Zip lines, bungee jumps at Edmonton's Grey Cup Festival

Edmonton's Grey Cup Festival kicks off Wednesday next week with over 50 events, many of them free including a zip line, a bungee jump and a chance to go skiing, all on Jasper Avenue.

Grey Cup Festival kicks off in downtown Edmonton on Wednesday

Two tube slides will be set up outside Canada Place for the Grey Cup Festival. (Grey Cup Festival)

Edmonton's Grey Cup Festival kicks off Wednesday next week with over 50 events, many of them free including a zip line, a bungee jump and a chance to go skiing, all on Jasper Avenue.

The festival area will be nearly four times bigger than the last time Edmonton hosted the Grey Cup in 2010, said Duane Vienneau, executive director of the Grey Cup Festival.

"We just want to put on the best ever," he said. "We have a goal to raise the bar."

In 2010, most of the activity took place in Sir Winston Churchill Square, but LRT construction makes that impossible this year.

Instead the festival will take place along Jasper Avenue between 96th and 99th streets, now closed to traffic until Nov. 28.

Zipping across Jasper Avenue

The footprint for this year's festival is four times bigger than the last one, meaning organizers can fit in more activities.

Instead of a zip line across Churchill Square, this year's line will be longer and higher, soaring people over Jasper Avenue down to Louise McKinney park.

"We've also added a bungee jump that's six storeys high," Vienneau said.

Other new attractions include a tube slide and a downhill ski area with artificial snow.

"We're really excited about this one because we believe that there might be people that have never skied before and they can come in and try it for the first time," Vienneau said.

Ski equipment will be provided, he added.

A ski ramp will be set up with an artificial snow surface. (Grey Cup Festival)

Family-friendly activities

For smaller children, there will be mini versions of some of the activities, including a zip line, bungee jump and a tube slide, Vienneau said.

The family-centred activities will be held in a 20,000-square-foot heated tent.

"We don't want families to say 'Hey I'm not going to go today because it ... might be too cold,' " he said.

There will also be a mini football field set up on 97th Street for kids of all ages to practise their football moves.

Music and more

Evening activities include the popular hospitality rooms, each hosted by fans of CFL teams including the yet-to-be-formed Atlantic Schooners.

"It's the ability to ... go to your favourite team's room or try them all," Vienneau said. "It's about sharing stories and having a beer and being with like-minded people."

An outdoor entertainment stage will run each day starting Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

"We are trying to appeal to every sort of music lover," he said.

Some of the acts include Notorious YEG, Paul Woida, and the Rural Alberta Advantage.

All of the festival activities take place in downtown Edmonton. (Grey Cup Festival)

While not every city that hosts the Grey Cup has a parade, Edmonton does, Vienneau said.

"We believe if we don't plan one, some people would roll out of the Spirit of Edmonton [hospitality room] and make their own anyway, so we really try and embrace it," he said.

This year's parade will roll down Jasper Avenue on Saturday, Nov. 24, and will be joined by Santa Claus. 

And while the home town Eskies are not in the game itself, Vienneau said he expects a big crowd at Commonwealth Stadium.

"There's 30,000 people that travel every year to Grey Cup," he said. "The economic impact of Grey Cup is between $80 million to $100 million."

The festival in 2010 attracted 500,000 people which Vienneau described as huge. He​ hopes this year's festival will be just as popular.


Nola Keeler is an award-winning journalist who has worked with CBC in Whitehorse, Yukon and Edmonton since 2000. She has worked as a host, reporter, news reader and producer for CBC. Send story ideas to nola.keeler@cbc.ca.