Free Events In Calgary: Wiener Dog Races, a Bike Festival and Lots of Chili

There are numerous free (or really affordable) events happening in Calgary in the next 30 days. Here are just a few to put in your calendar.

Catch The Kinkonauts in Squadball: Summer League with Ella Jean on July 15. Tickets are only $10.

Photograph by ZedShots


Free events to know about



July 14 to 23

The annual community-driven bicycle festival is back and there are plenty of free, bicycle-centered events taking place during the 10-day festival. (There are a few events that cost a little to participate in, too.) On Sunday, July 16 there’s a free bike tour of the various green buildings near the downtown core. There’s a very-Canadian bike and swim event on Monday, July 17 — the ride takes participants to different spots along the river for a dip. There’s even a bike-powered water fight at St. Patrick’s Island on Thursday, July 20. 

Various locations, 


Bee Kingdom Glassblowing Weekend

July 22 and 23

This is an art and shopping event, but it’s also a kind of summer party. At this free event there are glassblowing demonstrations and Bee Kingdom Glass will be serving hot dogs and ice cream cones. Admission is free but you’re probably going to want to spend a little money — the artists are selling funky items like glass bowls, vases, drinking glasses and more. 

Bee Kingdom Glass, 427 22 Ave. N.W.,


Victors, Villains and Vixens

July 25 to 30

When the Calgary Folk Fest takes over Prince’s Island Park, Theatre Calgary’s Shakespeare by the Bow takes a little break. But instead of stopping completely, a different performance runs at St. Patrick’s Island. Victors, Villains and Vixens is a collection of different scenes from a variety of Shakespeare plays, performed by up-and-coming performers. 

St. Patrick’s Island Park, 403-294-7447,



July 29 and 30

Also taking place at the same time as the Calgary Folk Fest is a different kind of festival at Eau Claire Market. It’s free to check it out, and if you’re the kind of person who likes dogs, it’s worth it. If you have a dog, bring him along to Pet-A-Palooza for a little dock diving, the pet selfie contest and some pet-specific shopping. If you don’t have a dog, that’s okay. You’ll still be able to appreciate activities like the French and English bulldog races (it’s called the Running of the Bulls), the puppy stampede and the wiener dog races. 

Eau Claire Market, 200 Barclay Parade S.W.,


Calgary Arab Festival

July 29 to 30

Learn a little about various Arab traditions at the fourth annual Calgary Arab Festival. The two-day event includes exhibition tents showcasing Middle Eastern fashion, dance and art, as well as authentic dishes and drinks. 

Olympic Plaza, 228 8 Ave. S.E.,


Floating Lantern Peace Ceremony

August 5

This annual event, meant to promote a shared desire for peace, sees the release of hundreds of colourful lanterns across the Olympic Plaza pool. There will also be performances by a children’s choir and the award-winning musician Anthony Burbridge, as well as speeches by two individuals who were recently honoured by the United Nations. 

Olympic Plaza, 228 8 Ave. S.E.,


Tour de Bowness

August 5 to 7

The Tour de France wraps up on July 23, but for true cyclists enthusiasts, bike-racing fever lasts all summer long. The Tour de Bowness is a three-day amateur bike event organized by Bow Cycle that anyone is able to come and watch. Cheer on athletes as they tackle a road race just outside of Cochrane at Horse Creek Road, a hill climb and a short circuit around Bowness. 

Various locations, 403-202-4359,


Marda Gras Street Festival

August 13

This free street festival feels like a small-town summer party. As well as live music, dance and cultural performances and plenty of shopping, there’s a pet pageant and a show and shine. 

Various locations in Marda Loops, 


Affordable events that are $20 or under


9th Annual Chili Cook-Off 

July 14 to 15

Admission by donation

If you’re into taste testing several different chilis, head to the Calgary Farmers’ market this weekend for its 9th Annual Chili Cook-Off. Six Calgary Farmers’ Market vendors are cooking up chilis in this competition and the chili with the most votes will be crowned the 2017 Chili Champion. Expect traditional chilis (like the Mabel’s Mouth Melter Chili from Frank and Mabel’s), really meaty chilis (like the Can’t Beat my Meat Brisket Chili from Big T’s Smokehouse) and slightly unconventional chilis (like the Smokin’ Hawaiian Chili from Stock and Sauce Co). Admission is by donation and will support the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank’s Put the Boots to Hunger Campaign

Calgary Farmers’ Market, 1235 26 Ave. S.E., 403-240-9113, 



July 15


Local improv troupe the Kinkonauts is presenting a musical comedy show on July 15. The group will be creating scenes, inspired by music by the British musician Ella Jean. It’s a one-night only show and Jean will be performing live alongside the Kinkonauts. 

The Alexandra Centre, 922 9 Ave. S.E., 403-807-7504,  


Milky Way Nights

July 20 to 22

$20 per car

Make the drive out to Priddis to admire the night sky, ask astronomers your questions and try out the observatory’s telescopes. At this time of year, the conditions are ideal for stargazing and viewing distant galaxies. The observatory is open to the public during Milky Way Nights from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. 

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, 403-931-2366, 


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