Chasing Summer

Casing Summer Calgary Crowd
Casing Summer Calgary Crowd
A quintessential guide

Chasing Summer

Get the deets you need to have a great weekend at Western Canada’s Largest EDM Festival
By
Magdalena Gorski
Magdalena is a freelance journalist, copywriter, and lover of music, books, and travel. As the culture editor of Freq Magazine, an arts, music and lifestyle publication in Calgary, she is always on the lookout for inspiring people doing remarkable things.

It’s no secret that Canadians cherish summertime. Sometimes our winters can feel merciless, everlasting, and just unnecessarily cruel, no matter how good of a sport you are. When summer does arrive, it is celebrated. The number of parties, events and festivals we throw in summer’s honour every year shows just how fierce our determination is to squeeze every last sunny drop out of those fleeting dog days. 

One such love song to the warm months is the electronic dance music (EDM) festival, Chasing Summer, which makes its return to Calgary every August. Produced by powerhouse promotions company and venue operator Live Nation, and located at the Max Bell Center festival grounds, Chasing Summer has become a seminal summer event in the city, featuring some of the world’s biggest stars in EDM behind the decks. 

So what can one expect from the largest electronic dance music festival in Western Canada?  Here’s a guide of hot tips to help you have fun, stay safe, keep hydrated, and pack in maximum summer vibes for an unforgettable experience.

Chasing Summer Max Bell Centre

Chasing Summer at its home at the Max Bell Centre

I want to chase summer! What do I need to know? 

Before you buy your ticket—remember the festival is 18+, so make sure that you bring a valid ID and that you are of age! 

Chasing Summer has permanently moved from Fort Calgary to a new location at the Max Bell Centre. The new location offers greater flexibility, better transportation opportunities, and spectacular vistas of Calgary as it sits at a vantage point overlooking the river valley and the whole of downtown. Moving the festival opened up tons of space for the 33,000+ expected Chasers. 

Although Max Bell is on Memorial Drive, there isn’t parking on site, nor permitted in the surrounding residential area. However, the C-train stops nearby at Barlow- Max Bell Station, and runs the duration of the festival, as the gates to the grounds open at 1pm and close at 11pm. Other options are taxis, park and ride, getting dropped off, or ride-sharing. Remember, taking the train is not only a better environmental option, but also keeps harm reduction in mind, as the festival is licensed. No drinking and driving! 

If you’re visiting and need a place to stay, Chasing Summer has partnered with MeetingMax to help you with preferred rates unavailable to the general public at hotels with great access to the C-Train, allowing you to get to the festival. In 2018, these include the Marriott Calgary Downtown, the Delta Calgary Downtown, Hilton Garden Inn Calgary Downtown, Hyatt Regency Calgary, Coast Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre, Westin Calgary, and Ramada Plaza Calgary Downtown.  

Wanna volunteer? Put in an application for some great benefits, like attending the festival for free. 

Another important thing to know is that after you head inside for the day, there is no re-entry. If you leave the grounds at any point, you cannot return until the following day. To make sure you don’t miss out on anything or anyone just because you forgot something, make sure that you’ve brought what it takes to make your experience the easiest, most comfortable, and most memorable you can.

Chasing Summer in the rain

Pack smart for hauling things around all day, but also in case of inclement weather

What to Bring

I tend to make a mini mental list for myself anytime I go—but if you’d like a complete and comprehensive list, check out the Don’t Leave Without, and What To Leave Behind page carefully so that there are no surprises at the door. 

I always like to think that the more prepared you can be while being open to and rolling with everything that occurs over the day is the happiest compromise to having a spectacular time. It’s a festival! Magical things tend to happen. Don’t ruin your own good time just because you forgot something as silly (and as easy to pack) as sunscreen. 

First things first, check the weather and dress accordingly. For those coming out from out of town, Calgary’s weather is notoriously fickle and can change in a matter of five minutes. But, that doesn't mean that you can’t outsmart it at least a little with some clever moves. 

My personal day’s prep would start with a comfy backpack. Chasing Summer doesn’t allow anything with metal in it, so a soft pack or a messenger bag is key here. 

Think big enough to house some important items, but not so much that you end up packing way too much and carrying everybody else’s stuff too! For example, I like to bring a K-Way or similar style of rain jacket, because it’s super light, and barely takes up any space. A portable charger for my phone is essential, and, of course, an already charged phone to take pics with, use the Chasing Summer App, stay in touch with friends, check the weather, and plan when you’re going to catch particular sets. 

Include the aforementioned sunscreen (if you need it), chapstick, a hoodie or sweatshirt to toss on after if the evening gets chilly, a big bottle for water, and shoes that you can spend two days dancing in. A hat is always a good idea, and don’t leave your sunglasses behind. If you use earplugs, take those too. 

Look after your body. Think about the fact that you’re helping yourself to a couple days of music, revelry, and dancing, but don’t forget to be nice to the vessel that is treating you to such things too.  

There are free water stations all over the grounds, so HYDRATE and hydrate often. I can’t stress that enough. I have seen friends positively poisoned by the sun with heat stroke and dehydration, but it actually doesn’t take much effort to prevent. Just make sure your water bottle is full and you’re paying attention to drinking it. If you are drinking alcohol, a good rule of thumb is to have an equal amount of water for every boozy beverage you consume. Remember: WATER IS LIFE. 

You can take up to a 1L plastic bottle to use at the free water stations, a Camelbak, but no glass or metal bottles. You can also bring snacks, but they have to be in commercially sealed packages, such as chips, trail mix, or snack bars. It’s a bummer not to be allowed to bring your own homemade food, but luckily Chasing Summer has a great selection of some of Calgary’s best food trucks. Make sure you take the opportunity to try as many delicious things as you can and eat throughout the day! (And on that note, don’t forget your bank card. You’ll find ATMs throughout the grounds). 

Even if you’re having tons of fun, take breaks in the shade during the day. A good way to kill two birds with one stone is to pick somewhere shady when you first walk through the gates and have that be “your spot” for meeting up with friends for the weekend. That way, if you lose your buddies, you’ll have a way to find them, there’ll be a spot to re-group, and you’ll all have a place to either take a breather together or on your own without being worried about getting too lost. I find picking a spot really centers the group and creates potential to make new friends too. For these sporadic sit-downs, I like to pack a sarong to sit on. That folds up super nice and light as well. 

Chasing Summer festival grounds

Pick a spot to meet your friends in case you get separated, because the grounds are huge!

Safety

Safety and security is paramount to the organizers. From top-notch safety and security, a medical centre equipped to look after anything from sunstroke, to bee stings, to rolled ankles, to drug overdoses, Max Bell Centre provides essential services that improve every year. Make sure that you know where to find these facilities upon entering. 

Chasing Summer has a zero tolerance policy for drugs, but expert medical care is on-site if you run into any incidents. Remember that the law protects you, so get help at the first sign of trouble. 

You will be checked upon entry. Be smart. 

You will find safety staff located all over the festival, so if you have a question or need help, use them. 

I also am a big fan of the buddy system. Look after your friends, check in often and make sure they are looking out for you too. Tell your pals to do all the things I’m telling you to do too.

Chasing Summer Max Bell Centre

Chasing Summer hosts two stages of great music.

What to Look For

The best way to not get lost is to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, and it’s always a good idea to take the time to just have a look around and see what the festival organizers have created for you, and use this handy map of the festival

There are always treasures to find on site, whether it’s food, merch from one of your favourite DJ’s, new and old friends, Artsity—local and regional spotlights on artists, and of course, the stages. Often times set times might have overlap, but luckily there are only two stages at Chasing Summer, so you can bounce back and forth. That said, I always like to treat every festival I go to as a discovery festival, so it’s worth trying out an act you haven’t seen before. Maybe you’re not too familiar with an artist, but have heard good things. Check ‘em out! The festival has been curated by music-loving pros that look for some of the most exciting names in the industry. 

I went to Coachella in about 2006 and was hanging around a small afternoon stage with a friend when we heard a band that sounded like no one we had heard before. We decided to skip the big show we were going to and ended up at the front of the stage with a tiny group of people watching a little band called Kings Of Leon. Who did we skip? Who knows?

Check out participating clubs around town to find out where the after parties are! With so many great DJs in town, the party doesn’t stop at Max Bell. Well known venues around Calgary like Bespoke, Habitat, Marquee, and The HiFi Club hop aboard on booking post-festival shows. This is your chance to catch huge names like Dillon Francis, Kaskade, Martin Garrick or What So Not in a more intimate setting. All information can be found at on the Chasing Summer website

Chasing Summer Max Bell Centre

Create memories with the EDM community at Chasing Summer.

Don’t forget…

A festival is an overall experience that can be indelibly imprinted on you and your crew’s most memorable stories for years to come. And isn’t that the whole point? The best times are the happy ones, so make sure that you look after one another. 

And don’t let the care stop at your own friends. If you see anyone having a hard time, just check in and make sure they’re okay. That attitude spreads throughout a festival. It feels good to feel safe, it feels good to be kind, and it feels good to be looked after. Practice this and the number of incidents always goes down as people break down their barriers to generate an environment where everyone feels you’ve created a real community. Music can do wonders, so get out there and have a great time, make new friends and dance your heart out! In reasonable, sensible footwear of course.