Global Fest is an annual family-friendly cultural & fireworks festival that lights up the sky and features a dance program, interactive games, and world-class fireworks by pyro artists.
Global Fest has entertained locals and visitors for 20 years, and its popularity grows yearly.
A weeklong festival in Elliston Park celebrates Calgary’s multicultural communities. Cultural pavilions showcase the beauty of more than 20 countries. Dance performances and the international food scene will take you on a brief journey into exploring new cultures.
At night, the festival ends with beautiful fireworks. Musical pyro artists from 5 different countries combine their local & international music with fireworks in a show that lights up the sky just above the park’s pond.
Here’s everything you need to know about Global Fest in Calgary.
Info about visiting Global Fest in Calgary
- Dates: August 17-26, 2023 (the festival funs Aug 17, 19, 22, 24 & 26)
- Location: Elliston Park, 1827 68 St SE, Calgary, Map
- Time: from 6 pm to 11 pm
- 13 CAD/person (6 months before the show); free for kids under 5
- The sooner you buy tickets, the cheaper they are
- We bought tickets a few days before the show, and they were 22CAD/person
- Click here to buy tickets
- How to get there:
- There’s no parking at Elliston Park or the neighbouring area. Several streets around the park are closed due to the fireworks, and peace officers ensure there’s no parking in the communities if you don’t live there.
- FREE PARKING – the easiest is free parking at Marlborough Mall, and then a shuttle to Elliston Park (return shuttle ticket is 7CAD/person, sold on the spot, cash only)
- CALGARY TRANSIT #68, 87, 307 & 440
- BIKE – bike racks are free to use at the parks’ gate (17 Avenue SE & 61 Street SE)
- There are 3 entrances: Co-op Corner gate (17 Ave SE & 60 Ave SE), Southland Shuttle gate (17 Ave SE & 61 Street SE), Lowes VIP Gate (60 Ave SE)
- For more info, see the Global Fest website
Tips about Global Fest in Calgary
- If you’re visiting with kids, get a wristband at the entrance where you write your phone # in case your kid gets lost
- Bring camping chairs or picnic blanket for watching the fireworks (there’s no seating provided)
- A stroller or wagon is great for walking around with kids
- While the whole park is closed during the festival, kids’ playgrounds are inside the gates so kids can play freely
- Bring layers – while the festival is during the hottest month, it gets chilly by the time the fireworks start
What I loved about Global Fest
1. Cultural pavilions
As you walk around the pond, many tents/pavilions showcase a different culture.
In 2022, these cultures were represented: Slovenia, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico, Japan, Africa, Azerbaijan, Turkiye, Hungary, Bangladesh, India, Venezuela, Brasil, Iran, Romania, Kurdistan, Scotland, Blackfoot Crossing, Indonesia, Philippines, Ukraine, China.
Participants in each pavilion were wearing traditional costumes and selling souvenirs. Some pavilions provided kid-friendly activities, such as face painting in the Ukrainian or henna painting in the Pakistan pavilion.
2. Dance program
Unlike many other festivals where food and shopping are the main attraction, Global Fest features many dance performances on two stages.
There was a folk group from Hungary, a Senegal group, a Japanese Drumming group, Blackfoot Crossing Dance Troop, Highland Dancers from Scotland, a Samba Brasil group, a Venezuelan Latin group, and many more.
3. Passport Pursuit interactive game
How good are your Geography skills? Let’s test them and learn something new along the way.
The goal of the Passport Pursuit game is to visit as many cultural pavilions as possible and ask their ambassadors questions that will lead you to the correct answer from the passport. The more correct answers you get, the bigger prize you can win.
You can download the Clue Solvers app or get a paper passport at the park entrance. I loved visiting each pavilion, learning about their culture and filling out my passport. For each correct answer, I got a stamp, and at the end, I put the finished passport into the box for the final prize draw.
4. Food scene
Food trucks and booths are spread across the festival, so you can always find a delicious treat wherever you are. The smell of different foods all combined in the air was enticing.
I enjoyed Venezuelan arepas from Arepas Ranch, which brought back many memories from travelling in Venezuela and South America.
The booth Family Squeezed Lemonade offered many lemonade options that were the perfect drink on a hot summer day. Other cultures represented on the food scene were Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, the Caribbean, Ukraine, the Middle East, and many more.
5. Fireworks show
In 2023, fireworks performances are as follows:
- August 17 – Austria
- August 19 – Italy
- August 22 – Portugal
- August 24 – Spain
- August 26 – finale by Canada
We attended the Global Fest when Austria performed their show, and they also won in the end. They synchronized a mix of their native & international music with different light and sound effects. It was a stunning and moving show! As you watch the show from across the pond, the fireworks’ reflection makes it even more dramatic.
I hope this guide gave you all the information you need to experience Global Fest and have a great time.
Will you be visiting the next Global Fest? See you there!
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