5 Top-Rated Attractions and Experiences in Hawrelak Park

5 Top-Rated Attractions and Experiences in Hawrelak Park 

William Hawrelak Park is a 60-hectare (148-acre) park with a lake, an amphitheater, a children’s playground, picnic sites, gardens, and trails.

This urban green space opened in 1967. It was known as Mayfair Park, but in 1975, it was changed and named after Mayor Hawrelak, who’d been a pivotal person in the park’s creation. 

If you decide to drop by, make sure to explore the top-rated attractions and experiences in Hawrelak Park, which we’ll list below.

Things to See and Explore in Hawrelak Park 

1. Discover the park’s trails 

Discover the park’s trails

Image Source: AllTrails 

Best time to visitJune to August
Operating hoursOpen year-round

Want to go on an adventurous hike? How about a relaxing walk with your family? 

Lucky for you, Hawrelak Park features six trails – Riverside Walk trail, Driving Tour trail, Groat Road Bridge trail, Inner Loop trail, and two different trails leading to Fort Edmonton

All trails offer scenic views of the entire river bend, so you can snap pictures along the way. 

Well, if you’re coming with your family or friends, we suggest you explore the easy hiking trails. These are the Riverside Walk, Driving Tour, and Groat Road Bridge. 

It’s because you can accomplish each trail in an average of 30 minutes to 1 hour. 

Alternatively, if you want to discover a more strenuous hike, you can try the 4.8-kilometer (2.9-mile) and 8.4-kilometer (5.2-mile) trail to Fort Edmonton. These trails’ elevation gain ranges from 30 to 166 meters (98 to 545 feet), so your journey will be a bit challenging.  

Nonetheless, all paths are safe because they are marked and accessible to hikers and bikers alike. 

2. Experience Heritage Festival 

Experience Heritage Festival

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Best time to visitJuly to August (select dates only)
Operating hours10 AM to 9 PM

On select dates of July and August, Hawrelak Park transforms into a haven for tourists and locals alike because it’s the time when Edmonton Heritage Festival is celebrated. 

This festival features a diverse array of international cultures, cuisines, crafts, sights, sounds, and artworks

In over 70 outdoor pavilions, you can enjoy free entertainment such as cultural dances, music, and historical displays from over 100 countries. 

Moreover, you can also munch on various sample culinary treats for free! Note that it’s an alcohol-free celebration, so people of all ages are welcome to drop by. 

3. Visit the Ice Castle 

Visit the Ice Castle

Image Source: CTV News

Best time to visitJanuary to March
Operating hoursMonday, Wednesday - Friday ( 4 PM to 10:30 PM)

Saturday (11 AM to 10:30 PM)

Sunday (12 PM to 8 PM)

The Ice Castles in Hawrelak Park are one of the top reasons locals and tourists flock to the city during winter. 

This acre-sized winter wonderland is a majestic art itself because all ice castles are built by hand with the help of professional ice artisans. 

The making of the castles is an intricate process because the artists will first craft hundreds of icicles before moving them to one area and shaping them into castles. 

Aside from castles, you can also marvel at the different ice figures that resemble frozen waterfalls, ice caves, ice slides, and color-changing tunnels and fountains. 

Make sure to dress warmly and wear mittens and winter boots if you visit! Moreover, don’t forget your camera and gear to snag some Instagrammable pics. 

We’d just like to note that it was closed for three consecutive years due to the pandemic, but there are talks that the attraction will make its return for the 2023/2024 winter season. 

4. Watch birds on the lakeside

Watch birds on the lakeside

Image Source: Travel Alberta 

Best time to visitJune to August, December to March
Operating hoursOpen year-round (5 AM to 11 PM)

Hawrelak Park Lake is a 5-hectare (12-acre) lake that is an excellent spot for birdwatching, ice skating, and cross-country skiing. 

During the warmer months, you can explore biking trails around the lake and go birdwatching. 

Some of the most common bird species you can spot are the American Wigeons, Mallards, Lesser Scaups, Common Goldeneye, and Cooper’s Hawk. You can also spot some ducks and geese from time to time. 

If you want to enjoy good food while taking in the panoramic view of the lake, you can dine in Culina on the Lake. This lakeside cafe offers salads, burgers, craft beers, wine, soups, and other snacks.  

Alternatively, in winter, the city-operated ice surfaces are regularly maintained and monitored so people can safely use the ice rink. Moreover, skate rentals are also available inside, so you can bring your family to enjoy skiing and skating in winter. 

5. Go on a nice picnic with friends

Go on a nice picnic with friends

Image Source: Transforming Edmonton 

Best time to visitJune to August
Operating hoursOpen year-round (9 AM to 9 PM in summer)

(10 AM to 10 PM in winter)

One of the best ways to take advantage of summertime is to go on picnics! Going on an al fresco lunch or snack is easy in Edmonton because it features a myriad of parks and recreational areas. 

For example, in Hawrelak Park, you can find four picnic sites and 37 picnic tables. Due to its expansive green space and amenities, this park is a popular pick for family picnics and get-togethers. 

Aside from the tables, there are also barbeque pits around the picnic sites, so you can cook and grill your meals if you want. You can let the kids explore the playground with little buildings, play equipment, pathways, and sheltered areas while cooking. 

Are alcoholic drinks allowed in Hawrelak Park? 

Well, according to the park’s guidelines, adults can responsibly consume alcohol at designated picnic sites. However, you should only have alcoholic drinks around 11 AM to 9 PM. 

All picnic sites are booked on a first-come, first-served basis so if you plan to have a picnic date or party inside, make sure to book a reservation through their website. 

Note that dogs and pets are welcome inside the park, but they have to remain on the leash. Nonetheless, there are also off-leash areas on the southern part of the park, so you can bring your furry friends there if you want to play with them.