Staff Picks: Fun Summer Festivals

These are some of the local festivals Avenue’s team is excited to check out in and around Calgary this summer.

Photograph by halfpoint, courtesy of Canva.

Sled Island – June 22 to 26, 2022

This music and arts festival first launched back in 2007 and, barring catastrophic floods (2013) or global pandemics (2020, 2021) it happens every year in late June. You might have seen posters up around town advertising the lineup for this year’s fest, running June 22 to 26, and if you found yourself scratching your head because you don’t know any of the bands, well you’re not alone. In fact, Sled even hosts a “But I Don’t Know Any of the Bands!” night in advance of the festival, where they screen music videos by acts in the lineup. Sled Island is in many ways a festival of discovery and one of the best parts about it is seeing new (to you) musical acts in familiar spaces: Unlike site-specific festivals, performances are spread out among multiple clubs and stages in the inner-city. Festival-goers get wristbands that allow access to all events (subject to capacity) so you can stay put at one venue or hop around to multiple venues (if that’s your plan you’ll want to have a bike). Before the festival even officially begins, head down to I Love You Coffee Shop on Tuesday, June 21, to check out the annual Sled Island Poster Show exhibition and try to make it to at least one performance at the downtown No. 1 Legion — a legendary venue that has hosted some of the most legendary Sled shows past. — Shelley Arnusch, editor-in-chief of Avenue


Canmore Folk Festival – July 30 to August 1, 2022

I have little kids, which means all my summer plans are filtered through specific criteria. Mainly, does the event/venue have tasty snacks, a place to play and a welcoming kid-friendly vibe? The Canmore Folk Festival checks all these boxes and then some. Located in Canmore’s Centennial Park, it takes place over the three days of the Heritage Day long weekend in August, July 30 to August 1. The exciting musical lineup is eclectic and diverse, featuring a blend of Albertan musicians and international acts. And the designated kid’s section includes crafts, puppet shows, storytelling and a climbing wall. It’s an easy hour’s drive to the event, but the magical Rocky Mountain backdrop makes you feel like you’ve travelled much further. — Meredith Bailey, manager of Custom Publishing


GlobalFest – August 18, 20, 23, 25 and 27, 2022

In the summer of 2014, I was visiting my relatives in Calgary from my hometown in Saskatchewan, and the trip just happened to align with the GlobalFest Firework Festival. At this annual event, countries from around the world present world-class pyro performances by combining fireworks and music. It blew my 15-year-old mind; the fireworks, the food, the culture and even the sheer amount of people gathered together at Elliston Park. I had never experienced anything quite like it, and it was that night that I began to wonder what my future would look like if I ever moved to Calgary. I became an official Calgarian in the fall of 2019, so I’m sure you can imagine why my next GlobalFest wasn’t until last summer. It happened to fall on a horribly cold and rainy day, but bad weather has never stopped an Albertan, and it certainly wasn’t going to stop me. My friend and I layered up, donned our masks and sipped hot chocolate from where we were huddled together on my picnic blanket, and we had just as much fun then as I had seven years prior.  — Kendall Bistretzan, Special Projects Intern

Want more suggestions for the best things to do in Calgary? Sign up for our Weekender Newsletter.

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