Springing with creativity: Your guide to Calgary's Lilac Festival

By Dustin Ruth

Calgary’s 4th Street Lilac Festival is set to draw more than 125,000 people into the streets from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 4 to celebrate the city’s flourishing creative community. The transformation of spring, particularly the timely blooming of the lilac bushes along the side streets, cemented the festival’s name as the event grew from an “old time” community block party to the 13-block festival it is today. [Image credit: 4th Street Festival Society]

Springing with creativity: Your guide to Calgary's Lilac Festival


The festival takes to the streets at 10 a.m. with a family-friendly spring parade. Spectators are encouraged to take a seat along 4th Street as the parade makes its way between 25th Avenue SW and 13th Avenue SW. After that, you can catch more than 30 of Western Canada’s finest emerging musicians and performers as they show off their craft across six stages set up between 13th Avenue SW and Elbow Drive.

Folk and rock collide on the car2go 13th Avenue Stage with performances from six musicians including Calgary folk group Rotary Park and the “sludgy blues and enchanting pop-rock” of The Sweets. The X92.9 15th Avenue Stage will host six lively performances including Calgary folk rock getup The Northern Coast and the “six-piece honky-tonk juggernaut” known as The Bitterweed Draw.

Art turns physical at the 18th Avenue Dance Stage featuring 22 performances throughout the afternoon as well as 10 performances for the little ones at the 18th Avenue Kids Stage. The AMP/XL 103 20th Avenue Stage hosts six performances, including sets from singer songwriter Elizabeth Christensen and Calgary alternative folk roots trio Steel & Timber. The likes of country singer Lisa Nicole and Calgary based neo-soul group The Rondel Roberts Band can be heard on the Direct Energy 23rd Avenue Stage.

The car2go main stage, located on 4th Street SW and Elbow Drive, showcases the talents of the diverse PowerHouze Band from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m. followed by Cool Choir, Calgary’s first adult pop rock choir, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The afternoon at the main stage begins with Vancouver alt-rock duo The Tourist Company, Edmonton “ambient-folk” musician Mohsin Zaman and Calgary-based rock-and-roll group Fever Feel.

The Lilac Festival sounds off with an hour-long set from Calgary “psych-pop” quartet Windigo from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. For a full listing of the festival’s performances, click here.


As spectators pass between the stages of entertainment, they will also be treated to the roadside shops of more than 500 vendors from across Alberta and British Columbia. Arts and crafts will be displayed prominently throughout the Lilac Festival, and not-for-profits will be on-site bringing awareness to their causes. The ALS Society and the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter are among Calgary non-profits that have participated in previous festivals.

An array of food options will be on hand to keep stomachs and tastebuds happy. Food trucks such as Family Freezed and The Peanut Butter Cupboard have been on-site in previous years, and attendees can chow down at any number of 4th Street mainstays such as Wurst and Bocce.

Environmental stewardship

Efforts by organizers have resulted in more than 55 per cent of waste to be diverted from the landfill in 2015. This work continues as the festival pushes towards its goal to divert 75 per cent in 2017.


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As the Lilac bush blooms but once a year, this free one-day family-friendly festival celebrating culture and creativity is certainly not one to be missed.

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