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Recap: Exploring Alberta on the Alberta Prairie Railway!

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta

As Mike and I continue to staycation the heck out of this province, we were both pretty excited to cross ‘train ride’ off our Alberta summer vacation list.

I first heard of the Alberta Prairie Railway a few years ago.

Someone I know had tried it and loved it – then recommended it to me, but I can’t remember who!! (So if it was you, please let me know!)

I’d been meaning to go on this railway adventure for years ever since, and was so excited that it finally worked out for Mike and I to attend on Canada Day!

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Getting ready for our Canada Day Alberta Prairie Railway adventure!

The Alberta Prairie Railway runs steam or diesel trains from Stettler, Alberta to Big Valley, Alberta.

From Edmonton, it’s just a 2-hour drive to Stettler so it easily works for a day trip.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Time for a train ride.

Alberta Prairie Railway operates day and evening rides on weekends from July through December, and depending on the time of year/day, there are different themes for the train rides – including murder mysteries, live stage shows, teddy bear specials (for kids), Christmas specials, and more.

Each ride includes some type of on-board entertainment, and you typically get ‘robbed’ by bandits part-way through the ride. You also get a meal of some kind (lunch or dinner) in Big Valley, and a bit of time to explore the town.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Our ride that day.

Alberta Prairie Railway is very family-friendly and when we went on our Canada Day trip, I was amazed at how packed it was!

More than 300 people were on board our No. 41 steam engine for the Canada Day ride (the train was decked out with Canadian flags for the occasion).

As the train left the station, Metis buffalo hunter (and hero of the Riel Rebellion) Gabriel Dumont went from car to car greeting passengers and asking us where we’re from.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
With Gabriel Dumont on the Alberta Prairie Railway!

The Alberta Prairie Railway has made a great name for itself with international travelers.

On our ride, there were people from England, Arizona, Texas, Montana, and all over Alberta – Calgary, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Edgerton, Red Deer, and of course Edmonton.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
We spent a lot of our time in the saloon!

After the initial greetings, the saloon and bar service opens up and then it’s up to you where you want to spend your ride. Mike and I spent the majority of the ride in the saloon, listening to live music from country singer Alecia Aichelle.

We did explore the entire train though (and was so surprised by how long it stretched) including a few of its concession cars, and the open-air car (which was Mike’s favourite place after the saloon).

There’s also a games room and a kids play area, and if you don’t hang out in the saloon, they have a musician who also travels across the different cars and plays music wherever you are.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
The open air car on the Alberta Prairie Railway was awesome.

The ‘bandits’ who rob the train came with blank firing gun replicas, riding horses, and there’s a mini show where Gabriel Dumont jumps out of the train to try and save the day.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Bandits are robbing us!

If the bandits stick you up, you’re asked to hand over some change. Gabriel rescues us all and then donates the money taken to different Alberta children’s charities! It’s a pretty entertaining part of the ride.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Gotta give up our change to the bandits!

The ride goes by really quickly (I mean, driving from Stettler to Big Valley only takes 25 minutes).

Once you’re off the train in Big Valley, you either have an hour or so to explore the town first before going to their big hall for a country-style lunch (or dinner), or you go right for lunch and then explore the town after.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Ice cream on the board walk.

Mike and I were among the later-lunch group, so we walked all over Big Valley – exploring its little shops and cute boardwalk. Big Valley is home to just 300 some people (so the amount of passengers on board the train that day almost equalled the total number of people in Big Valley!) and I think the train is a big activity and income-driver for the community.

They have a touristy board walk called the Jimmy Jock Boardwalk which includes a fudge factory, old time dress-up shop, ice cream store, restaurant and miscellaneous souvenirs. There are also plaques throughout with different bits of Big Valley history.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Exploring the Jimmy Jock Boardwalk in Big Valley, Alberta!

We learned that Jimmy Jock, who the board walk is named after, was a well-respected Big Valley citizen who ran a cafe and later, confectionary store in the town.

The country lunch is in the town’s community hall. The roast beef, mashed potatoes and vegetable lunch isn’t really anything spectacular (I wouldn’t be recommending this trip based on the food alone) but it’s nice to have a meal included in the day trip.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Family-style country lunch!

Some of the other trips include different meals (steak, seafood, etc.) so those ones might be a bit tastier than the country roast beef.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
Our Alberta Prairie Railway lunch.

Since it was Canada Day, our itinerary also included a Canadian Reaffirmation Ceremony – which was really just some dignitaries and legion members doing a Canada Day speech and then reciting a speech.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
After a Canada Day Canadian citizenship reaffirmation!

After the ceremony, we hopped back onto the train for the ride home – more saloon-in’ and live entertainment, and I squeezed in a quick nap too.

Our ride that day was also sponsored by Panda Flowers, so staff went through and gave everyone complimentary roses! How lovely.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
What a ride!

Overall, Mike and I really enjoyed traveling back in time, across our rolling Alberta prairies, in this classic train!

These day trips range from $100 up to $160 for adults, $40 up to $70 for children, $70 up to $140 for youth. Children three and under ride free on almost all trips and are assigned a seat so you don’t have to hold them on your lap.

I think the ride fares skew a bit high but you’re really getting a six-to-seven-hour adventure – round trip ride, entertainment, and meal out of it so I think that’s fair.

Alberta Prairie Railway - Stettler - Big Valley - Train - Travel Alberta
A lovely day trip with my husband!

I’d say the Alberta Prairie Railway definitely leans towards being more of a young families or older/senior adventure.

I enjoy low-key, themed/sight-seeing trips like these so I still had fun and found lots of aspects interesting, but I think it’s probably far more entertaining if you’re a mom and dad with kids, or grandparents.

There are rides that are more adult-themed (like the murder mystery) though, so I’d still recommend it – and I do think even the family-friendly rides makes for a great couples day trip! Definitely experience it for yourself.

We had perfect summer weather for our trip too – I think going in the wintertime when there’s snow and sleigh rides would be a really nice experience as well.

Also if you do on a ride, remember to bring cash (or hit up an ATM in Stettler) as they don’t take debit/credit on board (you are traveling back in time after all!)

Linda

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Disclaimer: I will always provide my 100% honest opinion on this blog. I partnered with the Alberta Prairie Railway to experience one of their day trips in exchange for an honest blog recap. This has no impact on opinions stated in this post. 

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She’s also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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  • 🎁 DEC 10 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
When you wake up craving Mexican-inspired meat platters & churros, you obviously make today’s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway 🎅🏻 a $50 giftcard to @Rostizado_YEG! 😍
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @Rostizado_yeg!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 11 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
Rostizado is a modern-Mexican restaurant that uses fresh, quality local ingredients prepared in traditional-Mexican rosticeria fashion: slow-cooked and hearty. Their platters are a must-try: with rotisserie chicken, beef, and Cuban-Style pork shoulder. We also love their crispy potatoes, roasted cauliflower and various queso dips. They have an awesome lunch deal and the churros are to die for. Rostizado has a great vibe, cool decor, excellent service and a meal here is always a good time! Their sister-restaurant @trescarnales is also a popular spot for tacos in the city! Learn more about Rostizado and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
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  • 🎁 DEC 9 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
I’m a big brunch fan so today’s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway 🎅🏻 is Brunch for 2 to @BundokYEG! (valued at $40).
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @BundokYEG!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 10 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
Bündok is a pretty cool place on 104 Street, serving up delicious and beautifully-plated food. Their brunch menu includes both bistro and brunch options. There's french toast, eggs benny, omelettes and sausages, but the bistro dishes are my favourite - like sea bream crudo and chicken liver. Yuuuum!! Although this giveaway is for brunch, you also have to try their regular lunch and dinner menu. Bündok's gnocchi is unbelievable. Bündok should most certainly be on your list for a visit!  Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
** UPDATE ** Congrats to @chercher14 for winning this giveaway!! Thanks for entering everyone!
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  • 🎁 DEC 8 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
Who LOVES seafood? 🐠 Today’s 24 Days of Christmas 🤶 is a Chef's Table Dinner for FOUR people with wine pairings 🍷to @sabor_yeg!! Delicious, sustainable seafood! This dinner/wine pairing is valued at $250. Happy Friday!!! 🎉 —————————————
To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @sabor_yeg!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 9 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
Sabor is very well-known for serving some of the very best seafood in Edmonton! Sabor serves up delicious Iberian (Portuguese/Spanish/Mediterranean) coastal cuisine, using sustainable, Ocean-wise certified seafood. This beautiful restaurant (perfect for wedding receptions and other intimate gatherings) is also home to live music on weekends! Sabor has been voted one of Canada's best restaurants and is one of my favourites. It's got a great lunch deal (appetizer + entree for $18 from a set menu) and has delicious risotto and paella too. Eating 'Family Style' at Sabor is also popular! Chef Lino will prepare a three-course meal that changes daily, based on seasonal ingredients and his daily ingredients. Sabor is a must-try! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
** UPDATE ** Congrats to Amber P, the winner of today’s giveaway! .
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  • 🎁 DEC 7 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
Who doesn’t love a good croissant? Well the ones from @chocorrant are GREAT! Today’s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway 🎅🏻 is an Artisan Chocorrant Collection (Baker’s Dozen) of croissants featuring all kinds of flavours like matcha, strawberry milk, chocolate and cookies and cream! (Valued at $50).
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @Chocorrant!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 8 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
Chocorrant is one of Edmonton’s newest patisserie & cafes. They make their croissants in-house, fresh daily, and infuse awesome flavours into these buttery,  fluffy pastries. I had only ever really had cheese, chocolate and regular croissants before Chocorrant opened my eyes to all the wonderful flavours you can have in a croissant! They also have savoury croissant sandwiches and sell over treats too! Visit their cute little store on @shop124street. Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
** UPDATE ** Congrats Andrea K from Facebook! She wins $50 worth or croissants!! .
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  • 🎁 DEC 6 GIVEAWAY! 🎁

Have you tried @ErnestsNAIT? This #yegfood gem and one of Canada’s Best Restaurants (voted by @opentable users!) features delicious cuisine & service by @NAIT Culinary Arts & Hospitality students! I’ve always had a great meal at Ernest’s and now you can too - For today’s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway 🎅🏻, I’m giving away a $50 gift card to this affordable fine dining spot. —————————————
To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @ErnestsNAIT.
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 3 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
Ernest's is an Edmonton food gem - an affordable fine dining spot featuring delicious cuisine and excellent service by NAIT Culinary Arts and Hospitality students. This dining room has been a huge part of the Culinary Arts department for over 50 years, and is recognized as one of Edmonton's top dining experiences. The coolest part is that all the food is prepared and served by students! Ernest's offers a lunch and dinner menu, along with a lunch buffet, and is often host to a bunch of wicked culinary dinners featuring celebrity chefs and local chefs. You're always in good hands at Ernest's. They’ve also been named one of Canada's Best 100 Restaurants in past years, AND for 2017! If you've never tried, now's your chance! I used to call it a hidden gem but it shouldn't be hidden because everyone should know about Ernest's! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
* * THE WINNER IS @reneechan_yeg! * *
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  • 🎁 DEC 5 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
Happy #TacoTuesday!! 🌮🌮 Today’s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway 🎅🏻 is a $50 gift card to @ElCortezYEG!! Eat all the tacos, tequila, and try their new winter menu!
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @ElCortezYEG!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 6 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
El Cortez is a super cool Mexican kitchen + tequila bar just off Whyte Ave @oldstrathcona. The restaurant/bar specializes in traditional Latin food with a modern twist. Their tasty menu features tacos, tapas, gourmet street food, and Latin brunch. They are one of just 9 establishments in the WORLD to be certified by The Tequila Regulatory Council (so their tequila offerings are legit). They also have amazing decor and an overall wicked vibe - like when I say it's super cool I mean this place oozes cool. Check out the funky graffiti-style wall art and the crazy-lit bathrooms. El Cortez is always a good time. They just launched their new winter menu too so be sure to check it out, PLUS - on Tuesdays its half-price tacos!! 🌮 They’re also currently running a holiday gift card promotion! For every minimum $50 gift card purchased, El Cortez is donating $5 to the Humane Animal Rescue Team @hartedmonton! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
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  • 🎁 DEC 4 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
Mondays can be hard. Ramen can help! 🍜 Today’s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway 🎅🏻 is a $50 gift card to @yegnoodles!! Eat all their delicious noodz. 🍜
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @YEGNoodles!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 5 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
The Prairie Noodle Shop takes Japanese ramen and infuses it with flavours unique to Alberta. The team behind Prairie Noodle Shop tested the market with a series of ramen pop-ups before opening their 124 Street location. This prairie-inspired ramen is one of the best (and certainly one of the most unique) in the city! Try their NEW winter menu which includes beef and curry bowls, the return of their 🧀 bowl, and new small plates & beers! 🍺 Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
* * UPDATE * * The winner is Jerb2 from Twitter! Thanks for entering everyone!! .
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  • Sunday Funday at @centralsocialhall trying their delicious brunch 🥂😍 & learning about how the company has evolved over the years - stepping up their #yegfood game! Thanks for the great company @becausemimosas @argenplath @antonatienza & for the invite @jessekupina @vancebosch @chattygirlmedia! 🙏🏻
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  • 🎁 DEC 3 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
On Sundays, we brunch! 🍳🥓🤤 That’s why today’s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway 🎅🏻 is Brunch for Four to @xix19! (valued at $120!)
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @xix19!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 4 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
XIX Nineteen offers simply great food. Head Chef Andrew Fung is one of my favourite chefs in Edmonton. Must-orders on their brunch menu: their crispy chicken & waffle (pictured), their five spice bao benny, their Moroccan meatball tagine, and their banana bread french toast. On their regular menu - XIX Nineteen’s signature Ahi Tuna Twists is a must!! XIX Nineteen has two locations - one in Terwillegar south Edmonton and one in St. Albert. Give it a try if you haven’t yet! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
* * UPDATE * * Congrats to @gingergolovely of Instagram, winner of Brunch for Four to @xix19! Thanks to everyone who entered. Watch for more giveaways! .
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#yeg #yegfood #edmontonfood#exploreedmonton #lindorksgiveaways #yegxmas #yegchristmas #edmonton #edmontonchristmas #holidays #festive #festivities #hohoho #merrychristmas #xixnineteen #xix19 #chefandrewfung #terwillegar #stalbert #stalbertfood #brunch #sundaysareforbrunch #sundayfunday #brunchbrunchbrunch #chickenandwaffles #bubblewaffles
  • 🎁 DEC 2 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
Today’s 24 Days of Christmas Giveaway 🎅🏻 is an All-You-Can-Eat Brazilian Steakhouse Dinner for Two to @EatPampaYEG! (valued at $100!)
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To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me and @EatPampaYEG!
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 3 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. —————————————
Pampa's Brazilian churrascaria provides unlimited fire-roasted select cuts of AAA Alberta beef, pork, chicken and lamb, served table-side. I love their rump steak! They also have a huge salad bar and unbelievably delicious Brazilian cheese buns (#paodequeijo!) Pampa has two Edmonton locations (downtown + Ellerslie) and one location in Calgary! Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
* * UPDATE * * Congratulations to Candice M from Facebook, winner of Dinner for 2 to @eatpampayeg!! .
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  • 🎁 DEC 1 GIVEAWAY! 🎁
I’m kicking off my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways 🎅🏻 with the @edmontonmade @YEGBOX! Enter to win an Edmonton food -themed box featuring treats from Edmonton-based  @FruitsSherbrooke  @TheVioletChocolateCompany @JACEKChocolate & @MeltConfections! (valued at $60!) —————————————
To enter, do two things: 
1. Make sure you’re following me, @yegbox & @edmontonmade! 
2. Tag a friend in the comments to spread the word about the giveaway!
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For even MORE chances to win, enter through my Twitter @lindork and Facebook (Lindork - Linda Hoang)! I’ll pick a winner on Dec. 2 out of all entries received here, on my Facebook and Twitter. 🤞🏻
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This Food #YEGBOX is one of just a few themed #EdmontonMade boxes. They also have a guy box, baby box, home box and sparkle box! Order online or pick-up at @southgatecentre. Learn more and see a running list of all my 24 Days of Christmas Giveaways on my blog: www.linda-hoang.com (link in bio)👩🏻‍💻
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* * UPDATE * * Today’s winner is @lmcfadyen from Instagram! Keep checking my feed to enter for more chances to win through to Dec. 24! Thanks everyone who entered! And be sure to go get a @yegbox yourself or as a gift for the holidays. ☺️
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#yeg #yegfood #edmontonfood #exploreedmonton #lindorksgiveaways  #yegxmas #yegchristmas #edmonton #edmontonchristmas #holidays #festive #festivities #hohoho #merrychristmas #madeinedmonton #madeinyeg #makesomethingedmonton #makeityeg #foodiebox #subscriptionbox
  • I’m super excited for two reasons: the first is that from Dec 1-24 I’m running Edmonton food/drink-related giveaways EVERY SINGLE DAY for Christmas! 🎁 🎄 🎅🏻 🎉 Stay tuned for your first chance to win on Friday!! 🎉🎅🏻🎄🎁🎉🎅🏻🎄🎁🎉🎅🏻🎄🎁
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The second reason I’m so excited is because I made a custom beer advent calendar 📆 for @mikethyking!!! I went beer shopping 🍺 at @sherbrookeliquor with @littlmissandrea (she made a matching calendar for her fiancé too!) and we picked out all-Canadian beers to put in an advent beer box. Check my blog this weekend for photos and details and watch Mike’s Instagram for the daily beer reveal! 🍻 Spoiler: this @bigrockbrewery holiday brew is for Day 1! 🎁😊
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