Published on March 12, 2024

Volunteering at the Children’s Festival: You’ve Got What It Takes!

Over the years, the Children’s Festival has become a recurring event in the calendars of many volunteers. Time again, committed regulars register to help support one of the region’s most renowned events, and their names and faces have become a reliable comfort for those running and attending each spring! Volunteering at the International Children’s Festival of the Arts in St. Albert is an experience in and of itself. We caught up with Kathleen Bell, who has been with the Festival for three years as Volunteer Manager (and eight years as Youth Ambassador Captain before that!), to ask her about what it takes to join this elite group and what kind of support it is required to run a Festival like this. 

3 volunteers smiling in the first aid tent

7 volunteers smiling

Kathleen, imagine I’m someone who has never volunteered at the Children’s Festival before. What is the most important thing you think I need to know?

The number one most important thing you need to know is that volunteering is fun! Interacting with busloads of excited kids absolutely fills your heart. The energy on the site is infectious and our volunteer team is full of such friendly faces—you're sure to walk away from the experience with a smile, knowing you’ve made an impact in the life of thousands of children.

7 volunteers smiling in front of St. Albert Place

A volunteer standing in front of St. Albert Place

If I apply, what kinds of things could I expect to be doing as a volunteer?

Every volunteer will have an opportunity to sign up for their own shifts, so they can decide what role would be a good fit for them. If you want to walk the site and see all the Festival in action, signing up for Green Team, which helps keep our site clean, is a great option. If you want to get into a show and see the feature performers we’ve brought in from around the world, I would consider being an usher. If you want in interact with kids, then being an activity assistant is for you. If you are a youth who loves to be helpful, I would highly recommend the Youth Ambassador Program—these volunteers help our patrons navigate the festival site and make sure families have a positive experience onsite. And if you’re over 18 and looking to make an impact, you should contact our Volunteer Coordinator and consider becoming a Team Leader.

Given that there are a variety of roles that need to be filled, how many volunteers typically join the team each year?

Our volunteers keep the Festival running! Since we have activities and performances happening over four full days, this means that there are over 750 volunteer shifts that need to be filled this year. We ask that volunteers commit at least six hours (one day) to us during the Festival, but many join us for multiple days, so usually this means we have anywhere between 300 and 350 individuals who commit their time to making sure the Festival runs smoothly.

A volunteer painting the face of a child

A volunteer helping a child

If I am interested in getting involved, but not quite sure if it’s the right fit for me, what would be some things I could expect to gain from my time with the Festival?

Volunteering at Festival truly makes you feel connected to your community and the generations of residents that have attended and supported the event over the last 43 years. It’s an opportunity to be part of something bigger. Volunteers continually come up to me after the Festival is over and say that they can’t wait to come back next year. And I can’t wait to see them again and spend another fun filled week with them. The satisfaction and joy you can get from helping children and their families experience the Festival is unmatched—it makes you feel like a kid again! It’s also a great way to meet other people and make new friends, learn more about your skills and abilities, discover new interests, or even build up community volunteer hours to help with improving a resume or a post-secondary application.

4 volunteers having fun

6 volunteers having fun

As a volunteer who is committing my time and energy to the Festival, is there anything else that I might get in return for my commitment, besides the satisfaction of knowing I’m making a difference?

Every volunteer gets free entry to one paid activity or feature performance of their choice after they’ve completed their first 6-hour shift, as a thank you for their time. While on shift, they also are treated to lunch and refreshments at the Volunteer Headquarters, and they get to take home a free Festival t-shirt, too! There’s also a volunteer appreciation event after the Festival wraps up on Sunday, with a special performance by one of the incredible performers we’ve had at the Festival. It’s such a fun time to relax, share stories, connect and celebrate a job well done.

2 volunteers walking through the festival

Okay, so I’ve decided to volunteer. Now what?

This year, returning volunteers are invited to apply to join the team starting on March 12! If you’re new and wanting to get involved, you can apply starting March 19. In the Children’s Festival Volunteering section you'll have access to everything you need to know to join the team (if you’re not 18, you’ll need an adult to give you permission to apply). All the application forms and waivers are online in this section and you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to register on the Application Process and Waiver Forms page.

If you have any trouble at all, cantact our Volunteer Coordinator:

5 volunteers having fun under a tent

For more information on volunteering with the Festival or to learn more about the feature performances and activities you can expect to find on site this year, visit:

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Last edited: June 10, 2024