The High Performance Rodeo’s 10-Minute Play Festival is always a great time and a highlight every January | Photo: Chantal Wall
The High Performance Rodeo’s 10-Minute Play Festival is always a great time and a highlight every January | Photo: Chantal Wall

Winter Festival Guide 2017

Stay warm with these smoking festivals

Amy Jo Espetveidt

We might be in the full throws of winter but that doesn’t mean we need to resign ourselves to the snow and the dark. Calgary’s festivals move indoors this season with amazing offerings from the High Performance Rodeo, Block Heater, and more!

So get out there and warm up with these smoking hot festivals!


High Performance Rodeo

January 5 – February 2, 2017
Multiple locations
Free – $120

Calgary’s international festival for the arts, One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo is the largest of its kind in western Canada. And the 2017 lineup looks amazing! From Karen Hines’ new work All The Little Animals I Have Eaten to the return of the ever-popular 10-Minute Play Festival, tickets are going fast, so get yours quick.

BIG Winter Classic

January 19 – 22, 2017
Multiple locations
$45 – $125

Born out of an idea to celebrate Calgary year-round, not just in the warm summer months, this festival brings together a lineup of over 60 bands. In 2017 look for performances from Said the Whale, TUNS, The Pack A.D, and many more. The inaugural weekend sold out last year, so be sure to scoop up your tickets early.


Forms of Sound

February 1 – 3 & 8, 2017
Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary (206 University Court NW)
Free – $20

This biennial festival at the University of Calgary is focused on sonic exploration, new approaches to creation and performance, and premieres of new works. For 2017 look for performances, workshops and installations by students, faculty, alumni, visiting artists and local artists.

This February, join EMMEDIA for the third PARTICLE + WAVE Media Arts Festival | Image: Courtesy of EMMEDIA

This February, join EMMEDIA for the third PARTICLE + WAVE Media Arts Festival | Image: Courtesy of EMMEDIA

PARTICLE + WAVE Media Arts Festival

February 2 – 4, 2017
Multiple locations
Free – $20

Get to know media art a whole lot better at this unique three-day festival celebrating the critical innovation and creativity present in the media arts community. Check out exhibitions, installations and performances by local and national artists along with a workshop and artist panel.

Block Heater

February 10 – 12, 2017
Multiple locations
$15 – $80

Back for 2.0, Block Heater is Calgary Folk Festival’s winter offering. Taking place at four venues in Inglewood, see 25 artists performing roots, world music, funk and more. Look for concerts as well as songwriter-in-the-round and collaborative sessions taking place the second weekend of February.

GLOW – Downtown Winter Light Festival

February 17 – 20, 2017
Multiple locations
Free, family-friendly

From 6:30 to 11:00pm each night various public spaces throughout downtown will be lit with one-of-a-kind installations, projections, theatrical experiences, and interactive light art commissioned from local, national and international artists. This inaugural festival looks to fill the darkness during what is usually Calgary’s coldest month.

Calgary Midwinter Bluesfest

February 25 – March 1, 2017
Multiple locations
Free – $35

This midwinter offering from the Calgary Blues Music Association is a great chance to shake off your own case of the wintertime blues. With workshops, showcases and a headline concert featuring Hubert Sumlin, this is a must for any fan of the genre.


Calgary Maple Festival des Sucres

March 5 & 6, 2017
Heritage Park (1900 Heritage Dr. SW)

Produced by the Association canadienne-francaise de l’Alberta, Calgary chapter, this annual winter festival celebrates French Canadian culture, history, and traditions. Look for French Canadian, Metis, and aboriginal music and dances as well as traditional food, games and, of course, maple taffy on the snow.

Festival of Animated Objects

March 16 – 19, 2017
Multiple locations

A dynamic celebration of mask, puppetry, and all things animated, this festival sees Calgary Animated Objects Society (CAOS) and Old Trout Puppet Workshop join forces to create the new International Festival of Animated Objects Society. With the mission to #AnimateYYC for four days this March, the Old Trout Puppet Workshop have the first announced show—a special remount of The Unlikely Birth of Istvan.

$100 Film Festival

March 22 – 25, 2017

One of only a handful of festivals worldwide that exhibit exclusively on small format celluloid, this little festival is celebrating a big year in 2017. Look for expanded programming to celebrate its 25th anniversary including special events, installations, and art.