Summer is full of chances to get outside and spend your days fooling around, but Calgary summers also offer plenty of opportunities to have some meaningful (and even high-brow) cultural experiences. If you’re looking to expand your horizons or get your creative inspiration flowing, here are eleven events to help you get your culture on this summer:


Calgary Stampede
Wait, the Calgary Stampede is a rodeo, it’s a party… but a higher-end cultural event? You bet your boots it is — there are a number of genteel pursuits right on the Stampede Grounds, ranging from the entertainment at the evening Grandstand show to the young performers competing at the Stampede Talent Search. Or you can escape the hoopla by slipping into the Western Oasis (in the BMO Centre) to peruse contemporary western art, performances by hang drum artist Daniel Waples and other musicians, and culinary demoes on the cooking stage. 


performance at Afrikadey festival

The afrikadey! Arts and culture society brings a week-long celebration of the music, food, dance, theatre, film, literature and visual arts of africa to calgary. Venues across the city share the rich cultural heritage of africa with canadians of all ages. Experience the unique traditions and heritage of this essential summer festival.


Arab Festival Dance

The Calgary Arab Festival is a cultural celebration to promote, share, and celebrate the diverse, vibrant and exciting arabic culture. Enjoy traditional arabian food, live music and shopping in an ancient middle-eastern marketplace. From the mountains of Morocco, to the Egyptian Sahara, the shores of the Mediterranean, back to the deserts of the Emirates, Calgary Arab Festival is a unique cultural experience.


Carifest Dancer

Showcasing the arts and culture of the Caribbean, Carifest brings the rhythm to Shaw Millennium Park with a colourful parade, live music, Caribbean inspired food and arts and crafts market. Join in the celebration of Caribbean culture this summer with a fun-filled family event for all to enjoy.


Opera in the Village

Calgary Opera’s annual open-air performances return to the big tent in the East Village with performances of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comedy The Mikado. In addition to this centerpiece event, there will also be weekend matinee performances of The Scorpion’s Sting for the whole family to enjoy. If you’re a first time opera goer, this is the perfect way to develop an appreciation for the art form in a more relaxed pretention-free setting.


Japanese Festival Drummers

“Omatsuri” is the Japanese term for “traditional festival”. The Calgary Japanese Festival welcomes visitors with authentic Japanese customs, food, music, dance, martial arts demonstrations and dramatic re-enactments of classic Japanese fairy tales. Don’t miss the fabulous sake tasting as the Japanese Canadian Community celebrates its heritage, culture and traditions.


Global Fest Fireworks

GlobalFest is an inclusive, world class, multi-faceted arts and culture festival that celebrates and showcases cultural diversity and artistic excellence. Experience spectacular fireworks displays from around the world while enjoying diverse culinary and night market vendors. Watch fireworks light up the Calgary skies at this unique summer event!


Expo Latino Musician

Western Canada’s largest outdoor Latin festival celebrates its 19th anniversary with dance workshops, live music, food vendors and shopping. Experience the sounds of summer on Prince’s Island Park with world class performances and embrace the diversity of the Hispanic community.



Honens’ piano competition only happens every three years — which makes the winner’s $100,000 cash award (plus a career development program worth half a million dollars) all the more prestigious. Audiences can watch the young finalists play, along with some other special concerts during the course of the festival. If you’re not a classical music buff, don’t fear — Honens bills the competition as a search for a “complete pianist — a 21st century artist for a 21st century audience,” meaning that the performances are designed to appeal to music fans across the spectrum. 



What happens when science and art collide? You get an amazing cultural happening that gets attendees’ senses and brains working in overdrive. Beakerhead is comprised of a series of (mostly) free events to appeal to anyone with even the slightest sense of wonder, with this year’s programming including a giant mechanical claw game, giant white rabbits taking over Central Memorial Park, scientific street fairs, and a catapult competition. 



CIFF, the biggest film festival between the Great Lakes and the Rockies, will feature over 200 films, putting a variety of cinematic genres from countries from all over the world on screens all over the city. It’s all about sharing stories — be they hard-hitting documentaries or emotional dramatic films, representing voices from Canada and beyond. 

By: Elizabeth Chorney-Booth

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