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While Calgary may not have the same cultural opportunities available in cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, there are still some excellent annual events in Calgary that expats should not miss out on.
Regardless of whether expats enjoy live music and a good party or prefer celebrating Calgary's natural beauty, there is sure to be a festival on the city's event calendar to suit everyone.
Annual events in Calgary
The Lilac Festival (May)
Every year on the last Sunday in May, thousands of people flock to Calgary's trendy 4th Street Mission district for the annual Lilac Festival. Voted the 'best free festival in Calgary', the Lilac Festival features a huge market, with over 600 stalls and an all-day line-up of the best in local music, including rock, country, jazz, folk and world music.
The Calgary Stampede (July)
Undoubtedly the city's definitive event, the Calgary Stampede draws millions of visitors to Calgary every year. The festival is a celebration of Alberta's frontier history and is centred around rodeo events that see professional cowboys compete in bouts of bull riding, roping, bareback riding and steer wrestling. The Wild West theme doesn't stop there, however – pancake breakfasts, square dancing, ground-shaking Chuckwagon races, a gambling hall and dazzling firework displays complete the effect.
Calgary Folk Music Festival (July)
A well-respected music festival, the Calgary Folk Fest attracts about 50,000 music fans to Prince's Island Park every year. Featuring over 60 local and international acts – spread across numerous stages – the Calgary Folk Music Festival is considered to be a bit of a 'purist's festival', known for listening and appreciative audiences.
Canada Day (July)
Calgary's Canada Day celebration attracts more than 100,000 people each year. It is one of the most popular and highly attended annual events in Calgary. Beginning mid-morning, festivities at the Shaw Millennium Park include main stage live performances, food vendors, and much more.
Calgary Marathon (August)
The Best Road Race in Alberta, the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon is a challenging, competitive and fun event with a race designed for everyone at any level. There is a 50k Ultra, 42.2km, 21.1km, 10km, kids' marathon and 5km family walk or run – so the whole family can get involved!
Sports (all year round)
Calgarians love their sport and are blessed with some successful professional teams. The Calgary Flames, who play in the National Hockey League, are probably the most famous, but there are also the Calgary Stampeders who compete in the Football League championships. Expats should make a special effort to attend an edition of the 'Battle of Alberta' – the name given to ice-hockey contests between fierce local rivals the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.