8 of the coolest festivals to check out in Calgary this winter

Dec 14 2021, 8:27 pm

Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As recommended by health officials, if you choose to participate in events outside of your home, please adhere to COVID-19 health and safety measures, including proper physical distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent hand washing. Additionally, be aware that many businesses and events may be participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program and will require proof of vaccine or a negative, privately paid COVID-19 test. If you are sick, please stay home.

Calgarians aren’t afraid of a little cold weather, and we’re certainly not going to let the year’s chilliest season get in the way of our fun.

There are plenty of winter festivals happening in early 2022 to help beat those post-Christmas, pre-Spring blues.

From music festivals to downtown art and light installations, and Calgary’s large singles event to a hot chocolate fest, there are lots of things to do to suit every interest. Whether you want to get outside or stay cozy and warm indoors, you’re sure to find some frosty fun in YYC in the new year.

Here are eight of the “coolest” winter festivals and events to hit up in Calgary over the next few months.

Chinook Blast

winter festivals

Chinook Blast 2021 event (Elle McLean/Daily Hive)

Chinook Blast returns for its second year, celebrating the best of Calgary’s winter in the heart of the city with light installations, theatrical performances, outdoor sport, cultural celebrations, recreational activities, and much more. Chinook Blast 2022 features five Pillar Festival Partners, in addition to free public programming at the Chinook Blast Hub, centrally located around Calgary Downtown’s Olympic Plaza.

The Hub will host Exposure Photography Festival and art installations by B!G Art, Ken Hacke, and PARK, along with the RISE UP Outdoor Community Stage showcasing the Arts Commons Presents series of outdoor performances.

When: January 21 to February 27, 2022
Time: Varies by programming
Where: In and around downtown Calgary, with the Chinook Blast Hub centrally located around Olympic Plaza (228 8th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: FREE public programming at the Chinook Blast Hub, other costs vary by event



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Light up winter’s darkest days at Glowfest in February. The Glow Downtown Winter Light Festival transforms the heart of YYC into a warm, dynamic world of light, and brings extended patios, fire pits, outdoor seating, and magical activations to the city. Festival-goers can expect immersive, family friendly activations, performances, art installations, and plenty more.

When: February 10 to 12 and February 17 to 19, 2022
Time: Evenings
Where: Throughout downtown Calgary
Cost: Free outdoor activations

BIG Winter Classic

BIG Winter Classic is a four-day music and arts festival, celebrating the vibrancy of Calgary outside of just the warm summer months. Taking place is some of the city’s coolest venues, this festival mashes up music, art, local craft beer, and the “best and funnest” Calgarians for an epic time. “Because we’re Calgarians,” reads BIG’s website, “and dancing under patio heaters when it’s -15ºC outside actually sounds perfect.”

When: January 27 to 30, 2022
Time: Varies by show
Where: Stages at Broken City Social Club (613 11th Avenue SW, Calgary), Last Best Brewing and Distilling (607 11th Avenue SW, Calgary), Inner City Brewing (820 11th Avenue SW, Calgary), and The Goat Shop (#103 – 708 11th Avenue SW, Calgary)
Cost: $54 for day passes, or $139 for the weekend

Ethnik Festival of Arts and Culture


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One of Calgary’s newest arts and culture festivals, Ethnik is part of the celebration of Black History (Excellence) Month during the last week of February. Members of the Afro-Canadian and Caribbean communities come together to celebrate diversity, inclusivity, and to share their vibrant cultural traditions with other communities from across Canada. The 2022 edition will be a dual display of creative genius from artists in Calgary and Edmonton, and is available to view both in-person and online across the globe.

When: February 26, 2022
Time: More details to come
Where: Macleod Hall, Calgary TELUS Convention Centre (136 8th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: TBA

Block Heater

Calgary Folk Music Festival’s Block Heater event is a grassroots celebration of live music from Calgary, across Canada, and around the world. Emerge from your winter hibernation and take in performances by Reuben and the Dark, Josh Ritter, Witch Prophet, Susan O’Neill, Basia Bulat, and Tanika Charles, plus 25 additional artists that are yet to be announced.

When: February 17 to 20, 2022
Time: Varies by show
Where: Festival Hall (1215 10th Avenue SE, Calgary), King Eddy (438 9th Avenue SE, Calgary), Ironwood Stage and Grill (1229 9th Avenue SE, Calgary), Arts Commons’ Max Bell Theatre, Martha Cohen Theatre, and the Jack Singer Concert Hall (205 8th Avenue SE, Calgary), and Olympic Plaza (228 8th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: Tickets on sale starting January 10, 2022

YYC Hot Chocolate Fest

There’s no better way to warm up than with a nice cup of hot chocolate. Sip on decadent cocoa drinks and do some good while you’re at it with the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. For the entire month of February, participating cafés, restaurants, and chocolatiers create specialty hot chocolates for Calgarians to sample and rate, competing for the titles of YYC’s Best Hot Chocolate, Best Spirited Hot Chocolate, and Cup That Runneth Over Award. As an added bonus, $1 to $3 from every cup of cocoa sold goes to Calgary Meals on Wheels, directly providing nutritious meals to those in need.

When: February 1 to 28, 2022
Time: Business hours vary by restaurant
Where: Restaurants and cafes throughout Calgary; vendor list coming soon
Cost: Varies by beverage; with $1 to $3 from every cup sold supporting Calgary Meals on Wheels

High Performance Rodeo


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For three wild weeks in early 2022, One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo, Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts, gives local audiences the chance to watch touring performances from across Canada, acclaimed international shows, and new and experimental work from artists right here in YYC.

“The programming is bold, cutting-edge, funny, frank, and full of heart,” reads HPR’s website. The festival boasts theatre, dance, music, film, free lunchtime concerts, late-night cabarets, and much more, with shows in the basement of the Calgary Tower, at the Royal Canadian Legion, in the city’s +15s, a wrestling ring, an elevator, in City Hall, at the Central Library, and other unique and iconic venues around the city..

When: January 18 to February 6, 2022
Time: Varies by performance
Where: Various venues in Calgary
Cost: Ticket prices vary by performance

Get off the Apps and Onto the Ave


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If you’re tired of swiping right, swiping left, going on first dates that never lead to a second, getting ghosted, and spending countless hours online trying to find that special someone, then Calgary’s biggest singles event is for you. The Get off the Apps and Onto the Ave campaign starts on January 7 and runs until February 28, with a huge calendar of events designed to help singles meet other singles, all hosted in various venues along the 17th Ave Retail & Entertainment District.

When: January 7 to February 28, 2022
Time: Businesses along 17th Avenue SW; varies by event
Where: Various locations along 17th Avenue SW
Cost: Varies by event

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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