The Best Time to Visit Calgary, Canada

Calgary Canada

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The best times to visit Calgary are either June through August when the weather is at its best and most of the city's special events and festivals take place and November through March when ski season is in full swing. The winter months are considered the low season as the city’s sub-zero temperatures may not be appealing to those not interested in winter sports. As temperatures drop though, so do rates for hotel rooms, which can come as a plus for the budget traveler (so long as you don’t mind the cold). There will also be far fewer crowds in the winter aside from on the ski hills.

Hotel prices are at their highest during the summer when the temperature is ideal for outdoor sightseeing. If you're hoping to save money without having to be in the city during the coldest months, it may be best to plan your visit for April or October when visitor numbers are still down, but the weather is more favorable.

Popular Events and Festivals

Calgary has a number of worthwhile events throughout the year that attract visitors from all around the world, especially during the summer. These events cover everything from art and culture to food and local beer (and so much more). Not to mention, Calgary's wide array of things to see and do are a draw for all ages. No matter what you might be interested in, there will likely be a summer event that piques your interest. If you’re interested in visiting Calgary but not planning on attending any summer events, it might be better to time your visit with shoulder or off-peak season (April and May, September and October) to see the city without the crowds.

Weather in Calgary

Toronto has four distinct seasons: summer, fall, winter, and spring with temperatures dipping quite low in the wintertime. Daytime highs during the summer are normally 68 to 77 degrees F (20 to 25 degrees C) but can reach the mid to upper 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius). While in the winter, the coldest months are January and February where daytime temperatures range from 5 to 23 degrees F (-15 to -5 degrees C). They can drop as low as -22 to -40 degrees F (-30 to -40 degrees C) for short periods of time.

While many might prefer to visit during the warm summer months, each of Calgary’s four seasons offers something different, depending on your interests. For example, snow sports enthusiasts may want to take advantage of Calgary’s proximity to Banff for excellent skiing during the winter months.

January

This is the off-season for Calgary (unless you’re a skier) so crowds should be relatively minimal and hotels and other accommodations are usually cheaper. Attractions are open and much less busy than during warmer months. But the city is cold, so pack accordingly.

Events to check out:

  • Get your fix of music, local beer and art at Calgary’s Big Winter Classic, which happens towards the end of the month in January.
  • High Performance Rodeo, Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts, takes over the city’s downtown area for three weeks in January with events including theater, dance, music, film, free lunchtime concerts, late-night cabarets and more.

February

February tends to be the coldest month of the year in Calgary so remember to dress in layers. Other than avid skiers, snowboarders, or anyone else interested in winter activities, this remains the low season for Calgary.

Events to check out:

  • Winefest is the ideal festival for those who want to sip a wide variety of wines and enjoy tasty food samples.
  • Bundle up and embrace the colder weather at Glow Winter Festival, a free family-friendly event featuring live music, winter activities, outdoor lounges and light displays.

March

While temperatures begin to inch up in March, this month can still be quite cold in Calgary with the possibility of snow still fairly high. There are warm days, but it’s still important to come prepared for inclement, unpredictable weather. Ski season is still going strong in March.

Events to check out:

  • The YYC Food & Drink Experience is perfect for foodies or anyone interested in trying a meal (or two) from some of Calgary’s top restaurants. The festival features multi-course prix fixe value-priced menus, chef collaborations, and winemaker’s dinners.

April

The city is slowly warming up in April, but the weather can still be unpredictable. You might get some sunny days, but April also sees rain and sometimes snow. Because the weather is decent, schools are still in session and it's not yet peak season for tourists, this is a good time to check out local attractions while they are less busy.

Events to check out:

  • Calgary Expo is a four-day pop-culture convention held in Stampede Park that occurs each April. Visitors have the chance to shop hundreds of vendors and exhibitors, check out panels and workshops and meet various stars and creators.
  • The Calgary Dance Stampede is Canada's largest and longest-running country, west coast swing and line dance event featuring international dance competitions as well as of instructional workshops led by world-class instructors.

May

The spring season starts up in May in Calgary when the temperature begins to climb, but is considered part of shoulder season. There are still fewer visitors to the city making May an appealing time to plan a trip. But do note that as the weather warms up, parks, trails, and other outdoor spaces can get muddy.

Events to check out:

  • Calgary International Beerfest is the city’s largest beer festival and brings together over 700 beers from more than 200 breweries.
  • Runners take note: the Calgary Marathon takes place towards the end of May. The annual event also includes a half marathon as well as 10K run and a 5K family walk/run.

June

June is much more reliable weather-wise in Calgary, with more consistent sunshine and warmer weather. While June doesn’t represent peak season, the city does begin to see more tourists at this point in the year.

Events to check out:

  • Early June marks the start of festival season in Calgary, which kicks off with the Lilac Festival. This free one-day event along pedestrian-friendly 4th Street features musical talent, artisan vendors, live entertainment, and more.
  • Calgary’s Sled Island Music & Arts Festival brings together over 200 bands as well as comedians, films, and artists in over 30 venues throughout the city.

July

Summer has arrived in Calgary by July and as such, tourist season will now be in full swing. Expect a wide variety of events and festivals, pop-ups, and packed patios.

Events to check out:

  • Starting the first Friday in July after Canada Day is the annual Calgary Stampede, known as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” Expect thrilling rodeo shows, live music, midway rides, agriculture showcases, chuckwagon races, and much more.
  • The last weekend July is when visitors can enjoy the Calgary Folk Music Festival, with over 70 artists and nine stages.

August

Like July, August is a warm month in Calgary and remains a popular time for visitors eager to spend time sightseeing outdoors and soaking up the sun in and around the city.

Events to check out:

  • The Calgary International Blues Festival is a week of blues music from around the world, which takes place over the last weekend of July and first week of August.
  • Chasing Summer is an outdoor electronic music festival that brings popular DJs to Calgary for a two day festival over the August long weekend.

September

The fall shoulder season in Calgary is another good time to visit if you are hoping to see the city while the weather is still decent, but while summer’s crowds have thinned out. You may see lower room rates during this time.

Events to check out:

  • Celebrate Pride in Calgary over the long Labour Day weekend which attracts more than 60,000 visitors each year.
  • Film fans will want to consider checking out the Calgary International Film Festival, which brings over 200 feature and short films to the big screen each fall at the end of September.

October

The weather gets steadily cooler during the end of September and into October, but weather-wise, this is still a good time to visit the city, minus the crowds.

Events to check out:

  • Imaginairium by Wordfest is an annual October event featuring writers from around the world for ten days of live experiences, talk-show style conversations, variety shows, and live storytelling.

November

This time of the year the weather grows steadily cooler as fall starts turning into winter, getting windier and often rainy. You may even see some snow in Calgary in November.

Events to check out:

December

December starts to get cold in Calgary and there is a likelihood of snow. Days can still be milder and remain relatively comfortable if you’re dressed in layers. Expect holiday lights and festive events throughout the city.

Events to check out:

  • Get into the holiday spirit and do some shopping at the Granary Road Christmas Market which also offers fun family activities during the festive season.
  • Ring in the New Year in Calgary at the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration with a fireworks display at midnight from the Calgary Tower.
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