Calgary celebrates just about anything with a festival. Regardless of the time of year, locals and visitors can find major block parties, events, and annual festivals that honour the city's immersive culture, world-class artisans and musicians, films and movies, and so much more. These events attract thousands of people, as festivals in Calgary are some of the best in the world. So check these seasonal favourites out, and mark those calendars for the following must-attend Calgary festivals.
Calgary's Annual Spring Festivals
As the city sheds the winter cold, locals are ready to step out of their Calgary townhomes and into Calgary's springtime festivals. As the snow melts away, the sunshine brings folks out of hibernation and gets them geared up for good times at these three annual events.
Festival of Animated Objects
Puppetry allows animators and audiences to see the inanimate come to life at the International Festival of Animated Objects. Masters of this old-time art form breathe life into charming hand-crafted puppets to delight audiences with stories that connect the animated world with humanistic qualities.
Every other year in spring, this festival boasts live shows, screenings, and exhibitions for all ages by professionals ranging from marionette artists and mask-makers to puppet theatre organizations such as The Old Trout Puppet Workshop and Buchty a loutky. Attendees can wander the streets to explore whimsical vendors, watch films, participate in workshops, and feast from an array of carts. There's no reason to miss this fun spring festival in Calgary with so much talent on display.
The 4th Street Lilac Festival
Rejoice in the reawakening of the lovely Mission lilacs at the 4th Street Lilac Festival. As one of the community's most popular spring festivals, this one-day event sees thousands of attendees jam-packing this massive street party. The Lilac Festival is a pedestrian-friendly event ideal for all ages, with bounce houses, ball pits, several bands, and trendy boutique shopping vendors and stores open during the festivities.
Attendees can peruse more than 500 vendors, and offerings range from handmade crafts and jarred goods to imported house and garden wares. Come and celebrate the season at the 4th Street Lilac Festival this year on the first Saturday in June.
Calgary Ukraine Festival
During the first weekend of June, locals and visitors head to the Calgary Ukraine Festival for a weekend of authentic food, folk music, live shows, and learning more about this fascinating culture. The Ukrainian people are a part of the rich diversity of Calgary, and this festival certainly showcases the culture's colourful traditions. It's also completely free to attend.
A highlight for adults is getting to sample so many traditional beers, wines, and vodkas that hail from the region. Those wanting to take home some memories can shop the vendors for lovely traditional costumes, food staples, handmade gifts, and much more.
Summer Festivals in Calgary
Warm summers get warmer when a good festival is in town, and there's no shortage of thrilling options. Calgary's summer festivals encompass the best of the region's flavours, sounds, and uniqueness, with three true standouts: The Calgary Stampede, GlobalFest, and the Taste of Calgary.
Calgary Stampede Rodeo
Get ready to don those boots and hats and give a big "Yee-haw!" at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo this summer. With well over a million attendees, this is the largest outdoor rodeo in the world. All of the cowboys and cowgirls' favourite events take place during this 10-day July celebration, including:
- Bull Riding
- Saddle Bronc Riding
- Tie-Down Roping
- Bareback Riding
- Barrel Racing
- Steer Wrestling
Held at Stampede Park for more than 100 years, the Stampede is a Calgary staple that features more than just livestock shows and a rodeo. Live music, a huge midway of rides, freestyle motocross races, shopping, and nightly fireworks shows keep the event lively day after day. Don't miss the Dog Bowl competition, where athletes of the four-legged variety show off their skills.
The Taste of Calgary
Got an appetite worked up for global cuisine? Try the best of this city's remarkable heritage by attending the annual four-day Taste of Calgary festival. More than 70 of the city's restaurants, food trucks, and breweries bring out their finest dishes and beverages for guests to sample, offering the opportunity to savour global cuisines while enjoying live music.
There's more to this sampling party than just food, as artisans and entrepreneurs onsite offer an array of diverse goods and interactive activities. The festival itself is free to attend, but the delicious food requires attendees to pick up sampling tickets. Tickets are $1 each, and most offerings require 2–5.
As one of the largest multicultural events in North America, GlobalFest brings together more than 60 cultures with culture pavilions, Passport Pursuit, a fireworks festival, live music, marketplaces, and weekend mini-documentary spotlights. Each of these episodes is geared towards discovering more about each culture through immersion in the flavours and music native to their countries.
Attendees come ready to celebrate and make a world of difference through international songs, dancing, costumes, and various engaging events and conferences. Breakout sessions include the OneWorld Cultural Showcase, Canadian Cultural Mosaic, OneWorld SpotLight, and the Human Rights Forum.
Dozens of the area's top restaurants dole out fares from around the world, making GlobalFest one of the most delicious festivals in Canada. The GlobalFest Charity Golf Classic is held at Muirfield Lakes Golf Course, and registration and secured sponsorship is required to participate.
The evenings come alive with excitement at the Night Market, where more vendors come in with authentic hand-crafted keepsakes, accessories, clothing, and non-perishable foods and spices. Fireworks finish off each evening, and it's a sight to behold.
Fall Festivals in Calgary
As the crisp air takes hold to replace the summer's daily heat, the time to hit Calgary's top street festivals and events arrive with it. Numerous autumn festivities around town bring thousands of fun-seekers to the area annually. This time of year brings out the artistic side, it seems, as wordsmiths, film buffs, and skin artists come out to share their talents with the community—and the world. Here is a trio of the locals' favourite fall fests.
Calgary International Film Festival
The Calgary International Film Festival is the largest festival of its kind in Alberta. It's a major annual event in late September and early October dedicated to filmmakers and their fan bases. Over the span of 11 days, festivalgoers are treated to over 175 short and feature films that cover an array of genres.
This is an official Oscar-qualifying festival for short films as well as for the Canadian Screen Award. MovieMaker Magazine has repeatedly named the Calgary International Film Festival one of the "Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entrance Fee."
There's also an exciting virtual cinema program and a Behind the Screen series that allows fans and filmmakers worldwide to interact and collaborate. The film fest sells out fast, so reserve seats well in advance to catch all the latest innovations from regional and global cinematographers.
A major event within literary circles, WordFest is a big deal for writers and readers across the world. This festival features local talent, nationally known authors, and published literary legends who participate in a week of education and entertainment.
Areas of interest and engagement cover fiction, non-fiction, spoken word storytelling, and youth programs to bring together the best authors with audiences. In addition to 100+ personal workshops in theatres across town, Mountain Air streams WordFest so that anyone can be a part of this spectacular festival.
Calgary Tattoo & Arts Festival
Art takes on a different form at the Calgary Tattoo & Arts Festival, which is the largest of its kind in all of Canada. Around the second week of October each year, ink artists and enthusiasts come together for competitions and shows. Vendors from major retailers are onsite to make connections with studios and aspiring shop owners and operators.
Tattooing happens all weekend long as some of the best local and regional artists sit down with clients to make their visions a reality. In addition to food and exhibitions, there are contests, entertainment—including fire spinners, live music, and DJs—and exhibitions galore. Anyone who loves the art of ink on the skin will have a blast at the Calgary Tattoo & Arts Festival.
Calgary's Winter Festival Lineup
Calgary sure gets chilly in wintertime, but the good news is that there are a few festivals that make the rounds annually to keep locals and visitors cozy, warm, and engaged with the community. From celebrating the deep connection between France and Canada to relishing delicious chocolate and sweets, these cold-weather fests are the best.
BIG Winter Classic
Folks enjoy warming up with some of the best local brews and cocktails while listening to some of the hottest bands from around the region at the BIG Winter Classic. Typically on the last weekend in January, this four-day festival is a collision of art and music amid the central beer district of YYC.
Comics, bands, singers, and anyone with creativity in their hearts can come to the festival to participate in shows or dance on the heated patio with friends or family. No need to hide away this winter—bundle up and come out for the BIG Winter Classic.
YYC Hot Chocolate Fest presented by Calgary Meals on Wheels
The YYC Hot Chocolate Fest is an annual tradition in Calgary, with a portion of the proceeds from the monthlong contest benefitting the local Calgary Meals on Wheels. What more enticing way to contribute to feeding the community in times of need could there be than indulging the palate in smooth hot chocolate all around town?
Every February, Calgarians and visitors to the province are invited to some of the best-known chocolatiers and newcomers in the industry to taste their offerings. After finding a few favourites, attendees can go online or on the YYC Hot Chocolate App to place votes for the best of the best. Categories include Best Spirited, Best Overall, and Cup That Runneth Over.
The Best Spirited Category involves the creation of cocoa drinks with alcoholic components, so this one is for adults only. At the end of the month, winners are announced to the public. For each spirited cup sold, $2 goes to Meals on Wheels, and $1 is donated for each non-spirited cup.
Calgary Maple Festival des Sucres
The French-Canadian connection with the Indigenous Peoples is re-forged every year in the sweetest ways at the Calgary Maple Festival des Sucres. Also called the Maple Sugar Festival, this is the party of the year for those who want to explore the culture through food and traditional activities.
This event usually occurs the first weekend in March, and people rejoice in making maple sugar taffy on snow. The festival celebrates the deep relationship between the First Nations, Métis, and French Canadians during the time of fur trading. The connection lives on through the sharing of stories, legends, plays, dancing, and, of course, sweet maple syrup and sugary treats.
Recently moved to Heritage Park Historical Village, attendees can view an authentic sugar shack replica from the early 1900s, indulge in a sugar shack brunch, and shop at the Maple Market for goodies to take home. Many kids love the outdoor games and wagon rides, with teens and adults taking each other on in street hockey and axe throwing.
Find Your Festival in Calgary Any Time of Year
All year long, people come together to rejoice in every season. From hot-summer-day pursuits to wintery wonderlands and everything in between, there's a festival to delight just about anyone and everyone in the family. Come and see what this vibrant and culturally immersive community has to offer. Calgary's most iconic restaurants, great schools and amenities, newly constructed homes, and entertainment all around town await your arrival.
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