25 Best Things To Do In May in Calgary

This month, join in a Hawaii-themed fun run, watch a ballet that will make you feel really patriotic and buy a new bike — and maybe some new sneakers — for spring.

The Stephen Avenue Farmers' Market kicks off on May 2.

Photograph courtesy of Charlene Delisle


May in Calgary is the month for bicycles (purchasing them and touring on them), for walking (in new spots in Calgary and through various markets) and for catching the final shows in different arts groups’ 2016/2017 season. 

Here are our 25 suggestions for an entertaining May. 


Visit the first Stephen Avenue Farmers’ Market of 2017

While most of the seasonal, outdoor farmers’ markets won’t be open until the end of May or June, the Stephen Avenue Farmers’ Market kicks off its season on Tuesday, May 2. This is the second year the market is running and it’s grown since last year — the market has expanded to three blocks, it runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. instead of just during the lunch hour, and it will see as many as 60 vendors (almost) every Tuesday until September 5. 

Stephen Avenue, marketonstephenavenue.com  


Drive to Canmore to eat at a lot of restaurants

Canmore Uncorked, an annual food and drink festival in Canmore, returns from May 3 to 14. If you haven’t been before, make a point to head west for at least one meal or special event. And, plan to arrive really, really hungry. There are free tastings at various restaurants, and affordable tastings that range in price from $5 to $10. There are special set lunches and dinners at various price points. And there are special events, too. The must-attend events each year include the musical Bistro Tour, the various progressive dinners and the Big Brunch — all of them require tickets. 


Feel really patriotic and proud while watching a ballet

photograph by paul mcgrath

The Alberta Ballet’s final show of its 2016/2017 season runs May 4 to 6 and it is going to make you proud to be Canadian. The show is called Our Canada and the ballet is choreographed to music by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. There will be 30 world-class dancers and multi-media installations used to highlight different moments in Canadian history. Think of this production as a big celebration — it was created in honour of Canada 150 and of Alberta Ballet’s 50th anniversary. 

Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 1415 14 Ave. N.W., albertaballet50.com 


Shop at a lot of spring markets 

If you’re into arts and crafts and shopping and supporting local vendors, the weekend of May 5 to 7 is going to be busy for you. There are at least three arts and crafts markets running that weekend, including Market Collective, the Alberta Dames Modern Vintage Market in Crossfield and the Springbank Spring Fling Artisan Craft and Art Sale. Try to plan it so you can make it to them all. 


Sing on Broadway, YYC-style

Until May 7, you’re invited to sing classic Broadway songs from hit musicals like West Side Story and My Fair Lady with members of the Cowtown Opera at its current show, NYC Meets YYC. But, Cowtown Opera isn’t just presenting a fun, family-friendly sing-along. In classic Cowtown Opera fashion, there’s a fun narrative to go along with it all. The show follows a young couple that has planned a trip to New York before the birth of their first child. Unexpectedly, they have to travel there on separate flights, resulting all kinds of hilarious encounters, like Jersey mobsters and a heartbroken taxi driver. 

Mamdani Opera Centre, 1315 7 St. S.W., cowtownoperacompany.com 


Have a beer at the new Annex Ale Project

Maybe you’ve already tried the Annex Ale Project root beer at Last Best Brewing and Distilling or with Village Ice Cream’s root beer float. This month you can sample its beers and see its brewery and taproom in Manchester, too. The brewery’s grand opening weekend kicks off on May 4. Samples and pints will be served, snacks can be purchased and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available, like its root beer and Monogram cold brew. You can also get a free tour of the space. 

Annex Ale Project will also be at the Calgary International Beerfest and part of a Jane’s Walk for its opening weekend. 

Annex Ale Project, 4323 1 St. S.E., 403-992-0290, annexales.com


Try different beers from all over the world

If you’re looking to find your new favourite beer, or even just taste something totally new, chances are high you’ll find what you’re looking for at the Calgary International Beerfest. On May 5 and 6, more than 500 beers can be sampled from breweries across Calgary, Alberta, Canada and the world. The festival isn’t just about sampling, either. You can improve your knowledge of beers by attending different seminars and chatting with the various exhibitors. 

BMO Centre, Stampede Park, 403-520-5433, albertabeerfestivals.com


Treat yourself to a grilled cheese sandwich, tater tots and milkshake

If you’ve ever wondered what a piece of blended pie tastes like, you can find out at Grate and Barrel. The restaurant that was once a pop-up in Mission now has a permanent home in Bridgeland. As before, Grate and Barrel specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches that you can order with tasty sides like tater tots or Bugles. But don’t leave without getting a pie milkshake. And yes, it is made by blending a piece of pie with ice cream. 

Grate and Barrel, 627 1 Ave. N.E., 403-452-2966, facebook.com


Get to know Calgary a little better

Jane’s Walk is celebrating its tenth year in Calgary this month. Between May 5 and 7, learn something new about Calgary by joining in one of the many volunteer-led walks. There are new, notable walks held each year but for something totally different, join in the 10 Minute Plays for Jane’s Walk on May 6. As well as a walk through Theatre Junction Grand, this tour include five, 10-minute plays performed at five different locations in the theatre space. 


Join in a Hawaii-themed fun run

If you’re serious about running, you probably know that the Calgary Marathon (and half marathon and 10km and a lot of other distances too) is at the end of this month. But if you’d rather run for the fun of it, register for the St. Patrick’s Island Fun Run on May 6. It’s only a five-kilometre course, it starts at a very reasonable time (read: 11 a.m. instead of 7 a.m.) and as you cross the finish line, a lei will be placed around your neck. And, because it’s a Hawaii-themed race, you’ll also get a pineapple buff as part of your race swag. Stick around after the run for lunch from The Dumpling Hero food truck and a family-friendly yoga class. 

St. Patrick’s Island, runcalgary.com


Choose a secondhand bicycle and start planning your summer cycling adventures

Instead of spending hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars of a brand new bicycle, head to the Alberta Bike Swap on May 6 to choose from hundreds of affordable, secondhand bicycles. Admission to the sale is only $2, and if you’re a seller, it’s only $15 for you to rack your bike here. 

City Centre Parkade, 340 10 Ave. S.W., albertabikeswap.ca 


Then get in the spring biking spirit and visit Bike and Brew

photograph by alana willerton

After you’ve purchased your new (used) bike, use it to bike into Bridgeland and visit the recently opened Bike and Brew. The venue is part bike shop, so you can buy accessories like a bike lock or lights for your new bike here. It’s also part repair shop, so if you bought a bike from the “as is” section of the Alberta Bike Swap, you can get it fixed up here. And, Bike and Brew is part coffee shop too, so treat yourself to a Fratello coffee and Corbeaux Bakehouse treat before you leave. 

Bike and Brew, 921 1 Ave. N.E., 587-356-2739, gobikeandbrew.ca 


See a show that’s part circus production, part theatre and part dance

The Australian group Circa and La Boite presents its newest production, When One Door Closes, at Theatre Junction Grand from May 9 to 13. The show is a little kooky and very acrobatic. Expect a dream-like, impressive performance as Theatre Junction Grand’s final show of its 2016/2017 season. 

Theatre Junction Grand, 608 1 St. S.W., 403-205-2922, theatrejunction.com 


Visit the YWCA and support Calgarians who need help

On May 11, you can see what it’s like to be someone else. That is, if you head to the YWCA Calgary for its annual Keep a Roof Over Their Heads event, you’ll see what it’s like to go through the YW’s services that are accessed by close to 200 women and children every night. This simulation event is also a fundraiser for the YWCA Calgary Downtown and the services it provides. 

YW Calgary Downtown, 320 5 Ave. S.E., 403-263-1550, ywcaofcalgary.com


Find your Mr. Darcy

photograph by danny jones photography

There’s a big ball taking place at the Fairmont Palliser on May 13 and you may want to re-read Pride and Prejudice before you go. The Regency-style ball brings Jane Austen novels to life. Only Regency-style clothes can be worn (think long white gloves and empire-waist dresses), there will be ballroom dancing and card games, and you’re expected to leave your phone at home. You’re travelling back in time to the 1800s, after all. 

Fairmont Palliser Hotel, 133 9 Ave. S.W., eventbrite.ca 


Hear Basia Bulat perform before she appears at the Calgary Folk Music Festival in July

All the artists performing at the 2017 Calgary Folk Music Festival were announced on April 22 and one of the performers is the multi-talented musician Basia Bulat. The folk singer-songwriter is known for playing the autoharp, she’s toured across the world and has been nominated for the Polaris Prize three times. Before she’s here at the end of July, catch her perform in Bragg Creek on May 13. 

Bragg Creek Community Centre, 23 White Ave., 1-888-655-9090, braggcreekperformingarts.com


See a chilling mystery about the murder of three women

Bessie, Alice and Margaret were all in love with the same man. Yet, all three of those women ended up dead. In The Drowning Girls, evidence is collected to show the sequence of events that led to their murders. Catch Vertigo Theatre’s final performance of the 2016/2017 season from May 13 until June 11. 

Vertigo Theatre, 115 9 Ave. S.E., 403-221-3707, vertigotheatre.com


Plan a Mother’s Day outing to the Eau Claire Distillery

Eau Claire Distillery’s special Mother’s Day event on May 14 isn’t just about the cocktails. It’s also about ice cream. In this cocktail and ice cream pairing class, expect to try treats like gin fizz floats and float-tinis and other boozy floats. Try to take notes — you’ll want to re-create these at home. 

Eau Claire Distillery, 113 Sunset Blvd. N.W., 403-933-5408, eauclairedistillery.ca


Or, take mom to brunch

Make reservations ahead of time and treat mom to a mid-morning meal at one of her favourite restaurants. If she loves brunch buffets, plan to take her to Yellow Door Bistro. If she’s the sporty type, take her for brunch at WinSport and spend some time at the facility afterward. If she loves admiring great views while brunching, consider The Lake House, River Café or the Fairmont Banff Springs


Support the Alex Community Food Centre

Attend the Good Food and Wine Festival on May 18 for an evening of food prepared by some of the city’s top chefs and wine pairings with each dish. And, you can eat without guilt because all the proceeds will support the Alex Community Food Centre’s food education programs and their meals. 

Cibo, 1012 17 Ave. S.W., thealexcfc.ca 


Spend the May long weekend visiting your favourite now-open-again attractions 

Heritage Park and Calaway Park both open fully for the summer season over the May long weekend. Head to Heritage Park to experience the old-timey midway. Then, head to Calaway Park to try as many of the 32 rides in the park as you can. 

Heritage Park, 1900 Heritage Dr. S.W., 403-268-8500, heritagepark.ca; Calaway Park, 245033 Range Rd. 33, 403-240-3822, calawaypark.com


Practice that tree pose in a zen, mountain environment

photograph courtesy of banff yoga festival

The second annual Banff Yoga Festival runs May 26 to 28. During the festival, there will be yoga classes offered for every level of yogi out there as well as other activities like stand-up paddle boarding, meditation, cooking classes, wine tastings and talks. There will also be an on-site yoga market. 

Fenlands Recreation Centre, 100 Mt. Norquay Rd., banffyogafestival.com


Have lunch at the new poke restaurant downtown

The next time you’re on 5th Street S.W. between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the work week, step inside Kona Poke and order a poke bowl exactly how you like it. That’s what Kona Poke is all about — you can customize the Hawaiian dish to include all the ingredients you want. Opt for the usual proteins, like tuna or salmon, or try something a little different instead, like octopus. 

Kona Poke, 220, 520 5 Ave. S.W., facebook.com


Satisfy that desire to go sneaker shopping

Think of the Sneaker Swap as a kind of market. Except it’s nothing like the arts and crafts markets you may have been to before. There won’t be jewellery or handmade bath products or artwork. But there will be sneakers. A lot of sneakers. Visit the Chinese Cultural Centre on May 27 to browse vendors’ booths (all selling sneakers, of course) or bring your own sneakers to trade for others. Come prepared to talk about sneakers, too. 

Chinese Cultural Centre, 197 1 St. S.W., eventbrite.ca 


Attend a carnivalesque fundraiser (with lots of cocktails)

The annual Carnival Cocktails for Cancer event returns to Hotel Arts on May 28. Expect to enter a big top (of sorts) for an evening of tasty carnival treats, entertainment and cocktails from restaurants that are known for their great cocktails, like Proof, Sugar Water and others. The money raised from the evening supports the Canadian Cancer Society

Hotel Arts, 119 12 Ave. S.W., 403-813-3913, carnivalcocktails.ca 


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