25 Best Things to Do in Calgary This October
This month, see paintings of celebs talking on the phone, visit scary haunted houses, use a bat to smash things in a rage room and experience the world of Harry Potter in nearby Okotoks.
Ace Ventura is one of the pop culture figures featured in Heather Buchanan's pop-up art gallery this month.
Photograph by Heather Buchanan
Halloween may be the big event of October, but that's not all there is to do in Calgary this month. There are new art exhibits, literary events at Wordfest and, of course, Halloween activities ranging from pumpkin festivals to spooky haunted houses.
Here are our 25 suggestions for a fun October.
Hold the phone — local artist Heather Buchanan is launching a pop-up art gallery this month and it's calling to us. The show, named Calling..., features watercolour paintings of pop culture icons on the phone. More than 70 fictional people are featured in the paintings, including Ace Ventura, Fox Mulder from The X-Filles, Liz Lemon from 30 Rock and more. The pop-up art gallery will be on display at The Uncommons in Inglewood from September 29 October 26. The opening reception is set for September 29 from 6 to 9 p.m. and there will be candy and beer from High Line Brewing.
1325 9 Ave. S.E., 587-353-9337, theuncommons.ca
An ooey, gooey grilled cheese sandwich is one of the best casual meals around, and this month, you can get your fill of them during the 1st Annual Great Grilled Cheese Cook Off. On October 1 from noon to 3 p.m., you can fill your belly with many as 10 gourmet grilled cheese sandwich samples made by local amateur and professional chefs. Then you and a panel of judges will decide the winners. This event isn't just about eating grilled cheese sandwiches though — there will also be raffle tickets and a silent auction to support local chairty Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids.
Jerome's Appliance Gallery, 7152 Fisher St. S.E., eventbrite.com
The Aspen Crossing Railway takes a spooky turn leading up to Halloween. Throughout the month of October, the train is transformed into the Train of Terror, which takes guests on a scary hour and a half ride with a Halloween party set up at the end. The Train of Terror runs on Fridays and Saturday from October 6 to 28, as well as on October 29 to 31. Departure times are 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Highway 24, Mossleigh, trainofterror.com
Check out five new art exhibits — including one featuring a 220-foot tapestry — at the Glenbow Museum
On October 7, five new exhibitions will be arriving at the Glenbow Museum. Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries features work by Group of Seven member Lawren Harris, while Jennifer Wanner's Second Nature uses collages and stop-motion animation to create images of new hybrid plants. The Black Gold Tapestry by Sandra Sawatzky is sure to be eye-catching as well — the exhibit features a 220-foot long tapestry that Sawatzky spent nine years embroidering by hand. The images on the tapestry depict the impact of oil and natural gas. Click here for more information on all five new exhibitions.
Glenbow Museum, 130 9 Ave. S.E., glenbow.org
Thanksgiving falls on Monday, October 9 this year, and you may already be thinking about how you're going to celebrate. If you're cooking for a group or family, maybe you want to bring in some local takeout to make the meal a little easier. Or perhaps you want to avoid the hassle of a huge meal all together by going out to a local restaurant. In Calgary, you can do either. Click here for a list of Calgary restaurants that will be serving Thanksgiving dinner or offering takeout on the big day.
If you're feeling angry about something, don't keep it bottled up inside. Instead, head to Calgary's first Rage Room, which opened in September inside of Thundrdome Amusements. After donning protective gear that covers your whole body and face, you step into an isolation chamber and spend the next 45 minutes smashing items like plates and printers using things like a bat or crowbar. You can bring in your own box of smashable objects for $20, or sign up for one of the Rage Room's four packages, which come with varying amounts of smashable objects and range in price from $35 to $100.
Thundrdome Amusements, 7005 6 St. S.E., 403-258-0060, thundrdome.com
With Halloween just around the corner, the almighty pumpkin gets its moment in the spotlight during October. The Blue Grass Nursery, Sod & Garden Centre, near CrossIron Mills Mall, has been hosting its annual pumpkin festival for more than a decade. This year's festival will take place on October 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and has free activities such as pumpkin bowling, pumpkin carving, a straw maze, huge pumpkins you can check out, face painting, hay rides and more. There will also be food trucks on-site. Stick around until 3 p.m. to watch a more than 500 pound pumpkin be dropped on top of a car using a giant crane. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation.
Blue Grass Nursery, Sod & Garden Centre, 260130B Writing Creek Cres., bluegrassnursery.com
Bookworms, writers and lovers of literature will feel right at home during Calgary's 22nd Wordfest, a literary festival that runs from October 9 to 15. More than 80 authors will be taking part in this year's festival, including Heather O'Neill, Lorna Crozier, Michael Harris, Dennis Lee and more. There will be more than 70 literary events at this year's festival, including a poetry cabaret, workshops on topics like stand-up comedy and poetry, a literary trivia night and Between the Pages, which will bring this year's five Scotiabank Giller Prize finalists together for a night at Studio Bell.
Locations vary, wordfest.com
Local fashion and lifestyle organization PARK is helping families up their style game. They've partnered up with [pre]shrunk, a local online family consignment shop, and Southcentre Mall to launch PARK Family this month. The event runs from October 13 to 15 at Southcentre Mall, and will connect stylish young families with local and designer fashions. There will be a pop-up shop featuring designer apparel and items from local vendors, a women's and children's fashion show on Saturday and a special edition of Style Academy on Sunday that talks about family fashion challenges. General tickets for the show are $30.
Southcentre Mall, 100 Anderson Rd. S.E., ourparkonline.com/parkfamily
photograph by jared sych
We've been lucky enough to eat some amazing dishes in Calgary this month, and we want you to experience them too. From smoked chicken wings that take 26 hours to make to Korean nachoes topped with an egg, these are eight local dishes that we recommend eating right now.
For some, Halloween is about dressing up in costumes and eating candy. For others, it's about having the scariest, spookiest time possible. You can expect the latter at Screamfest, which bills itself as "Canada's largest and scariest Halloween event." Everything about it, from the haunted houses to the games, is meant to give you a scare. This year's Screamfest has six haunted houses with spooky themes centered around clowns, the Bates Motel or walking with the dead. There will also be a coffin ride, carnival games, spooky escape rooms and, new this year, axe throwing. This Halloween festival runs on Friday and Saturdays from October 13 to October 28, and on October 26 (adults-only night), 29 and 31.
The Grandstand Building, Stampede Park, 20 Roundup Way S.E., screamfest.ca
If you love the fall season, then come celebrate it at Golden Acre Home & Garden's free annual fall festival on October 14. A Golden Acre Autumn runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and has a pancake breakfast, face painting, live music, local vendors, pumpkin bowling and more. This event also marks the opening of Golden Acre's Christmas showroom and tree lot filled with balsam firs from Nova Scotia. Because it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas.
Golden Acre Home & Garden, 620 Goddard Ave. N.E., goldenacre.ca
If you're going to go out for dinner this month, make sure you do it on Wednesday, October 18. That's the day of Restaurants for Change, a national event where more than 75 restaurants in 15 cities will donate some of their dinner service sales from that night to local healthy food programs. Participating restaurants in Calgary include Royale Brasserie, River Café, Deane House, Foreign Concept, Vendome Cafe and more. Click here for a full list of participating restaurants.
Restaurant locations vary, restaurantsforchange.ca
From October 18 to 21 and October 25 to 28, downtown Calgary will be filled with amazing dance and movement performances during the Fluid Movement Arts Festival. Events include a physical therapy cabaret featuring nine artists and the "Prairie Dance Circuit," wherein three renowned dancers/choreographers from Calgary, Edmonton and Regina will showcase a local performer doing a new piece they created. In addition to the performances, there will also be artist talks following several of the shows and workshops. Festival events are at various venues such as the DJD Dance Centre, Theatre Junction Grand and the St. Louis Hotel.
Various locations, springboardperformance.com
Support the local crafts, art and design scene at this bi-annual market. On October 20 and 21, the New Craft Coalition returns to Inglewood's Festival Hall to feature more than 80 vendors over two days. Guets can shop for children's shoes from Nooks Design, ceramics from Aura May, jewellery by Ashleigh Amber Moore Jewelry, woodcuts by Lisa Brawn Woodcuts and more. The market runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Festival Hall, 1215 10 Ave. S.E., newcraftcoalition.com
Discover your inner BMX rider at the new B-Line Indoor Bike Park. Set to open on October 10, the bike park is located in a 60,000-square-foot facility filled with bike ramps, tracks and jumps for all ability levels. The space is decorated with cool, colourful murals by local artist Josh Creighton. The $30 drop-in fee gets you facility access for the entire day, so you can get in lots of practice.
401 33 St. N.e., blinebikepark.com
Winter is coming, which means it's time to stock up on cozy fibre goods (and the things you need to make them) to stay warm. At the annual Fibre Shindig, on October 21, local artisans will be selling items such as hand-dyed yarn, fibre tools, embroidery and handmade accessories like mittens. This year's vendors include Lily and Pine, Two Sticks & Ewe, Polka Dot Creek, Mimitens and more. Admission is $5 for adults.
Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, 1320 5 Ave. N.W., fibreshindig.com
Lunchbox Theatre's newest play, Flight Risk, runs from October 22 to November 11. Written by Meg Braem, the play follows the story of an almost 100-year-old war veteran named Hank who shares his story as a tail gunner during the war with a nurse named Sarah. The most interesting part? The story was actually inspired by the experiences of a real Second World War veteran in Calgary. The play starts at noon from Monday to Saturday, with additional peformances at 6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
160 9 Ave. S.E., 403-265-4292, lunchboxtheatre.com
Foodies will want to make the drive to Banff and Lake Louise this month to check out Taste for Adventure, a food festival that runs from October 25 to November 9. Festival activities include a carnival kick-off night at local pizza and bowling eatery High Rollers, a murder mystery show while eating a three-course meal at Baker Creek Bistro, tours of the local Park Distillery and more. Local restaurants including Block Kitchen + Bar, Juniper Bistro, La Terrazza and Eden are offering special signature menus during the festival.
Various locations, banfflakelouise.com
Imagine having only 48 hours to create a short horror film from start to finish. Could you do it? Local filmmakers will certainly try during Calgary's 48 Hour Horror Film Challenge, which is back for a fifth year this month. You can watch the competition's resulting films at the adults-only Terror Challenge Showcase, which will be screened at the Globe Cinema on October 27. Prizes will be awarded to the top films.
Globe Cinema, 617 8 Ave. S.W., terrorchallenge.ca
photograph by jordan craig
Victoria Park's La Vita é Bella has been revamped into a new 85-seat Italian restaurant called Cardinale. Executive chef Steven Dowdell has created an entirely new menu that features made-in-house pasta, brisket and shortrib meatballs and large plates of heritage pork braciole and seared halibut. Wash it all down with a glass of wine or a cocktail featuring Italian spirits.
401 12 Ave. S.E., 403-264-6046, cardinale.ca
At 10,000-square-feet, Haunted Calgary is one of the biggest (and scariest) Halloween attractions you can experience in the city. The theme of this year's outdoor yard attraction is "Hollywood Horror," and you can expect plenty of scares from the event's "Scream Team." The attraction is open on October 27, 28 and 31. Those who don't like super scary experiences can visit during the "low scare" time between 2 to 4 p.m., while those who want the full scary experience can visit during the "full scare" time between 6 to 10 p.m. Admission is pay-what-you-can, with proceeds going towards Opps-a-Dazy Rescue and Sanctuary Society.
222 Rocky Ridge Bay N.W., hauntedcalgary.com
This month, experience the magical world of Harry Potter in the nearby town of Okotoks, just 30 minutes from Calgary. On October 28, it will be transformed into the Wizard World of Okotoks. During the one-day event, a local street will be turned into Diagon Alley, there will be a craft fair called Hogsmeade and even a quidditch tournament at Ethel Tucker Park. The Wizard World of Okotoks runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Okotoks Arts Council, 53 North Railway Street, Okotoks, facebook.com
Let your curiousity fly at Maker Faire Calgary, which is back for its sixth year on October 28 and 29. This year's event will be held at the Spruce Meadows Equi-Plex and will feature exhibits and makers showing off their work with robotics, 3D prints, electric vehicles, gaming and more. Check out 2017 makers such as the Calgary 3D Printing Club, Little Inventors Canada, fashion technology company MakeFashion and more
Spruce Meadows Equi-Plex, 18011 Spruce Meadows Way S.W., calgary.makerfaire.com
One of Calgary's newest escape rooms, A/Maze is housed inside of the 1911 Calgary Wine & Spirits Co. building in downtown Calgary. Once you've taken in the recently restored heritage space, you can try your hand at its first room, called Cabaret Voltaire. The room's story involves a heist and vandalism plot gone wrong, and now, you and up to five friends are trapped inside a room. Band together to solve clues and escape in less than 60 minutes.
206 11 Ave. S.E., 587-583-5803, amazecalgary.com