5 things to know about BIG Winter Classic

It’s time once again for BIG Winter Classic to brings its own brand of wonderful weirdness to Calgary art and music lovers

The festival, now in its fifth year, will take over a handful of clubs and breweries in the city this weekend, giving a stage to musicians from around North America, including a healthy sampling of homegrown talent.

For those not yet hepped to what hipness the Winter Classic conjures — and in honour of their half-decade of BIGness — here are five things to know about the event.


Consider it Sled Island’s cooler cousin. No, not better, just a similar approach but in a frostier setting. As organizers tout, “BIG Winter Classic was born out of an idea to celebrate Calgary year-round, not just in the fleeting summer months. Arts, music local beer and YOU collide at BIG Winter Classic for a four-day winter wonderland weekend … Let’s not hide away this winter, let’s emerge from our homes and into our community; let’s re-group after the holidays and kick off the new year with glee; let’s bundle up and support our thriving music scene.”


This year’s festival kicks off tonight (Thursday, Jan. 23) and runs through until Sunday. Most of the shows get started in late afternoon, early evening and, depending on the venue, runs until the wee hours of the morning. You can check the schedule here.


BIG is Beltline- and 11th Ave.-centric festival, with four participating venues hosting acts over the course of the weekend: Inner City Brewing, Last Best Brewing, Broken City and the Big Empty Space (211 10 Ave. S.W.). It’s definitely a compact, walkable or bikeable event. If you’re heading to Last Best or Broken, you’re gonna wanna dress warmish as there are stages inside and on their patios, with some overhead space heaters — and some booze — to help keep things a little warmer and more wonderful.


This year’s lineup is, not surprisingly, BIG’s biggest and best. Some of the headliners over the weekend include: gender fluid Chicago pop-rocker Ezra Furman; superb ’90s throwbacks Bully led by the Courtney-esque howler Alicia Bognanno; porcelain Canadian folk-pop performer Jennifer Castle; Toronto faves Weaves; NYC crew Bodega; Lala land noise-rock act No Age; and roots-based musician Ron Gallo. And, as previously mentioned, the contingent of area artists is an impressive one that provides a pretty spectacular cross-section of musical styles and approaches, including Port Juvee, 36?, King Dylan, Jung People, The Northern Coast, Crystal Eyes, Sunglaciers, Future Womb, Amy Nelson, Flowshine and Ricca Razor Sharp. In between all of that, there are many more from across the country and from down in the States that are yours to discover.


You. Yes, you. Well, if you’re of age. And you like music. And beer. And fun. BIG, like many other fests, thankfully, is aggressively and proudly inclusive, with organizers stating, “BIG is meant to be a safe & accessible space for all. That means that harassment or hatefulness of any kind will not be tolerated. This also means that all washrooms in all venues will be gender neutral, so use whichever washroom you feel most comfortable. Have fun and be safe!” Weekend passes and day passes are available online from their website here, with single venue tickets, capacity willing, available at the door of each venue.