Events in Calgary
The third biggest city in Canada and the biggest in Alberta, Calgary is a thriving, happy destination, where visitors and locals alike enjoy an excellent choice of varied festivals and events.
Of all the large Canadian cities, Calgary has the most ‘western’ flavour, situated as it is to the west of the Canadian Prairies in an area that was once dominated by agriculture. Unofficially dubbed “Cowtown”, many of the city’s biggest and best events celebrate western and country music, dance and culture, including Calgary’s famous annual rodeo.
The city also hosts independent music festivals and events that celebrate diversity and community. If you are lucky enough to visit Calgary during the summer-holidays, it’s likely you’ll have an opportunity to attend one of these excellent festivities.
The city’s biggest dance event kicks off the festival season when it takes place in Spring each year at the Hyatt Regency. The Calgary Dance Stampede is Canada’s most important Country, West Coast Swing and Line Dance event.
The three-day event is built around important qualifying dance competitions as well as a series of professional shows and dance workshops as well as evening entertainment, food and drink.
If you happen to be in Calgary for this free one-day event, you’ll get to see the love Calgarians have for their city. The Fourth Street Lilac Festival is a street party that originated as a celebration of the blossoming of lilac flowers in the Mission district, but also of the end of a long cold Calgarian winter.
During the day 500+ vendors line the streets selling everything from food and drinks to arts and crafts. Rides for children, a parade down Fourth Street and live music acts all create a fun, convivial atmosphere.
Hundreds of acts perform across 30 venues, including open-air stages, at one of Calgary's biggest summer events, the Sled Festival. The festival celebrates an eclectic array of musical acts, with a dedicated focus on emerging and unsigned talent.
Many visitors are attracted by the headline acts, however just as many are there to discover something new. There is also an excellent programme of film, visual arts, comedy and theatre occurring alongside the music.
One of the biggest and best rodeos in the world, the Calgary Stampede has a history stretching back to 1886. It is the most important Calgary event of the year. Agriculture was once central to Calgary’s economy and although this is no longer the case, the rodeo celebrates the city’s farming heritage. This ten-day event attracts millions of worldwide visitors.
Entertainment includes parades, stage shows and agricultural demonstrations. The main rodeo and chuckwagon racing events are even televised. A Treaty 7 village made up of various First Peoples’ groups is also one of the most popular attractions.
GlobalFest is an amalgamation of arts and culture events during late August, that together celebrate the cultural diversity that makes Calgary special. The main events are the OneWorld festival and the International Fireworks Show.
Fireworks performances across five nights celebrate different cultures and culminate in a finale on the last night. The OneWorld festival takes place at Elliston Park and includes a number of stands showcasing food, craft and arts from around the world. Enjoy the buzzing Night Market, live evening concerts and spectacular dance displays.
The Calgary International Folk Festival has been running for 40 years at Prince Island’s Park. The festival organisers create a diverse programme of folk music and neighbouring genres such as roots, funk and indie. Workshops and jam sessions are a hugely popular aspect of this three-day festival which sees over 50,000 attendees each year.
During winter the organisers host a second, smaller event called Block Heater, which sees folk acts playing in indoor venues in Inglewood over a two-day period in February.
This week-long event may not be the biggest blues festival in Canada but it’s certainly one of the friendliest. The Calgary International Blues Festival takes place in Shaw Millennium Park, with international acts playing from noon until sundown and a Twilight Series until the early hours at the nearby Kerby Centre. Attendees can also join a guitar workshop.
If you happen to miss the summer blues festival, the organisers host a second, Midwinter Blues Festival in February each year.
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