Lilac Festival kicks off great start to Calgary's summer festival season

Posted by Salmaan Farooqui on 5 June 2016

Calgary’s Mission district came alive Sunday with scorching temperatures bringing big crowds to celebrate Lilac Festival.

Long considered the unofficial start to Calgary’s festival season, Lilac Festival’s vendors, performers and food brought in the crowds, with 4 St. S.W. being packed with strolling visitors as far as the eye could see.

“It was a huge success,” said Jennifer Rempel, the event’s executive director.

“With the weather that was so great, our record attendance was around 125,000, and we’re estimating that we’ll be getting around the same this year.”

So with the one-day event acting as a gateway to Calgary’s extensive festival season, here’s five of our picks of festivals you can’t miss this year.

Sled Island

One of Calgary’s biggest music festivals, Sled Island attracts big name indie artists from around the globe for five days of music throughout the city.

This year looks to be one of the biggest in the festival’s nine-year history, with acts like Kaytranada, a big name producer and frequent festival performer, indie outfits Speedy Ortiz and Angel Olsen, as well as highly acclaimed post-metal band Deafheaven.

It’s an expansive and diverse festival, with hundreds of bands performing across numerous venues in the city. You can grab passes for the entire event for $199, and VIP passes for $349.

It runs June 22-26.

Taste of Calgary

One ticket equals $1. That’s the name of the game at Taste of Calgary, where you get a chance to sample the range of cuisines that Calgary has to offer.

Admittedly, more and more items are going for more than one ticket for a sample, but the unique opportunity for sampling foods still remains. Cultures spanning from Indian, Chinese, Greek, Italian — all of their fares and more will be available to try out.

The festival takes place at the Eau Claire Festival Plaza from Aug. 11-14 and admission is free, so you can grab as much grub as your heart desires while you’re there.


One of the larger ethnic festivals in Calgary, Fiestaval celebrates Latin American culture at the Olympic Plaza with three days of latino dancing, food and street vendors.

Running from July 22-24, the festivities run late into the night until 11 p.m. each day of the festival, so you’ll be hard pressed to miss the fun.

Another free admission event, there’s no point in missing one of Calgary’s best cultural festivals.

Calgary Folk Music Festival 

A Calgary classic, the Calgary Folk Music Festival has been running since 1980, and continues to attract some of the biggest names to visit the city.

Native Canadian artists Whitehorse and The New Pornographers are among some of the headliners of the four-day festival this year, as well as over 60 more artists.

Four-day passes to this Calgary classic start at $195, and $120 for students, youth and seniors, and the festival runs from July 21-24.

Inglewood Sunfest

Celebrate in Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood this summer with 200 vendors and activities for all ages.

Taking place at the height of summer, this neighbourhood event has free admission and runs all day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., celebrating the neighbourhood’s crafty vibes, and throwing in some new traditions too with their 4th annual pie eating contest.

Catch the one-day event on July 30 throughout the Inglewood neighbourhood.