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Best Time to Visit Calgary

Calgary is a thriving city in southern Canada, close to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Rocky Mountains and Dinosaur Provincial Park. The climate in the city is humid continental, with warm summers and bitterly cold winters. The best time to visit Calgary is during the summer when temperatures average 17°C. July is the warmest month of the year, with highs reaching 23°C. The winters are cold, and icy winds can whip through the city. Temperatures drop to -8°C, but the weather is dry, with only 11mm of rain falling on average per month. Westerly winds known as "chinooks" can cause winter temperatures to rise rapidly. Winter is also the best season for snow sports. (Calgary was home to the Winter Olympics in 1988).

Aerial shot of downtown Calgary and Bow River in the fall

If you don't like the cold, the best time to visit Calgary for warmer weather is in the summer or early autumn when temperatures are milder and there is little chance of rain.

Planning a trip to Calgary? Our Canadian Train Vacations team is here to assist you. Read our guide to find out the best time to visit Calgary.

Unlike the rest of western Canada, Calgary has dry weather for the majority of the year, as opposed to the humidity combined with rain and snow that is common in British Columbia and other western provinces. The months of June through August are ideal for visiting Calgary because they host the majority of the city's special events, and November through March are ideal for skiing. Expect snowfall in November. Despite the cold, visitors continue to flock to Calgary.

Calgary abounds in winter sports, providing a strong pull for winter tourism. Spring and fall are ideal seasons for a low-key vacation because crowds are low, and lodgings give off-season rates. Spend some time at the Calgary Beerfest, a must-see early May event. Shoulder season, from September to October, necessitates warmer clothing but rewards with better prices and quieter streets.

Don't be afraid to visit Grassi, Hector, and Chester Lakes, which are especially lovely in the fall. If you want to save money and avoid arctic temperatures, visit in April or October when the town is free of tourists and winter's icy grip.

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July and August are considered the best months for good weather in Calgary

Despite the crowds and higher prices, June through August are considered the best months to visit Calgary. The months of July and August are the most likely to have pleasant and warm weather, with average temperatures ranging from 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) to 26 degrees Celsius (79°F). With the warm weather comes a slew of tourists looking for the city's great hiking, biking, and fishing. It's the perfect time to plan a summer vacation as this is also Calgary's festival season, with big events such as the Calgary Stampede taking place. 

Local man donning western wear participating in chuckwagon racing while horses charge forward at Calgary Stampede

Key Events: 

  • Calgary Stampede (July)
    Since 1923, the Calgary Stampede has been an annual exhibition and stampede (rodeo) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Guy Weadick, a former Wyoming cowboy, founded the world-famous rodeo festival in 1912 with the support of major Alberta cattlemen. It is a colorful 10-day Old West celebration held in July that includes many rodeo events, a parade, musical performances, and other festivities; attendance exceeds one million visitors each year.
  • Calgary Folk Music Festival (July)
    The Calgary Folk Music Festival (also known as the "Calgary Folk Fest") takes place each year in late July at Prince's Island Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Since 1979, the Calgary Folk Music Festival has taken place. The four-day Calgary Folk Music Festival, held every July at Prince's Island Park, features 70 icons and newcomers from 16 countries on 7 stages in over 100 different concert and cooperative programming performances to a 53,000+ audience. It's a genre-bending affair with global roots, country, old-time, funk, world, and indie icons and upstarts.

  • Calgary Fringe Festival (August)
    Calgary's Fringe Festival is an annual non-mainstream theatre festival. The Calgary Fringe Festival showcases over 150 performances over 9 days of local, national, and worldwide productions. Blair Gallant, the founding member of the Calgary Fringe Festival, was struck by the community spirit, understanding, and community identity based on tolerance that he witnessed while touring Rocky Horror at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. And the spark for a new ethnic identity for Calgary was lit! The foundations for making the Calgary Fringe a sustainable and culturally open festival were laid with a unique mix of artistic and entrepreneurial commercial backgrounds.
  • Calgary International Blues Festival (July-August)
    Calgary Bluesfest is a blues celebration that culminates in four days and nights of the best in blues. In the heart of downtown Calgary, you can experience smoking hot blues! The festival is held at Shaw Millennium Park and features nonstop main-stage performances, a beer tent, and nightly dance parties that last until the early hours of the morning. This family-friendly event attracts visitors from all over the world.

  • Calgary Pride (August-September)
    Calgary Pride is an annual LGBT pride festival held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The event is hosted by Pride Calgary, a non-profit association, and is currently held in the last week of August, with the closing parade taking place on the first weekend of September if necessary.
People enjoy music live from illuminated stage at the Calgary Folk Festival during sunset in Calgary

The warmest months are July and August

From June 6 to September 14, the warm season lasts 3.3 months, with an average daily high temperature above 66°F. July is the hottest month in Calgary, with average highs of 74°F and lows of 52°F. Summer is a peak season for tourism all over the world, and Canada is no exception. The sun shines brightly across the country, and the pleasant weather lends a relaxed air to most days. Calgary is the gateway to the Rockies, which is a popular Canadian destination in July and August. Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise are an easy drive from Calgary.

Cars on the highway with yellow grass along each side face snowcapped mountains

The coldest month of the year is February

In Calgary, Canada, the last month of winter, February, is a cold month, with average temperatures ranging from -3.9°C (25°F) to -11.3°C (11.7°F). Calgary's weather in February produces an average daytime high temperature of 1°C. At this time of year, the weather can be quite variable, with temperatures as low as -10°C on some extreme days. In Calgary, February is often the coldest month of the year, though it could also be in January. The coldest temperature in Calgary history was -45.0 °C, recorded on February 4, 1893.

Because the Rocky Mountains are so close, this city makes an excellent home base for powder hounds looking to test their skills on the steep slope. It's also fun for sightseers looking to see a winter wonderland. Hotel rates are also at their lowest, so if you're looking for a good deal, now is the time to go. Keep in mind that mild westerly winds known as "chinooks" can cause winter temperatures to rise rapidly in a matter of hours. Apart from avid skiers, snowboarders, and anyone else interested in winter activities, this is Calgary's low season.

Scotiabank Saddledome arena and Calgary skyline in winter

Key Events:

  • Big Winter Classic
    At the Big Winter Classic, you'll find the arts, music and local beer for a five-day winter wonderland weekend. This festival is an opportunity to embrace winters in Calgary as well as support the thriving music scene. Happening at the end of January, it includes 70+ bands, comedy, workshops art and more, and is great fun and entertainment for all ages. There are a variety of ticket options for festival goers.
  • Glow Winter Festival
    This six-day event ignites imaginations with a one-of-a-kind experience in the heart of our downtown core, showcasing interactive light displays, art, entertainment, food trucks, and activations. Since its inception in 2017, Glow has been illuminating Calgary's frosty February nights, igniting the community, economy, and culture. Glow is a free family-friendly festival open to Calgary residents of all ages.
Festivalgoers gather around domino light and sound installation in downtown Calgary

The best things to do in winter in Calgary:

1. Visit the Calgary Zoo

Even without leaving the city, you can go animal watching in Calgary in the winter. While the Calgary Zoo is open all year, the winter season provides the best visitor experience because many of the animals are more active in colder temperatures. The Calgary Zoo's main attraction is the penguin walk, which takes place every day, weather permitting, at 10:30 a.m. The penguin walk is a short 15-minute walk through the park that allows you to follow the king penguins as they go about their daily business. It's an excellent photo opportunity! Amur Tigers, African Lions, Grey Wolves, Bison, and other animals can be found at the zoo. Be aware that some animals, including bears, will be hibernating during the winter.

King Penguins with tinges of orange and yellow on their necks stand together on snow at Calgary Zoo

2. Go hiking

Nose Hill Park, located in the North West, is the largest City of Calgary park and offers hiking trails in Calgary, even in the winter. The Nose Hill Lake Loop is a 5 km loop trail near Calgary, Alberta. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an hour and 20 minutes on average to complete. This is a popular trail for road biking, running, and walking and is open year-round. But don't stop there; there are many more trails to explore within the park.

3. Hit the slopes for skiing and snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding are without question, the most popular winter activities in Canada. Although Calgary is situated in the prairies, there are a few downhill skiing options in the city and nearby. Those looking for larger downhill runs will need to travel at least an hour from Calgary to the Rocky Mountains. Nakiska Ski Area is the nearest ski resort. This large ski hill is situated one hour west of Calgary in the Kananaskis Valley. It's a full-service ski resort with a 735-meter vertical descent and a 3.3-kilometer longest run. Nakiska is a popular ski resort among Calgary residents and one of the more affordable resorts in the Rocky Mountains.

Skiers and snowboarders travel down Nakiska Ski Resort slope with open view of snowcapped mountains peaks ahead

# Travel Tip: Motorcycle Tour

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Cruise around Calgary on a motorcycle sidecar tour. You’ll learn about the city’s top sights as you ride around downtown and can even stop for photo opportunities.

Katherine Foxcroft
Product Manager, Tours and Vacations

June is the rainiest month

June is the wettest month in Calgary, with an average of 9.9 days that have at least 0.04 inches of rain. Rain falls for 17 days, totaling 65mm (2.56") of precipitation. The weather can be pleasant during the day, with highs of 20°C in the afternoon, plenty of clear skies, and 11 hours of sunshine per day. It still gets quite cold at night, and the city expects a lot of rain this month, so if you go on vacation to Calgary in June, you'll need a waterproof jacket and plenty of warm layers. If you visit Calgary in June, whether you stay in the city or venture out into the surrounding countryside, you should be prepared for all weather conditions. While June is not peak season, the city does see an increase in tourists at this time of year.

Flat path with view of snowcapped Three Sisters mountains in Canmore

Key Events:

  • Lilac Festival
    The Lilac Festival is a street festival held annually in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Every spring, the festival attracts over 100,000 people. This free one-day event kicks off Calgary's vibrant festival season. At the Lilac Festival, there is something for everyone. This could mean jumping in the bouncer with the kids, discovering a great new band, selecting the ideal summer patio, or looking for trendy fashion; there is no shortage of things to do.

  • Calgary’s Sled Island Music & Arts Festival
    The Sled Island Music & Arts Festival, founded in 2007, is an annual independent music and arts festival held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Every June, the five-day festival features a community of bands, visual artists, filmmakers, and comedians, as well as over 30,000 attendees in various venues throughout the city. Sled Island chooses a guest curator each year to help set the direction and tone of the festival through customized programming and their presence at the event.
Band playing on rooftop at the Sled Island Music festival

Things to Consider When Visiting Calgary

What to see and do in Calgary 

Calgary is located near the western edge of the Canadian prairies, about 80 kilometers east of the Canadian Rockies. The city has a quaint feel to it, merging the modern with the historic. It shares many similarities with Dallas, Texas.

As one of Canada's largest cities, Calgary has plenty of exciting things to do. From a breathtaking view from the top of Calgary Tower to a trip back in time at the Heritage Park Historical Village to feasting on delicious Alberta beef, Calgary has a wide range of attractions and activities to offer. Visit Calgary Tower, Olympic Plaza, The Military Museums, Heritage Park Historical Village, Prince's Island Park, and Big Rock Brewery.

#Travel Tip: Visit Gasoline Alley Museum

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If you’re an auto enthusiast, you’ll love the Gasoline Alley Museum - It features antique vehicles, oil and gas-related artifacts, and Canada’s largest collection of restored gas pumps.

Blog Author - Athena McKenzie
Athena McKenzie
Content Manager

Where and what to eat in Calgary 

The best Calgary restaurants are locally owned and farm-to-fork, so prepare for appetizing and wholesome dining experiences. There are farmers' markets with a variety of options and great bargains, as well as cool spots to enjoy top-quality comfort food. Looking for a romantic location? Consider booking a table for two inside a restored 19th-century mansion, at Rouge.
Calgary Farmer's Market South, Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey, Cravings Market Restuarant, Model Milk, Rouge, Blue Star Diner, The Selkirk Grille, The Coup, The Beltliner, and Holy Grill are some of the best local spots.

Where to shop and what to buy in Calgary

The best places to shop in Calgary range from neighborhoods teeming with independent shops and restaurants to sprawling malls stocked with international brands. There are also numerous local markets open on weekends, with dozens of shops selling fresh produce and specialty items from all over Alberta.

Fourth Street, Kensington, 17th Avenue, Victoria Park, CF Chinook Centre, CrossIron Mills, CORE Shopping Centre, TD Square, CF Market Mall, and Southcentre Mall are some shopping destinations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Calgary worth visiting?

Calgary, Canada's fourth largest city, has a plethora of things to do and places to visit throughout the city. Calgary is worth a visit whether you are on a trans-Canada long drive or passing through on your way from or to Banff National Park.

What month is the hottest in Calgary?

The hottest month in Calgary is usually July when temperatures reach around 23°C (73°F) in the middle of the day or early afternoon.

Why is Calgary so popular?

Calgary combines the energy of a major metropolitan city with the warmth and welcoming spirit of a small town. Calgary's popularity stems from its closeness to the beautiful foothills and Rocky Mountains.

What is Calgary's coldest month?

February is Calgary’s coldest month.

Is Calgary very cold?

Calgary is a mountain city with a dry climate due to its elevation. Temperatures are mild; the average high in July is around 23.2 degrees Celsius (73.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Regardless of how cold Calgary is, it's sunny in comparison to the rest of the country.

Is Calgary colder than Montreal?

Except in the far north, Alberta is not subarctic. In January, the average temperature in Montreal is -9°C (16°F), while the average temperature in Calgary is -7°C (19°F), indicating that Montreal is possibly a bit colder in winter than Calgary.

About the author: Katherine is Product Manager with Fresh Tracks Canada. Having worked in the Canadian travel industry for almost 20 years, she enjoys sharing her local expertise with visitors. She is based in Calgary and one of her favourite Canadian destination is the... Read more

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