Snuggle into Calgary
Where a huge expanse of northern sky and endless plain meets a modern, outward-looking Canadian city. The Rockies dominate the view... meaning excellent winter sports and high-altitude après-ski, Canadian style.
If your dream day involves perusing the glass-walled corridors of a modern mega-mall then Calgary is the stuff of your fantasies. It has three giant shopping centres: the Core in Downtown (8th Avenue SW), the gigantic Chinook Centre (6455 Macleod Trail SW) and the all-new and architecturally extravagant CrossIron Mills (261055 Crossiron Boulevard). Visitors keen to escape Calgary’s mainstream retail culture should make like the locals and head to the Marda Loop, a buzzing little neighbourhood packed with artisan stores and boutique fashion outlets. Crossroads Market (1235 26th Avenue SE) is the best place to pick up fresh and local produce, while 17th Avenue SW has a concentration of vintage stores – check out Kit Apparel at 926 and Divine at 720.
Food & Drink
Behind the standard veneer of fast food joints and burger bars, Calgary hides a growing commitment to fabulous food. The past few years have seen an explosion in restaurants that cater for the mid-range budget yet deliver dishes usually associated with much costlier prices. Model Milk (308 17th Avenue SW), with its shabby chic industrial décor and tantalising contemporary menu is one of the best, but French-style neighbourhood bistros such as Cassis (2505 17th Avenue SW) are the locals’ hangouts of the moment. For something truly special, however, you have to head to Teatro (200 8th Avenue SE) – a Michelin-worthy eatery specialising in local produce prepared with lashings of theatricality.
The annual Calgary comedy festival runs for 11 days and nights in early summer, and attracts the best stand-up comedians from all corners of the globe. Budding comics can also take part in workshops, learn how to write hilarious scenarios and even showcase their work in front of the great and the good from the world of comedy.
This spectacular display of courage and horsemanship has to be seen to be believed. Billed as the ‘greatest outdoor show on Earth’, it’s a nine-day rodeo extravaganza that claims to be the world’s largest western festival.
Calgary Fringe Festival
Many of Canada’s bright young stars first made it big at the Calgary Fringe. The festival lasts for just over a week, and features hundreds of artists playing in venues across the city.
This annual, citywide spectacle is a celebration of science, engineering and art. Installations range from buildings that become musical instruments to build-your-own art bikes.
Calgary International Film Festival
Attracting around 50,000 film enthusiasts and featuring everything from small independent productions to Hollywood blockbusters, this is one of the largest film festivals in Canada. It’s also a good time to scan the streets for starlets.
Alberta’s lively capital is an international business hub and the city’s hotel scene has evolved to match its clientele. Shiny high-rise chains dominate Downtown, but you’ll find boutique accommodation secreted away down leafy side streets if you know where to look. The showy but fabulous Westin Calgary (320 4th Avenue SW) heads up the luxury market, with the Fairmont Palliser (133 9th Avenue SW) hot on its heels. The scenic Kensington Riverside Inn (1126 Memorial Drive NW) is a good option for mid-budget visitors. Travelling on the cheap? You can expect a good standard service at the Ramada Hotel in Downtown (708 8th Avenue SW).