2021 saw the safe return of conventions, tradeshows, concerts, and galas to the Edmonton EXPO Centre—although they looked a bit different than they have in the past. From the long-awaited Imagine Van Gogh exhibition to the return of Farmfair International, the Edmonton Stingers being crowned champions to EXPO being recognized as a Centre of Excellence, 2021 was a year of hope that brought back a sense of normalcy to the venue.
THE EXCITING RETURN OF EVENTS
The Edmonton EXPO Centre was thrilled to welcome guests to its halls again in 2021. It saw the long-awaited Imagine Van Gogh: Immersive Exhibition, familiar conventions such as Edmonton Beer Fest and Bridal Fantasy, hosted the inaugural no-holds-barred discussion with entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, and more—festively ending the year with GLOW Edmonton: Canada’s largest indoor holiday light show.
The Edmonton EXPO Centre safely hosted 179 events and welcomed a total of 158,963 attendees in 2021.
EXPLORE EDMONTON’S SIGNATURE EVENTS
The Edmonton EXPO Centre grounds welcomed over 20,000 fair-goers from across the city and beyond for the Summer Fun Midway July 23 – August 1. Delicious fair food, thrilling rides, and favourite games gave attendees the opportunity to feel normal for a bit over the summer.
From November 10 – 13, EXPO’s Halls B and C were transformed for the 47th FarmFair International. Although the event saw the cancellation of some of its programs due to the pandemic, it was wildly successful, with 2021 show entries surpassing 2019 numbers. The show saw more than 1,000 entries, with exhibitors and their livestock making the journey to Edmonton from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Alberta. The show was also host to 18 international delegates from seven countries including Mexico, Argentina, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United States.
For five weeks in 2021, the historic Edmonton Exhibition Lands Racetrack was transformed into a massive socially-distanced venue—the first of its kind—for the Together Again: Outdoor Concert Series, the Great Outdoor Comedy Festival, and Rock Fest. The teams at EXPO were proud to support Trixstar in their dream of safely bringing live entertainment back to our city. The events were a huge success, and truly showed Edmontonians how great it felt to be together again.
HOME TO THE HIVE
2021 brought 103 sporting events to the Edmonton EXPO Centre, which, in addition to Athletics Alberta, Alberta Handball, and 3×3 Basketball, included another season of CEBL home games for the Edmonton Stingers.
Edmonton was selected as the 2021 host of the CEBL Championship Weekend August 18 – 22, during which the Edmonton EXPO Centre was host to the best players, officials and fans from across the country. The weekend brought the biggest basketball celebration in the country to our city, which included free outdoor entertainment on EXPO’s north stage, featuring Roy Wood$ and Kardinal Offishall.
The Edmonton Stingers won the CEBL Championship for the second year in a row on Hall D home turf surrounded by cheering fans.
STILL NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC
Although 2021 saw the return of much-missed events, it also made clear that this pandemic is far from over. The year brought event cancellations, postponements, seemingly ever-changing restrictions, and, as of October 1, the Restrictions Exemption Program. EXPO teams worked in overdrive to ensure all events moved forward following the latest health & safety guidelines, and kept guest safety the number-one priority year-round.
2021 saw the continuation of Edmonton’s largest COVID-19 assessment centre within Hall A, which has seen over a million COVID-19 tests administered since opening in September 2020. At 522,000 square feet, there is no better space in Edmonton more equipped to safely separate assessment centre traffic from other event taking place within the venue. The Edmonton EXPO Centre was also host to an AHS vaccination site, which welcomed roughly one in three Edmontonians to receive at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine at the venue.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Explore Edmonton received the award for the 2021 Corporate Climate Leader of the Year for the sustainability work of both of its venues. Prioritizing a culture of environmental, economic, and social sustainability is at the core of EXPO operations, and this award recognizes efforts to make the events industry a sustainable industry. Every action within the venue’s sustainability program have been taken in support of Explore Edmonton’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan with the aim of achieving GHG reduction targets.
CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
For the second year in a row, both of Explore Edmonton’s venues, Edmonton Convention Centre and Edmonton EXPO Centre, were proud to announce that they were recognized among the 2022 EXHIBITOR Centers of Excellence. Produced by EXHIBITOR Magazine, the annual award recognizes the top 30 venues for trade shows and events in North America. Our incredible talent, diverse events and our continued commitment to service excellence sets our venues apart.
As we say goodbye to an eventful 2021, we’re thankful for our community of guests, partners and staff who have made this a memorable and successful year. We’re excited for what 2022 will bring to our industry, and will continue to be in service of our community as we navigate unchartered territory together.