What to expect at the Grey Cup Festival

The Grey Cup Festival will kick off with a number of activities for festivalgoers to enjoy.

Jasper Avenue between 99 Street and 96 Street has been closed off to traffic and filled with domes, tents and slides for the four-day Grey Cup Festival that leads to Sunday’s 106th Grey Cup championship game between the Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa Redblacks on at the Commonwealth Stadium.

On Tuesday, media got a tour of the area led by Duane Vienneau, executive director of the 2018 Grey Cup Festival, to show what the public can expect starting Wednesday at 11 a.m.

The entrance of the festival at 99 Street has a giant dome to the right that is exclusively for families with small kids.

“The family zone has mini-versions of the everything we are doing,” Vienneau said. “The zipline, tube slide are all minis in there for the kids that can’t go on the big ones because they are not tall.”

The family zone also has a small turf area for kids to practise drills and push dummies across the turf just like actual Canadian Football League players do for strength-training.

The festival will also have a booth for fans to get their faces painted for free to get into the football spirit. The booth will be at Jasper Place by the Shaw Conference Centre during the entire festival and will be moved to the Commonwealth Stadium for game day.

Visitors to the festival will have to climb 50 feet to access the bungee jump and zipline. Where one lands on Jasper Avenue, the latter will take you on a 20- to 30-second trip into the River Valley.

With Edmonton being a winter city, of course the festival also includes a mini ski-hill. Festivalgoers over the age of five and of any skill-set can go. They get free ski equipment rental and, since the downward slope is a short 10-second ride, they get three turns.

Green turf has been laid out on 97 Street to create a mini-field for people to enjoy a go at a football game of their own.

Because it’s November it will definitely be cold out. To warm up, there are tents for people to enjoy a beverage, another one to watch esports in action as professional League of Legends players battle it out in front of a live audience.

A third tent is set up specifically for the fan experience where football jerseys and helmets are available for photos and selfies. It also includes a football virtual reality experience.

Wednesday is the kickoff party, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Festivalgoers will get to enjoy the bungee jump, skiing and ziplining starting at 7 p.m. for an hour, so be sure to get there on time.

The kickoff party will be followed by the free Bring the Heat bash at the Shaw Conference Centre, featuring Juno Award winner Kardinal Offishall, local DJ Harman B, and Notorious YEG.

The Grey Cup festivities will continue starting early from 11 a.m. and go on until 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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