As Alberta’s Calgary celebrates two anniversaries this year – 50 years of the Calgary Tower and 30 years since the 1988 Winter Olympic Games – the Canadian city also hails its culinary scene, natural wonders and cultural offerings
TTG hears what a 28-year-old woman and 61-year-old couple plan to see and do during their upcoming visits.
I’ve just booked my flights from Heathrow to Calgary with Air Canada and I can’t wait to get my trip started. The city seems so Instagram-ready, with its funky architecture and sleek skyscrapers.
On my first night I think I’ll make a beeline for Trolley 5 to introduce myself to Calgary’s craft beer scene. After all, I’ve heard Alberta grows some of the best barley in the world. Plus, the brewery offers fab views of 17th Avenue from its top floor and serves hearty pizzas. Just what I’ll need to combat the inevitable jet lag! And once I’ve adjusted to Canadian time I’m definitely going to hit the dance floor in one of the city’s buzzy bars, though I’ll have to check with the locals to find out which ones are the best.
Word on the street is that Calgary hosts over 150 events each year, so I’m planning to catch one when I’m there; maybe in Eau Claire, the festival district. I’ll have to return in summer for The Calgary Stampede rodeo and Sled Island Music Festival, but I might just catch ZooLights at Calgary zoo this time – with skating, craft workshops and the opportunity to sip hot cocoa by the fire, what’s not to love? The event even supports wildlife conservation, and I’ll get to see my favourite animal: the giant panda.
During my time in Calgary, I’m certainly going to make the three-hour drive to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park to flex my adventure-seeking muscles. I want to hike the 2.7-mile Hoodoo Trail to see the indigenous peoples’ paintings and carvings in the rock, and imagine how the Blackfoot tribe (which has inhabited the valley for 9,000 years) used to travel there to honour spirits and perform ceremonies.
I’ve also heard that Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park is a site for explorers like me. I’m thinking of booking a tipi camp under the stars or arranging a sit-down session with an Elder to discover the “cowboys and Indians” story. Then, I’m considering doing a day trip into the Rocky Mountains to check out Banff and Lake Louise – if I’m lucky I might even be able to join a dog-sledding tour. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Our stomachs are already rumbling at the thought of Calgary’s food scene. Just think of all the dim sum we’re going to eat in Chinatown – yum! We hear the bakeries sell excellent pastries too, so we might have to sample a rather large selection to make sure they live up to their reputation. There are supposedly some Calgary food tours going on too, so we’ll try to hop on one of those to meet the city’s artisans and learn about their farm-to-table cuisine.
One attraction firmly on our radar is Studio Bell, home of the National Music Center. We’re looking forward to hearing more about the history of Canadian music here through its interactive exhibits and memorabilia. Calgary also has superb art galleries, so we’re planning to pop into Contemporary Calgary and Gainsborough Galleries. If the weather behaves itself, we’ll explore the street art in Downtown Calgary as well.
The trip won’t be complete without venturing out to Calgary’s breathtaking surroundings, especially when there are two Unesco World Heritage Sites to see. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump has the most comical name, but it’s home to the remains of marked trails, an aboriginal camp, and a tumulus; where buffalo skeletons can still be found from ancient aboriginal hunting practises. It’s going to give us a fascinating look into early Canadian cultures.
As keen fossil hunters, we can’t wait to unearth the treasures of the second Unesco World Heritage Site, Dinosaur Provincial Park. It hosts some of the most significant fossils in history, with some dating back 77 million years. With that many fossils to discover, we’ll be lucky if we catch our flight home!