Edmonton is a thriving metropolitan city, home to an active music and arts scene and the location of North America's largest shopping and entertainment complex.
Most Edmonton schools are publicly funded and cater for kindergarten kids through to grade 12. This includes a number of French language schools for the French speaking minority community living in Edmonton. Public schools are largely managed by one of three public school boards, although there are some public charter schools as well. The number of private schools in Edmonton is very small.
The city is also home to a number of colleges including the University of Alberta (U of A), home to the second-largest research library in Canada and serving around 40,000 students. MacEwan University has a similar enrollment, whilst the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) can boast over 60,000 students in more than 200 degrees, diplomas and other programs. Other colleges in Edmonton include the Concordia University College of Alberta, The King's University College, NorQuest College, Taylor University College and Seminary, and Yellowhead Tribal College.
Edmonton's metropolitan transit network includes the Edmonton Light Rail Transit (LTR) system, as well as an extensive bus network, both operated by the Edmonton Transit System (ETS). Public transport is popular and well used in the city, and the LRT currently serves 15 locations from Clareview in the north down to Century Park in the south. Prices for public transport in Edmonton are reasonable, with a flat fare (3.20 CAD at the time of writing in February 2015) for all single journeys, and several daily, monthly and annual passes that offer excellent value for money. Children aged five years and under travel for free, up to four children aged 12 and under can travel free with one adult day pass, and there are several discounts available for young people and seniors.
Cars drive on the right, and right turns on red lights are generally allowed unless otherwise indicated. The road system in Edmonton largely follows a grid pattern, and the roads are well maintained. On the whole, traffic is light in Edmonton, and rush hours are short. However, winter weather conditions such as severe snowfall can have a big effect on road conditions, as shown by a recent proposal to build a Freezeway, i.e. an ice-skating highway, as an alternative mode of transport in winter.
In addition, Edmonton has a strong cycling culture, and benefits from a network of bicycle trails around the city – particularly in the riverside areas – enjoyed by many who live in Edmonton. Last but not least, Edmonton is also a major hub for national rail travel.
Edmonton is home to the West Edmonton Mall, which is North America's largest shopping and entertainment complex. Here you will find a lake, a massive water park, two mini golf courses, a skating rink, a Vegas-style casino, an amusement park and no fewer than 21 movie theaters.
Edmonton also has a number of cultural community hot-spots, including Whyte Avenue's theaters and music venues and Churchill Square in downtown. Churchill Square plays host to most of the city's many events and festivals, including the Works Art & Design Festival, a major annual summer art show featuring well-known names from around the world.
In addition to Edmonton International Street Performers Festival, Edmonton Fashion Week and the Pride Festival, Edmonton's main summer festival is K-Days. With a real carnival and fairground atmosphere, along with music and entertainment, this event dates back to 1879 and is part of the cultural history of the city.
Expatriates in Edmonton can further look forward to a visit of what is widely regarded as one of the best concert halls in Canada, the Francis Winspear Centre for Music. This venue hosts a huge range of shows throughout the year, including pop concerts, comedy, dance and performances from the resident Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
Each August brings the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, showcasing Fringe Theater from around the world. Globally, Edmonton is second only to Edinburgh in terms of the size of its fringe festival. With the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Edmonton Heritage Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Edmonton International Film Festival, the Whyte Avenue Art Walk and many more, living in Edmonton can seem like a never-ending carnival of culture. It's no wonder Edmonton is popularly known as the festival city.