Thursday, 15 June 2017 08:00

Waterton’s wildflower wonderland will be on display again this year with its six-day festival

Written by  Demi Knight
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One of the many beautiful wildflowers to be observed during the six-day festival. One of the many beautiful wildflowers to be observed during the six-day festival. Photo by Jon Remington

As the Alberta summer blossoms with the wildflowers beginning to bloom, there is no better place to see these magnificent plants than in the small village of Waterton. The annual wildflower festival is taking place this year June 15-20.


With Waterton’s impressive ecosystems, the community is able to call itself home to more than 1,000 vascular plant species.
This wildflower wonderland is an event for the public showcasing more than half of the wildflower species that exist within Alberta.
Maria Martinez, lead director of this year’s festival, says Waterton is proud to host this wonderful event each year
“Holding the festival in Waterton is very rewarding because it celebrates one of the rare treasure of Waterton — the wildflowers,” says Martinez. “Waterton truly is the Wildflower Capital of Canada because of the large diversity and beauty of the native species of flowers. We need to protect the rare places where such species remain largely unchanged from hundreds of years ago.”
 For the 14th year, members of the public will explore the beauty this national park has to offer.
Tours are offered to participants through guided walks and hikes as well as a wide range of other activities such as horseback riding to identify wildflowers or plant identification from a cruise.
“An important part of protecting and preserving native plants is by understanding and learning about them. The festival creates a fun and magical venue for people to learn, appreciate and discover wildflowers. There is nothing more rewarding and enjoyable than hearing the participants of the festival come back after a session and burst effusively with excitement from their wildflower discoveries and new knowledge,” says Martinez about the importance of indulging in this festival and expanding one’s knowledge.
As with previous years, participants can indulge in their artistic sides, with classes on wildflower photography and painting.
Over the past several years, the event has gained attention, with the festival earning a finalist spot for the 2016 Alto Award for Outstanding Sustainable Tourism.
With the sun shining, many members of the public are ready to enjoy the festivities once again this year.
“We have a ton of different sessions that will accommodate different interest and wants. We have photography, painting, birding, hiking, a cooking session and even some new technical sessions on what to do after your photos have been taken. It’s a great event to attend because people can expect to learn from our instructors that are so knowledgeable in what they do, that I can guarantee that you will walk away with learning something that you will remember,” says Martinez of the different events this year’s festival has to offer.
All activities offered during the festival are led by qualified professionals. This year, it includes the help of wildflower photographers Ian Wilson and Kyle Marquardt, as well as botanical artist Margaret Best. This festival also boasts the help of naturalists and scientists Charlie Russell, Lyndon Penner and Brenda Holder.
The six-day event offers activities ranging in difficulty for the public to enjoy from easy minimal walking and wheelchair accessible activities to eight-kilometre hikes on uneven ground, so the participants can choose the events they wish to attend accordingly.
More information is available online at: https://mywaterton.ca/events/waterton-wildflower-festival-2017/wat9ffc4c27a13a6e7e0.

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