Matt Mays will perform acoustic shows with his band showcasing material from Twice Upon a Hell of a Time, on Feb. 22 and 23 at the fourth annual Block Heater music festival in Calgary. Photo by Lindsay Duncan

Winter warmup: You’ll want to share this Block Heater

Plenty of new reasons to check out the Calgary music scene this month

Are you counting the days until the first signs of spring emerge in Central Alberta?

If you’re tired of waiting patiently until things warm up, there are ways to make your season sizzle, and pretty close to home. The Calgary Folk Music Festival invites you to put the boots to winter for a weekend and check out its fourth annual Block Heater musical extravaganza, running Feb. 21-23 in downtown Calgary.

Whether you’re keen on the fiddling fire of Ashley MacIsaac, love the homegrown Alberta sound of Samantha Savage Smith or are looking to find your groove with Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Block Heater has a little something for everyone, no matter what your musical tastes.

“We’ve really re-created the summer festival experience in many ways,” says Festival executive director Sara Leishman.

You’ll love the new mix of venues

Last year the addition of Studio Bell and the King Eddy, with four separate stages and easy access, helped Block Heater expand significantly. This time around, the nearby Central Branch of the Calgary Public Library has been added to the venue roster mix to further expand your musical options.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful space. We have no doubt it’s going to be an amazing vibe and we look forward to growing that relationship with them,” Leishman says.

The festival headliners will rotate through the venue, including rocker Matt Mays, who will perform the acoustic companion album to Once Upon a Hell of a Time, entitled Twice Upon a Hell of a Time with his band Friday at Studio Bell and Saturday at the Central Library. Both shows are at 9:45 p.m.

Here’s a rundown of the other performance sites:

  • Festival Hall Over the Inglewood Bridge on the Thursday, you can check out the festival opening acts Cartel Madras (8 p.m.) and Snotty Nose Rez Kids (9:05 p.m.)
  • The King Eddy The venerable King Edward Hotel will feature a range of acts on its Forward Level Marketing Stage, culminating with Paper Beat Scissors on the Friday and Eamon McGrath and Devastation Trio on Saturday (both 10:25 p.m.)
  • Studio Bell This home of the National Music Centre features the ATB, DavidAlsoDavid and Fiasco Gelato stages. You’ll hear everyone from Ashley MacIsaac and The Wet Secrets to Basia Bulat and The Mariachi Ghost on Friday, while Samantha Savage Smith, Pokey Lafare and more perform there Saturday.

While you’re at the Centre, check out 40 Years of Forward Thinking, a photographic tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Calgary Folk Music Festival. It’s on until March 4!

Deals make for a great weekend getaway

Thanks to some partnerships with downtown Calgary hotels, you’ve got festival-friendly options for staying within walking distance of the performance venues.

Tickets for the shows are affordable and can be found here in various combinations. You can also follow the Festival on Facebook.


Snotty Nose Rez Kids help kick off the fourth annual Block Heater music festival in Calgary Feb. 21. The three-day downtown event, being staged by the Calgary Folk Music Festival, is a great mid-winter getaway idea for Central Albertans.

Alberta’s own Samantha Savage Smith is among the performers at the 2019 Block Heater music festival in Calgary.

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