Performers wrestle with an unwieldy creation.
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

It might be 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.

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

January 17 – 22 & 28 – 30, 2017
Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary (206 University Court NW)
$20 – $26

Catch some of the best new mountain films as the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour comes to Calgary. With two programs of short films sharing inspirational tales and high adrenaline, it’s well worth checking out.

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.

ACAD Film Festival

January 26, 2017, 7:00pm
Globe Cinema (617 8th Ave. SW)
Free, 18+

As the Alberta College of Art + Design’s annual film festival enters its third year, this screening features an array of powerful, bizarre, curious, and hilarious performances, video art, and animation created by students, alumni, and technicians.


Forms of Sound

February 1 – 8, 2017
Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary (206 University Court NW)
Free – $25

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.

Baconfest 4

February 1,8,15 & 22, 2017
John Dutton Theatre, Calgary Public Library (616 Macleod Trail SE) & Globe Theatre (617 8th Avenue SW)

Calgary’s favourite Urban Planning Film Festival returns for a fourth year. The brainchild of The City’s General Manager of Urban Strategy Rollin Stanley, Baconfest brings together thought-provoking screenings and conversations in celebration of renowned architect and planner Ed Bacon. And there’s actual bacon too.


February 1 – 28, 2017
Multiple locations
Free – $45

Celebrate the art of photography this February with Exposure. Alberta’s one and only photography festival, it hosts over 25,000 attendees annually with most events being free and open to the public.

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.

Just Acts Play Festival 2017

February 14 – 19, 2017
Knox United Church (506 4th St. SW)
$10 – $20

A one act play festival consisting of brand new works written and directed by Calgarian artists, join Urban Stories Theatre as it explores mental illness.

Rhythm Body and Soul Festival

February 16 – 19, 2017
Multiple locations
$10 cover

Looking to cultivate a larger rhythm community in Alberta and to facilitate international connections for artists, this annual festival features residencies for dancers as well as performances that are open to the public.

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 27 – March 4, 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 headline concerts featuring 24th Street Wailers, David Gogo, Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots, Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang, 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)
$10 – $14

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
Free – $100

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.

Prana Yoga Festival

March 17 19, 2017
Chinese Cultural Center (197 1st St. SW)
$215 – $315, single passes will be released depending on availability

The Prana Yoga Festival is coming to Calgary and features three days of yoga, meditation, nutrition, movement, and deep connection. A homegrown festival unique to Calgary, the weekend includes yoga classes taught by industry experts and features a marketplace and live entertainment.

$100 Film Festival

March 22 – 25, 2017
Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons (215 8th Ave. SE)
$10 – $12

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.

One Act Play Festival

March 24, 2017
Pumphouse Theatres (2140 Pumphouse Ave. SW)
$12 – $45

Now in its 34th year, don’t miss the Calgary Region One Act Play Festival this March at the Pumphouse Theatre. Catch original one act works—DIRECTION/less from Red String Theatre and Come Home from Moot Entertainment—as well as a public adjudication from Calgary based award winning director, actor, and producer, Kate Newby.

Taking Flight

March 27 – April 8, 2017
University of Calgary  (2500 University Dr. NW)
Free – $15

An interdisciplinary celebration of dance, drama, and music at the University of Calgary, the School of Creative and Performing Arts is ready to take off with its annual festival of student work.