Riding The Wave: A Slam Festival Recap

Have you ever been walking the busy streets of downtown Calgary, wishing that you were at a tropical beach somewhere with a drink in hand, watching the waves crash against the shore and the surfers glide across the water? Well wish no more! You can now make that dream a reality and you don’t even have to leave the confines of your cozy city. Slam Festival is an arts and music festival dedicated to bringing surf culture to the city of Calgary. Founded by members of the Alberta River Surfing Association Slams inaugural event took place in 2006 with the very first Slam The Kan held on the lower Kananaskis river. Slam is dedicated to bringing together river surfers from all over the world and of all skill levels to share in a weekend of music, good times, and river surfing. It is the only river surfing event happening out side of Munich, Germany (the birthplace of river surfing). Slam has since expanded, growing larger and larger each year as river surfing has received more and more attention, into the heart of Calgary. Slam festival was held this year down by the river right next to the 10th street wave on August 9th & 10th. Listed below are a few of the reasons why I personally think Slam Festival should be something on your radar.


All the best things about surf culture were on display this past weekend at Slam Festival. Art, music, dance, even a cool collection of custom motorcycles presented by Ill-Fated Kustoms; you could find a little bit of everything down by the river at this extremely inclusive and family friendly event. The really great thing about it is that you didn’t have to break the bank to attend. Most of the events over the two days were free to take part in with the only ticketed event being the main event on the Saturday- which was only $20. For the amount of things going on it dosen’t get much better than that.

All of the events on the Friday were absolutely free. It was impossible not to find something that would capture ones attention. There was something for everyone, including the young ones. There was a battle of the bands that featured youth bands from across the city on the Friday afternoon as well as a youth skate jam held on the 403 Mini Ramp, which was parked outside the event the whole weekend, that brought out all the young shredders. Not only were there those dedicated events for Calgary’s young surf enthusiasts, but the entire event was all ages. From the Rocky Mountain Luau, featuring Calgary surf rock staples The 427’s, to the beach party held by the river It was great to see the young and the old out in full force supporting surf culture in Calgary.

Saturday is when things really got going. The music was in full swing and kept you grooving all day long. The main stage had music playing from 11:00AM to 10:00PM and there was a little something for everyone. The surf rock inspired duo Good Grief warmed up the crowd with their large sound. Silence The Swamps brought out some foliage and kept the crowd rocking with their unique brand of horror punk. Lashes paid homage to femme gods from the past as they closed out with a unique rendition of Cherry Bomb. The crowd was serenaded by the sultry sounds of The Varmoors as their fuzzy goodness warmed the heart and put the body in motion. Fever Feel put everyone into a joyous trance with their masterfully crafted psych rock sound. The crowd was primed as Bambargo took the stage. They kept everybody moving throughout their entire set with a funkedelic fusion of sounds that was both fresh and new as well as funky and familiar. Everyone was screaming for more as they finished their set and closed out the festival in style with a killer encore. Not only was there awesome music but there was also an artisan market place, food trucks, and beverages a plenty making for an all around good time.

The organizers of the event invited everyone to join them in the water on the Saturday afternoon as they offered river surfing lessons to anyone who had an inkling to give it a try. After that the pro’s took to the water providing on lookers with a real treat and a look into what river surfing can be. It’s still an absolute joy for me to be able to watch the surfers take to the water and ride that wave. It is something that I was completely oblivious to until just last year when I attended my first Slam event. I was drawn in by the sport and the friendly nature of the culture and its laid back attitude has kept me coming back for more. In my opinion, this years Slam Festival was a huge success and I will definitely be attending next years event.

If you would like to know more about Slam Festival or river surfing in general check out E72 of Groove Talk which features a conversation with organizers Jenna Henderson and Jacob Kelly.