The Veronicas at the High Performance Rodeo
Honouring the people who make theatre in Calgary, The Veronicas return to the High Performance Rodeo | Photo: Laurel Green

Winter Festival Guide 2018

Winter won’t slow us down, warm up with these smoking festivals

Amy Jo Espetveidt

It might be winter but that doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to the snow. 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 3 – 28, 2018
Multiple locations
Free – $120

Calgary’s international festival for the arts, the High Performance Rodeo is the largest festival of its kind in western Canada. And the 2018 lineup looks amazing! From One Yellow Rabbit’s Moon, Moon, No Moon to the return of the ever-popular 10-Minute Play Festival, tickets are going fast, so get yours quick.

High Performance Rodeo Festival Guide

Download your own copy of the High Performance Rodeo Festival Guide and start planning | Photo: Courtesy of One Yellow Rabbit


January 11 – 13, 2018, 1:00 – 8:00pm daily
llingworth Kerr Gallery, ACAD (1407 14th Ave. NW)

A unique showcase of live art and performances, head to the Alberta College of Art + Design’s Illingworth Kerr Gallery for this three-day festival. Organized by Lorenzo Fusi, up to 15 Alberta artists or artist collectives have been selected to take part in this weekend that is part seminar, part conversation, and part workshop. And this year, each day is capped with a keynote performance conceived by three international artists.

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

January 17 – 20 & January 23 – 28, 2018
Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary (206 University Court NW)
$18 – $28

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.

Baconfest 5

January 17, 24, 31 & February 7, 2018
John Dutton Theatre, Calgary Public Library (616 Macleod Tr. SE)

Calgary’s favourite Urban Planning Film Festival returns for its fifth 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.

BIG Winter Classic

January 18 – 21, 2017
Multiple locations
$45 – $145

Born out of an idea to celebrate Calgary year-round, not just in the warm summer months, this festival brings together a killer musical lineup. In 2018 look for performances from Less Than Jake, Red Fang, and Duchess Says, alongside a whole bunch of local acts including Raleigh, The Rambling Ambassadors, and Iron Tusk.

Inspiring Favourites for Winds

January 21, 2018, 7:00pm
Christ Church Elbow Park (3602 8th St. SW)
$10 – $20

Join the Alberta Winds ensemble as they celebrate inspiring favourites for winds at this festival performance. With a program selected from the Alberta International Band Festivals repertoire list and input from Calgary area music teachers, this concert promises to bring students’ favourites to life.

PARTICLE + WAVE Media Arts Festival

February 1 – 3, 2018
Multiple locations
Free – $20

A unique three-day celebration highlighting the critical innovation and creativity present in the media arts community, this festival showcases an art form that, by it’s very nature, is constantly evolving and growing. Look for screenings, installations, and live performances, many of which are free to attend.


February 1 – 28, 2018
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.

WowFest Magic Spectacular

February 2 – 4, 2018
Orpheus Theatre, SAIT Campus Centre (1301 16th Ave. NW)

Back for its sixth year, don’t miss this festival’s most amazing magic show to date. Starring Murray Hatfield and Teresa, the entire weekend is jam-packed with magic, comedy, juggling, and illusions. Don’t miss this Vegas-style experience right here in Calgary.

Forms of Sound Festival

February 7 & 8, 2018
Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary (206 University Court NW)
$9 – $12

Focused on sonic exploration, new approaches to creation and performance, and premieres of new works, join the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts for this annual event.

Just Acts Play Festival

February 13 – 18, 2018
Knox United Church (506 4th St. SW)
$8 – $16

A one act play festival consisting of brand new works written and directed by local artists, join Knox Theatre Collective and Urban Stories Theatre as they explore addictions.

Block Heater

February 15 – 17, 2018
Multiple locations
$15 – $85

Back for its third edition, Block Heater is Calgary Folk Festival’s winter offering. Taking place at four venues along the Music Mile, see 24 artists performing roots, world music, funk, and more. Look for concerts and collaborative sessions taking place the third weekend of February.

Calgary Folk Festival's Block Heater returns to Inglewood

Block Heater returns to Inglewood and the Music Mile this February | Photo: Liam Prost

Rhythm Body and Soul Festival

February 15 – 18, 2018
Multiple locations
Prices vary

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.

WinterFest 2018

February 19, 2018, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Fort Calgary (750 9th Ave. SE)
$5 – $12

A day jam-packed with family-friendly activities, head to Fort Calgary to take in stories told by a Blackfoot knowledge keeper in a tipi and enjoy a cabane à sucre. There is even a screening of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at 2:00pm.

Winefest Calgary

February 23 & 24, 2018
Hall E, BMO Centre, Calgary Stampede (20 Roundup Way SW)
Ticket prices vary

A wonderland of wines, attendees can sample from a delicious worldwide array and indulge in delectable hors d’oeuvres. Tickets include a sampling of wines, hors d’oeuvres, and a complimentary wine glass.

Calgary Midwinter Bluesfest

February 26 – March 3, 2018
Multiple locations
Free – $36.98

This midwinter offering from the Calgary Blues Music Association is a great chance to shake off your own case of the wintertime blues. With a lineup of workshops, showcases, and headline concerts, the festival includes A Walk Through Blues History and an evening with boogie piano giant, blues shouter, and songwriter, David Vest.

The Big Taste

March 2 – 11, 2018
Various venues
Prices vary

The Big Taste returns and is as delicious as ever with over 90 restaurants offering special menus that appeal to the foodie crowd. There are even a number of signature events to check out throughout the run.

Calgary Maple Festival

March 3 & 4, 2018
Heritage Park (1900 Heritage Dr. SW)
$10 – $18

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 Indigenous music and dances as well as traditional food, games and, of course, maple taffy on the snow.

Artifact Small Format Film Festival

March 8 – 10, 2018
Theatre Junction GRAND (608 1st St. SE)
Free – $20

Formerly the $100 Film Festival, this is Calgary’s only celluloid-based festival offering. An international celebration of creative storytelling, stay tuned as details emerge for 2018.

Artifact Small Format Film Festival Poster

Brazilian Carnaval

March 10, 2018, 6:00 – 11:00pm
Eau Claire Market (200 Barclay Parade SW)

It might be the Brazilian Community Association of Alberta’s 15th annual Carnaval, but 2018 marks the first to be offered with free admission. Open to the public, the evening includes showcases of capoeira and samba as well as live music from Salviano Pessoa, José Neto, Júlio Siqueira, and Dandara Backen.

One Act Play Festival

March 21 – 24, 2018
Pumphouse Theatres (2140 Pumphouse Ave. SW)
$12 – $45

Now in its 35th year, don’t miss the Calgary Region One Act Play Festival this March at the Pumphouse Theatre. Catch original one act works as a professional adjudicator chooses which one will represent Calgary at the Provincial One Act Festival.

Alchemy Festival of Student Work

March 22 – 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 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.

Reactor Improv Festival

March 28 – 31, 2018
Rose Room, Alexandra Centre (922 9th Ave. SE)
$5 – $15

An improv extravaganza featuring performances from The Kinkonauts along with special guest troupes from Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto, each night features a new and exciting performance that encapsulates the dynamic range of Canadian improv.