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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



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.


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


Musicians from Calgary became interested in starting their own festival


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



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


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


The board hired an executive director to manage the festival


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



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


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. 

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