Top 5: Summer festivals in Calgary

Posted by Salmaan Farooqui on 5 June 2016

Matt Eyre has tons of fun at the annual 4th Street Lilac Festival in Calgary, AB

The first weekend of June has just finished, it’s sunny and hot outside, and a near record crowd estimated at more than 100,000 took over 4th Street for the annual Lilac Festival on Sunday. Summer festival season is here.

Lilac Festival’s vendors, performers and food brought in the crowds this year, with 4th Street being packed with strolling visitors as far as the eye could see.

“It was a huge success,” said Jennifer Rempel, executive director of Lilac Festival. “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.”

As one of the biggest and first festivals of the season, Lilac is sort of unofficial kickoff to the rest of Calgary’s festivities.

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 from June 22 to 26.

This year looks to be one of the largest in the festival’s nine-year history, with acts such as 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.

Taste of Calgary

One ticket equals $1. That’s the name of the game at Taste of Calgary, from Aug. 11 to 14, 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. A variety of cultures are represented, including Indian, Chinese, Greek, Italian and many more.

The festival takes place at the Eau Claire Festival Plaza 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 Olympic Plaza, featuring three days of latin dancing, food and street vendors.

Running from July 22 to 24, the festivities run until 11 p.m. each day, so you’ll be hard pressed to miss the event.

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

Calgary Folk Music Festival

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

Native Canadian artists Whitehorse and The New Pornographers are among the headliners of the four-day festival this year that features more than 60 artists.

Four-day passes to this Calgary classic start at $195 — $120 for students, youth and seniors — and the festival runs from July 21 to 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 the 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 with their fourth annual pie-eating contest.

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