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Thousands unofficially kick off summer in Calgary at 32nd annual Lilac Festival

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Thousands came out to the 32nd annual Lilac Festival on Sunday to mark the unofficial start of summer in Calgary.

“It’s a place where Calgarians can meet and celebrate together,” said Jennifer Rempel, producer of the Lilac Festival.

The massive street festival takes over Fourth Street from Elbow Drive to 12th Avenue S.W., offering up eats, entertainment and shopping.

“Events like these are so important because they’re free to attend. So, no matter where you live, where you’re from or how much money you have, you can come and have a great day on the street,” Rempel said.

After a successful pilot last year where they expanded the area, organizers decided to do it again this year.

“We’ve really programmed and activated 17th Avenue from Second to Fifth Street. We’ve added two stages and so, we’re starting to grow down, not only Fourth Street, but other places in the community,” Rempel said.

The 4th Street Lilac Festival wrapped up Sunday evening. More than 600 vendors, including multiple Fourth Street businesses, took part in the one-day event.

“From jewelry to hot sauce to you can get a massage on the street today, you can buy your special friend some flowers, to cultural keepsakes. There’s something for everyone really,” Rempel said.

Clara Bernal, the owner of Marlow Floralworks, says the festival is a great opportunity for people to learn about and support local businesses like hers.

“For us, it’s a great event to just talk with people, always the weather is nice. We sell lots of plants, flowers,” Bernal said.

This year, the festival had seven different stages featuring 75 music and dance performances.

Soul funk artist Rome IX and his band took over the 23rd Avenue stage for an afternoon show.

“For this show, really just wanted to kind of set the tone and the vibe for everyone out at Lilac Festival, so you know, a couple of songs that everyone’s gonna know and dance along to, and then some of our originals that we thought the crowd might enjoy,” he told CTV News.

The festival ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday and organizers say more than 100,000 people came out. 

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