My Favorite Sled Island 2017 Moments

Author: Claire Bourgeois

Before the entire city dons its cowboy boots in preparation for Stampede, Calgary plays host to a slightly more alterative week-long festival.

Sled Island is an annual music, film and art festival welcoming over 250 artists for five jam-packed days. It is the perfect welcome to summer and an opportunity to get inspired and celebrate local and international artists.

The sheer size of the festival makes catching even a fraction of what the festival has to offer physically impossible. For this reason, no two attendees could have identical memories. In an effort to share some standout moments from my Sled Island experience, I've compiled a list of my favourite festival moments. 

Saturday, 7:45 p.m: The Sled Island Block Party

The sun went down behind the downtown core, shimmering off glass skycrapers to the East and shedding golden light on hundreds of dancing festival-goers. As the crowd danced euphorically on what was the hottest day of the summer so far, it was clear that summer had fully arrived in Calgary. The Sled Island Block Party in the heart of Inglewood, where the Bow and Elbow rivers converge, lived up to its reputation as a festival must – one of Calgary’s best free dance parties.

Saturday, 12:05 a.m: Catching an intimate show at the King Eddy

After hours of dancing at the block party, we brushed off the dust and headed toward the architecturally stunning National Music Centre to catch Montreal’s Land of Talk. The King Edward Hotel, a once condemned Calgary landmark, has been revitalized as a music venue for all genres. Stepping inside the old building and seeing the intimate crowd gathered around the stage felt like stepping back in time.

Friday, 11:45 p.m: DJ Quik at the Palace Theatre

Each year, the festival brings a variety of acts to the city including the so-called “must-sees.” This year, one show that everyone seemed to be talking about was DJ Quik at The Palace Theatre (formerly Flames Central). The floor shook as the entire room jumped to the group’s catchy beats, filling the space with positive energy for the hour-long performance.

“We’ve never been to Calgary before, but I have to say that this energy is amazing!” voiced the group.

When the show ended, a chorus of shouts for an encore brought the group back to the stage for one last dance before everyone dispersed to surrounding venues. The night was still young and there was so much music yet to be heard. 

Wednesday, 10:45 p.m: Calgary locals CitySleep at Hifi

Calgary synth-based pop group CitySleep were clearly excited to be included in the festivities this year. The energy the group brought to the stage ensured that the small dancefloor at Hifi club was left anything but sleepy.

The show at Hifi was one of many live music and arts events happening in the area. With venues including Night Owl and Hifi, as well as Broken City and Stephen Avenue on either side of the street, the neighborhood was alive with activity for the entirety of the festival. One look at the crowd dispersed along 10th Ave on Wednesday night made it hard to believe that it was a weekday (and easy to forget how few hours of sleep I'd be getting before work the next morning). 

Thursday, 5:00 p.m: Soaking up the sun on Broken City's Rooftop Patio

A staple of Calgary's music scene, Broken City often features Sled Island performances on both the patio and the inside stage - making for great variety in terms of genre and performance.

Beyond these specific moments, what stood out more than anything was simply getting out into downtown Calgary. Sled Island is so much more than a music festival – it is an opportunity to get out there and experience the constantly evolving indie arts scene.

Be it a new style of music, trying a new bar or interacting with new people, what I love most about Sled Island is that it challenges us all to step outside of our comfort zones and spend a little time exploring our own backyard. 


Before the entire city dons its cowboy boots in preparation for Stampede, Calgary plays host to a slightly more alterative week-long festival.

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