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Calgary Festival Guide

Calgary’s year-round festival scene is a robust one and offers locals and visitors alike the opportunity to explore the city through music, food, film, art, and more. Take a read below for an in-depth look into what’s coming to Calgary this year.

Music Festivals

  • Calgary Folk Music Festival

    The Calgary Folk Music Festival is a 4-day affair that brings hundreds of talented musicians to the city every July. Situated at Prince’s Island Park, past acts have included Hawksley Workman, Jim Cuddy, The Strumbellas, and Tom Cochrane, among other impressive songwriters and instrumentalists.

    2023’s lineup includes Aysanabee, Bahamas, Digable Planets, Fantastic Negrito, Tanya Tucker, The Weather Station, and many others yet to be announced. This summer classic is a fantastic way to spend a hot summer day with friends.
  • Calgary International Blues Festival

    Known for its great music and welcoming atmosphere, Calgary Bluesfest’s main event is a 4-day, 4-night celebration in August. Catch acts like Russell Jackson & Friends, Memphissippi Sounds, Sugaray Rayford, or Diunna Greenleaf on the mainstage and then stay for the nightly Twilight Blues dance party. This family friendly festival allows free entry for children 12 and under.
  • Sled Island

    Sled Island is more than just a music festival. This annual June festival features over 250 bands, as well as comedy, film, and art at over 30 venues. Their first wave of line-up announcements for 2023 include guest curator Bartees Strange, Osees, DEHD, Akintoye, and Emma Ruth Rundle.

    With over 30,000 attendees each year (and growing), this one-of-a-kind experience is one you don’t want to miss.

Cultural festivals

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  • Calgary Ukrainian Festival

    Journey through Canada’s rich history at the Calgary Ukrainian Festival, where you can enjoy authentic Ukrainian music and dance, fill up on delicious food, shop the marketplace, or quench your thirst with a delicious Ukrainian beer or vodka. 
  • Carifest

    Carifest, Calgary’s Caribbean Festival, is a celebration of music, costumes, tradition, and culture. This August festival begins with Pan in the Park on the Friday night, where you can enjoy steel pan and reggae music. Saturday’s events include a parade along 8th Avenue to Shaw Millennium Park, where the afternoon and evening are spent dancing to the sounds of the Caribbean. This all-day event includes performances from International Soca artists, food vendors, beer gardens, a kid’s zone, and so much more!
  • Chinese New Year Carnival & Qing Ming Festival

    Celebrate the Lunar New Year with traditional dragon & lion dances, martial arts demonstrations, artwork, and an indoor bazaar at the Chinese New Year Carnival.

    In April, Qing Ming Festival invites you to honor China’s ancestors. What once involved descendants visiting their ancestors’ graves to honor them with food and other offerings, has now evolved into a celebration of Chinese culture and history for all ages.
  • Expo Latino

    Expo Latino is Western Canada’s largest Latino festival and features world-class performers like King of Salsa, Oscar D’Leon, and 9x World Dance champions Karen y Ricardo. Celebrate Latin culture through song, dance, and exotic foods at this weekend event. Join the festivities this August!
  • Fiestaval

    Calgary’s Latino Festival, Fiestaval, is one big fiesta! Spend 3 days of the summer tasting authentic food, watching national and international performers, and checking out the artisan market. This year, the original Sonora Dinamita will be joining the original singers from Colombia Amina Osorio, along with the best Spanish Rock bands in Canada. All events are free and perfect for the whole family!
  • Franco Festival Calgary

    Franco Festival Calgary celebrates the many Francophone cultures found within the city through music, food, dance, and art. Enjoy an afternoon of face painting, authentic cuisine, and performances this August!
  • Mexifest

    Experience Mexico in Calgary! Mexifest aims to expose Calgarians to an authentic Mexican experience through food, music, art, and culture. Check out live mariachi bands or Mexican dancers on one of their two stages, then head over to the wrestling ring to see real luchadores perform onstage!

Literature & Performance Festivals

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  • High Performance Rodeo

    For three weeks in January, One Yellow Rabbit’s Annual High Performance Rodeo invites local and international artists to showcase their work in downtown Calgary. The festival is about ‘building community, celebrating diverse voices, and promoting self-expression’. Programming includes cutting-edge, bold, and funny theatre shows, dance performances, music, and film.
  • WordFest

    WordFest hosts many events throughout the year (they’ll be welcoming indie popstars, Tegan & Sara Quin, this June to celebrate their graphic novel ‘Junior High’) and culminates with Imaginarium in the Fall. The festival aims to connect Calgarians with life-changing experiences through literature and does so by inviting dozens of authors to speak on their work each year.

Food & Drink Festivals

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  • Calgary International Beerfest

    Every May, Calgary International Beerfest rolls into town and aims to give Calgarians the ultimate beer experience. Enjoy samples of craft beer, craft spirits, and local grub from dozens of breweries, distilleries, meaderies, and cideries. If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the VIP experience which includes perks like early entry, private washrooms, and a private lounge!
  • Taste of Calgary

    Taste of Calgary is an outdoor summer event that provides locals and visitors a great opportunity to try food and beverages from Calgary’s diverse cuisine scene. The festival also offers live music and a marketplace. Sample tickets are $1 apiece and samples tend to range between 2 to 7 tickets. Admission to the festival is free and pets are allowed on leash.
  • Winefest

    Winefest is your opportunity to sample wines from around the World in hopes of finding your new favorite. Samples and hors d’oeuvres are included in the ticket price.

    Each year attendees have the chance to win one of their door prizes, which have been known to include Gift Cards and tickets to other Wine festivals in the area. Before you go, be sure to grab your non-perishable item for the Calgary Food Bank! Winefest donates $1 for every pound donated each year.
  • YYC Food & Drink Experience

    YYC Food & Drink Experience celebrates Calgary’s favorite restaurants with 10 days of dining. It’s a culinary festival that highlights the city’s top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, and producers. Experience the festival on your own with one of the multi-course prix fixe menus or join one of the culinary events scheduled throughout. Multi-course prix fixe menus include Scrumptious Lunches, Succulent Three-Course Dinners, or Gourmet Masterpieces. Signature culinary events are restaurant specific and have been known to include signed copies of the chef’s newest cookbook, live music, wine pairings, and even celebrity sightings.
  • YYC Hot Chocolate Fest

    In February, participating cafes, restaurants and chocolatiers compete in the most delicious festival of all: YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. Calgarians have the opportunity to try over 100 hot chocolate drinks over the course of 4 weeks and vote on who made the best blend. Best of all – $1-$3 from each cup is donated to support Calgary Meals on Wheels.

    2023’s winners included Master Chocolat for Best Hot Chocolate, Amato Gelato for Best Spirited Hot Chocolate, and Hexagon Café for The Cup That Runneth Over (Best Selling Hot Chocolate). Take part next year to help crown 2024’s winners!

film festivals

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  • Calgary International Film Festival

    The Calgary International Film Festival is the largest film festival in Alberta. The 12-day festival showcases over 200 films from around the world, and includes gala events, screenings, special presentations, and a Behind the Screen series.  For true movie-buffs out there, CIFF recently launched Movie Trivia Nights, a monthly event that occurs from March to June, where teams of 4 or less can compete to win over $1000 worth of prizes!
  • Calgary Underground Film Festival

    2023 marks the 20th anniversary for the Calgary Underground Film Festival and is bound to be another exciting year for independent cinema. This festival aims to bring Calgarians a unique roster of films rarely seen in North America and showcases films of all genres (horror, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, etc).

    On the Saturday morning of the festival, CUFF encourages families to come down, grab a bowl of cereal, and enjoy cartoons together. April is also the time when the CUFFcade unveils their five latest indie video games, that remain free to enjoy during the festival and at Globe Cinema throughout the year.

Cosplay festivals

  • Calgary Expo

    Each year, thousands of Comic, Sci-Fi, Horror, Anime fans dress up in Cosplay for the opportunity to walk in the POW! Parade of Wonders and to meet some of their favorite celebrity guests at CALGARY EXPO. Past guests have included Stan Lee, Elijah Wood, Jason Momoa, and William Shatner. 2023’s event is just around the corner and welcomes Christina Ricci, Hayden Christensen, and Emily Swallow of The Mandalorian. Voice actors, comic creators, and cosplayers will be in attendance too.
  • Otafest

    Calgary’s all-ages Japanese anime and pop-culture festival, Otafest, celebrates 25 years in 2023. Dance the night away at the Silver Stars Masquerade Ball, enjoy an unforgettable night of music at Otafest AMPLIFIED or take advantage of one of their impressive backgrounds for your next big photo op.

Outdoor festivals

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  • 4th Street Lilac Festival

    Shake off the winter blues and kick off Calgary’s festival season at Lilac Festival. This free, one day event features live entertainment, artisan crafts, imported wares, a beer garden, and a kids area equipped with a bouncer. Spanning over ten blocks from 13th Avenue all the way to Elbow Drive, there is sure to be something to suit every interest.
  • Calgary Dragon Boat Race & Festival

    The Calgary Dragon Boat Race & Festival takes place on the Glenmore Reservoir and includes free admission, parking, and shuttles to and from the event. Over 50 vendors, 15 food trucks, and hours of races round out the weekend.
  • Calgary Pride Parade & Festival

    Embrace diversity and support equality at Calgary’s Pride Parade & Festival. Pride Week features live stage performances, food trucks, beer gardens, vendors, and a family zone down at Princes Island Park and finishes with the Pride Parade along 9th avenue.
  • GlobalFest

    GlobalFest is Alberta’s most explosive festival and takes place every August over Elliston Park. Each year showcases fireworks and music from 4 countries and ends with a Canadian-produced finale. The results are magical, as the fireworks reflect over the water and illuminate the sky. Gates open early for a chance to walk through the cultural pavilions and to enjoy international food prior to cozying up under the stars. 
  • Pet-a-Palooza

    Dog races, yoga with dogs, a pool party. Pet-a-palooza: The Day of the Dog, has all that and more. That’s right! Expect a 120-foot pool in the middle of Calgary along with canine cabanas, a DJ, and pool floaties. Bring your dog for samples and free swag to the event of the summer.
  • Calgary Stampede

    A list of Calgary’s festivals wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Calgary Stampede. Known around the world as ‘the greatest outdoor show on earth’, the event lives up to its name. The larger-than-life 10-day festival features a midway, rodeo, chuckwagon races, evening show, concerts, tasty treats, and a parade, among many other events and competitions. Past parade marshals have included Kevin Costner (2022), Katari Right Hand (2021) and Filipe Masetti Leite (2020). This year, Pitbull and Alabama will take the stage at the Saddledome along with many other big names on the Coca Cola Stage and at Nashville North. Bite into mac n cheese soft serve, Korean squid ink corndogs, and scorpion pizza. If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, the mini donuts are always a hit! Whether you’re from Calgary or coming into town, the Calgary Stampede is a great place to make memories that last.

Believe it or not, there are many other festivals and events that didn’t make this list. For more information on what’s happening around Calgary in 2023, check out: