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Calgary, Alberta's largest city, is a product of oil culture, and is situated where the prairies end and the foothills begin. As such, it is the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountains and an important centre of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your most likely point of access for Banff and Jasper, and a worthwhile destination in its own right. Calgary is the heart of the largest metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver, with over 1,220,000 people as of 2009 (1.1 million city-proper), making it Canada's fourth largest metropolitan area. The June 2013 flooding in Calgary made international headlines. As of September 2013, the only changes visitors are likely to notice are the partial closure of the Calgary Zoo, closure of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary (Nature Centre is open), interruption of canoeing/kayaking on the Harvie Passage section of the Bow River, and 36 km of bike paths that are closed as a result of flood damage and detours. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Calgary
- Calgary Tower, 101 9th Ave SW (corner of 9th Ave SW & Centre St), ☎ +1 403-266-7171. The Calgary Tower may not be quite as impressive as the CN Tower in Toronto, but it still commands a great view over the city and the surroundings. On a clear day you can see the Rockies to the west. It features a revolving gourmet restaurant, a bar, and an observation deck. The tower is best approached from 8th Avenue, as the 10th Avenue side is dominated by railway tracks, parking lots, & parkads.
- Scotiabank Saddledome. Located on the Stampede Grounds, Calgary's largest hockey arena plays host to the Calgary Flames (ice hockey), the Calgary Hitmen (junior ice hockey), the Calgary Roughnecks (box lacrosse), and many concerts.
- Stampede Grounds, 1410 Olympic Way SE (from the C-Train Rte 201, get off at either Victoria Park/Stampede Station (N end of Stampede grounds) or Erlton/Stampede Station (S end of Stampede grounds)). The site of Calgary's world-famous exhibition and rodeo, the Calgary Stampede grounds are located east of the Beltline in Victoria Park. Not only are the grounds the site of the excitement of every July's Calgary Stampede, they also house a conference and exhibition centre (the BMO Centre) and a casino.
Museums & Educational Attractions
- Calgary Zoo, 1300 Zoo Rd NE (LRT 202 - Zoo station), ☎ +1 403-232-9300. Open daily 9AM - 5PM. The world-class Calgary Zoo is home to over 1,000 animals from all over the world, as well as to the Botanical Garden and a Prehistoric Park for dinosaur lovers. It is the second largest zoo in Canada. The June 2013 flood had a major impact on the zoo. The St George's Island section (the largest part of the zoo) is closed for repairs and expected to reopen by the end of 2013. The Memorial Drive section (north of the Bow River) is open at a reduced rate of $10/person. $18/$10 (adult/youth).
- Fort Calgary, 750 9th Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-290-1875. Open daily 9AM - 5PM. Fort Calgary, a Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP, now RCMP) fort was built in 1875 at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers (near modern Inglewood). It became the nucleus around which the town, later city, of Calgary grew. The original fort was destroyed decades ago. Today's Fort Calgary is a museum and historic site focusing on the history of the city and of the RCMP. $12/$7 (adult/youth).
- Glenbow Museum, 130 — 9 Avenue SE, ☎ +1 403-268-4100. 9AM - 5PM Tu-Th, 11:30AM - 7:30 PM Fri, 9AM - 5PM Sat, Noon - 5PM Su, closed Mon. Western Canada's largest museum, with over 93,000 square feet of exhibition space on three floors. More than 20 galleries are filled with artifacts from Glenbow's collection of over a million objects, emphasizing local history. Regularly changing visiting exhibits focus on art or more distant cultures. ARC Discovery Room has hands-on activities daily for all ages. $14/$9 (adult/youth).
- Heritage Park, Heritage Dr and 14th St SW (Macleod Tr south to Heritage Dr, Heritage Dr west to Heritage Park. Transit: LRT Rte 201 south to Heritage Station, bus Rte 502--Heritage Park to Heritage Park), ☎ +1 403-268-8500, fax: +1 403-268-8501. One of the largest living historical villages in North America, on 66 acres of land near the Glenmore Reservoir. Attractions include a working passenger train, 155 historical exhibits, a candy store and bakery, old fashioned amusement park and ride on the S.S. Moyie, a paddlewheel boat.
- The Military Museums, 4520 Crowchild Trail SW, ☎ +1 403-974-2850. The most extensive military museum in Canada outside of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, this facility houses galleries devoted to four local army regiments, galleries for the air force and navy, and several general interest galleries. It covers Canadians' service in the Boer War, the World Wars, the Korean War, the Cold War, and post-1945 operations with the UN and NATO including Cyprus, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. There is an outdoor historical vehicle display. Formerly the Museum of the Regiments.
- TELUS Spark, 220 St. George's Drive NE (located in the NE at the crossing of Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail), ☎ +1 403-268-8300, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Sun-Fri 9AM - 4PM, Sat 9AM - 5PM, first Thursday of each month 9AM - 9PM, second Thursday 9AM - 4PM, then reopens to 18+ only 6PM - 10PM. (Formerly named the TELUS World of Science at previous location) Canada's first purpose-built new science centre in over 25 years is a place where people of all ages and abilities can put their imagination into action. Constructed on over 18 acres of reclaimed land, the new 153,000 square foot facility features over one hundred hands-on exhibits, four exhibit galleries, plus a travelling exhibition gallery, an expanded and enhanced Creative Kids Museum, Calgary's only HD digital Dome Theatre, a new Presentation Theatre and Learning Centre, a 10,000 square-foot atrium, and a four-acre outdoor park. $19.95 (adult/youth).
- Battalion Park (road access is via Signal Hill Dr SW). A tribute to local soldiers that trained for the First World War, this is an interpretive 0.5 km hiking trail up the side of the bluff overlooking the former Sarcee Camp. Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force left enormous battalion numerals spelled out in whitewashed stones which have been restored as a permanent memorial. The interpretive trail also includes a monument and a self-guided tour with historical tablets and photographs. Most (but not all) of the numbers are easily seen from the parking lots of the nearby Signal Hill and West Hills shopping centres.
- Devonian Gardens, 317 7th Ave SW (4th floor of TD Square), ☎ +1 780-987-3054. The Devonian Gardens is a large indoor urban park located in TD Square, above the shopping. After closing for several years for extensive renovations, Calgary's Devonian Gardens reopened for visitors in 2012. Free.
- Fish Creek Provincial Park, toll-free: +1-866-427-3582. 8AM to sunset. Fish Creek Provincial Park is one of North America's largest urban parks, covering 13.5 square kilometres. This natural area park stretches along the banks of Fish Creek and the Bow River in south Calgary, from roughly 14th St SW in the west to the Bow River in the east. The park includes the Sikome Lake Aquatic Facility (a man-made lake open in summer), the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre, The Ranche Restaurant and Annie's Café (both privately operated), picnic sites, group use areas, trails for walking, bicycling, mountain biking, and horseback riding, a native garden, and a sculpture garden. Free.
- Inglewood Bird Sanctuary & Nature Centre, 2425 9 Ave SE. Trails open sunrise-sunset, Nature Centre Tuesday to Sunday 10am - 4 pm, closed Mondays and statutory holidays, closed at noon on December 24.. Due to the June 2013 flooding, the bird sanctuary is closed until further notice (as of Sept 2013). The Nature Centre building is open. This 32-hectare wildlife reserve offers more than two kilometres of walking trails throughout the riverine forest. More than 250 species of birds and 300 species of plants, plus several kinds of mammals, have been observed in the area. Free.
- Olympic Plaza, 800 block of Macleod Trail SE (corner of 8th Ave SE and Macleod Trail). This public square was built as the site of medal presentations during the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. It continues to host free public events and festivals. During the summer, waders can enjoy the water-filled plaza, while winter visitors can go skating.
- Prince's Island Park, immediately north of Eau Claire in the Bow River (from downtown, there are bridges to the park near the end of 2nd St SW, 3rd St SW and 6th St SW). Calgary's largest inner city park is an island with a number of pleasant trails for walking and relaxing. In the summer, it plays host to Shakespeare in the Park  and it is also the site of one of the city's largest annual festivals: the Calgary Folk Music Festival .
- Nose Hill Park. Nose Hill Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Canada and North America, is located in the northwest quadrant of Calgary, Alberta. It is a natural environment park, commonly regarded as a retreat from city life and a place to enjoy nature. It is the second-largest park in Calgary, surpassed in size only by Fish Creek Provincial Park.
- Canada Olympic Park (COP), 88 Canada Olympic Rd (On Trans-Canada Hwy (Hwy 1 aka 16 Ave NW) on far west side of city. Catch the LRT to Brentwood station, then Route 408 bus to the park), ☎ +1 403-247-5452. Take a tour of the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, which includes going to the top of the ski jump for a fantastic view. Four runs are available for your skiing pleasure during the winter months, and there is also an on-site museum, as well as the Canadian Olympic Hall Of Fame and the new Canada's Sports Hall of Fame . The halfpipe and rail park are frequented by some very talented skiers and snowboarders, making for interesting viewing. The COP hosts Canada's only bobsled track (until Whistler's track is finished) and they offer rides periodically during winter.
- Spruce Meadows. Located just south of the city on Highway 22X, Spruce Meadows is a world-renowned show jumping and equestrian facility. When there are major events at Spruce Meadows, a free shuttle takes visitors from the Somerset/Bridlewood C-Train station (Route 201)to Spruce Meadows. Check Spruce Meadows website for dates and times. Free when there are no events; some events are also free. Tickets for major events start at $5 per person..
- Talisman Centre, 2225 Macleod Trail S, ☎ +1 403-233-8393. M-F 5AM - 11PM, Sa 6AM - 10PM, Su 7AM - 10PM. Located near the Stampede Grounds and just south of downtown, Talisman Centre is a multi-sport centre used by both recreational and Olympic-level athletes. Facilities include two 8-lane 50m long Olympic-size swimming pools, a dive tank with spring boards and platforms for 3m, 5m, 7m, and 10m dives, shallow teaching pool, 5 full-size gyms, 2 running tracks, fitness centre for cardio & weight training, basketball and volleyball courts, classes, and much more. $13 adult/$8 youth.
Walk & Shop
- Barclay Parade (3rd St SW between Eau Claire Ave SW and 8th/Stephen Ave SW). Barclay Parade (3 St SW) is a pedestrian-friendly section of downtown street that runs from Eau Claire Market in the north to Stephen Avenue (8 Ave S) in the south. It is home to a number of high end shops.
- Chinatown (Area around Centre St S and 2 Ave S). Canada's third largest Chinatown is in the northeast portion of downtown Calgary. It is the heart of Calgary's Asian diaspora, although much of northeast Calgary has a Pacific Rim influence. The area of about a half-dozen blocks is located along Centre Street S, from 4 Ave S (on the south) to the Bow River (on the north). Calgary's Chinatown packs in a dense network of Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and other Asian restaurants, shops, housing and cultural facilities. The area along Centre Street on the north side of the river almost functions as a loosely organized "second Chinatown" with Chinese-oriented businesses stretching for 20 or more blocks.
- Stephen Avenue Walk (Stephen/8 Ave between Macleod Trail and 3 St SW). One of Calgary's most famous streets, Stephen Avenue was declared a National Historic District by the Canadian government. It is a major venue for boutique shopping, bars, pubs and restaurants. The mall is closed to vehicle traffic from 6AM to 6PM daily.
Many Calgarians are understandably proud of the vast collection of skyscrapers. What's more impressive are the clear views you can get of downtown from certain spots around the city, sometimes with the mountains in the background.
- Crescent Road (From 16 Ave NW, turn south on 8 St NW until 13 Avenue NW where you turn east until 7 A St NW where you turn south, then go until Crescent Road NW where you turn west onto said street, then take your first left (or south) turn and then drive down that a tiny bit until you think it is okay, then stop and admire. Do not go past 13 Ave.).
- Nose Hill. The views of downtown Calgary from Nose Hill Park can only be accessed on foot or by bicycle. Park your car at one of the parking lots near the top of the hill (opposite Edgemont Blvd NW or Berkely Gate NW) and then head towards the southern edge of the hill.
- Scotsman's Hill (6 St SE between Salisbury Rd SE and Spiller Rd SE). The top of this very high riverbank overlooks the Stampede Grandstand. It is a good place to watch the fireworks which are scheduled every evening during Stampede week after the chuckwagon races and the stage show (11 PM). People simply park their cars - there is no cost - and watch the fireworks for free. That's why it's called Scotsman's Hill.
- Tom Campbell's Hill Park, 25 Saint George's Drive (Take Calgary Zoo exit from Memorial Drive, then head toward the top of the prominent hill just north of the Bow River and the zoo.). Views of the confluence of the Bow River and Nose Creek, with the towers of downtown Calgary off to the southwest.
- River Park, 4500 14A St. SW. 5am-11pm. In Calgary's southwest on ridge above Sandy Beach, large designated off-leash area.
While Calgary is no Rome, Tokyo, or Paris for architecture, Calgary does have some highlights that may be worthwhile for those interested in architecture. The Bow is a modern masterpiece of glass and steel and would be a shame to miss. (But really how could you? The crescent-shaped Bow building pierces through the skyline from pretty much any angle). Stephen Avenue (8th Ave S in downtown core) and Atlantic Avenue (9th Ave S in Inglewood) both have an abundance of tightly packed, small, old commercial buildings with great architectural details; follow the links for downloadable self-guided historic walking tours. Calgary's Peace Bridge, a pedestrian bridge crossing the Bow River from the downtown core, opened in 2012. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and is a change from the cable-stayed bridges he is known for. The Calgary Tower is a beautiful early modern tower with a minimalist design. Even if you don't care for the design, you shouldn't miss the views from the top. Talisman Centre, a large sports complex opposite the Stampede grounds just south of the downtown core, has a unique arch-shaped roofline which is the suspension point for a fabric roof. One could also stroll the construction mazes of Macleod Trail and Scarth St/1 Street SE for many beautiful modern condominiums. Out in suburbia, the pyramid-shaped Fish Creek Area Library (near Southcentre Mall) is a local landmark.
Calgary was founded by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1875 and was originally called Fort Brisebois. (The name was changed to Fort Calgary in 1876, from Calgary bay on the Isle of Mull). The NWMP was sent west to ensure that Canada would not have an American-style "Wild West". Grave concerns about this were raised after the Cypress Hills Massacre of natives by drunken wolf hunters in 1873. Calgary was one of several forts established in Western Canada by the NWMP to ensure a police presence before the arrival of settlers.
In 1883, the railway reached Calgary. It started to grow in every direction and became an agricultural and business hub. In 1884, Calgary was incorporated as a town in what was then the North West Territories. By 1894, Calgary's population had grown to 3900 people and it was incorporated as a city. Alberta's first major oil & natural gas field was discovered in 1914 at Turner Valley , 60 km south of Calgary. Subsequent discoveries kept the oil & gas scene active in the Turner Valley area for the next 30 years. When the Turner Valley fields were depleted, the next major oil & gas find was at Leduc (near Edmonton)in 1947. By then, Calgary was already established as a centre of oil & gas business. During the 1950s, oil became big in Calgary and major American oil companies started heading to Calgary and opening offices. The boom extended into the next twenty years, bringing the city to 720,000 people in the metro area by 1985. The relatively low-key low-rise downtown became filled with a sea of skyscrapers, starting with the Calgary Tower and some other towers in the 1960s. By the 1980s, Calgary's luck turned, and a drop in oil prices sent the Calgary metro economy downward. High unemployment raged, vacancies became a reality,and growth was slow or even negative in some years. In 1988, Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics and brought world attention to Calgary. By the 1990s, it was on the rebound and began growing again. Calgary today has become a more cosmopolitan city of over one million inhabitants with genuine attempts to diversify its economy and expand its attractiveness to outside visitors.
Calgary is sunny and rather dry, with wide seasonal and daily temperature ranges. Summers tend to be sunny and mild, averaging highs of about 23°C (73°F) in July/August, usually accompanied by short afternoon storms - June being typically the wettest month. Hot weather (greater than 30°C / 86°F) is rare, occurring on average five times a year. Also temperatures typically drop dramatically during rain days as well; there's always a couple days in the summer months that barely manage highs over 10°C (50°F)).
Winter can also vary quite a bit. Temperatures can get extremely cold (below -20°C / -4°F) at times between November and March, while -30°C (-22°F) is possible (on average five times a year). Though average highs in January are about -2°C (28°F) based on a current 30-year average, there's nothing average with Calgary's weather. Because of the regular but unpredictable Chinooks (warm Pacific winds), there's no guarantee of when the cold weather strikes - one of coldest months in the last ten years has been a March (about -6°C / 21°F for average high), while a January has recorded one of the mildest (+6°C / 43°F average high). Temperatures can swell into the 15°C (59°F) range one day, and dip back into the sub-zero (sub 32°F) temperatures several days later. A typical Chinook rolls in fast (and windy), and the effects will usually linger for several days to more than a week. Calgary can be very dry in winter, with humidity as low as 20%.
Regardless of the time of year, temperatures usually drop quickly at night. Lows in summer hover around 8°C (46°F), while in winter they average about -13°C (9°F). Because of the elevation, proximity to the mountains, and dramatic temperature drops, snow falling as late as June and as early as September is a regular occurrence. This usually results in just a trace of snow on the ground which soon melts.
As mentioned, having a variety of clothes is essential at all times in the year. Packing shorts and sandals to light, windproof jacket or fleece from mid-May to mid-October, and everything from T-shirts to fleece/ski jackets, gloves, scarves from mid-Oct to mid-May works best. There's not typically a lot of snow on the ground since Calgary is located in a very dry region of North America and the regular Chinooks melt any snow, so heavy boots aren't usually needed. The close-by Rockies are typically cooler year-round, so plan accordingly for any day trips.
Events and Festivals
- Calgary Stampede, ☎ +1 403-269-9822, toll-free: +1-800-661-1767. (July, 10 days). During Stampede Week, the whole city goes western! During "the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth", there are events all around the city, but the highlights are the rodeo and chuckwagon races which boast the world's richest prizes.
- High Performance Rodeo. (January, 3 weeks) This unconventional international festival of theatre, dance, music, comedy, visual art, and more has been gracing Calgary venues of all sorts for over 25 years.
- Marda Loop Justice Film Festival. (November)
- WordFest. (October, 7 days)
- Taste of Calgary, Eau Claire Festival Plaza, 200 Barclay Parade SW, ☎ +1 403-293-2888, e-mail: email@example.com. 11AM - 9PM (August, 4 days). Enjoy a wide variety of foods at Calgary's outdoor dining festival. Music at the Taste Stage. $1 per sampling ticket; each sample requires 2-5 tickets.
- Sun and Salsa Festival (Kensington Road NW between 10 St NW & 13 St NW, 10 St NW between Memorial Drive and 5 St NW), ☎ +1 403-283-4810, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (July, 1 day) A salsa-tasting contest is the focus of this street festival, but there are also five stages with a variety of performances, plus lots of other activities. Free.
- Dragon Boat Race and Festival, North Glenmore Park (Catch shuttle bus from Mount Royal University). (August, 2 days) Dozens of 20-person dragon boat crews race to the beat of their drummers on Glenmore Reservoir. Kids' activities, food, and entertainment are all available in the park. Free.
- Calgary Spoken Word Festival. (April, 2 weeks) Canada's largest spoken word festival takes place in bars, pubs, bookshops, and an intimate theatre setting. Poetry slams, workshops, and the Golden Beret Award.
- Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, Stampede Park, e-mail: email@example.com. (April, 3 days) Pop culture festival featuring fantasy, sci-fi, horror, gaming, comics, anime, manga, and much more.
- Funny Fest (Various locations around Calgary), ☎ +1 403-228-7888, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Late May, early June; 11 days) A festival of comedy in halls, clubs, pubs, and bars across Calgary. Free to $25.
- Calgary International Children's Festival, Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts, Olympic Plaza, ☎ +1 403-294-7414. (May, 4 days) Performing and visual arts festival for children, with many free activities at Olympic Plaza. Paid performances of music, dance, and more take place in the nearby Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts.
- Carifest, Shaw Millennium Park, ☎ +1 403-774-1300, e-mail: email@example.com. (June, 1 day) Calgary's annual festival celebrating the city's large West Indian population starts with a parade downtown to Shaw Millennium Park for the day's festivities. Free.
- Sled Island Festival, ☎ +1 403-229-2901, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (June, 4 days) Independent music and visual arts are the focus of this festival, which takes place at over 30 venues.
- Shakespeare in the Park, Prince's Island Park. (July, early August, 4 weeks) Shakespeare presented in an outdoor setting, an annual co-production of Mount Royal University and Theatre Calgary. Donations welcomed.
- Calgary Folk Music Festival (Prince's Island Park), ☎ +1 403-233-0904, e-mail: email@example.com. (July, 4 days) An extremely broad definition of "folk music" is used for this well-established festival. In addition to seven different stages with dozens of international performers, there is an area with performances & activities for kids, a market, food, and lots more.
- Historic Calgary Week (Various locations in and around Calgary), ☎ +1 403-261-4667. (Late July & early August, 10 days) Learn about local history through talks, behind the scenes tours, and walks. Free, donations welcomed.
- Calgary International Bluesfest. (late July & early August, 4 days) Calgary's got the blues! Many performers at a variety of venues.
- Calgary Fringe Festival, ☎ +1 403-451-9726, e-mail: Info@calgaryfringe.ca. (August, 10 days) Calgary's festival of uncensored & unjuried theatre takes place at a variety of venues, both conventional and unexpected.
Places to Visit
- Calaway Park, 245033 Range Road 33, T3Z 2E9 (Highway 1 (Trans-Canada) exit 169, just west of Calgary's city limits), ☎ +1 403-240-3822, fax: +1 403-242-3885. 10am-7pm, daily (summer), weekends only (spring/fall). Western Canada's largest amusement park. $36/person.
- Harvie Passage, On Bow River downstream of Calgary Zoo. Temporarily closed since June 2013. The area around Calgary Bow River Weir, which killed many boaters, was remade into a Class II and III white water park for paddlers. Harvie Passage is meant only for experienced canoe and kayak paddlers; all others should portage around it.  The multi-year Harvie Passage project opened in Summer 2012, but the Harvie Passage section closed for the 2013 season due to damage from the June flooding on the Bow River. As of 2013, the extent of work and time needed to repair the Harvie Passage are unknown.
- Calgary Flames Hockey Club. Ice hockey. Yearly, October to June. Calgary's NHL team is a consistent playoff contender in recent years, and tickets may be hard to come by. Expect a great atmosphere and game if you're lucky enough to get tickets. $40-$200.
- Calgary Stampeders Football Club. June to November. Calgary's local Canadian Football League team. CFL plays 3 down football with only 20 seconds between plays, so watching a CFL game is quite different to watching an NFL game.
- Calgary Hitmen. Ice hockey. Yearly, September to May. Calgary's Junior Hockey team play in the Western Hockey League and at the Saddledome when the Flames are not in town. Junior Hockey serves as a feeder league for the NHL. Usually as fun as the Flames, but cheaper!! $15-40.
- Calgary Roughnecks. January-May.. Box lacrosse. Calgary's National Lacrosse League team were Champions Cup winners in 2004 and 2009. The sport is fast, rough and tough with loud music throughout. A great experience. $15-60.
- Calgary International Salsa Congress. Latin dance. Yearly, beginning of February. Weekend of all night salsa parties and Latin dance performances featuring both world-class and local talent. Includes qualifiers for the World Latin Dance Cup.
- University of Calgary Dinos. Varsity athletics. Ice hockey (men's & women's teams), field hockey (women), Canadian football (men), basketball (men & women), rugby (women), soccer (men's & women's), swimming, track & field/x-country, volleyball (men & women), wrestling.
- Mount Royal University Cougars. Varsity athletics. Ice hockey (men's & women's teams), basketball (men & women), soccer (men & women), volleyball (men & women).
- SAIT Trojans. Varsity athletics. Ice hockey (men's & women's teams), basketball (men & women), soccer (men & women), volleyball (men & women).
Calgary has developed a fairly vibrant theatre scene including both professional and amateur theatre. The two daily newspapers provide some theatre coverage, but the best coverage and listings are found in free weekly Fast Forward magazine .
- EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts, 205 8th Avenue SE (adjacent to Olympic Plaza), ☎ +1 403-294-7455. EPCOR Centre hosts the three best-known professional theatre groups; the conservative Theatre Calgary, the more adventurous Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP) , and the downright avant-garde One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre (OYR) . The facility has two additional theatres, so other companies often produce shows here. Of special note are two festivals held by the resident companies; OYR's High Performance Rodeo runs for January and provides a wildly eclectic mix of performing arts (and performance art) while ATP's PlayRites runs from February into early March and focuses on new works. $10–60.
- Vertigo Theatre, 161, 115 - 9 Avenue SE (at the base of the Calgary Tower), ☎ +1 403-221-3708. is dedicated to producing mystery plays, ranging from musicals to straight-up whodunnits. A second studio theatre frequently hosts other companies.
- Theatre Junction, 608 1st St SW, ☎ +1 403-205 2922. Offers a slate of highly contemporary theatre and performing arts, and the venue also hosts music. $20-30.
- Pumphouse Theatre, 2140 Pumphouse Avenue SW, ☎ +1 403-263-0079. Two theatres contained inside a historic brick waterworks building play host to a large part of Calgary's semi-pro and community theatre scene, with new productions here every week. $10-25.
- Loose Moose Theatre, 1235 - 26th Ave. S.E. (in the Crossroads Farmer's Market), ☎ +1 403-265-5682. One of the originators of, and international leaders in, short-form improvisation and Theatresports (think Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Loose Moose does improv weekly, as well as the occasional original children's show or comedy. $8-12.
- Lunchbox Theatre, 160, 115 9th Ave SW (in the Calgary Tower), ☎ +1 403-265-4292. Shows at 12:10PM M-Sa and 6:10PM on F. This unique theatre company produces exclusively one-act plays, during the weekday noon lunch hour. Typically lighter fare suitable for a downtown corporate crowd. $18.
- Stage West Dinner Theatre, 727 42 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-243-6642. Offers unchallenging, tried-and-true shows, along with a generic buffet dinner. $60-100.
- Jubilations Dinner Theatre, 1002 37 ST SW (next to Westbrook Mall), ☎ +1 403-249-7799. Similar to Stage West, with more of a focus on parodies of popular television shows. $55-65.
- The Comedy Cave.
- Yuk Yuks.
- Aussie Rules. Foodhouse & Bar with duelling pianos.
- Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
- Calgary Opera.
- Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
- Big Rock Brewery, ☎ +1 403-720-3239, toll-free: +1-800-242-3107. Tours 1:30pm Tue-Th, prebook by 'phone.
Calgary offers a wide variety of dining options. While Calgary doesn't have a single signature dish, residents are very proud of Alberta Beef, and Calgarians are discerning clients of steakhouses. Speaking of beef, the popular Chinese-Canadian dish of ginger beef was invented in Calgary in the 1970s. Calgary is also home to a very culturally diverse population, with a very wide selection of international restaurants, especially from East and Southeast Asia, and the Mediterranean from Italy through Lebanon. Calgary is, however, generally lacking in decent Mexican food (see exceptions below), and the inland location means that a good meal of seafood is sometimes hard to find.
Restaurants in the downtown area are very busy between noon and 1 PM on weekdays due to the lunch crowd of office workers; if you can, try to stagger your lunch to start around 11:15 or 1:30. You'll face much shorter lineups. Buffets are often only prepared once for lunchtime, and visiting a buffet after 12:15 or so will typically be a depressing dining experience.
Calgary is also the city of founding for major Canadian restaurant chain, Moxies.
Calgary's most abundant ethnic specialty is Vietnamese. Most neighbourhoods have at least one Vietnamese noodle shop or Vietnamese sub (banh mi) joint. Some of the other inexpensive options are as follows:
- Chianti, 1438 17th Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-229-1600. Italian restaurant chain with four locations in Calgary. Appetizers, soup, salad, pasta, seafood, veal, chicken. Lunch menu and takeout available. $10+ ($9 pasta all day Sun-Tue).
- Chicken On The Way, 1443 Kensington Road NW, ☎ +1 403-283-5545. One of the longest-running fast food institutions in Calgary (opened 1958), Chicken On The Way delivers wonderful deep-fried chicken, french fries and corn fritters, at a fair price. This is an old-school joint; no frills, nothing fancy, and none of that new-fangled low-fat junk. The dining space is two picnic tables next to busy 14th St. But it's still hands-down the best fried chicken in the city. A meal runs in the $4 - 6 range.
- Falafel King, 803 1 St SW, ☎ +1 403-269-5464. Middle Eastern food, falafel, chicken and beef shawarma, and the best hummus in the city. Free piece of baklava with every order, fresh-squeezed juice on tap. $6–7.
- Louie's Sub & Pizza,, 1941 Uxbridge Dr. NW, ☎ +1 403-289-8070. Best subs, excellent gourmet pizza selection, chicken souvlaki, salads and Tina's Famous Homemade Baklava. Delivery available. $4-8/meal.
- Peter's Drive-in, 219 16 Ave NE, ☎ +1 403-277-2747. Classic drive-through burger joint. Great fries, burgers and milkshakes at very affordable prices, and higher quality (and large portions -- watch out for the "large" = shoebox of fries). Park in the adjacent lot and walk up to the front windows; you'll get faster service than in the drive-through and you can eat on one of the picnic tables. The finest milkshake in the city; thick and made with real fruit (over 20 flavours!). $8/meal (burger, shake, onion rings), cash only.
- Pho Pasteur Saigon, 207 1st St SE, ☎ +1 403-233-0477. Pho Pasteur Saigon is a favourite Vietnamese noodle joint. Filling and tasty and all for around $6. If they're busy, try Little Vietnamese Village, at the south entrance to the mall (half a block south), or Pho Hoai, located inside the mall.
- Spolumbo's, 1308 9 Ave SE, +1 403 264-6452. Owned by former Calgary Stampeders players, Spolumbo's offers delicious Italian style deli foods; sandwiches, soups and salads. An in-house sausage plant makes some of Calgary's finest sausage. Try the Spolumbo's Special, a panini sandwich featuring mortadella, capicolla and genoa salami. Fresh and delicious, but a little pricey; $7–8 for a typical sandwich.
- Super Donair Kabab Restaurant, 1018 9 Ave SE, +1 403 262-2930. This is a restaurant even Calgarians don't really know about; located in a grimy hole-in-the-wall next to a bottle depot in an out-of-the-way part of Inglewood, billed as "a touch of excellence for classy people" (the excellence part is true) and decorated with a kitschy style all its own. Kim, the charismatic owner/cook, makes some of the finest Donairs in the city, with wonderful beef and magnificent sauce; a donair and drink can be had for just $5.
- Tubby Dog, 1022 17th Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-244-0694. Tubby Dog is a hot dog restaurant right on 17th, close to many of the bars. They offer huge hotdogs with toppings like nacho cheese, bacon bits, peanut butter and jelly, captain crunch, fried eggs, sausage and potato chips. Some nights they have a DJ spinning in the corner, and other nights they have video game tournaments. Expect to wait in line if planning on going on a Friday or Saturday after partying on 17th.
- Wicked Wedge, 618 17th Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-228-1024. The Wedge offers pizza-by-the-slice, but a cut above all other such joints. Innovative pizzas, lots of toppings and hand made crusts have made the Wicked Wedge a local landmark. Located on 17th Avenue, they draw a heavy after-bar crowd, and are busiest at 2AM on a Friday night! One of the best places to go for late-night food. $3.50 a slice.
- Rocky’s Burger Bus, 1120 46th Ave. SE, ☎ +1 403-243-0405, fax: +1 403-253-8120. Monday-Friday, 10am-3pm. An old transit bus parked in the middle of an industrial area in SE Calgary. They proudly serve AAA Alberta beef to huge lineups on any given day, +20 or -20 come lunch time. Burgers. Fries. Onion rings. Poutine. Smokies and hot dogs. Bacon on a bun. Milkshakes. Pop.
One of the best burgers in town made from fresh, hand formed 1/3 pound 100% Alberta beef $5-7.
- Banzai Sushi & Teriyaki House, 526A - 4th Ave. SW, ☎ +1 403-262-9060, fax: +1 403-262-9060. Competently-executed, low-priced Japanese food in an efficient cafeteria-like setting. A good choice for a fast, cheap, satisfying lunch. Branches in Southland and Downtown. $7-9.
- Boogies Burgers, A-908 Edmonton Trail NE, ☎ +1 403-230-7070. large burgers on a fresh sesame bun served in many one of a kind creations. Shakes made with real ice cream & milk, Regular, spicy & yam fries. $5.
- Purple Perk Coffee Market, 2212 4 Street Southwest, ☎ +1 403-244-1300. Good place for coffee and cake or a meal
- Belmont Diner, 2008 33 ave SW, ☎ +1 403-242-6782. A traditinal style diner serving breakfast until 3PM and lunch after about noon. On weekends be sure to get there early as the line can be half a block long because of its popularity and smaller size inside. Breakfast can be a run you up to $10 but well worth it (generous portions and all made as you order).
- Lolita's Lounge (Salt & Pepper Mexican Restaurant), 1413 - 9th Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-265-5739. Mexican food, drink and various shows as entertainment. $16-$23.
- Nick's Steakhouse, 2430 Crowchild Trail NW, ☎ +1 403-282-9278. Alberta steaks, tasty pizzas. Near McMahon Stadium. $15-20.
- Marathon Ethiopian Restaurant, 130 10 St NW, ☎ +1 403-283-6796. Calgary's oldest and finest Ethiopian restaurant, lunch buffet on weekdays, vegetarian options. Often slow service but the tasty and filling food makes up for it. $12-15/person.
- Orchid Room, 513 - 8 Ave SW (Bankers Hall Business), ☎ +1 403-263-4457. A fusion of Vietnamese, Thai and French cuisine with dishes like seafood phó soup, caramelized salmon, coconut prawn soup and salad rolls stuffed with mango and shrimp.
- The Coup, 924b 17th Avenue SW (Door off a railed-in sidewalk area.), ☎ +1-403-541-1041, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mon closed; Tue - Fri: 11:30AM - 3PM, 5PM - 'close'; Sat, Sun: 9AM - 3PM, 5PM - 'close'. This all-vegetarian restaurant serves a variety of interesting flavours from largely organic and local ingredients. You may have to wait for a few minutes to get a seat in the cozy 32-seat dining room, since they take no reservations and seat at most six per table, but ask for a drink from the full bar (liquor and coffee) as you wait. Try the yam fries, for instance as a side to the El Taco grilled tortilla wrap with shredded beets, or the War and Peas soba noodle salad. Plenty of vegan options. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. dinner entrée $9-13 plus drinks and tax.
- La Brezza Ristorante, 990 1 Ave NE, ☎ +1 403-262-6230. Italian restaurant in Bridgeland.
- Laurier Lounge, 1111 - 7 Street SW, ☎ +1-403-228-3772. French influenced, located in historic Stanley house. Dishes range from Poutine ($10) and Filet Mignon Hambourgeois ($15) up to a Beef fondue for 2 ($65 - 30 day aged beef, simmering beef & onion broth, baked potato, raw vegetables, mixed green salad & a trio of dipping sauces)
- Moti Mahal, 1805 14 Street Southwest, ☎ +1 403-228-9990. Excellent Indian restaurant
- Brava Bistro, 723 17 Avenue SW, ☎ +1 403-228-1854. Brava is a well-known and popular spot for those looking for an excellent and varied menu. Varied menu with excellent wine matching and interesting selections. $20-30 per entree.
- CharCUT, 101-899 Centre St SW, ☎ +1 403-984-2180. An great place for lunch or dinner if you're looking for meat. The slow roasted prime rib and chicken are their specialties, as well as the made-in-house cured meats. The wine list is varied and there is a selection of microbrews from across Canada. Mains $20-35.
- Japanese Village, 317 10 Avenue SW, ☎ +1 403-262-2738. A teppan and Steak house, Japanese Village leads the city's Japanese cuisine. They offer meals cooked in front of your eyes and food that is to die for!
- La Chaumière, 139 17th Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-228-5690. French haute cuisine, local Alberta meats, game, and produce, excellent wine cellar, banquet rooms for 14-100 people, patio in summer, business casual dress code, reservations required. $26-$60/person.
- River Café, 200 Barclay Parade SW, ☎ +1 403-261-7670. Located in the middle of Prince's Island Park, on the lagoon where the Bow River passes though downtown, thus has no parking. Nearest parking lot is not far, but this can cause problems with harsh weather or disabled diners.
- Saltlik Steakhouse, 101 8th Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-537-1160. A high-end steakhouse in the core of downtown, extremely popular with the oilmen working in the core for good reason. Food and service are generally excellent with a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Steak is, as expected, quite good. More extravagant steak houses exist, but tend to exist for the expense account crowd. $15-35.
- The Belvedere, 107 8th Ave. SW, ☎ +1 403-265-9595. The only restaurant to win the coveted Birks Silver Spoon Award for 2 consecutive years. Flawless service and atmosphere. Well-stocked bar and lounge with a nice selection of Cuban cigars.
Calgary is the original home of the Caesar, and has many bars located throughout the city, although the core is where the trendiest clubs are located. There is also the ever popular 17th Avenue SW, home to the Red Mile.
- Cat'n'Fiddle, 540 16th Avenue NW, ☎ +1 403-289-0414. Great place to head for a pint of almost any brew you can think of, sometimes with a touch of Irish
- Ship and Anchor Pub, 534 17th Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-245-3333. An excellent place for live music, a lively young crowd, and cheap eats.
- Melrose Cafe and Bar, 730 17th Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-228-3566. A place to sit in the sun on the patio and people watch. Named as the heart of Calgary's "Red Mile" during the 2004 NHL playoffs.
- The Back Alley, ☎ +1 403-287-2500. 4630 Macleod Trail South, Upbeat nightclub featuring rock and hip-hop music, must do for a partier. It has been nicknamed "the crackalley", simply, "the crack" by locals for its somewhat harder-edge crowd and atmosphere. Exercise caution, and when possible, go with a group.
- HiFi Club, 219 10th Ave SW, ☎ +1 403-263-5222. Live music venue, dance club and art gallery for those who aren't cowboys/cowgirls and want some different, alternative music.
- Whiskey Nightclub, 341, 10th Ave SW. Larger Nightclub, Thursdays - Saturday. Generally older crowds. 25 and up on Saturdays
- The Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club, 109 7th Ave SW. Upstairs is a BBQ restaurant featuring various meats smoked over apple and cherry wood along with an expansive selection of bourbon, tequila and whisky. Fridays feature live rock-a-billy from 5-9PM while the downstairs bar features live music every Friday and Saturday evening.
- Rose & Crown Pub, 1503 4 Street SW, ☎ +1 403-244-7757. Two level pub with a large wood fireplace during the winter. Live music, large beer selection. Once a funeral home, it is rumoured to be haunted.
- The Twisted Element (Twisted), 1006 - 11th Avenue SW, ☎ +1 403-802-0230. Wed 8PM - close, Thurs-Sat 9PM til close, Sun 7PM - close, Mon-Tues Closed. Calgary's only gay nightclub (although there is a leather bar with a heavy gay presence), Twisted has an incredible variety of clientèle. Mostly gay and bisexual men and boys and a variety of lesbian, bisexual and straight girls. Wednesdays and Thursdays feature amateur strip contests along a number of themes and good drink specials.
- Morgan's, 1324 17th Ave SW. An industry favourite. A great live music pub with cheaper drinks than most places on 17th Ave. Tuesdays host the must-see Broken Toyz an exceptionally talented Glam-Rock band who have become local legends. Get there before 9 to avoid long line-ups. Often has a slightly older crowd than other establishments on 17th Ave, with more late 30s and 40s drinkers.
Calgary features other bars and clubs such as Tequila Nightclub, Mansion, Ceili's Irish Pub, Ranchman's and much more.
- Moose McGuire's, 25-1941 Uxbridge Drive NW (Off university drive, near McMahon Stadium and the UofC Campus), ☎ +1 403-289-9184. Mon-Thurs: 11:30AM-1AM Fri: 11:30AM-2AM Sat.: 12PM–2AM Sun: 12PM-1AM. Pub near McMahon Stadium (home of the Calgary Stampeders, the local CFL team) and the University Campus. As a result the prices are great and it's an excellent place to enjoy a game or head to after class.
- Inglewood, centred of Atlantic Avenue (9 Ave SE) east of the Elbow (river), this quirky neighborhood is almost devoid of chain businesses (save maybe a Starbucks), leaving a sea of unique businesses. The highlights are the coffee shops, art galleries, trendy clothiers, and upscale furniture shops. This is arguably Calgary's best urban shopping area.
- Stephen Avenue is in the heart of the Central Business Area of the Downtown and as a number is 8 Av SW. It is home mostly to restaurants and some bars, but you will still find shops like HMV fronting it. The Avenue is also home to most of the Downtown malls which are all coming together in one giant renovation into the Core which should be completed in the near-future.
- 17 Avenue SW is Calgary's most well known urban business street and is home to chains like the Source and Le Chateau, and more independent-focused businesses like Megatunes. If you literally drop from all the shopping, the heart of the strip is this little park called Tompkins Park, filled with nice shading from summer heat and cozy benches.
- Kensington District, centred on 10 Street NW and Kensington Road NW is home to art galleries, fashion retailers, and antiques. It is somewhat more upscale than say Stephen or Atlantic, but not in a snobby way.
- Chinook Centre. Is on Macleod Trail at 58th Avenue south close to the Chinook C-Train station. This is Calgary's largest mall and is one of the best shopping experiences in the city for variety and amount of retail shops. An extension opened in 2010.
- Market Mall. Is in the northwest near The University of Calgary.
- Southcentre Mall. At Macleod Trail and Anderson Road, a five minute walk from the Anderson C-Train LRT station.
- Deerfoot Meadows. Take Deerfoot Trail southbound to the Southland Drive exit or northbound to the Heritage Drive exit. Big box stores include Ikea, Best Buy, Michael's, Real Canadian Superstore and Future Shop.
- Deerfoot Outlet Mall. At Deerfoot Trail and 64 Ave NE. Anchor tenants include Sears, Wal-Mart, Winners, Sport Chek and Kacz Kids.
- CrossIron Mills, 261055 CrossIron Blvd, Rocky View, AB (About 10 minutes north of the city on Highway 2 (Deerfoot Trail)), ☎ +1 403-984-6800. This large shopping centre is in the neighbouring hamlet of Balzac. Similar in format to other "Mills" malls, it opened in 2009 with many well-known stores and outlets as the first new enclosed mall to be built in the Calgary area in a generation. Plan on driving; it's the only way to get there.
- Eau Claire Market, 200 Barclay Parade (corner of 2nd St and 2nd Ave SW), ☎ +1 403-264-6450. M-W, Sa 10AM - 6PM, Th-F 10AM - 8PM, Su 11AM - 5PM. A unique market-style mall with interesting shops, restaurants and cinemas. The market is in a state of renewal and lacks many of the attractions it once had.
- Calgary Farmers' Market, 510 77th Avenue SE (Just off of Blackfoot Trail and Heritage Drive S.E), ☎ +1 403-240-9113, e-mail: email@example.com. Thur-Sun 9AM - 5PM. Market with 75 vendors providing a variety of products such as fresh local meat and produce, art, organic goods and jewelry. There is also a large food court with two outdoor patios. The market includes special events like storytelling, demonstrations, dance shows and live music.
- Crossroads Flea Market, 1235 26th Ave SE (Blackfoot Trail and Ogden Rd), ☎ +1 403-291-5208. Indoor Market: F-Su 9AM-5PM, Outdoor Market: F-Su 8AM-5PM (summer). Less than 5 minutes from downtown with ample free parking, Crossroads Markets is located in an eclectic 100,000 square foot historical building. Crossroads Market is home to a flea market, antique market, indoor farmer`s market, international food fair and a seasonal outdoor farmer's market.
- The Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers' Market runs Wednesday evenings at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Centre, 1320-5 Avenue NW. The Market runs from June to October, 3:30-8:00 p.m. (Fall hours after Labour Day, 3:30-7:30 p.m.)
- Hillhurst-Sunnyside Flea Market, also hosted at the Hillhurts-Sunnyside Community Centre, runs every Sunday.
- Millarville Farmers' Market, Millarville Race Track (20 minutes South of Calgary), Millarville, ☎ +1 403-931-2404. 'Summer Market' Saturdays, June-Oct 8:30am-noon. 'Christmas at Millarville', November. Millarville is the largest market in Southern Alberta! Experience a potpourri of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, home-baked pies, cut and potted flowers, crafts and original jewelry and artwork. Take some time to enjoy free entertainment, grab a mid-morning breakfast or browse the craft stands and chat with the artists. Note, however, the very limited operating hours.
- Cochrane Farmers Market, Cochrane Ranche Historic Site Parking Lot (Highway 1A & Highway 22), ☎ +1 403-851-0562. Saturdays 9am-1pm Jun 4-Sep 24.
- Calgary Bearspaw Farmers' Market, 25240 Nagway Rd (Bearspaw Lions Clubhouse), ☎ +1 403-239-0201. Sundays 11am-3pm Jun 5-Sep 30, also open pre-Christmas.
- Strathmore Farmers' Market, Kinsmen Park (near downtown), ☎ +1 403-901-0477. 4-8pm. Indoor 'Spring Market' end-Apr, 'Outdoor Market' Fridays mid-June to mid-Sep, indoor 'Christmas Market' last Saturday in November.
- Alberta Boot Company, 50 50 Ave SE, ☎ +1 403-263-4623. Get the right gear for the Stampede.
- Daily Globe News Shop, 1004 17th Avenue SW, ☎ +1 403-244-2060. International newspapers and magazines.
- Fair's Fair (For Book Lovers) Inc, 1609 – 14th Street SW, ☎ +1 403-245-2778. Second hand book store.
- Mountain Equipment Co-op, 830 10th Avenue SW, ☎ +1 403-269-2420. Good place to get equipment before heading out into the Rockies.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Calgary on Wikivoyage.