Arts Festivals


There are festivals celebrating just about everything in Calgary.

The city’s major events include film, jazz, art, music, wine, food, artisans and much more. Street festivals like the eclectic Fourth Street Lilac Festival attract thousands of locals, while the world-famous Calgary Stampede is attended annually by millions of Calgarians and tourists alike.

Calgary celebrates the movies at the Calgary International Film Festival, while its annual summer Folk Festival brings in hundreds of renowned musicians from around the world.

That’s really just the tip of the glacier though, explore the various Arts Festivals, Cultural & Community Events and Music Festivals to discover some of the excitement Calgary has to offer.

Major Festivals

Calgary has a number of renowned and respected annual festivals and events that celebrate the right-hand side of our brains. 

Major arts festivals in and around the city:

More Major Festivals

  • The Calgary International Film Festival celebrates cinema every fall
  • The High Performance Rodeo swaggers as it should, with the best in new and experimental performance art
  • The International Festival of Animated Objects is a biennial 10-day event celebrating puppetry and more with performances, workshops and screenings around town
  • The International Native Arts Festival puts Calgary’s First Nations heritage and art in the spotlight, immediately follow Stampede and is centred around Stephen Avenue
  • Wordfest is the third-largest literary festival in Canada, honouring both the written and spoken word
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Cultural & Community Events

Cultural + Community Events

From festivals celebrating entire continents of culture to grandiose community block parties, there are great annual cultural and community events in Calgary.

Here are some of the big ones to mark in your calendar:

  • Afrikadey! earns its exclamation mark with an exuberant celebration of African culture 
  • The Calgary Dragon Boat Race & Festival see competitors stroke their way across the Glenmore Reservoir
  • The Calgary Stampede, the grand poobah of Calgary festivals, it’s the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” attracting over a million visitors each year with the world’s greatest rodeo
  • Carifest is the best Caribbean party you can find north of 49th parallel
  • The Fourth Street Lilac Festival rejoices in the arrival of Mission lilacs with a jammed street-long party
  • GlobalFest is a fireworks competition and international festival of diversity
  • Marda Gras is Marda Loop’s annual community event that embraces the culture and cuisine of New Orleans
  • Once Upon a Christmas is Heritage Park’s annual frontier Christmas event
  • Sunfest is Inglewood’s sweet renaissance block party
  • Taste of Calgary is a one-stop sampling party of the cuisine of Calgary’s restaurants
  • Winefest is all about the fermented grape – it happens every February

Calgary Stampede

The Calgary Stampede is an annual, internationally recognized embodiment of western culture and heritage.This tradition is one of the greatest things to do in Calgary during the first 10 days of July, where Calgarians and tourists from around the world come together to celebrate community spirit.

For more than 100 years, Stampede Park has been the home to the Calgary Stampede. Full of entertaining shows, lively music, and amazing attractions, the Stampede grounds are sure to provide the experience of a lifetime.

Among the numerous attractions offered at the Calgary Stampede are the famous rodeo shows, featuring the world's toughest competitors. There are six main events that occur daily including: ladies barrel racing, bareback, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc and bull riding.


GlobalFest, Calgary's annual fireworks competition, attracts more than 100,000 visitors each August to gather in Elliston Park for an explosive performance. GlobalFest showcases Calgary's cultural diversy and artistic talents both, locally and around the world. Past featured countries include: China, Phillipines, Ukraine, Spain, USA, and Canada.

The fireworks show nurtures an inclusive, world-class, multi-facet arts and cultural festival that enhances Alberta's reputation as an international destination, and is one of the most explosive things to do in Calgary.

For more information on festival life in Calgary, check out the Best of the Festivals blog!

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Music Festivals

Music Festivals

Calgary has a number of annual music festivals and events, from underground and edgy to black tie and prestigious:

  • Calgary Folk Music Festival is a fantastic international presentation of music held every year at Prince’s Island Park
  • Calgary International Blues Festival is a four-day event with some of the best local, national and international blues musicians
  • Sled Island brings sweet independent music to Calgary every summer
  • Chasing Summer, Western Canada’s largest outdoor electronic music festival
  • Reggaefest, this family event has become the premier summer Reggae Festival in all of Canada
  • Country Thunder, while new to Calgary, this premier country music festival has been booking the biggest names in country music for over 20 years
  • Honens International Piano Competition takes place every three years in Calgary and celebrates the world's best young concert pianists

Calgary Folk Music Festival

Calgary Folk Music Festival features over 70 artists from 16 different countries on 9 stages in 100+ distinct concert and unique on-the-fly collaboration within the heart of downtown Calgary at Prince's Island Park.

With crowds reaching up to 13,000 people each day of the four-day long weekend, a diverse, multi-generational audience immerses in live music in a cool, relaxed atompshere. With such an incredible atmosphere, Folk Fest is one of the best things to do in Calgary each July.

For more information on festival life in Calgary, check out the Best of the Festivals blog!

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