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Our History

In 1931, a small group of eager musicians decided to take their love of music to the next level by creating an event called The Calgary Music Festival. 

 

The Festival began as a small competition but quickly grew so large that this small group of musicians approached the Kiwanis Clubs of Calgary to take ownership of the Festival, giving it the new title: The Calgary Kiwanis Festival. 

 

Since then, the Festival has become one of Calgary's greatest performing arts events and one of the largest amateur competitive festivals in North America. In 2014, Calgary Kiwanis Festival underwent another name change and became The Calgary Performing Arts Festival. 

AT A GLANCE

Complete History

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1908

The first competitive festival in North America. Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, George Bulyea, with motivation from Governor General Earl Grey, started the first competitive festival in Edmonton. This festival had 30 contestants and two adjudicators from Winnipeg.

1917

Calgary and Lethbridge joined the Edmonton organization and the three cities took turns hosting the festival.

1929

Musicians from Calgary became interested in starting their own festival

1931

The first Calgary Music Festival was held in the Knox United Church

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1954

Directors of the Calgary Music Festival asked the Kiwanis Clubs of Calgary to sponsor the festival

1968

The festival took on a new board of directors who were representatives from the Kiwanis Clubs, and was then renamed the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival

1975

The board hired an executive director to manage the festival

1976

Various music organizations, post-secondary institutions, school boards, businesses and service organizations worked together to create a Scholarship Trust Fund for the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival

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2014

The Festival officially changes its name to the Calgary Performing Arts Festival

Present 

The Calgary Performing Arts Festival now includes theatre, making it no longer just a music festival but a performing arts festival. The Festival now has approximately 4,000 entries and 12,000 participants annually.