A guide to festivals throughout August

Whether you’re a foodie, a blues fan or salsa is more your shtick, the month of August hosts an array of festivals to fix your cultural, creative or hunger needs.

Theatre comes to town with the The Calgary Fringe Festival; fireworks will flood the skies above Elliston Park during GlobalFest and food will abound during the Taste of Calgary.

Go play throughout August and don’t let summer end so soon. Here is a guide for where to go, what the festivities will be and why you should be there:

Calgary International Blues Festival

July 30 to Aug. 5

Shaw Millennium Park, 1220 9th Ave SW

For tickets visit: www.calgarybluesfest.com

For its eighth year, the Blues Fest is bringing Matt “Guitar” Murphy to town, the blues guitarist who starred as Aretha Franklin’s husband in “The Blues Brothers” movies. Also headlining the festival is Kenny Wayne Shepherd, “a guitar phenom,” says festival producer, Cindy McLeod. McLeod is also a jazz artist and writer herself and hosts the radio program “The Blues Witness” on CJSW. “I’m looking forward to everyone of them,” she said of the artists playing this year’s event. Slide guitar guru Harry Manx, blues rocker David Wilcox, Canadian music legends Lighthouse, are just a few musicians gracing the stage. To see the full line up visit the Calgary Blues Fest website. Another thing to note: McLeod said every night after the main stage closes at 9:30p.m., “we all move over to the Kerby Centre” where dance parties commence till “the wee hours.” The parties feature festival artists, making for a more “up close and personal setting,” says McLeod. “It’s a blast.”

Calgary Fringe Festival

Aug. 3-11

Various venues throughout Inglewood

For tickets visit: www.calgaryfringe.ca

Photo courtesy of Calgary Fringe FestivalCelebrating its seventh year, the Calgary Fringe Festival is bringing over “34 local, national and international indoor theatre artist companies” to the city. “This is truly anything goes theatre,” says Michele Gallant, the festival’s director and producer. Whether it’s “family shows, musicals, dance, monologues, masques, dramas, comedies, improve or the risqué,” the Fringe Festival has got it. All venues are within 10 minutes walking distance of each other within Calgary’s Inglewood community. This year’s Fringe will also be “piloting the space for the Calgary Folk Festival (Hall),” adding a new venue to the mix; including Stash Needle Art Lounge for the first time. All shows are about an hour in length, with 15 to 24 shows per day. To see the full listings of performances, visit their website. Another bonus: “100 per cent of the artist set price goes directly back to the artist.” Support the arts by supporting artists!

Inglewood Sunfest

Aug. 4

Inglewood, 9th Avenue (Between 11th Street and 14th Street)

Kicking off the Fringe Festival is the Inglewood Sunfest, a block party celebrating all things Inglewood. Buskers will line three blocks, performing high wire acts and aerial feats, with the Calgary Circus Studio, the Aerial Angels and Flyin’ Bob in attendance. Inglewood’s Wilde Grainz Bakery will be providing pies for the fourth annual pie-eating contest. The ‘Show-N-Shine’ features cars and motorcycles. The kids have their own zone too, with face painters, bouncy tents, craft making and contests. Inglewood’s Cookie Mama will be supplying the cookie prizes. At 4 pm the area will be infiltrated with a flash mob. “It’s like a secret festival,” says event planner, Kaya Konopnicki of the Inglewood Sunfest. “It’s only three blocks but it’s probably one of the friendliest festivals.” Note: if you want to be a part of the flash mob, check out espyexperience.com for the choreography and get your groove on.

Afrikadey! Festival

Aug 5 to Aug 11

Prince’s Island Park and various locations

For tickets visits: www.afrikadey.com

Photo courtesy of Afrikadey! Festival

Celebrating its 21st year, Afrikadey! shares the richness of creative works from the continent and throughout the diaspora with Calgarians. “Artivism” – activism through the arts, will be this years theme. On Aug 10th, there will be a symposium of Afrikadey! artists discussing how to include social activism into artistic practice. Emmanuel Jal will be performing. Jal’s single “We Want Peace” features Alicia Keys and his new album “See Me Mama” is set to release Aug. 7th; making the Aug. 11th performance “like a humungous CD release party,” says Andrea Llewellyn, communications director for Afrikadey! Agadez will also be performing. “Agadez: The Music and the Rebellion,” a documentary film about the musician’s fight for independence and freedom through his guitar playing will be screening Aug 7th. For a list of all Afrikadey! events, visit their website.

Chinatown Street Festival

Aug. 11

Centre Street South

Celebrate Chinese culture with the Chinatown Street Festival. Merchants will be selling their wares along the streets and food vendors will be a plenty. The main stage will feature Chinese traditional music performances and dramatic skits, as well as karaoke sessions. Festival-goers can try their luck at the Booth of Fortune to win prizes sponsored by TD Bank. There will be a Jungle Bouncer for the kiddies, and 3on3 Street Soccer and Street Hockey. The Bamboo Bridge Artists Association will also be teaching Chinese calligraphy lessons at the National League building atrium on Second Avenue.

Marda Gras Street Festival

Aug. 12

Marda Loop, 33rd and 34th Avenue, east of Crowchild Tr. SW

Experience the carnival atmosphere of the Marda Gras Street Festival, in Calgary’s Marda Loop community. The sights and sounds of New Orleans come to life on the streets with jazz, funk and calypso bands playing on one stage. Brazilian Samba dancers, belly dancers, and Capoeira dancers will entertain, alongside street performers, magicians and circus acts. “If you’ve got a costume, dress up,” says event planner Kaya Konopnicki. There will be a costume contest. Even pets can get in on winning prizes for dressing up with the Pet Pageant portion. The little ones will have their Kid Zone to frolic in and food will abound with yycFoodTrucks coming in and jambalaya and bourbon being served by various vendors. Dress up!

Calgary International Reggae Festival

Aug. 15-18

Shaw Millenium Park, 1220 9th Ave. SW

It’s Reggae Fest! Just go.

Photo courtesy of GlobalFest

GlobalFest

Aug. 16-26

Elliston Park, 1827 68 St. SE

For tickets visit: www.globalfest.ca

The skies above Elliston Park will be ablaze with fireworks for 6 nights with GlobalFest marking its 10th anniversary. Moving up from five nights of programming, to six this year, GlobalFest welcomes five countries to compete in a competition of pyrotechnics. This year’s finale will be produced by Canada’s own, Patrick Brault. Brault designed the firework show for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. “He’s one of the best in the world,” says GlobalFest’s communications director, Bryan Francisco. Philippines, Mexico, China, Brazil and the USA will be competing this year. Let the month of August end with fireworks!

Taste of Calgary

Aug. 16-19

Eau Claire, 200 Barclay Parade SW

It’s the Taste of Calgary’s sweet 16. For it’s 16th year, 26 restaurants and 14 beverage companies, alongside another 24 market place vendors will be dishing out food and drinks. Since last year, ticket prices were reduced to one dollar. A program called the “Two-Ticket Taster” is now in effect, so every restaurant has to have at least one item that’s 2 tickets or less says communications director Sue Van Aalst. “We make sure there’s a good balance and some interesting foods that people may not have tried before.” 13 different countries are represented with authentic dishes on the menu. There will also be entertainment all festival long, with the main stage hosting a smorgasbord of musical acts, whether it’s country, folk, reggae, blues, or disco, there’s something for everyone. Eat and dance and drink. The event is AGLC licensed.

Expo Latino

Aug. 23-26

Prince’s Island Park

For tickets visit: www.expolatino.ca or Co-op and Safeway stores

Another sweet 16 celebrant, Expo Latino is “definitely celebrating Latin culture in the best way possible,” says artistic director Carmen Galvez. Headlining this year’s festival is Chilean superstar Americo and Puerto Rican merengue group GrupoMania. To view the full line up visit the Expo Latino website. “It’s really about the Latin experience and not just a festival,” says Galvez. “People usually go to festivals to sit down, whereas ours is more participatory. The atmosphere is very family-oriented, like you would see in South America.” Get your salsa on.

Calgary Dragon Boat Race & Festival

Aug. 25-26

Glenmore Reservoir

In conjunction with GlobalFest, the Calgary Dragon Boat Race & Festival celebrates culture. The Glenmore Reservoir’s waters will be astir, as teams race their decorative watercrafts, paddling in tandem to win. The dragon boat cultural ceremonies will kick off with a Chinese “Eye Dotting Ceremony” performed by Avatamsaka Monastery. The World Pak Mei Hup Ging Do Martial Arts Association will perform a Chinese Lion Dance. There will be bands and live performances throughout the day. Admission for the event is free.

cramos@cjournal.ca