Calgary Summer Festivals

Calgary 2016 Summer Festivals

As warmer weather approaches Calgarians are ready to burst out and celebrate. For the summer of 2016 there are dozens of festivals and events for every age and interest. Whether you live here or are visiting, check out this roundup of some of the best summer festivals in Calgary.

Calgary summer festivals

The 4th Street Lilac Festival

June 5, 2016, 10am to 6pm

  • This free one day event is the start up to Calgary’s vibrant festival season.  
  • Enjoy the unique and pedestrian friendly 4th Street venue, offering an array of musical talent, artisan vendors, quality entertainment and some perfect people watching.
  • There are six stages hosting over 30 performances throughout the day, and over 500 vendors that vary from artisan crafts to street food.
  • website

Calgary Greek Festivalgreek_logo

September 16 – 18

  • Greek food and entertainment for the whole family.  
  • Bring your family out to Calgary’s longest running festival.
  • EAT, DRINK, DANCE – GREEK!
  • website

Sled Island Music Festival

June 22-26, 2016

  • The annual Sled Island festival features over 250 bands plus film, comedy and art across 30+ venues in Calgary!
  • website

Calgary Stampedechampios-buckle-up

July 8 – 17, 2016

  • At the biggest festival of all, the whole city joins in the world famous Calgary Stampede.
  • Parade, rodeo, midway, music, and food.
  • Events throughout the city including numerous free pancake breakfasts with entertainment.
  • website

Calgary Folk Music Festivalcow-bg

July 21 – 24, 2016

  • The 37th annual Calgary Folk Music Festival at Prince’s Island Park features acts from 16 countries on 9 stages.
  • The festival includes an interactive family area, international craft market, global culinary delights, a record tent and tree-shaded beer garden.
  • Over 70 artists from around the globe present roots, blues, world music, funk, country, and bluegrass.
  • website

Pet-A-Palooza

July 23 & 24, 2016

  • Pet-A-Palooza is a FREE family-friendly and pet-friendly festival.
  • Bring your pet to sample treats & food. Shop for toys, collars, coats and beds! And best of all get hooked up with FREE SWAG!!
  • Join us at Eau Claire to meet over 80 exhibitors, local rescues, listen to live music, check out Running of the Bulls – French and English Bulldog Races! And, you did what with your wiener?! Raced em’! New this year wiener dog races!
  • website

Calgary International Blues Festival

July 25 – 31, 2016

  • The Calgary Bluesfest takes place at Shaw Millenium Park, offering non-stop mainstage performances, a beer tent and nightly dance parties that run late into the night.
  • This family friendly event draws audience members from around the world, who enjoy the grass-roots feel and fun for all.
  • Starring Crescent City’s iconic guitar great Walter “Wolfman” Washington; Grammy award-winning giant, Bobby Rush, the pairing of two legends, Amos Garrett & Geoff Muldaur, and many more, the weekend promises to set the town on fire with its world-class, non-stop blues!
  • For an up-to-date artist line-up visit the festival website

Inglewood SunfestfooterLogo

July 30, 2016

  • A summer festival in the heart of historic Inglewood, with activity for all ages.
  • Street performers, music, unique shopping, and food outlets.
  • website

Expo Latino Festival

August 5 – 7, 2016

  • Celebrate Latin Culture at Calgary’s hottest outdoor festival experience.
  • World-class performers, sizzling dancing, exotic foods, arts and crafts, and more.  In the heart of Calgary’s downtown at Prince’s Island Park.
  • website

 

Afrikadey! World Music Festivalstatic1.squarespace

August 10 – 13, 2016

  • A week-long celebration of the music, food, dance, theatre, film, literature and visual arts of Africa.
  • These events take place at different venues all over the city with a final day of music on Prince’s Island.
  • website

Marda Gras Street Festivalcta-mask

Sunday, August 14, 2016

  • The streets of Marda Loop will come alive at this 32nd annual New Orleans themed festival.
  • Purple, green and gold pageantry; a variety of high quality cultural performers, dance groups and musicians; outdoor activities; and a wide variety of delicious cuisine draws kids of all ages.
  • website

Opera in the Village
production_hero

August 13, 14, 20 & 21

  • Calgary’s East Village RiverWalk Plaza will once again be bursting with music and mirth as Canada’s only outdoor summer opera festival returns for the third annual Opera in the Village!
  • website

GlobalFest

August 18 – 27, 2016

  • An international fireworks festival and celebration of Calgary’s diverse cultural; with cultural pavilions, ethnic food booths and a night market.
  • website

Illuminasia Lantern & Garden Festival

September 8 – October 16, 2016

  • Experience more than 230 authentic Chinese lanterns and authentic Chinese, Japanese and Indian entertainment and programs that spotlight food, art and culture in the Calgary Zoo’s botanical gardens.
  • website

For information on even more Calgary festivals, check out www.visitcalgary.com.


Simmons Building Calgary East Village

The Simmons Building – Calgary’s Cool New Dining Destination

The historic Simmons Building just opened as a unique dining destination in Calgary’s East Village. It brings together three of Calgary’s food favourites: Charbar (an offspring of Charcut), Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters.

The Simmons Building is right next to the Bow River Pathway, and we just happened to be riding our bikes past and noticed it had opened. Time for some research!

A great East Village location next to the Bow River Pathway

With the development along the Bow River Pathway and the opening of the Simmons Building, the vision for Calgary’s East Village is beginning to take shape.

Before entering we noticed Charbar’s outdoor seating area, and others sitting on the nearby benches with food and drinks from Sidewalk Citizen and Phil & Sebastion.

Simmons building in Calgary East Village

Inside, it is a beautiful building with an industrial modern feel, and the restaurants flow easily within the open space. It is an upscale casual place, but as it was a warm Saturday afternoon we saw several others in their biking clothes like us.

Charbar

Although it was opening day, service was good, with only a few minor hiccups. Charbar is a Canadian/Argentinian inspired restaurant with a large dining space on the main floor as well as a raw bar for seafood. There is more dining space on the second floor including space for private dining. Since we were there they received their liquor license, and so their rooftop terrace should be open too. It will no doubt be a popular nice weather destination, with its great views of downtown and the river.

It was Saturday noon and Charbar was serving their weekend brunch. We already had our eggs earlier in the morning, so we decided to try their famous burger. We were sharing as we planned to have dessert and still had to bike home.  The server offered us a choice of still or sparkling water, and it is FREE!! 🙂   Yay!!  The trend of upscale restaurants charging for water is a pet peeve of ours, as Calgary has excellent tap water.

Charbar burger and fries

This is their Gaucho Burger, with provoleta (an Argentinean cheese), crushed avocado, and chorizo bacon. It was delicious, with two beef patties and a generous amount of avocado. We would normally ask for ketchup with our fries, but once we tried them we didn’t even ask because they were so tasty! We asked our server the secret of the fries, and he told us when they cook their beef, they reserve the drippings, and use a little to flavor them after they’ve been fried.

The burger was $18, which is not cheap, but Charbar uses top quality ingredients and the portion is generous. (and they don’t charge for water!)

We planned to have their peach bourbon sundae for dessert, but sadly it wasn’t yet available. So we each had a cappuccino and decided to pop over to Sidewalk Citizen Bakery for a sweet fix.

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery

Sidewalk Citizen Bakery features fresh-baked croissants, decadent desserts, and more. They also have a full menu of sandwiches, savory pastries, salads and pizza. The items can be packed up to go, or eaten at their lunch counter or tables. We picked up a couple dessert items to go.

Sidewalk Citizen Savarin Cake

This is savarin, a brioche cake soaked with rum syrup, and topped with creme chantilly.  It was light, fresh and delicious.

 

Rosetta & Pistachio Cheesecake from Sidewalk Citizen

Rosetta & Pistachio Cheesecake

Next we tried the Rosetta & Pistachio Cheesecake, with whipped cream & almond syrup. I’m actually not sure what Rosetta is (should have asked), but I can assure you it was delicious and quickly devoured.

 

Old School soft drinks at Sidewalk Citizen

Old school soft drinks at Sidewalk Citizen to go with your picnic sandwiches

With its location next to the Bow River, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery is bound to be a popular place to pick up picnic items to enjoy in the nearby parks.

Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters

Phil & Sebastion Coffee

Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters was started by two engineers turned coffee nerds. I’ve been a fan since they started up at the Calgary Farmer’s Market in 2007, and they’ve had a lot of success since then. In 2012 they brought together the people of Charcut and Sidewalk Citizen to check out the East Village Simmons building. They all immediately saw the potential of creating a unique culinary experience with collaboration between all three partners. As an example of this, Charbar uses Phil & Sebastian to supply their coffees, and Sidewalk Citizen Bakery to provide fresh bread.

Coffee from Phil & Sebastion

The cappuccinos we ordered at Charbar were provided by Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters.

The historic Simmons Building is a great location and concept. When you are in town I recommend checking out Calgary’s cool new dining destination.

Peace Bridge

Calgary by Bike on the Bow River Pathway

I love exploring new places by bike, and lately I’ve been doing the same in my hometown. Calgary has an extensive network of bike paths that can take you from the downtown core to almost anywhere you want to go. Exploring Calgary by bike on the Bow River Pathway is one of the best ways to experience the city.

The Bow River Pathway, near Eau Claire, Downtown Calgary

The Bow River Pathway, near Eau Claire, downtown Calgary.

Why Bike?

  • I can cover a lot more ground by bike than walking.
  • It’s easier to stop and explore interesting places than it is by car.
  • I seem to discover more new places by bike than by walking or by car.
  • It’s a good workout. At least it offsets the bakery I’m bound to discover along the way.
  • It’s fun!

The Bow River Pathway

This route is a favourite of mine, and follows the Bow River Pathway from Edworthy Park at the west end, through downtown Calgary, to Pearce Estate Park at the east end. It passes by some of the inner city’s most interesting neighborhoods, including Kensington, downtown’s Eau Claire and East Village, and historic Inglewood. There are plenty of places near the path to stop for a bite, or have a cold drink on a patio. Several parks along the way provide a green break from the city, and also make a nice spot for a picnic.

Calgary Bike Map

The ride is about 12 km one way, and takes about 40 minutes at a moderate pace. But you could spend all day depending on stops you make along the way. The Bow River pathway runs along both sides of the river, so it’s easy to do a loop of about 24 km, and you can start your loop at any point. There are also several bridges along the way so you can make your ride shorter or longer. There is free parking at Edworthy Park if you’re driving. For more details, here’s a link to the route on Google Maps.

Art along the Bow River Pathway

There is a lot of art on display along the Bow River Pathway, including this sculpture in the revitalized East River district.

 

Historic Inglewood

Inglewood is Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods; and one of Calgary’s most interesting areas to explore, with unique shops, antiques, and restaurants. Ninth Ave, originally Main Street is just a couple blocks from the bike path.  I’m hiding out here from a rain shower that left as quick as it came.

 

Near Inglewood looking towards downtown Calgary

Near Inglewood looking towards downtown Calgary.

 

Pearce Estate Park

Pearce Estate Park – An unexpected scene a fifteen minute ride from downtown Calgary.

 

Mama and her babies at Pearce Estate Park

Mama and her babies at Pearce Estate Park

 

Eating Along the Way

Delicious Albacore Tuna from the River Cafe, Prince's Island Park

Delicious Albacore Tuna from the River Cafe, Prince’s Island Park

Any food you eat while out on a bike ride doesn’t count, right?

  • Parkdale: Lazy Loaf and Kettle (breakfast, lunch and fresh baked goods), Leavitt’s Ice Cream Shop
  • Kensington: Many pubs and restaurants to choose from, including Higher Ground for coffee, Vero Bistro Moderne (on 10 St), and Julio’s Barrio.
  • Prince’s Island Park: The River Cafe is splurge-worthy, both for its food and setting in the park. Their early bird dinner is a good value.
  • Downtown: Several places in the Eau Claire area, and many more throughout downtown, including on 8th Ave (the Stephen Avenue Mall).
  • East Village: Right next to the bike path, check out the Simmons Building, with options for dining in or takeout: Charbar, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, and Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters.
  • Inglewood: Again, many options, including Spolumbo’s (for deli sandwiches), Minh Chau Vietnamese, and Choklat for an excellent chocolate fix.

 


Here are four bike rental places near the route.

  • Eau Claire Rapid Rent  Eau Claire Market 200 Barclay Parade SW, phone: (403) 444-5845
  • Prime Ski and Bike #6, 7 Parkdale Cresent NW, phone: (403) 452-2142
  • BikeBike 1501a 17 Ave SW, phone: (403) 457-2453
  • Sports Rent 4424 16 Ave NW, phone: (403) 292-0077

For further information on the City of Calgary’s Bike Paths click here.

 

Calgary Lilac Festival

The 4th Street Lilac Festival

This past Sunday we joined (practically) everyone in Calgary for the 4th Street Lilac Festival. It was a perfect sunny day and everyone was happy to get out and enjoy the live music, food, artists and people-watching.

4th Street is part of Calgary’s Mission District, with numerous great restaurants, shops and art galleries. Today the street was pedestrian only, with more than 500 vendors showcasing arts and crafts, organizations and charities, and of course lots of food.

A sunny day at the 4th Street Lilac Festival

Lots of music

People of all ages

Dancing in the street

Lilac Festival dancing

Food and unique shopping

Many of the food vendors were mini versions of 4th street restaurants, so it was a great way to sample their offerings. Our favourite was the bratwurst from Wurst.

If you missed the 4th Street Lilac Festival, don’t despair! Here’s a roundup of Calgary summer festivals.

If you would like more information about the next Lilac Festival check the official Lilac Festival website.

Do you have any festival plans this summer?

Calgary Summer Festivals

Calgary 2015 Summer Festivals

Yay! The warm weather has arrived, and if the recent Lilac Festival is any indication, Calgarians are ready to burst out and celebrate. For the summer of 2015 there are dozens of festivals and events for every age and interest. Whether you live here or are visiting, check out this roundup of some of the best summer festivals in Calgary.

Calgary summer festivals

Calgary Greek Festivalgreek_logo

June 19-21, 2015

  • Come and enjoy the delicious Greek food, Greek wines and craft beer, and of course Greek dancing.  
  • Bring your family out to Calgary’s longest running festival.
  • EAT, DRINK, DANCE – GREEK!
  • website

Sled Island Music Festival

June 24-28, 2015

  • The annual Sled Island festival features over 250 bands plus film, comedy and art across 30+ venues in Calgary!
  • website

Calgary Stampedechampios-buckle-up

July 3 – 12, 2015

  • For ten days each July the whole city joins in the world famous Calgary Stampede.
  • Parade, rodeo, midway, music, and food.
  • Events throughout the city including numerous free pancake breakfasts with entertainment.
  • website

Calgary Folk Music Festivalcow-bg

July 23 – 26, 2015

  • The 36th annual Calgary Folk Music Festival at Prince’s Island Park features acts from 16 countries on 8 stages.
  • Over 70 artists from around the globe present roots, blues, world music, funk, country, and bluegrass.
  • website

Calgary International Blues Festival

July 27 – August 2, 2015

  • The 11th annual Calgary Bluesfest has a full week of non-stop music at Shaw Millienium Park followed by nightly Twilight Blues dance parties.
  • This family friendly event is renowned for its great music, relaxed atmosphere and warm hospitality!
  • Starring Crescent City’s iconic guitar great Walter “Wolfman” Washington; Grammy award-winning giant, Bobby Rush, the pairing of two legends, Amos Garrett & Geoff Muldaur, and many more, the weekend promises to set the town on fire with its world-class, non-stop blues!
  • website

Inglewood SunfestfooterLogo

August 1, 2015

  • A summer festival in the heart of historic Inglewood, with activity for all ages.
  • Street performers, music, unique shopping, and food outlets.
  • website

Afrikadey! Festivalstatic1.squarespace

August 5-8, 2015

  • A week-long celebration of the music, food, dance, theatre, film, literature and visual arts of Africa.
  • These events take place at different venues all over the city with a final day of music on Prince’s Island.
  • website

Marda Loop Marda Gras Street festivalcta-mask

Sunday, August 9

  • A variety of performers, dance groups and musicians; outdoor activities; and a wide variety of delicious cuisine.
  • A fun day for kids of all ages.
  • website

Opera in the Villageproduction_hero

August 13-22, 2015

  • Calgary’s East Village RiverWalk Plaza will once again be bursting with music and mirth as Canada’s only outdoor summer opera festival returns for the third annual Opera in the Village!
  • The centerpiece of this year’s Opera in the Village is Gilbert & Sullivan’s comedic opera, The Mikado. There will also be family friendly matinee performances of The Scorpions’ Sting. Both will be performed in our 900-seat open-air tent.
  • website

GlobalFest

August 20 – 29, 2015

  • An international fireworks festival and celebration of Calgary’s diverse cultural; with cultural pavilions, ethnic food booths and a night market.
  • website

Expo Latino Festival

August 28 – 30, 2015

  • Celebrate Latin Culture at Calgary’s hottest outdoor festival experience.
  • World-class performers, sizzling dancing, exotic foods, arts and crafts, and more.  In the heart of Calgary’s downtown at Prince’s Island Park.
  • Sneak Peek on Friday, Aug. 28 *free admission*. Daily passes $25. Weekend passes $35. Special rates for youth and seniors.
  • website

 

Vero Bistro Moderne Calgary

I recently had a really great brunch at Vero Bistro Moderne, a Calgary restaurant on 10 St. NW, just off Kensington Rd. So last night we decided to give it a try for dinner.

Vero Bistro features modern interpretations of Italian & French cuisine, and executive chef Jenny believes in sourcing fresh, healthy food from local producers and suppliers. It has a cozy atmosphere, modern but romantic, with black & red decor.

A Wonderful Start

To start our server brought out fresh baked focaccia, served with olive oil and 25 year aged balsamic vinegar. The bread was delicious, with bits of roasted peppers, crusty on the outside and delicate on the inside. (For brunch their croissants are also fresh baked, so don’t skip the bread at Vero!)

Fresh baked focaccia with olive oil and a reduction of 25-year aged balsamic vinegar

Next we shared Vero’s signature hand rolled sweet potato gnocchi, with wild boar bacon, gorgonzola, walnuts, maple syrup, and 25 year aged balsamic vinegar. The dumplings were flavourful, and a generous portion, plenty to share for a first course. Although I would have been happy to have leftovers for breakfast this morning.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

The Main Course

For my main course I had pan roasted fresh wild halibut, as recommended by our server, being the freshest time for halibut (for Calgary). I love fish but hate it overcooked, so I was hoping for the best. It was cooked perfectly, and was fresh tasting and yummy, served with manilla clams, asparagus, carrots, mashed potatoes, and piccata sauce. There was a nice balance of fish to vegetables in the meal.

Pan Roasted Fresh Wild Halibut

Darrell had seafood risotto “paella”, with mussels, clams, prawns, scallops, calamari, fish and saffron. It was flavourful and the seafood well-cooked…more risotto than paella. For Darrell it was a little too rich, and the flavour overpowered the delicate taste of the seafood. It would have been more enjoyable with a lighter starter such as a salad.

Seafood Risotto “Paella”

Save Room for Dessert

Even though we were pretty full already, I couldn’t resist a little dessert to finish the meal. So we decided to share the chef’s dessert of the day, which was mango cheesecake, with white chocolate balls and raspberries. This balance of rich but light cheesecake and tart fruitiness was a perfect ending, and disappeared in a flash.

Mango Cheesecake

Overview of Vero Bistro

Overall I would easily recommend Vero Bistro for a special dinner, or their excellent brunch. Chef Jenny’s dishes are creative, with quality ingredients, and well-presented. The diners next to us really enjoyed the seafood for two, and it looked spectacular if you want something really special.

Dinner at Vero Bistro Moderne is not cheap, but in line with Calgary restaurant prices. A pet peeve of mine is paying for tap water–when asked if we preferred still or sparkling we requested tap ($1.50 each). However, the serving size is generous, and it looked like the chef often included fresh bread or a small appetizer to compliment the diner’s meal. Reservations are recommended, and available even for brunch, which is a welcome change from the usual long lineups for weekend brunch in Calgary.

Vero Bistro Moderne

209 10th street NW. Calgary, Alberta T2N 1V5 | (403) 283-8988

www.verobistro.ca

 

Vero Bistro Menu Sample

What to Eat at the 2014 Calgary Stampede

There are 32 new foods to try and many old favorites at this year’s Calgary Stampede. We tried as many as our stomachs could handle in one day and here are our results.

Calgary Stampede 2014 food  - Moose Ears

Bannock - Moose Ears

Our favourite food from this year’s midway is the Moose Ears found at the Bannock booth at the entrance to the Indian Village (near the south entrance to the grounds). This is not one of the new 32 items but it’s new to us so we put it on our list. This was actually one of the last items we tried but we still really liked them. Moose Ears are simply fried bread with cinnamon and sugar. Served up hot and fresh, these taste more like something out of grandma’s kitchen than your usual midway food. They are also large enough to share. $5 each.

Thai Noodle Wrap

The Thai Noodle Wrap at Wrap Daddy’s is the official 2014 best food on the Calgary Stampede midway, so we had to give it a try. It’s pretty tasty although ours didn’t have much chicken, but it was still filling. The sauce is on the sweet side with a bit of a spicy kick. In the context of Stampede food, this is almost healthy. $10 each.

Papri Tot from Naaco Truck

We have enjoyed Naaco Truck in the past so wanted to give their new Papri Tot a try. The Papri Tot is tater tots topped with pico, dates, tamarind chutney and sweet yoghurt. We thought it beat out the Thai Noodle Wrap for taste and originality, but lost a bit because of the fried tater tots. $10 per order.

croc, kangaroo and ostrich sliders

Crocodile, Ostrich and Kangaroo sliders. As adventurous as that may sound, the croc tastes a lot like chicken, and the ostrich and kangaroo were a lot like beef burgers. The excitement in these burgers is less in the flavour and more in the “hey this is croc!” $12 for three sliders with a side of chips.

Chocolate Dipped Cookie Dough

Chocolate Dipped Cookie Dough – On a Stick! This is pretty good if you are a lover of cookie dough. You get a stick of four cookie-sized pieces of dough, dipped in chocolate, and nuts too if you like. Pretty sweet so better shared. $7 per stick of four.

red velvet mini doughnuts

Red velvet mini doughnuts – I was looking forward to this new twist on an old favourite. These really just tasted sweet and nothing more. I would stick to the original cinnamon and sugar variety, or better yet, head over to the Indian Village for the Moose Ears. $6 per stick of donuts.

Some new foods we didn’t have a chance to try include Turkey Dinner Poutine, Scorpion Pizza, and Deep Fried Peanut Butter Cups.

What are your favorite Stampede midway foods?

Montreal bagels

Sorry New York, Montreal has the Best Bagels

…and they’re here in Calgary.

Tension was building as we made our way through Calgary’s Friday afternoon traffic. We didn’t have to say what we were both thinking, “Would we get there in time?”

m-bagels1-MG_0294

We’ve faced disappointment before when we arrived too late and the owner, Siva, told us ‘sorry bagels are sold out today’.

Once you’ve tried Montreal Bagel’s hand-shaped gems, boiled in honey water and baked in a wood-fired oven, there is no turning back to the more bread-like New York style bagels. Siva, himself from Montreal, uses the traditional methods of that city to achieve the chewy, dense texture and slightly sweet taste.

If you are lucky enough to get these bagels when they are still warm from the oven, it’s impossible to resist eating one on the way home.  But we always get a dozen at least as they freeze really well and when toasted with butter, it’s chewy, crispy, carb heaven.

We arrived at Montreal Bagels and opened the door in anticipation. Siva looked up with a tray of sesame bagels fresh from the oven, and we exhaled. Today we would not be disappointed.

m-bagels4-IMG_0291

Montreal Bagels

8408 Elbow Dr SW, Calgary
Bagels (sesame, plain, poppyseed, multigrain
$1/each, $5/half dozen, $9/dozen

We also recommend trying their Montreal smoked meat. Great with your bagel.

mbagel3-IMG_2351