1. Calgary Folk Music Festival
This 37-year-old festival, which features a wide variety of music despite its name, is known for its family-friendly culture. In fact, it’s a tradition for many people (known as “tarpies”) to line up at Prince’s Island Park for hours to get in first so they can set up a tarp as a home base for their friends and family in front of the main stage. Kids under 13 get in free, and there is a special spot just for little ones in the Family Zone, which is open on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There, you’ll find two bouncy castles, face painting, crafts, games, a cardboard box city that everyone can help build, a skateboard ramp and more! Watch out for acts like Mr. Fantastik, who delights with his spinning, balancing, acrobatics and juggling act, and silly and satirical children’s entertainer Ben Spencer will perform.
When: July 21 to 24
More info: calgaryfolkfest.com
2. Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre
The brand new Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre—a museum dedicated to teaching everyone about music, with a special emphasis on Canadian music—opens on Canada Day. To celebrate the new space, admission to the museum is free for the day. Older kids (the museum is best suited to kids ages seven and up, although younger kids are certainly welcome) will have a blast taking in the highly interactive exhibits, trying challenges like building a one-man band in the Soundbox, making music by moving around and triggering sensor-activated technology and mixing a track, playing guitar or singing a Canadian song in a vocal booth.
When: Free on July 1; open daily in July from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday through Sunday year round
More info: studiobell.ca
3. Calaway Comic Fest
Calaway Park, with its entertainment, food and rides (including the new Timber Falls! log ride), is a summer stop for many families. But if you have a superhero fan at home, be sure to bring her during Calaway Comicfest for Kids! Everyone is encouraged to dress up in their favourite costumes, visit the Photo Op Zone to take pics and get their face made up at the Superhero Face Painting Centre.
When: July 1 to 3
More info: calawaypark.com
Head on over to Elliston Park for five nights in August to visit two festivals in one! You can visit pavilions and food booths that celebrate the world’s cultures at the Sunbelt Rentals OneWorld Festival and then enjoy a spectacular fireworks show at the Trico Homes International Fireworks Festival. Each night features a different country’s pyrotechnics, with the finale (Canada) on August 27. OneWorld is open from 6 to 9 p.m., and then the fireworks start at approximately 9:30 p.m. and run for a minimum of 22 minutes. Admission is free for kids ages five and under, and there are four playgrounds on site at the park, as well as a Children’s Village with bouncy houses, a Calgary Zoo tent, arts and crafts and more!
When: August 18, 20, 23, 25 and 27
More info: globalfest.ca
Kids are very much welcome at this annual celebration of reggae music. Admission is free at ReggaeFest for anyone ages 12 and under when accompanied by a paying adult. You’ll find games, crafts, face painting, readings and sports at Kidz Zone, which is open from 1 to 7 p.m. on August 20.
When: August 18 to 20
More info: reggaefest.ca
6. Country Kickback
Celebrate western Canada’s rural history at this two-day event at Heritage Park Historical Village. There will be tons of fun activities and entertainment throughout the village each day from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., including a tractor race, an egg find, a petting zoo and a barn dance. Visitors can also try their hand at lassoing, making ice cream, rope making and more!
When: August 27 to 28
More info: heritagepark.ca
7. Wild Family Nature Club
Explore the great outdoors with your family by attending one of the many events hosted by the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Wild Family Nature Clubs this summer. There are 20 active clubs in Calgary that meet on a semi-regular basis to get outside and learn about nature as part of a group. To find out when and where clubs are meeting, visit the calendar and click on the event to learn about that day’s meetup and find out how to pre-register (many require registration to find out how many people will be joining the group). All of these events are free of charge. You can also start up your own club with resources provided by the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
When: All summer
More info: cwf.tiged.org
8. Calgary Zoo
There’s a lot going on this summer at the Calgary Zoo, including an enhanced version of Dinosaurs Alive, an exhibit that was launched last summer at the zoo. Your kids will be able to see 16 animatronic dinos, take in a dino-themed theatre show, learn all about the prehistoric world these reptiles inhabited 65 million years ago, play with the back lagoon’s new water cannons and more! Access to this exhibit is free with general admission. If dinos aren’t your little one’s thing, they may enjoy visiting the new baby gorilla that was born this spring or any of the many other creatures at the zoo.
When: All summer
More info: calgaryzoo.com
9. Skyline Luge
If your kids love going fast, they’ll have a blast zipping down the world’s longest luge track (it runs 1.8 kilometres) on a wheeled gravity ride (think PlasmaCar). This attraction at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park, which is just 20 minutes from downtown Calgary, is open from early spring to early fall. Kids ages six and up who are at least 110 centimetres tall can ride alone. Smaller or younger kids can ride in tandem with someone who is at least 20 years old.
When: Until October 16, weather permitting
More info: skylineluge.com