There has never been a better time to appreciate and honour Ukrainian culture. And just in time, the massive Edmonton Ukrainian Festival, aka UFest, is making a grand return to Borden Park this year. And so are two whole days of art, culture and entertainment overload.

Taking place on May 27 and 28, the festival is free to attend by anyone who has been longing to be knee-deep in fun. UFest is your chance to explore the rich Ukrainian heritage, enjoy authentic delicacies, down delicious Ukrainian beer and experience the euphoria that only comes with a high-energy fest.

But before you break out your festival gear and head to Borden Park, here are 5 facts you might want to familiarize yourself with.

Ukrainian food is not all perogies. There’s also Borshch!

Image via UFest

Before you get all worked up, there will be ample perogies for you to enjoy at the fest. But as you’ll experience when you explore the slew of restaurants and food trucks at the fest, there’s a lot more to indulge in than just perogies. The most iconic of these is Borshch! Simply put, it’s a veggie soup with beet as the main ingredient. And there apparently are a gazillion different recipes for this, with competitions of who makes it best. This sweet and sour delight is frequently served with pampushky, or garlic fritters. Drooling already, are we?

Ukrainians love their embroidered shirts, aka Vyshyvanka

Image via UFest

If there is one thing more iconic than the perogies, it is the traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts aka Vyshyvanka. The simple and sleek silhouette, the bold and colourful embroidery and the region-inspired elements have permanently found a place in Bohemian fashion. And for the past couple of months, people the world over have been sporting these shirts to show their support for Ukraine. Now you’ll witness a sea of these at the fest.

Ukrainians are big on art, culture & entertainment

Be honest guys, when you read “Ukrainian entertainment” didn’t you think of the spectacular, celebratory hopak dance? Well, we did too. C’mon those twirling colours, high-flying kicks and infectiously high energy are hard to forget. And yes, there are going to be multiple hopak performances to get your fill of this thrilling dance. But there is more!
The festival is quite literally the gathering ground for talent with artists, musicians and performers all set to inspire and entertain. From art workshops to tuskers to on-stage performances, UFest will unravel the many vibrant aspects of Ukrainian culture.

Ukrainians love their sunflowers

Just like the Vyshyvanka, the sunflower too has been cropping up in various parts of the world as a mark of support for Ukraine. As you might already know, the pretty flower has been an integral part of the culture and the economy (Ukraine happens to be the largest exporter of sunflower oil) forever. Inspired by the backyards of Ukrainian homes, the woven motifs of their clothes and even the floral headdress, the festival is embracing the sunflower motif wholeheartedly.
Pop by the Kids Zone to get a sunflower painted on your face, or visit the Art in the Village to purchase a sunflower-themed piece of artwork by a local artist.

Ukrainians know how to party

Image via UFest

Of the many traditions, the one that Ukrainians are known for and never let go of is how to keep the celebration going. And the festival is proof of that celebratory spirit. Just because the day and on-stage performances are coming to an end, doesn’t mean the celebration has to stop too. After the day-long electric performances, what we know as UFest After Dark. This basically involves enjoying a cold one and flaunting some polka and zabava moves under the stars to foot-tapping music by live bands.

We’re sure once you hit the fest, you’ll discover a lot more about the beautifully rich Ukrainian culture. You’ll also be able to show your support for Ukraine, by donating at one of the donation stations at UFest to support Ukrainians fleeing the war who have arrived in the Edmonton Region. All proceeds will be donated to Ukrainian Canadian Social Services. Several other partner organizations will also be collecting donations for Ukraine at the festival.

So, gear up for a very memorable weekend. We’ll see you there.