Animal lovers, get excited. Making its home on St. George’s Island in the middle of the city are the 1,400 animals from the Calgary Zoo. This massive zoo isn’t just a chance to see some of your favourite animals, but a chance to walk through their native habitats. Get familiar with Canadian wildlife as you check out the likes of moose's and bears in the ‘Canadian Wilds’ section. Be transported to down under when you visit the Australia enclosure, home to native favourites such as kangaroos and emus. Feel like you’ve walked into Jurassic Park as you enter Prehistoric Park, which showcases some of the dinosaurs that lived in the region. Get up close and personal with nature in the big city at the amazing Calgary Zoo.
Visit Canada Olympic Park
For the rest of the world, the event that put Calgary on the map was the 1988 Winter Olympics held in this friendly city. 20 years after the event, Canada Olympic Park is still used as a high-performance training facility, winter sports venue and a recreational venue for the general public. You know what that means, right? This is one of the best places in the city for an adrenaline rush. During the winter, this is the ultimate place to come to snowboard, ski or bobsled in the middle of the city. In the warmer months, go mountain biking, zip lining or do a high-ropes course instead. If you’re looking for a little bit of outdoor adventure in Calgary, this is definitely the place to go.
Climb the Calgary Tower
Reaching almost 200 metres in height, the Calgary Tower is one of the most iconic structures of the city’s skyline. What was once the tallest building in the city, the tower was originally constructed in 1967 to celebrate Canada's Centennial. In 1988, it also became the home of the Olympic flame during the Winter Olympics in Calgary. Today, it’s one of the best tourist attractions in the city. Climb up this amazing structure for spectacular views of the city below, as well as the Rocky Mountains on the horizon line. It’s the perfect place to snap a selfie.
Shop at Stephen Avenue Walk
Nothing is more North American than a wide boulevard and a pedestrian-only shopping district. In Calgary, that place is Stephen Avenue Walk. Occupying three blocks of downtown's 8th Avenue, the Stephen Avenue Walk is one of the city's most popular shopping districts. If you’re wondering what to do in Calgary, you’ll find the answer here: this avenue is lined with major retailers and beautiful boutiques, amazing restaurants and some of the city’s best nightclubs. Head down to Stephen Avenue Walk for a relaxing lunch and day full of shopping, before returning at night to party until the sun goes up. We’re sure it’s an awesome place to catch the sunrise as you’re leaving the club in the morning.
Make your way to Scotiabank Saddledome
When in Canada, take the chance to get acquainted with the country’s favourite sport: ice hockey. In Calgary, this means making your way to Scotiabank Saddledome to cheer on the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames. Having moved from Atlanta in 1980, the Flames became well-and-truly Canadian when they won the Stanley Cup in 1989. They’ve had the hearts of Calgary locals ever since. If you’re visiting during the winter season, make sure you catch a game at this iconic stadium. If the Flames get the win, make your way down to 17th Avenue SW – also known as “The Red Mile” – where the whole city goes out to celebrate.
Things to do in Calgary
Calgary Folk Music Festival
A celebration of all things folk and country music, the Calgary Folk Music Festival is one of the city’s annual music events. Held in late July each year at Prince’s Island Park, this genre-defying festival hosts acts across the musical spectrum, including blues, roots and indie rock.
Held every year between May and June, the Sled Island Music & Arts Festival is an independent music and arts festival. This five-day festival brings together hundreds of bands, visual artists, filmmakers and comedians who perform in various venues across the city. Get amongst the good vibes at Sled Island.
An event that celebrates spirt of the West, the Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo held in Calgary Canada. This world-renowned 10-day event features bull riding and bareback horse riding competitions, as well as parades, agricultural showcases and night-time parties. If you find yourself in Calgary in early July, be sure to join in on some of this western action.
Calgary Fringe Festival
Theatre & Performance
Happening every August, the Calgary Fringe Festival is celebration of the local performing arts scene. The festival sees amateur and professional actors, comedians and performers put on various performances at theatres and spaces throughout the city. Check out the programming to buy tickets to some of the shows.
Taste of Calgary
Food & Wine
Happening over a weekend in August, the annual Taste of Calgary Festival is a food and wine show showcasing the best of Calgary’s culinary scene. Discover the variety of flavours and dishes available from some of the city’s best restaurants, before washing it all down with a beer or wine.
Top 5 Festivals in Calgary
From bull riding to blues music, there’s always something to celebrate in Calgary. Whether you’re a music or theatre fan, or just like discovering good eats in the city, Calgary festivals have got you covered. Here are our picks for the top five festivals happening in Calgary.
The Military Museum
For fans of modern history, the Military Museum in Calgary is one for you. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990, this interactive museum explores Canada’s contribution to peace-keeping efforts around the world. One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of vintage tanks and carriers.
One of the city’s oldest cultural institutions, the Glenbow Museum is home to 30,000 artworks and artefacts. With a collection that spans pre-colonisation to contemporary times, the Glenbow Museum has a particular focus on the culture of native Canadians, as well as European settlement and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Hangar Flight Museum
Formerly called the Aero Space Museum of Calgary, the Hanger Flight Museum boasts an impressive collection of aerospace history and memorabilia. Telling the story of Canadian fighter jets from World War I and beyond, the museum features vintage planes and full-scale replicas. It also features a section about the Canadian Space Program.
With an aim to spark curiosity and help visitors understand the ‘why’ behind some of science’s greatest questions, the Telus Spark programing covers a range of topics from biology to astronomy. Learn about climate change in Alberta one minute and the constellations the next in this interactive science museum.
Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre
Home of the National Music Centre, this museum features five floors of the musical history of Canada. Check out the homage to some of the country’s most celebrated artists at the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, as well as jamming out at interactive music installations and recording booths.
Top 5 Museums & Galleries in Calgary
From discovering Canada’s involvement in the wars in the 20th century to understanding how climate change is impacting Alberta today, there’s so much to learn when you visit Calgary. One of the best ways to do that is at one of its many amazing museums. Here are five of our favourites:
Southern fried chicken
The ultimate in comfort North American comfort food, you can’t go past southern fried chicken and slaw. Crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, the best place in Calgary to this deep-fried bird is at Cluck N Cleaver. For a healthier option, you can also try their classic rotisserie chicken.
Best eaten at Cluck N Cleaver, 1511 14 St SW
Foie gras poutine
Nothing is more Canadian than a plate of poutine. This iconic dish is made up of fries, gravy and cheese curd, but that’s just where the fun begins. Go beyond the traditional staple and hit up some foie gras poutine from Brasserie Kensington. Seriously rich and indulgent, this dish will have you licking the bowl clean.
Best eaten at Brasserie Kensington, 1131 Kensington Rd NW
Fricassee of calamari
With its many rivers running through the city, you bet that Calgary has a bit of a seafood scene. One of our favourites? Model Milk’s fricassee of calamari. These fine slivers of squid are dressed in guanciale, edamame, paprika and garlic croutons. These are served on small plates, so it’s probably best you order two of them.
Best eaten at Model Milk, 308 17 Ave SW
Given Alberta’s high Ukranian population, pierogi have made a home in Calgary’s culinary scene. These Eastern European dumplings are stuffed with everything from meat and potatoes to cabbage and cheese. One of the best places to pick up pierogi in Calgary is at Red’s Diner.
Best eaten at Red’s Diner, 1415 4 St SW
Ginger beef is Calgary’s contribution to the world of westernized Chinese food. Invented in the 1980s at Silver Inn Restaurant, this deep-fried beef dish helped Canadians close the gap between Western and Chinese Food. This dish sees deep-fried strips of beef tossed together with ginger, slivered onions and a sweet-and-sour sauce.
Best eaten at Silver Inn Restaurant, 2702 Centre Street N
Food in Calgary
Many different ethnic and cultural groups call Calgary home, which is reflected in the diversity of the Calgary food scene. From Ukranian pierogi to foie gras poutine, go on a culinary adventure all around Calgary. Here’s our Calgary guide to the best foods to try in the city.