Delhi 2 Dublin perform at 2018's Block Heater
Delhi 2 Dublin perform at last year’s Block Heater | Photo: Melanie Boisvert

Winter Festival Guide

The cold won’t slow us down with these awesome festivals

Amy Jo Espetveidt

It might be winter but that doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to the snow and the cold. Many of Calgary’s festivals move indoors this season with amazing offerings from the High Performance Rodeo, Block Heater, and more.

Get out there and warm up with these smoking hot festivals!

High Performance Rodeo

January 9 – 27, 2019
Multiple locations
Free – $123

Calgary’s international festival for the arts, the High Performance Rodeo is the largest gathering of its kind in western Canada. And the 2019 lineup looks fantastic! From One Yellow Rabbit’s Live Your Prime, with Damien Frost 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 15 – 27, 2019
Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary (206 University Court NW)
$24 – $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.

BIG Winter Classic

January 24 – 27, 2019
Multiple locations
$28 – $159

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 2019 look for performances from Terra Lightfoot, Little Destroyer, Chron Goblin, Yonatan Gat, The Coathangers, and more.

PARTICLE + WAVE Media Arts Festival

January 31 – February 2, 2019
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 its very nature, is constantly evolving and growing. Look for screenings, installations, and live performances, many of which are free to attend.

Exposure Photography Festival

February 1 – 28, 2019
Multiple locations
Free – $60

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.

A person looks at pieces on display at Exposure HQ at the 2018 Exposure Photography Festival

Explore the some of the best photography around at Exposure | Photo: Courtesy of Exposure Photography Festival

Music of Festival

February 3, 2019, 7:00pm
Christ Church Elbow Park (3602 8th St. SW)
$15 – $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.

Black History Month Film Festival

February 7, 12 & 26, 2019
Jenkins Theatre, Mount Royal University (4825 Mount Royal Gate SW)
Free admission, donations accepted

Featuring work by black filmmakers from Calgary and across the globe, this new festival kicks off with a screening of We Are The Roots, a documentary film written and produced by University of Lethbridge professor Jenna Bailey and University of Calgary professor David Este that explores the remarkable history of early black settlers to Canada.


February 14 – 18, 2019
Throughout downtown
Free admission

This free, all-ages event welcomes everyone to experience one-of-a-kind interactive light displays, art, entertainment, food trucks, and activations throughout the downtown core. There’s even a dance party and live music to check out!

Rhythm Body and Soul Festival

February 15 – 17, 2019
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.

Just Acts Play Festival

February 19 – 24, 2019
Knox United Church (506 4th St. SW)
$10 – $20

In a world filled with media distractions and consumer demands, are we moving away from the day to day need to connect as humans? A one act play festival consisting of brand-new works written and directed by local artists, join Urban Stories Theatre as it explores humanity.

Block Heater

February 21 – 23, 2019
Multiple locations
$15 – $80

Back for its fourth year, Block Heater is Calgary Folk Festival’s winter offering. Taking place at Festival Hall, Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, and the new Central Library, it’s your chance to experience 28 stellar artists—we can’t wait to see Pokey LaFarge, Ashley MacIsaac, and Snotty Nose Rez Kids.

Escape Film Festival

February 21 – 24, 2019
Globe Cinema (617 8th Ave. SW)
$8 – $10

A sci-fi and fantasy-based film festival bringing classic fan favorites back to the big screen, see screenings of Watchmen, Galaxy Quest, The Matrix, Aliens, The Crow, and more.

Winefest Calgary

February 22 & 23, 2019
Hall E, BMO Centre, Calgary Stampede (20 Roundup Way SW)
$82 – $92

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

The Bright Side Festival

February 23 – March 2, 2019
Theatre 1308 (1308 Edmonton Tr. NE)
$10 – $50

Celebrate the grand opening of Calgary’s newest performance and art space, Theatre 1308, with eight days of music, improv, film, philosophy, poetry, and stand-up comedy. Don’t miss the inaugural Bright Side Festival.

Calgary Midwinter Bluesfest

February 24 – March 2, 2019
Multiple locations
Free – $38

Shake off the winter blahs with the best in blues and check out the Calgary Midwinter Bluesfest as it returns with a full week of concerts, workshops, screenings, and so much more. Don’t miss this top-notch lineup featuring Tas Cru, Suzie Vinnick, Tony D, Ellen McIlwaine, Tim Williams, Elsie Osborne, Debra Power Trio, and John Rutherford.

Calgary Maple Festival

March 2 & 3, 2019
Heritage Park (1900 Heritage Dr. SW)
Ticket prices vary

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, Métis, 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 7 – 9, 2019
The GRAND (608 1st St. SE)
Ticket prices vary

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 the 27th iteration in 2019.

Festival of Animated Objects

March 13 – 17, 2019
Multiple venues
Ticket prices vary

Did you know that Calgary is a hot spot for the art of puppetry? Every two years the Festival of Animated Objects awakens the inanimate, giving expression to the inert. From puppet shows to film screenings, gallery exhibitions to workshops, don’t miss this lineup of innovative and sophisticated storytelling using mask, puppetry, and animated objects.

A performer stands in a wresting ring holding two giant leg puppets

Ghost River Theatre’s production of GIANT headlines this year’s Festival of Animated Objects | Photo: Citrus Photography

One Act Play Festival

March 21 – 23, 2019
Pumphouse Theatres (2140 Pumphouse Ave. SW)
Ticket prices vary

Now in its 36th 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 in High River.

Alchemy Festival of Student Work

March 28 – April 10, 2019
University of Calgary (2500 University Dr. NW)
Ticket prices vary

A festival of student work, don’t miss this fully interdisciplinary, tri-division celebration of music, drama, dance, and interdisciplinary performance.

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