The audience at the Calgary Underground Film Festival
Calgary Underground Film Festival celebrates 15 years with eclectic lineup | Photo: Caitlind Brown

Spring Festival Guide 2018

The melt is on and Calgary’s festivals are heating up

Amy Jo Espetveidt

Many consider summer to be Calgary’s festival gem, but spring brings several great treats worth checking out. From emerging artists to film and street festivals, there’s something for everyone this season.

So grab your calendar and start planning, it’s going to be a busy few months!

Alchemy Festival of Student Work

Until April 11, 2018
University of Calgary (2500 University Dr. NW)
$10 – $60

Marking a turning point for the School of Creative and Performing Arts, 2018 sees the reimagining of the possibilities of a festival of student work. It’s a fully interdisciplinary, three-week, tri-division celebration of student work in music, drama, dance, and interdisciplinary performance.

Tibetan Spring Bazaar

April 7, 2018, 10:00am – 6:00pm
Westgate Community Hall (4943 8th Ave. SW)

Featuring Tibetan handicrafts including shawls and scarves, jewelry, carpets, singing bowls, and more, join Tibetan Association of Alberta for its spring gathering.

Vaisakhi Mela 2018

April 7, 2018, 1:00 – 6:00pm
Genesis Centre (7555 Falconridge Blvd. NE)

Encouraging all recognized multicultural associations to represent their country and share songs, dances or any other performances or activities, don’t miss this mega event celebrating Indian New Year, harvest festival, and religious festival, all rolled into one.

House of Vans

April 13 – 15, 2018
Big Four Building, Stampede Park (1801 Big Four Tr. SE)

Featuring three packed days of programming including live music, a community market, art show, live mural painting, photography workshop, and a skate park designed to pay homage to Calgary’s skate history, don’t miss this free event.

Calgary Underground Film Festival

April 16 – 22, 2018
Globe Cinema (617 8th Ave. SW)
Free – $120

Celebrating the best in international independent cinema, the Calgary Underground Film Festival returns with seven days of unique films including lively Q&As, shorts packages, the CUFFcade, and The Found Footage Festival. And, marking its 15th anniversary, Western Canada’s biggest genre festival presents its boldest and most eclectic lineup yet.

Fans wait outside the Globe Cinema for the Calgary Underground Film Festival

Calgary Underground Film Festival takes over the Globe Cinema with the best in independent cinema | Photo: Caitlind Brown

Sane Takes on an Insane World

April 16 – 23, 2018
Multiple locations
$15 – $50

A new festival of ideas—just in the nick of time—join Wordfest for its new spring offering and connect with Canada’s most provocative writers. The week includes events with Kate Harris, Marcello Di Cintio, Jamal Jivani, and Tima Kurdi alongside returning favourites Wordplay and the Poetry Cabaret.

420 Music & Arts Festival

April 19 – 21, 2018
Distortion (3828 Macleod Tr. SE)
$50 – $89

Did you know that Calgary has its own 420 festival dedicated to stoner rock and the culture that has developed around the genre? Headlining the second annual festival are Dopethrone, Brant Bjork, Sasquatch, and La Chinga.

International Jazz Day(s)

April 22 – 30, 2018
Multiple locations
Ticket prices vary

Did you know that Calgary is one of the only cities in the world to take the inspiration from International Jazz Day and expand it into a full eight-day festival? Join JazzYYC to take in free and ticketed events including a children’s show, jazz jams, lunch and learns, and an all-day JazzWalk in Inglewood.

Calgary Performing Arts Festival

April 23 – May 13, 2018
Mount Royal University (4825 Mount Royal Gate SW)
Ticket prices vary

An integral part of the Calgary arts community, this annual festival encourages classical and contemporary music and speech arts performance among amateur students of all ages and skill levels. With over 12,000 performers, be sure to check out the Stars of the Festival concert at the Bella Concert Hall on May 13.

Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo

April 26 – 29, 2018
Stampede Park (1410 Olympic Way SE)
$10 – $495

The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo returns for 2018 with four days of celebrity guests, creators, cosplay stars, exhibitors, and so much more. What started as a small gathering in 2006 has grown to become one of the biggest events of its kind in North America with over 100,000 fans attending last year.

Cannonball! A Festival of Youth Theatre

May 2 – 5, 2018
West Village Theatre (2007 10th Ave. SW)
$5 per show

Calgary Young People’s Theatre brings back its festival of all-youth theatre for the third year! Welcoming plays written, directed, designed, and performed by kids, it’s a great chance to support young artists as they find their voice.

Calgary Arab Film Nights

May 3 – 6, 2018
Globe Cinema (617 8th Ave. SW)
Ticket prices vary

Featuring a variety of movies that show everyday life in the Arab world, don’t miss the sixth annual Calgary Arab Film Nights, presented by the Calgary Arab Arts and Culture Society.

Jane’s Walk Calgary

May 4 – 6, 2018
Multiple locations

Be part of this global festival of free neighbourhood walking tours. No registration is required, simply find a walk (or 10) that interests you and show up. With citizen-led tours inspired by urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs, the weekend offers participants a chance to explore and connect. Local art takes centre stage in a number of events including the Calgary Stampede Art Walk, a poetry walk with Juleta Severson-Baker, and the return of 10-Minute Plays.

Canadian International Fashion Film Festival

May 5, 2018
Multiple locations
$20 – $150

For the third year in a row, this festival takes over downtown Calgary with a packed schedule of screenings, awards, and parties aimed at fashion film lovers and influencers in the industry.


May 18 – 20, 2018
TELUS Convention Centre (120 9th Ave. SE)
$10 – $60

A three-day celebration of Japanese art, culture, and media in the Canadian community, this festival features a 7,000-sq.-ft. marketplace and art exhibition, media guests, gaming, cosplay showcases, musical concerts, performances, educational panels, and, of course, anime screenings.

Unison Festival 2018

May 18 – 21, 2018
Mount Royal University (4825 Mount Royal Gate SW)
Ticket prices vary

Playing host to the 2018 Unison Festival for its 20th anniversary edition, this Canadian LGBTQ2 choir festival comes to Calgary with a full weekend of concert blocks and special performances.

Calgary International Children’s Festival

May 23 – 26, 2018
Arts Commons (205 8th Ave. SE) & Olympic Plaza (228 8th Ave. SE)
Free – $17

Explore, journey, and discover with the Calgary International Children’s Festival featuring the very best in performing arts for young audiences. From the enthralling and sometimes eerie tale of The Bookbinder to the return of Doktor Kaboom, there’s so much to check out.


May 24 – 26, 2018
Knox United Church (506 4th St. SW)

An essential celebration of Bach, join the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra for this annual festival. This year features a performance by acclaimed organist Neil Cockburn and musical pairings of Bach’s music presented alongside works from Handel and Telemann.

Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival

May 25 – June 2, 2018
Multiple locations
$10 – $100

A festival for the fabulous! Celebrating 20 years of queer film in Calgary, Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival is back and better than ever with a smoking lineup of panels, parties, Q&As, galas, and screenings. Official festival programming launches May 3, 2018, so mark your calendars and stay tuned for details.

Hidden Gems Film Festival

May 25 – 27 & June 1 – 3, 2018
Alberta College of Art + Design (1407 14th Ave. NW)
$15 – $90

This little festival always programs the best in cutting edge, independent cinema from India—and the 2018 lineup is as varied and eclectic as ever. Don’t miss this year’s Hidden Gems.

Suncor Energy Stage One Festival

May 25 – June 9, 2018
Lunchbox Theatre (160, 115 9th Ave. SE)

See a series of staged readings and new works at this annual offering from Lunchbox Theatre. Stay tuned—details are still to be announced, but each year offers a plethora of choice including lunch hour offerings and evening presentations.

East Town Get Down

May 26, 2018
International Avenue (17th Ave. SE & area)
$25 – $30

A brand-new music festival taking place on International Avenue, don’t miss this collaboration between the International Avenue BRZ and the Major Minor Music Project. Conceived with the intention of exposing Calgary music lovers to all that East Calgary has to offer, the lineup includes a veritable who’s who of Calgary’s independent musicians.

Panel One Comic Creator Festival

May 26, 2018
Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (1320 5th Ave. NW)

A one-day festival featuring comic creators, workshops, and panels, join Panel One Comics Society for its third year fostering pride and awareness around Canadian comic creators and their work.

FunnyFest Calgary Comedy Festival

May 31 – June 10, 2018
Multiple locations
Ticket prices vary

Get ready to laugh as this Calgary comedy tradition returns for its 18th annual festival. The details are still forthcoming, but you can be sure to get your stand-up fill with 70 performers over 11 days and nights.

YYC Lobster Fest

June 1 & 2, 2018
Crossroads Market (1235 26th Ave. SE)

Grab your favourite bib and start cracking, Billingsgate Seafood Market presents its scrumptious forth annual festival featuring fresh seafood, live music, and family activities.

Calgary Horror Con

June 1 – 3, 2018
Clarion Hotel (2120 16th Ave. NE)
$10 – $35

This convention is a gathering for the community of fans that love all forms of the horror genre—cinema, literature, performance, and art.

The Way Out West Fest

June 1 – 3, 2018
Multiple locations
Ticket prices vary

A modern festival celebrating the west, this new offering looks at the historic and contemporary lure of western heritage through paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, food, drink, and music. There’s even a chance to attend a cowboy church service with Lantern Church pastor Ed Hop and cowboy pastor and poet Byrn Thiessen.

Empathy Week

June 1 – 7, 2018
Multiple locations
Most events are free

Returning for a second year, Humainologie’s seven-day festival promotes empathy, connection, and the recognition of our shared humanity.

Rhubarb Fest YYC

June 2, 2018, 11:00am – 5:00pm
Southwood Community Hall (11 Sackville Dr. SW)

This family-friendly festival located in Southwood reaches out to all surrounding communities to join in on the fun! There is something for everyone at this fun little gathering including live music, a petting zoo, and much more. 20th Anniversary One Day Film Festival

June 2, 2018, 2:30 – 9:30pm
Globe Cinema (617 8th Ave. SW)
Free, donations accepted

Partnering with a number of organizations from Calgary’s film community, this one-day-only film festival presents an awesome selection of shorts and features.

Calgary Ukrainian Festival

June 2 & 3, 2018
Acadia Recreation Complex (240 90th Ave. SE)
Free – $12.50

A delight for the senses, celebrate with Calgary’s Ukrainian community and enjoy this festival full of food, dancing, live music, as well as arts and crafts.

Clothesline Festival & Art Sale

June 2 & 3, 2018, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Leighton Art Centre (282027 144th St. W)
Free, family-friendly

Go for a drive and visit the 43rd annual summer Clothesline Festival & Art Sale at the Leighton Art Centre. Discover more than 1,000 original works of art and fine craft while basking in one of the best views of the Alberta Foothills. Also on tap are artist demonstrations, family-friendly activities, and live music.

4th Street Lilac Festival

June 3, 2018, 10:00am – 6:00pm
4th St. SW (Between 13th Ave & Elbow Dr.)
Free, family-friendly

Each spring, thousands of attendees enjoy this array of musical talent, artisan vendors, live entertainment, and much more. With over 500 vendors, there’s something that will interest everyone at this Calgary springtime staple.

IGNITE! Festival of Emerging Artists

June 5 – 9, 2018
Pumphouse Theatres (2140 Pumphouse Ave. SW) & West Village Theatre (2007 10th Ave. SW)
Free – $50

Dedicated to supporting, mentoring, and presenting emerging artists of all disciplines, don’t miss this eclectic and exciting festival with theatre, animation, dance, improv, interdisciplinary, and site-specific offerings.

THIRD ACTion Film Festival

June 8 – 10, 2018
Glenbow Theatre (130 9th Ave. SE)
$10 – $100

Celebrating ageing and older adults through film and talks, this new festival offers a variety of feature length, shorts, animation, and documentary films that feature older adults in leading roles or address issues related to older adults.

JazzYYC Summer Festival

June 14 – 17, 2018
Multiple locations
Free – $150

With four mainstage venues, late night jams, a summer jazz camp and public workshops, a very special Women in Jazz panel, and the signature Inglewood JazzWalk, this summer festival returns thanks to Calgary’s jazz society, JazzYYC. Festival passes are now available and gives you entrance to all 15 ticketed festival shows.

Making It Right ~ Relations Art Festival

June 16, 2018, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Wild Rose United Church (1317 1st St. NW)

A bridge-building event that uses art as the medium to create relationships between Indigenous and non-indigenous communities in Calgary, this festival is an interactive art experience that you won’t want to miss.

Sled Island

June 20 – 24, 2018
Multiple locations
Ticket prices vary

With over 250 bands as well as comedy, film, and visual art offerings, Sled Island is a must see for any festival fan. Headliners include indie pop favourite Dirty Projectors, spooky pop sensation John Maus, ambient singer-songwriter Grouper, boundary-breaking pop act Lido Pimienta, and Sled Island 2018 guest curator Deerhoof.

Calgary Uke Fest Concert

June 22, 2018, 7:00pm
Marda Loop Community Hall (3160 16th St. SW)
$20 – $25

The Ukulele Festival weekend kicks off with a concert highlighting the talents of Jack ‘n Jel, Jake Peters, Don Gowan, and Magnolia Buckskin.

Calgary Uke Fest

June 23 & 24, 2018
cSPACE King Edward (1721 29th Ave. SW)
$175 – $215

A learning festival for those curious about the ukulele, this fun-filled weekend is full of opportunities to play and enjoy community. Hosted by the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners, don’t miss the first-ever Calgary Uke Fest.


June 23 & 24, 2018
George C. King Bridge (St. Patrick’s Island)
Free – $190

This annual gathering has turned into an immersive cultural experience, bringing together the best of Canada’s emerging fashion designers, rising artists, musical performers, and culinary talents. With a fresh take, this year promises to be one for the record books with the fashion show taking place on the George C. King Bridge. And don’t forget to check out PARKSALE, its free, full day market that allows you to support Canadian brands before and after the show.

Sultry & Sweet Summer Reads YYC

June 24, 2018, 12:00 – 4:00pm
Eau Claire Market (200 Barclay Parade SW)

Start your summer by diving into sultry and sweet love stories with Calgary’s first romance reader festival. Celebrate the romance novel and get up close and personal with some of the steamiest and sweetest local authors.

Shakespeare by the Bow

June 29 – August 19, 2018
Prince’s Island Park (698 Eau Claire Ave. SW)

Theatre Calgary works with emerging actors and theatre talent for this annual outdoor show. In 2018, see Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona—a tale of friendship between best pals Proteus and Valentine who fall in and out of bromance over and over again. Starring a company of Alberta’s up-and-coming actors, every performance is pay-what-you-will (no ticket required).

Have an upcoming festival that’s not listed? Email us at or fill out this form.