10 Calgary summer festivals you need to attend

By Sarah Sussman

With the weather (finally) heating up, Calgarians are gearing up for a whirlwind summer of festivals. This summer, Calgary plays host to a plethora of music, culture, food and comedy festivals. Here are 10 summer festivals in Calgary you can’t miss. [Image credit: Lilac Festival]

10 Calgary summer festivals you need to attend


After all of winter’s doom and gloom, there’s no better way to laugh your way into summer than with FunnyFest. The longstanding comedy festival celebrates its 17th anniversary this year from June 1 through June 11, with nine venues, 70 performers and more than enough laughs to fill your annual quota. FunnyFest also plays host to seminars and workshops for comedy hopefuls (and for all of us who aspire to actually – one day – be funny).

Lilac Festival

Thousands of Calgarians will pack 4th Street during the annual Lilac Festival, scheduled for June 7 between Elbow Drive and 13th Avenue S.W. Stroll down 4th Street and peruse the artisan vendor booths, which feature locally-owned businesses, products, charities, organizations and more. The festival also plays host to six different performance stages featuring entertainment from Calgary’s finest.

Calgary Folk Music Festival

It’s no secret the Calgary Folk Music Festival is not actually even a folk music festival at this point – it’s a massive cross-genre celebration of music that takes place at the end of July every year. The 2017 festival is scheduled July 27 to July 30 at the scenic Prince’s Island Park, overlooking Calgary’s Bow River. The 2017 line-up features performances from City and Colour, Barenaked Ladies, Blue Rodeo and more. Scoop up your festival tickets online now.

Taste of Calgary

A must-attend for local gastronomes, Taste of Calgary is a weekend-long food festival that takes place Aug. 10 to 13 at Eau Claire Market. Admission is free, but if you want to chow down you can purchase sampling tickets for $1 each. The festival takes place from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily. So, hypothetically, you could just eat all your meals at the festival, right?

Sled Island

One of Calgary’s favourite annual festivals, Sled Island is a five-day music and arts festival that turns the inner city into a massive music fan melting pot. Each June, Sled brings more than 250 bands, comedians, filmmakers and artists to more than 35 venues throughout the city – it’s pretty much the anti-Stampede. It’s an inner-city takeover of all the artistic and musical underdogs and up-and-comers, and for 2017, Sled Island brings producer/DJ/label owner Flying Lotus to town to headline the festival at The Palace Theatre. Festival passes are available for purchase online now.

International ReggaeFest

This longstanding reggae music festival takes place at Shaw Millennium Park Aug. 17 to 19 and is a must-see, no matter what genre of music you’re into. One of Calgary’s most unique and essential festivals, ReggaeFest is a prime example of how Calgary is not the “cowboy city” everyone says it is. The festival kicks off on August 17 with a free lecture at King Eddy from 7 until 10 p.m. with Dr. Jason Wilson.


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GlobalFest is an annual festival that celebrates international culture – and is one of the best places to see fireworks in Calgary over the summer. The festival takes place from Aug. 15 through 26 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at Elliston Park. Shop the night market for one-of-a-kind finds and indulge in some of Calgary’s most decadent international eats. As the sun sets each night, watch the fireworks light up the sky as fireworks teams compete in the Trico Homes International Fireworks Festival.

Calgary Fringe Festival

One of Calgary’s hidden gems, the annual Calgary Fringe Festival is one of the most unique festival experiences in town. Fringes originated in Edinburgh, Scotland and are uncensored, non-juried theatre festivals. Enjoy offbeat, edgy theatre performances daily from Aug. 4 until Aug. 12, with 100 per cent of ticket revenue returned directly to the performers. Each night, the festival concludes with the Calgary Fringe Late Night Cabaret at Festival Hall.

Chasing Summer

2017 marks the five-year anniversary for Western Canada’s largest outdoor EDM festival. The two-day, three-stage 18+ festival takes place Aug. 5 through 6 at the Max Bell Centre Festival Grounds. To celebrate the festival’s fifth year, attendees will be treated to an all-star line-up with headlining performances from Tiesto, Zedd, W&W and more. Festival passes are available for purchase online, as well as at all Union Vape locations throughout the city.

Calgary Stampede

Calgary’s claim to fame, the Calgary Stampede is a 10-day celebration of cowboy culture, western heritage and community. Head down to the Stampede grounds to take in the rodeo events, midway rides and games, live music performances and fireworks. But it doesn’t stop there – the festivities are not restricted to the on-the-grounds action. The entire city comes alive with free pancake breakfasts, Stampede party tents, parades, exhibits and more.

With so much going on around Calgary this summer, it’s time to start planning your summer festival itinerary. Whether you love to watch live music, eat or watch theatre, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in our great city.

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