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Chinook Blast returning in 2023 with full slate of winter events

Calgary’s festival of all things winter is returning next year with enough events to keep Calgarians busy all through January and February.

The third annual Chinook Blast is back with a number of iconic festivals like One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo and Block Heater, alongside new international events like Nitro Rallycross.

“We are thrilled that Chinook Blast is back for its third year, and we have a lot to celebrate,” said Franca Gualtieri, Executive Director for Chinook Blast for Tourism Calgary.

The Chinook Blast Hub is also back this year in Calgary’s Downtown Core.

Visitors will be able to take in sculptures, light art, performances, music, and sports all the way from the East Village to Olympic Plaza and on to Stephen Avenue.

True North Absurdities will be back with their fire breathing dragon, and B!G Art will be installing a new interactive light art piece that will cover over 4,000 square feet.

“We can’t wait to once again warm up and energize Calgary this winter,” said Gualtieri.

Chinook Blast runs from January 27 through February 12, with additional programming by partner organizations before and after those dates.

“Starting January 27th, bundle up and take part in this extravaganza of art and music which shines a light on our downtown and our incredible community spirit,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

True North Absurdities’ fire breathing dragon at the Chinook Blast opening night at Olympic Plaza in Calgary on Friday, February 4, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

2023 Chinook Blast full experience

Although Chinook Blast was planned to occur in full form in 2020, the world-wide pandemic caused the winter festival to be smaller than planned.

It returned last year with a full selection of Chinook Blast Hub events, but rising case counts in February caused several of the pillar festivals to be cancelled.

Gualtieri said that this year would be the one that allowed for a fully realized Chinook Blast, the way that it was meant to be experienced by Calgarians, to occur.

“This is the first year we are putting on this festival post-pandemic, and we are building the programs the way we envisioned it to be,” she said.

“Our partners are all excited to be bringing the best of the best for Calgarians to experience.”

Stilt-dancing performers from Three Left Feet posed next to some of the light up blocks at the Chinook Blast opening night at Olympic Plaza in Calgary on Friday, February 4, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Iconic festivals and partner events

Mayor Gondek said that the festival celebrates and showcases what is the best of winter, and the best of Calgary.

“Winter is a season that begs participation and we answer the call with warm hearts and a festival in its honour,” she said.

January events

  • One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo runs from January 16 through to February 5, and features theatre, music, dance, and multidisciplinary art. For more details, see www.hprodeo.ca.
  • BIG Winter Classic is back for it’s 7th year, featuring headliners such as Shame, A. Savage, Ron Gallo, and Status/Non Status. The festival runs in Calgary’s Beltline from January 25 through 29. More details available at www.bigwinterclassic.com/big-2023-lineup.
  • Calgary Public Library is putting on a month of programming and events at the Central Library, beginning on January 27 and running to February 12.
  • Sport Calgary at Olympic Plaza is back with a second edition of weekend sporting demonstrations at Olympic Plaza with speed skating, synchronized skating, and other ice sports.
  • Contemporary Teens: Who Is Your Superhero, at Contemporary Calgary, is helping teens aged 12-18 explore art through programs that connect them to community and global social issues. Programs run on January 28. For more details see www.contemporarycalgary.com/whats-on/contemporary-teens-who-is-your-superhero-jan-28.
  • Rock the Nation at the National Music Centre is celebrating 50 years of Canadian music, with matinee performances of Rock the Nation every Saturday and Sunday at Studio Bell starting on January 28 and running until March 5. For more details see www.studiobell.ca/whats-on/event/rock-the-nation.

February events

  • YYCHacks Chinook Blast Winter Edition Hackathon is bringing back Calgary’s biggest hackathon, inviting participants to use software development to activate and engage Calgary as a winter city destination. The hackathon runs from February 3 through 5 at Platform Calgary. For more details on participating, and on prizes, see www.yychacks.ca.
  • Chinook Blast’s Asian Nightmarket is returning this year to the municipal atrium at the Calgary City Hall municipal complex from February 3 through 5.
  • Nitro Rallycross is coming to the Calgary Stampede for an adrenaline packed, fast racing, high flying, electric powered rally cross race featuring some of the world’s best drivers. The event takes place at GMC Stadium from February 4-5, and for more details see LiveWire Calgary’s previous coverage and www.nitrorallycross.com.
  • Market Collective is bringing their night market to the Calgary City Hall municipal complex atrium, showcasing products from local artists from February 10 through 12.
  • Snow Rodeo is bringing the FIS Snowboard Slopestyle and Halfpipe World Cups to WinSport’s XL park from February 6 through 12, with Halfpipe finals on February 11, and Slopestyle finals on February 12. For more details, see www.shredthenorth.ca/en/events/snow-rodeo.
  • Block Heater, from the Calgary Folk Music Festival, is back for its 8th year, featuring independent artists like Amy Nelson, CELL7, The Deep Dark Woods, Sister Ray, and Zenon+. The festival runs from February 9 through 12 at venues across the city. For more details and a full schedule of performances, see www.calgaryfolkfest.com/blockheater.
  • Ethnik Festival is back for Chinook Blast 2023, after the pandemic turned the festival online only last year. The festival will be collaborating with the Chinook Blast Hub, bringing Afro-Canadian and Caribbean cultural experiences to Olympic Plaza, and then during their main festival on February 24 and 25. For more, see ethnikfestivals.com.

A full listing of events for Chinook Blast will be available in January, 2023 at chinookblast.ca