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Check Out the Stampede City’s Top Folk Music Experience

As the hub of Canada's oil industry, Calgary is a rapidly growing community with a constant stream of new activities and attractions that’s the perfect spot for launching an Alberta adventure. While the city is well known for its western heritage, it’s also a hub for culture with a variety of performing arts venues, galleries, and new restaurants. Any fan of music should stop by the National Music Centre, which takes people on a detailed journey through Canada’s rich musical history.


The Calgary Folk Music Festival has been the can’t-miss folk music experience in Calgary for nearly four decades, and will take place July 27-30, at Prince Island Park. The family-friendly celebration of culture and music will feature more than 70 performers from around the world, playing on eight stages. Musicians representing a variety of genres will perform throughout the event, as well as collaborate live on stage. Foodies will enjoy more than 20 food vendors from around the world, and a beer garden serving up delicious adult beverages. An art market features some unique artisans and vendors from the community, selling a variety of handmade items. Families should make their way to the family area that features interactive activities and entertainment for all ages. We got the opportunity to interview Matt Olah, a representative for the event, to learn more about this great music event.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

MO: This is the 38th annual Calgary Folk Music Fest.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

MO: We see around 12,500 people per day and more than 53,000 attendees overall.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

MO: The diversity of our artists is reflected in our audience. The festival attracts everyone from traditional folk fans to punk rockers. We also have many families that have made the event part of their summer tradition. Often a corporate person will set up their tarp right beside someone with a mohawk or dreadlocks.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

MO: The collaborative sessions are arguably the most exciting aspect of the festival with unique artists on stage sharing stories and songs. Each session has a particular theme or concept, such as punk folk roots, bluegrass jams, or world music. With six stages, the hardest choice is deciding which ones to see.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

MO: The best way to start one's day at CFMF is with the 'tarp run.' When we open the gates each day, audience members can run, walk, or skip to the main stage area to find the best spot to set up their picnic area for the day. From there, they can wander between stages, to the beer garden, family area, food concessions, and the art market.


RAL: What will attendees find for activities?

MO: Aside from eight stages of music, beer gardens, food and artisan vendors, we do have a family area with live performers.


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?  

MO: We will have a variety of international foods at our 20 food vendors.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

MO: Prince's Island Park is in downtown Calgary, and many of our hotel partners are in proximity. Follow the link for more information.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

MO: We are a volunteer-based organization with over 1,800 volunteers who make the festival happen. The community is the ethos behind the festival.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

MO: Every July, thousands of people come to Calgary just to see us. Patrons spend almost $5M in Calgary and more than $1M outside the city. On average, patrons will spend about $450 dollars on accommodations over the weekend.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

MO: It’s the one time of year to see current and soon-to-be new favorite artists in one location. It’s a community event with a unique vibe and format that gives audience members the chance to see iconic and emerging artists in an intimate setting.

For more information about the Calgary Folk Music Festival, please visit the event website.