30 Days of Free (Or Really Affordable) Events In Calgary

If you don’t like spending more than $20 at a time, these events will keep you entertained until mid-July.

Shakespeare by the Bow.

Photograph by Trudie Lee


Free events in the next month

Downtown Street Piano Series

Until August 25

If you work in or around downtown, spend your lunch hour listening to free piano performances throughout the summer. In June, pianists are paired with musicians playing other instruments, like flute, guitar and horn. Hear solo performances throughout July, and sing-along events in August. The event runs from noon until 1 p.m. each Thursday in June and August (it runs every Tuesday and Thursday in July). 

Various locations downtown, calgarydowntown.com 


Pop-Up Picnics

Until August 24

The picnics are every Wednesday in a different downtown location until August 24. Each Wednesday, bring your lunch to the set location and enjoy the entertainment — there’s a different theme each week. Upcoming themes include Sinatra in the Park, Green Fools Circus Camp and Shakespeare on the Bow. Also expect giant Jenga, giant chess and supplied lawn chairs and picnic tables. 

Various locations downtown, calgarydowntown.com 


Kite Festival

July 16

This is Calgary’s first annual festival dedicated to kites and it’s free to attend. From 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be a range of kite-related activities to participate in, like kite workshops, kite demonstrations and kite flying competitions. 

Shaw Millennium Park, 1220 9 Ave. S.W., calgarykites.com 


Chestermere Water Festival

July 16

Spend your Saturday at Chestmere’s lake mid-July for its annual Water Festival. Watch wakeboard competitions, tour the lake, shop at the artisan market and let the kids explore the fun zone — there will be a super slide and a pirate obstacle course. Be sure to stick around for the rubber ducky races and then the fireworks at 10:30 p.m.

John Peake Park, 100 John Morris Way, Chestermere, chestermere.ca


Party at the Shaw Amphitheatre

July 16

We love Banff, we love Buffy Sainte-Marie and we love Dan Mangan. And on July 16, the Banff Centre is bringing all these loves together and presenting a free concert. As well as these two musical headliners, the outdoor concert includes performances by the nine-piece string ensemble collectif9, Seckou Keita and Mariame Hasni. Tickets are still required even though this event is free. 

Shaw Amphitheatre, The Banff Centre, 107 Tunnel Mountain Dr., 403-762-6100, banffcentre.ca


ProArts@Noon: Bente Hansen and Jesse Plessis

July 20

This free, noon-hour concert sees Bente Hansen and Jesse Plessis perform. They’re both pianists, but certainly not ordinary pianists. They’re all about rock and roll music on their pianos. 

Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, 604 1 St. S.E., 403-214-1811, proartssociety.ca 



July 22 to 24

This free outdoor festival is a celebration of Latin American culture. Expect a full day of Latino music, dances and cuisine. This is the place to sample an empanada and try out salsa dancing.  

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

Affordable events you should know about

Shakespeare by the Bow

Until August 21

Tuesday through Sunday (check online for dates with no shows)


This summer, Theatre Calgary and up-and-coming young Alberta actors present Hamlet. You can watch this well-known tragedy in Prince’s Island Park (with a picnic basket you’ve pre-ordered River Café, if you desire) almost every evening throughout the summer. The event is pay-what-you-will, but know that suggested donations are $10 per person. 

Prince’s Island Park, 403-294-7440, theatrecalgary.com


Voices in the Ocean: Susan Casey

July 6


If you don’t know Susan Casey, chances are you’re familiar with some of her work. Casey is the former editor-in-chief of O, The Oprah Magazine and the author of The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks. Hear Casey discuss her new book Voices in the Ocean. She’ll talk about swimming with wild dolphins and you can buy a signed copy of her book afterward. 

Calgary Public Library, 616 Macleod Tr. S.E., 403-294-9494, wordfest.com


Milky Way Nights

July 21 to 23

Entry by donation

Make a point to drive out to the University of Calgary’s Rothney Astrophysical Observatory during July. For three nights in July, the sky conditions are ideal for viewing the night sky. Ask the astronomers present your questions and view the night sky through the observatory’s telescopes. 

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, Priddis, 403-931-2366, ucalgary.ca

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