Bully, Jennifer Castle, Ezra Furman among headliners for BIG Winter Classic’s fifth anniversary event

It’s a pretty great indicator that when a festival of any sort hits the five-year mark, they’re on solid ground and in it for the long haul.

We hope so.

First came the fifth iteration of Calgary’s feminist arts festival Femme Wave this past November.

Then came the lineup announcement for the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s No. 5 Block Heater — taking place from Feb. 20-22

And now BIG Winter Classic has unveiled all of the acts that will be celebrating their half-decade alive.

Headliners for the now annual (knock wood) cold-weather, alt-music, beer and arts fest, which takes place Jan. 23-26, include: gnarly Nashville band Bully, fronted by wailing wildwoman Alicia Bognanno; pristine folk-pop performer Jennifer Castle; and gender fluid Chicago rocker Ezra Furman.

“We’re really excited to have Ezra play at BIG Winter Classic this year,” festival director Adrian Urlacher said in a release. “The arts is our most human way to express culture and Ezra brings that front and centre, especially in her last album (Twelve Nudes). She’s reaching an audience and making them feel seen.”

Some of the other international and national acts who will be hitting BIG stages — Broken City Social Club, Last Best Brewing and Distilling, Inner City Brewing, Brewsters and “a new secret location” — are: T.O. popsters Weaves; shimmering yet jittery NYC act Bodega; L.A. noise-rock two-piece No Age; and charismatic American roots-based musician Ron Gallo.

Of course, as with most best fests in this city, there is a healthy contingent of Calgary artists participating at BIG — and not as filler, but part of the integral fibre and flavour — such as 36?, King Dylan, Crooked Spies, Jung People, The Northern Coast, Crystal Eyes, Sunglaciers, Future Womb, Amy Nelson and I Am the Mountain.

“While we bring in national and international acts, this festival is for Calgarians, Albertans and its amazing crop of musicians and artists,” Urlacher says. “Calgary has so many talented artists who make up the foundation of Big Winter Classic’s community.”

Passes for this year’s BIG Winter Classic, as well as the full lineup, are available now for $119 from, with the price going up to $139 on Jan. 2.

(Photo of Bully’s Alicia Bognanno courtesy Alysse Gafkjen.)