Festival Survival Guide: Calgary


Summer Jazz Festival / Tue, Jun 16 – Mon, Jun 22 / jazzyyc.com
As jazz musician J J Johnson once put it, “Jazz is restless. It won’t stay put and it never will.” With that in mind, YYC’s Summer Jazz Fest looks to showcase the genre’s spread of sounds: Afro Cuban influences to boogie woogie and bop; sextets to smaller outfits are all seeing representation. (Various locations)

Sled Island / Wed, Jun 24 – Sun, Jun 28 / sledisland.com
Easily one of the most excellently eclectic festivals in Canada, Sled Island’s 2015 incarnation features guest curation by Godspeed You! Black Emperor as well as appearances by Yo La Tengo, De La Soul,  Lightning Bolt and hundreds more, as well as a healthy dose of comedy and art. (Various locations)

Calgary Folk Music Festival / Thu, Jul 23 – Sun, Jul 26 / calgaryfolkfest.com
Folk’s in the name, but the festival’s 35th-annual go-around features a diverse spread of music from all over the world, this year including the likes of indie darling Father John Misty, DJ groover Kid Koala and avant garde-sax man Colin Stetson. And, yes, some folk music too, in among the 70-some acts slated to play. (Prince’s Island Park)

Calgary International Blues Festival / Mon, Jul 27 – Sun, Aug 2 / calgarybluesfest.com
A four-day celebration of one of the foundational genres of music, Calgary’s Blues Fest is bringing in acts like Amos Garett, Kelley  Hunt  and Sugar Blue for its 11th iteration. Plus: nightly dance parties! (Various locations)

Afrikadey! / Wed, Aug 5 – Sat, Aug 8 / afrikadey.com
“Music of mass delight” goes the tagline for this year’s Afrikadey! and its spread of sounds from around the globe, as well as its celebration of african food, dance, arts and culture, offers a well-balanced entry point into the world of world culture. (Prince’s Island Park)

Calgary Reggae Festival / Thu, Aug 13 – Sat, Aug 15 / reggaefest.ca
A family friendly weekend that looks to emphasize a beloved, blissed-out genre. Expect some serious jammin’ and some laid-back outdoor vibes.  (Shaw Millennium Park)

Art / Culture / Comedy

Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival / Fri, May 22 – Sat, May 30 / FairyTalesFilmFest.com
Since 1999, Fairy Tales has offered a cinematic celebration of LGBTQ culture, using the medium as a vehicle for both social change and discussion. There are screenings, panels, Q&As and films created both locally and beyond Calgary’s city limits. (Various locations)

Funny Fest / Thu, May 28 – Sun, Jun 7 / funnyfest.com
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A 10-day showcase of 70 comics across 26 shows? No? Well, Funny Fest turns 15 this year, and promises you, according to the website, “11 000 punchlines.” At least a couple of ’em have to tickle your particular ribcage, right? (Various locations)

Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary / Sun, Jun 14 – Sat, Jun 20 / aawc.ca
Set over the week leading up to  National Aboriginal Day, this week-long festival looks to celebrate, promote and craft understanding of aboriginal achievement, culture and tradition in the country, in both its past, present and future. There’s also a free pancake breakfast. (Various locations)

Ignite! Festival for Emerging Artists / Thu, Jun 18 – Sat, Jun 20 / sagetheatre.com
Sage Theatre’s Ignite! fest marks a chance for new, young and emerging artistic talent to showcase its stuff across myriad art forms: music, theatre, dance and visual arts. It’s a sneak peek at the artistic talent set to take over the city scene in the years to come. (Vertigo Theatre)

Shakespeare by the Bow / Tue, Jun 23 – Sun, Aug 16 / theatrecalgary.com
Held on Prince’s Island, this outdoor Shakespeare fest is programming The Tempest this season: aptly, like the festival, it’s set on an island, where magic and manipulation pave the way for romance and tragicomedy. Also: every performance is pay-what-you-will, so it won’t hurt your pocketbook to immerse yourself in a few hours of iambic pentameter. (Prince’s Island Park)

Calgary Stampede / Fri, Jul 3 – Sun, Jul 12 / calgarystampede.com
The grandaddy of Alberta festivals, the ‘Pede’s immensity extends beyond its anchoring rodeo into a festival of music called Nashville North—this year includes Corb Lund, Lindsey Ell, Bobby Wills and John Michael Montgomery—more music on the Coca-Cola stage and an midway exhibition, with all the rides and curious eats you could ever dream of. Cockroach pizza? $100 hotdog? You better believe they’re there. (Stampede Park)

Cyclepalooza / Fri, Jul 10 – Sun, Jul 19 / cyclepalooza.ca
Created in 2011, this DIY festival puts particular emphasis on Calgary’s bicycle-loving community: anyone can organize an event and add it to the festival’s online calendar, regardless of whether or not it takes place over festival’s 10-day span. They promote the two-wheeled lifestyle all year ’round. (Various locations)

Calgary International Fringe Festival / Fri, Jul 31 – Sat, Aug 8 / calgaryfringe.ca
Is eclectic, unjuried theatre your thing? The anything-goes appeal of the Fringe Festival, but on a slightly smaller scale than Edmonton’s behemoth of a festival. (Various locations)

When Worlds Collide / Fri, Aug 14 – Sun, Aug 16 / whenwordscollide.org
An award-winning festival, When Worlds Collide offers readers and purveyors of fiction, sci-fi, young adult and prose writing a place to meet and celebrate the form. The 2015 lineup includes Outlander author Diana Gabaldon, among other special guests. (Delta Calgary South)

Pride Week / Fri, Aug 28 – Mon, Sep 7 / pridecalgary.ca
After having its biggest year ever, Calgary’s Pride Week celebrations are adjusting to new size: its Pride parade will now head down 9th Avenue—the same route that the Calgary Stampede Parade takes. But that’s just one component of the festival, which is now in its 25th year of celebrating and promoting LGBTQ equality and acceptance. (Various locations)

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