Saskatoon is given a bad reputation having nothing to do, as if it is the equivalent of a small town where wandering aimlessly is a main attraction. Except Saskatoon is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada and it is full of exciting things to do if people are willing to go out and find them. Exciting cultural events aren’t going to come to you.
There are a few events that everyone knows about like the Fringe Festival, the Exhibition and Folkfest. These are well-established gatherings that seem to take over the city during the summer, but there’s so much else to discover during the rest of the year.
The Mendel Art Gallery, updated each season, is also a great place to relax with a hot cup of joe at its in-gallery coffee shop, Museo. Likewise, Saskatoon Community Youth Arts Programming art gallery downtown brings interesting works from a variety of demographics that are often more experimental. The Snelgrove gallery on campus also features unique student or former student artwork at its exhibit.
There are plenty of cool cultural activities to get involved in at the Free Flow Dance Center — it offers all kinds of dance classes and dance parties for those who are interested in more than a bump and grind.
Those looking for more musical experiences should get down to the The Bassment and become members, gaining the privilege of cheaper shows while enjoying the trademark piano and jazz atmosphere.
With the closing of Lydia’s, The Bassment has also taken over “Tonight It’s Poetry,” which features weekly spoken word and slam poetry performances. The event is one of the most attended poetry events in all of Canada.
Just across the street from The Bassment is the Frances Morrison Library, which features an open mic night of its own for aspiring writers looking to read some of their fiction and get feedback.
Writers read to their peers and the writer in residence — past examples include Life of Pi author Yann Martel — it’s definitely worthwhile experience. Those who would like to listen to blossoming talent read are welcome to attend.
Two places that are very under-appreciated in Saskatoon are the Western Development Museum and Wanuskawin. The latter offers a unique cultural perspective of Saskatchewan’s First Nations history but the center also brings some beautiful nature walks. Explore a typical 1910 Saskatchewan boomtown at the WDM complete with blacksmiths and historic reenactments.
A lot of people tend to forget about the Forestry Farm, Saskatoon’s own local zoo, which is even open during winter with no admission fee. Besides going out and visiting the animals, there is daily entertainment featuring animals interacting with their trainers.
Persephone Theatre and TCU Place are always rotating through a lineup of live productions, but some of the best are put on by the Live Five theater company which puts on shows at The Refinery.
If all else fails, take a look down Broadway and you’re bound to find unique concert or movie playing at the theater. Another great theatre experience is The Roxy on 20th Street, which has a lot of great independent movies that can’t be found anywhere else in Saskatoon.
Graphic: Cody Schumacher