Enjoy some of Calgary’s finest arts and culture events this summer 


The summer is an exciting time for Calgary’s artistic communities, as the city plays host to several festivals celebrating the best of arts and culture from Calgary and beyond. Whether you’re interested in music, theatre, visual arts or all of the above, Calgary’s summer festival lineup will likely have something that piques your interest.

From the smooth guitar licks of BluesFest to the unconventional theatre of Fringe, the DIY traditions of Folk Fest and the vibrant, colorful celebration of Afrikadey! there is something for everyone in Calgary’s festival lineup. Here is a sampling of the summer festivities happening across Calgary this summer.


Calgary Folk Music Festival – July 21-24 

Folk Fest Mike Tan WebThe folk group Workshop playing a set during the 2015 Calgary Folk Fest. Performances continue rain or shine, so be sure to prepare for the weather. Photo courtesy of Mike Tan / Calgary Folk Fest Described as “one of the seven musical wonders of the world” by the Globe and Mail, the Calgary Folk Music Festival is one of Calgary’s largest and longest running music festivals, celebrating its 37th anniversary in 2016.

Local artists such as The Dudes and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald will share festival stages with Kathleen Edwards, Corb Lund and many others.

Matt Olah, marketing director for the Folk Fest and frontman of the local band Cowpuncher, says, “To me, the Calgary Folk Fest is like summer camp for grown ups. There’s music, booze, buds and it’s Calgary’s best four-day party.”

More than 50 artists will perform over the course of the four-day festival, and Prince’s Island Park will be literally overrun with eager concert-goers and families enjoying the summer air awash with a variety of music, not just folk, and good vibes.

More information, tickets and volunteer opportunities can be found at calgaryfolkfest.com

Calgary International Blues Festival – July 25-31

Bluesfest-web-Photo-Suzanne-Foschino-1.1-MoNew York blues sensation Shemekia Copeland is one of the headlining acts at this year’s Calgary Bluesfest. She will share the stage at Shaw Millennium Park with some of Alberta’s finest blues musicians to bring the soulful sounds of the blues to Calgary. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Foschino / BluesFestThe Calgary International Blues Festival kicks off July 25, bringing the soulful sounds of blues, R&B and roots music to the streets of Calgary.

Bluesfest, as the locals call it, boasts an impressive roster of local, national and international talent, with performers travelling from across Canada, the United States and even the United Kingdom to grace the Calgary Bluesfest stage.

Canadian artists Conor Gains and the 24th St. Wailers will share the festival stage with New York blues sensation Shemekia Copeland and legendary blues guitarist Albert Cummings.

Individual tickets are available for each day, and intrepid blues fans can pick up a full festival pass at a discount. The downtown Ramada Hotel is also offering a deal for those travelling from out of town to experience some soulful blues music.

Bluesfest performances will be held at Shaw Millennium Park, 1220 Ninth Ave., S.W. For more information, tickets and volunteer opportunities visit calgarybluesfest.com

Chasing Summer – July 30-31

Chasing-Summer-MikeHopkins-WebDJs will be playing sets for a packed crowd throughout the heat of the day and long into the night for the whole Chasing Summer Weekend. Photo courtesy of Mike Hopkins / Chasing SummerFor three years now, the Chasing Summer festival has been filling the summer air around Fort Calgary with the pleasant ambience of dance music while packed crowds sway the night away.

For their fourth year, Chasing Summer has secured an even more impressive venue, the Max Bell Centre Festival Grounds, with plans to push the festival to the limit.

“We’ve had an amazing three years at Fort Calgary, and we are excited to bring this next phase of Chasing Summer to the fans,” says Harvey Cohen, VP Talent at Live Nation Canada. “With the help of the city, we were able to secure a new location that will bring to life the vision we have for this festival.”

Chasing Summer features some of the biggest names in electronic music from across the globe, with Harvey Cohen, festival producer, saying: “We are incredibly excited to welcome two of the world’s top thee ranked DJs to Chasing Summer 2016, including the Calgary debut of Martin Garrix and the triumphant return of Hardwell.”

Electronic acts such as The Chainsmokers, Galantis, and Marshmello will be joining the headliners, rounding out the roster with some exceptional talent.

Chasing Summer performances will run July 30-31. For more information and tickets visit chasingsummerfestival.com

10th Annual Calgary Fringe Festival – July 29-Aug. 6

Fringe-WebPatrons of the 2015 Calgary Fringe Festival line up to purchase tickets on the final day of performances. Photo courtesy of Michelle Gallant / Calgary Fringe FestivalThe Calgary Fringe Festival is celebrating its 10th year of bringing live, alternative theatre to the city’s streets and stages.

Fringe is about live and uncensored theatre, with performers only needing to follow two rules: provide a full disclosure of what their act contains to the audience, and don’t break any laws while performing. This leaves the floor wide open for edgy, unconventional theatre that is sure to entertain and provoke.

Michelle Gallant, Fringe festival director, says, “It’s important to give our artists, especially our local ones, opportunities in which to share their talents with the rest of the Calgary community, in an environment in which they can create and present whatever they want on stage with no censorship.”

She also says the Calgary Fringe Festival is excited to “be looking back and remembering where we began and see how far we’ve come.”

The main Calgary Fringe Festival venue is located at 3 Riverwood Close, S.E., with other venues within easy walking distance. For more information, tickets and volunteer opportunities visit fringefestivals.com

Afrikadey! – Aug. 10-13

Afrikadey3-webA performer at the 2014 Afrikadey! festival plucks a melody on a harp for a crowd gathered in Prince’s Island Park. Photo courtesy of Danielle Karas / Afrikadey! Calgary’s finest celebration of African culture returns in 2016, offering Calgarians a three-day celebration of the music, food, dance, theatre, film, literature and visual arts of Africa and her descendant cultures.

“Afrikadey! is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year! That is a big milestone and we have an exciting lineup of local and international artists to help us commemorate this achievement,” says Danielle Karas, marketing co-ordinator for the festival.

Headlining the Afrikadey! festival is Canadian hip hop/R&B icon Kardinal Offishall, who will take the main stage at Prince’s Island Park on Aug. 13, showcasing his most popular music alongside new material.

Afrikadey! is an energetic, colourful festival designed to bring to life the vibrant traditions of African culture for those who might not have ever had experience.

“Calgary is a culturally vibrant city that is home to many cultures. There is value on having a culturally diverse community and we hope to stimulate an interest and understanding of African culture amongst people of all backgrounds,” Karas said.

Afrikadey! performances will be held at several venues across Calgary, including the main stage at Prince’s Island Park. More information, tickets and volunteer opportunities can be found at afrikadey.com

Calgary Reggaefest– Aug. 18-21

Steele WebSteele, a reggae artist who emigrated to Canada from Jamaica to pursue his musical career, performing during the 2013 Reggaefest. Photo courtesy of Mike Wanini / ReggaeFestThe Calgary ReggaeFest hopes to help listeners transcend their daily worries and become lost in the smooth, funky sounds of Canada’s finest reggae musicians.

Heralded as the premiere summer reggae festival in Canada, ReggaeFest is a great event for the whole family to soak up some sunny summer vibes and enjoy vibrant, peaceful music.

Leo Cripps, an organizer with ReggaeFest, says the festival was “started in 2003 by six Calgarians who decided to organize a festival that would promote the cultural significance of reggae in Calgary and across Canada.”

A free reggae performance will be held from noon to 1 p.m., Aug. 18 at Olympic Plaza, and a reggae documentary will be screened at the Cornerstone Music Café that evening. The main stage performances at the Shaw Millennium Park will be where most of the music is played.

Beyond the music and entertainment, ReggaeFest also offers a taste of island cuisine for anyone looking to spice up their palette this summer.

Calgary Reggaefest performances will be at the Shaw Millennium Park at 1220 Ninth Ave., S.W. For more information, tickets and volunteer opportunities visit reggaefest.ca

This list should help get the festival planning started, but there are many more events and festivals going on across Calgary throughout the summer. Head out to a few events and take advantage of the great weather, the talented performers and the good vibes floating around during some of Calgary’s finest celebrations of arts and culture. 

Thumbnail image courtesy of Mike Hopkins / Chasing Summer 


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