Held at Calgary's idyllic urban Prince’s Island Park since 1980, Calgary Folk Music Festival is one of Canada’s flagship, trailblazing music festivals with a national and international profile and a broad, cutting-edge programming vision. It’s a four-day family-friendly cultural and musical extravaganza where 70 upstart and icons from Alberta, Canada, and the world represent a wide diversity of cultures, backgrounds, genres (roots, indie, folk, blues, bluegrass, orchestral pop, hip hop, funk, traditional and current global sounds and more). Artists perform on six daytime and two evening stages in concerts and collaborative sessions — unpredictable mash-ups where artists collaborate in unique and unexpected ways, sharing songs and stories. A beer garden, family area, artisan zone, talk tent and international foods round out the offerings. It’s a destination event and essential community gathering for 53,000 Calgarians and tourists, run by 2,000 community volunteers.
The organization hosts its own programming plus welcomes a wide range of external arts and community events at its own boutique, flexible 200-seat Festival Hall. Calgary Folk Music Festival also produces the winter festival, Block Heater, in east downtown indoor and outdoor venues and presents other year-round concerts and events at other small and large venues.
Some of the artists the Festival has programmed in recent years include: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Nightsweats, Belle & Sebastian, Sharon Van Etten, Sheila E., Joe Jackson, Neko Case, Alabama Shakes, k.d. lang, Buffy St. Marie, Chris Isaak, Emmylou Harris, The Avett Brothers, Michael Kiwanuka, David Byrne, Feist, Passenger, Father John Misty, José González, Gillian Welch, Thievery Corporation, The Strumbellas, Bahamas, Kris Kristofferson, Tanya Tagaq, Rhiannon Giddens, St. Vincent, Elvis Costello, Alison Krauss and Union Station, The Decemberists, Valerie June, the Jayhawks, Andrew Bird, Beirut, Amos Lee, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, The Mavericks, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Fishbone, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Calexico and Rufus Wainwright.
“It’s pretty much a given that most everything you stumble upon at the Calgary Folk Music Festival has a certain amount of can’t-miss-it-ness about it – there is quality, there is quantity.”
Mike Bell, Calgary Herald