A Primer to the Grey Cup Festival
Dylan Robertson (2L)
Later this month, Edmonton will play host to the 106th Grey Cup. The game – which will take place on Sunday, November 25th and will almost certainly be won by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, otherwise the league is fixed and I hate this game – will be preceded by the Grey Cup Festival, which starts on the Wednesday prior to the game and will run up until kickoff. This year’s Festival will be over double the size of the 2010 Festival (the last time Edmonton hosted the Grey Cup).
While you may not watch the CFL, you probably enjoy getting drunk on Jasper. Fortunately, there are tons of activities available for football and non-football fans alike during the Festival. So allow me, the law school’s resident Saskatchewanian and lone (rightful) proponent that the CFL is a superior game than the NFL, to highlight a number of events that you should check out at the Grey Cup Festival.
The main celebration for the Grey Cup is the Nissan Titan Street Festival, which will be taking place every day of the Festival from 11am-11pm on Jasper Ave (between 99th and 96th). This free family event will feature live music, a 243m long zip-line down into the river valley, an eight-storey ski hill, and a bungee jump. The music lineup is an impressive one, and includes nightly headliners the Rural Alberta Advantage, the Strumbellas, and Tim Hicks.
Another big event will be the annual Grey Cup Parade, which will be held on Saturday between 12-1:30 down on Jasper Ave. While the parade is usually a massive celebration of fandom, this year will feature a special guest: Santa Claus. Thanks to the proximity between the Grey Cup and Santa Claus Parades, the two have been combined this year to make one large, mismatched parade that is sure to be a hit with families.
The biggest draw for many fans will no doubt be the team parties. It is a long-standing tradition that each team in the league hosts a party for their fans and any expats in the host city. These parties are a fantastic way not only to meet fellow fans, but people from all across Canada, and to indulge in the different regional cultures on display. While the Eastern teams will have smaller get-togethers on the Friday and Saturday, the Western teams will be out in force. A few of the bigger parties include:
Spirit of Edmonton (T/F/S, $10) – the Eskimos’ celebration will be held at the Westin from 2pm to 2am everyday and promises to be a wonderful time so long as you avoid their poutine like the plague. The Eskimos also host a legendary Grey Cup breakfast (Thursday and Friday this year) featuring a drink known as Sluice Juice, but be warned that it’s pricey.
Stamps House (F/S, $10) – feel bad that you bought a cowboy hat at the Stampede this year and haven’t gotten a chance to wear it unironically? Then head down to the Hotel Macdonald and celebrate with the Calgarians. The party will include live music, hourly giveaways, and an overbearing angst amongst the fans that their team will choke in the Grey Cup for the third time in a row. The Stamps will also be hosting their traditional (and free) Stampede Breakfast between 11-1 on Friday and 9-11 on Saturday at Telus Park.
Riderville (F/S 12pm-2am, $10, children are free between 12-3) – held at the Shaw Centre, the Riders’ celebration will feature live bands, family events, and appearances from players. If you know green is the colour, put on your bunnyhug and come quaff some Pil with a pack of stubble jumpers. If you don’t know what I just said, come anyway; I’ll probably be there, and I left Saskatoon specifically so I wouldn’t have to drink alone anymore.
Touchdown Manitoba (F/S , $20) – yes, this party exists. It will be held at the Shaw Centre. No, I don’t know why people celebrate the Bombers or Winnipeg either. No, I am not biased. How dare you. Go Riders.
Atlantic Canada Kitchen Party (F/S, $20)– the Atlantic Schooners don’t exist. They have never existed. But that doesn’t stop fans from Atlantic Canada from hosting their own team party every year. This year’s party will be held at the Shaw Centre and feature Celtic rock bands, lobster rolls, and Grey Cup trivia. This party has been voted the best team party multiple times in the past and is guaranteed to be the most unique experience of the entire Festival.
For more information on other events, as well as exact schedules and music line-ups, you can find them online at www.greycupfestival.ca.