One of the challenges in filmmaking and photography is finding those ideal shooting locations where you can acquire the most unique shots that set your work apart from all the rest. Luckily for us, our city, Edmonton, Alberta, is full of such distinctive qualities that can provide cinematographers with that exemplary look that they crave and search for.
Here are some noteworthy outdoor locations in Edmonton that would make your film or photo shoot exceptional!
The first location on the list shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, Edmonton’s River Valley is one of the gems in our gorgeous city. There are so many beautiful areas to get dynamic shots from. Whether you climb up to one of the viewing points to get a glimpse of the entirety of the valley, take a stroll through the various walking paths in the foliage, or even get close to the river itself, you can’t really find a bad angle! Though you can’t be afraid to get a little wet for those really amazing shots! Those who are hunting for those really unique views better be prepared to strap on their walking shoes as the river valley stretches across an expanse of 7,400 hectares. There are 150km of trails that you can bike or walk on, and in the winter even snowshoe and cross country ski!
Though technically a part of the river valley, we thought that the Chinese Gardens should get their own number on this list. Located in Louise McKinney Park, these Gardens were originally a gift from former mayor Bill Smith to the Chinese community to celebrate Chinese culture in Edmonton. It houses many authentic Chinese architecture elements such as traditional gates, rock lions and focal point of the Garden which is the Tang Dynasty style pavilion. Add these up with the flowers that surround the Garden in the summer season, and you have yourself a perfect area for capturing beautiful footage. These gardens are also favourable to meditate in, as they have been carefully placed in the epicentre between the Canadian Rockies in the west and prairies in the east to enhance the spiritual energy in Edmonton. Feeling the Feng Shui might give you that extra edge to pursue the best shots.
You’ve probably all seen the red brick mansion located just off of the University campus, but have you considered that the historical building might actually be a great backdrop for filming? Built in 1911 for our first Premier Alexander Cameron Rutherford and his family, this house has since become a monument for Edmonton. The Friends of Rutherford House Society has gone to great lengths to protect and preserve the history within the house, keeping the gardens maintained and using the inside of the house as a museum. It’s a popular place to do any kind of photography and would make for an interesting location for any filming done in the Edmonton area.
Heading back down to the River Valley, we’re positive you’ve all seen the glassy pyramid structures that sit stunningly across Edmonton’s skyline. The Muttart Conservatory is not only a botanical garden whose innovation is setting the pace for plant study in western Canada, it’s also a location unique to Edmonton that would be great to shoot at, inside and out. Inside each pyramid is a different botanical garden could set the tone for any scene in your film or photo (though be prepared to pay the admission price). On the outside, the pyramids are an interesting feature in any backdrop and are also gorgeous to shoot at night, as all four light up in various colours!
This massive structure that overlooks the North Saskatchewan river is another location that brings endless possibilities for film and photography. Known for its warm nighttime glow and reflecting pools that are open to the public during the summer, the Legislature building has always been a crowd favourite for getting wedding or graduation photos done. Due to it’s different vibes in the daytime and evening, you can get a variety of footage at this location. Unfortunately, they don’t permit you to do any sort of photography inside the building, but the grounds itself offers many different opportunities for you to get that one incredible shot you are looking for.
It was a given that Fort Edmonton was going to be on this list. How could we not include one of the most historical places in the city with some of the coolest architecture? Fort Edmonton is an ideal location, especially for filming. It has the authenticity of the olden days trading post, containing some rebuilt buildings and some from the original Fort. With free admission, how can you pass on the opportunity to do some photography on it’s unforgettable streets?
Grandiose. Probably your first thought when you see this structure, and the Government House is definitely that. Granted, it was originally built to house the Lieutenant Governors of Alberta but has since been repurposed to use for things such as Government ceremonial events, conferences and more. This would make for a great shooting location due to the Jacobean style of the building, something rarely seen in Edmonton. It’s a popular destination for photo shoots, the lavish construction of the house contributing to a great backdrop in a lot of wedding photography. It would also be another fantastic filming location.
Featuring some of the best skylines and views of the river, the high level bridge is another focal point of the river valley. Located right next to the Legislature, the bridge was originally built for the Pacific Railway but was then developed as a way to get from downtown Edmonton to the other side of the river. One Streetcar still runs on the top of the bridge, taking passengers from the Strathcona area, all the way to Jasper Ave downtown. The bridge itself has walkways for pedestrians to take a stroll across, or for photographers to stop and try and capture the breathtaking views it offers. Be warned, the best times for shooting at this location are morning sunrise and the evening sun, high sun can cast dark shadows across the bridge, so you would need to know some lighting tips and tricks to get good shots at that time of the day.
9. Whyte Ave
Looking for some neat street photography or a more casual place to film? Whyte Ave is where you want to be. Edmonton’s most eclectic location for shopping and dining, Whyte Ave features streets with interesting architecture, and well taken care of city landscaping. Along with the various shops, the streets are lined with trees and, in the summer, blooming flowers! Restaurants open up their patios in the summer and people love to gather at these locations, a chance to make your shots more dynamic.
10. End of the World
That’s right, pack your bags, the end is here. Just kidding, but believe it or not, this is a real place in Edmonton! Finding this place can be a little tricky, as it’s right along the edge of the river, but worth it when you see the perspective it offers. Nicknamed ‘The End of the World’ because it’s situated on an old retaining wall above what used to be Keillor Road before it crumbled into the river, you can get spectacular shots of west Edmonton from here. We caution you to venture into this area as the wall has no railings and a steep dive down to rocks and the river below. Oh, and the $150 trespassing fine you could get by being caught here. Don’t fret about never being able to see the view from this location though, as the City is looking to transform the area into an actual lookout and tourism point.
Now here is a location that our city should take a lot of pride in. It’s no secret that we have one of the most beautiful city halls on the prairies, what with the two glittering pyramids that offer natural light to the inside of the building and the 200 foot clock, named the Friendship Tower, that chimes it’s 23 carillon bells. Edmonton City Hall would make for a great shooting location in both the summer and the winter. It has a serene fountain outside it’s main doors that converts into a skating rink in the winter, making for great photos and an ideal filming location. The hall itself is located in Sir Winston Churchill Square, which also houses many summer events to make your shoots more interesting.
Check out our other locally-based lists: 7 Amazing Big-Budget Movies & Series Filmed in Alberta 13 Famous Actors You Didn’t Know Were Born in Alberta
Also check out the “You Think You Know Edmonton” campaign that Cineflair has been producing. Help us promote our beautiful and diverse city by viewing and sharing! Let’s help Edmonton put it’s mark on the map!
Got any more inspirational places in Edmonton that would step up your photoshoot that we missed? Mention them in the comments below!