If you think winter after the holidays will be a drag, you, dear friend, are obviously not in on the exciting news. Calgary’s signature winter festival Chinook Blast is returning for the third time in 2023. And it’s touted to be a helluva lot bigger and better.
Starting Friday, January 27th, to Sunday, February 12th, downtown Calgary will transform into a giant celebration hub. You can expect cultural experiences, light and art installations, outdoor sporting events, live music, theatrical performances, night markets and a lot more.
Here’s a quick lowdown of all things fun the fest is bringing to warm up our cold winter evenings—
Music & Performances
Of course, there is live music. Because there ain’t no party without some toe-tapping music! You can also enjoy a bunch of pop-up musical and theatrical performances around town. In addition, there will be an artists’ pavilion and a community stage featuring more live performances.
Here’s some picks to be on the lookout for:
January 28 & 29: Sport Calgary’s Sport festival
Enjoy a front-row seat and look into the insanely impressive world of speed skating, synchronized skating and more
February 3: Four Winds Indigenous Showcase
Get lost in the music, dance and culture by Indigenous artists, including Juno-nominated country and classic rock artist Armond Duckchief and his four-piece band, five-time Indigenous Music Award winner Drezus, and 2022 Juno Winner for Traditional Indigenous Artist of the Year, Fawn Wood.
February 11: Drag on Ice
Don’t miss 2 hours of hilarious drag & games as performers serve up some serious frozen fierceness.
When: All through Chinook Blast
DT will be rife with invigorating installations by several local artists including Bryan Faubert, Tim Knelson, nLiten Tech, Studio Luma, Bramble Lee Pryde and PARK.
The festival is bringing back the beloved flame-blowing dragon sculpture from True North Absurdities. And a promising new addition is an interactive piece by B!G Art. The piece spans 4,000 square feet and a lighting tunnel using 150+ LED bars, pixel-mapped to create a vortex of light pulling visitors through the structures.
When: All through Chinook Blast
High Performance Rodeo
Kicking off the downtown festivities is the High Performance Rodeo which is returning for its 37th year. The fest brings the very best of local and international talent to the city. And much like years past, you can expect some sensational contemporary performances in theatre, dance, music and multidisciplinary art.
When: Monday, January 16th to Sunday, February 5th, 2023
New this year is the thrill-inducing motor sporting event, Nitro Rallycross. The event showcases elite drivers like Travis Pastrana facing off in the world’s most explosive electric race cars at Stampede Park. And it’s on snow and ice. Talk about an adrenaline rush, eh?
When: Saturday, February 4th – Sunday, February 5th, 2023
BIG Winter Classic
For the 7th year, this “really, really big party… in the middle of winter” is giving us a chance to brighten up the dead dark winter. And it’s all thanks to the music, art and cultural experiences it brings along. Oh, and there is also the delicious matter of the local beer.
When: Wednesday, January 25th to Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Taking our winter celebration to a new high are the FIS Snowboard Slopestyle and Halfpipe World Cups coming to Canada Olympic Park. The event brings the world’s top slopestyle and halfpipe snowboard stars to town for a week of high-flying action.
When: Monday, February 6th to Sunday, February 12th, 2023
Setting temps soaring is the aptly named music festival, Block Heater. The Calgary folk music festival is back for its 8th year with an impressive line-up of local and global musicians. 32 artists are performing at 13 separate events taking place at multiple venues around town. And with the musical diversity the fest offers, you are sure to find the tunes that match your vibe.
When: Thursday, February 9th to Sunday, February 12th, 2023
This mad fun of a festival celebrates the vibrant cultural traditions of the Afro-Canadian and Caribbean communities. The festival officially kicks off after Chinook Blast. But the two have collab-ed and you’ll spot Ethnik programming in the Chinook Blast hub. This will eventually lead to the main Afro-Canadian festival.
When: Friday, February 24th and Saturday, February 25th, 2023
Sure, shopping during the day is fun, but there’s something about the after-hour splurges that hit different. This year, Night Markets at the City Atrium Hall will extend across all three weekends, and there’s something for everyone on your list. Here is a lineup of the markets running each weekend:
January 27-29: Four Winds Indigenous Market and Showcase
February 3-5: Asian Market by Asian Heritage Foundation
February 10-12: Market Collective (lots of valentine’s day goodies here – *hint hint*)
Lunar New Year Celebrations
To mark a healthy and prosperous Lunar New Year, the Asian Heritage Foundation and One Yellow Rabbit will be hosting a lantern parade on February 3 at 6 p.m.
Guests to the event can enjoy lantern-making workshops from 4:30-6 p.m. at the City Hall Atrium.
Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame
Here until February 7, this beloved Hall of Fame has made its way to the heart of Calgary, and guests can get their fill of rich sporting history through 6 interactive digital exhibits. Located at the top of the Calgary tower, this exhibit is sure to be a thrill in more ways than one!
Excited? Well, mark your calendars and head down to the fab winter celebration that is Chinook Blast. We’ll see you there!
Where: Multiple locations in downtown Calgary
When: Friday, January 27th, to Sunday, February 12th