End is also home to the Mayfield Trade Centre, featuring 70,000 sq. ft. of flexible space that can comfortably accommodate events ranging from trade shows for 100 exhibitors, to gala dinners for up to 1,200.
West Edmonton also offers endless possibilities for special venues, marked by unique spaces and memorable settings that embrace a planner’s vision of going above and beyond with their event. From cocktail receptions aboard a replica of the Santa Maria at West Edmonton Mall, to formal gatherings for up to 400 guests in the elegant confines of the Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton’s West End offers a smorgasbord of diversity and creativity.
As a component of any business agenda and the staple of leisure visits, Edmonton’s West End shopping, dining and world-class entertainment offerings are unparalleled in the city. The world-renowned West Edmonton Mall incorporates all of those features in a single destination, with more than 800 stores, 100 restaurants and cafes, a waterpark, an amusement park with a roller coaster, and much more. West Edmonton Mall is also home to the Fantasyland Hotel, offering guests a truly unique stay in themed rooms featuring a choice of Hollywood, Roman, Polynesian, African, Truck, Western, Arabian, Igloo and Canadian Rail decors.
West Edmonton Mall also houses the Palace Casino, featuring world-class gaming, fine dining and live entertainment. Palace Casino offers 700 slot machines, 34 gaming tables and a popular poker room. Alternatively, River Cree Resort & Casino offers an additional 35 gaming tables, including roulette, blackjack, craps and baccarat. The casino also features 800 slot machines, a 12-table poker room and 24,000 sq. ft. of rentable space.
Another exciting West End venue is the TELUS World of Science Edmonton, combining leisure entertainment options, including an IMAX Theatre, with rentable spaces for corporate functions, meetings, cocktail receptions and sit-down dinners.
The Vibrant Southside
Edmonton’s vibrant Southside is marked by an eclectic blend of history, culture and recreation, from the trendy sidewalk bistros, shopping and historic facades of Old Strathcona, to the culture and history of Fort Edmonton Park.
Bordering the scenic River Valley, the Southside is just a short drive from Edmonton International Airport and offers easy access to all of the city’s major attractions. The district’s collection of 15 hotels range from historic inns and trendy boutique properties, to full-service conference hotels, combining to offer more than 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. The Southside also offers accommodations on the University of Alberta campus, home to the Lister Conference Centre and its 13,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space.
The Southside is also your home for Edmonton’s year-round festivals, including the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, the Symphony Under the Sky Festival, the Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival, the Edmonton Heritage Festival, the Edmonton International Film Festival, the Edmonton International Jazz Festival, the Works Art & Design Festival and the Edmonton Labatt’s Blues Festival. The district also plays host to the annual Ice on Whyte Festival in January, embracing the winter season over an 11-day celebration of outdoor activities, including ice carving workshops and competitions, exciting live music and a wide range of children’s activities.
The historic streets of Old Strathcona combine the district’s rich 19th-century history with the trendiness of a 21st-century neighbourhood. Renewal projects have infused vibrancy into a district now known for its live music and theatrical performances, as well as its collection of more than 600 businesses, including fashionable boutiques, relaxing spas, quaint cafes and upscale restaurants.
In fact, Southside Edmonton is a shopper’s dream, extending beyond the trendy setting of Whyte Avenue to incorporate all-encompassing malls offering everything a shopaholic desires. Among them is South Edmonton Common, a 320-acre complex that is the largest open-air retail development in North America. Just minutes from Southside hotels, the expansive 1.7-million sq.-ft. complex features more than 100 outlets and mega-stores to choose from. The Southside also offers the more traditional mall experience of Southgate Mall, featuring more than 125 fashionable stores and specialty boutiques.