70 Things to Do in Calgary and the Mountains This Spring and Summer

Consider this your ultimate spring and summer to-do list. We start with events in the spring and end around Labour Day.

Warren Cummins and Nicole Egli of Rocky Mountain Sidecar Adventures.
photograph courtesy of rocky mountain sidecar adventures

 


Things you simply have to do

These are all springtime and summertime staples if you’re in Calgary. Whether you’ve got visitors or just want to be a tourist in your own city, make a point to cross each of these events and venues off your list this year.

Try out the various summer activities at WinSport

You’ve probably visited WinSport in the winter to go downhill skiing, tubing or to play hockey at the rink. But it’s just as fun in the spring and summer months. Try out the mountain bike trails (you can rent a bike if you don’t have one), fly down the venue’s three ziplines (you could reach speeds of 120 kilometres per hour) and try the Skyline Luge, the 1,800-metre-long luge track (it’s like go-karting, but better.) Visit winsport.ca for opening hours and costs.

WinSport, 88 Canada Olympic Rd. S.W., 403-247-5452, winsport.ca

Go on a guided river tour

Join Mukwah Rafting Tours’ Calgary River Experience and get a guided boat ride through Calgary. The tour begins downtown, where passengers will hear about Calgary’s architecture. The whole thing lasts about two hours, including shuttle time and boating seven kilometers down the Bow River. Tours began in early April and will continue until the end of October.

If you prefer an activity with a little more adrenaline, know that Mukwah Rafting Tours also leads white water rafting trips off of the Upper Red Deer River. Those tours begin during the May long weekend and run until Labour Day in September.

403-637-3080, mukwah.com

Visit Spruce Meadows for the various showjumping tournaments

There are events here throughout the year, but it’s hard to beat visiting in the spring and summer. Horse jumping, shopping, prairie dogs and fun activities for the kids mean you can spend a whole day here. The first major tournament is the May Classic, running May 6 and 7, then 12 to 14. The National tournament runs June 7 to 11. The North American tournament runs July 5 to 9.

Spruce Meadows, 18011 Spruce Meadows Way, 403-974-4200, sprucemeadows.com

Tour Calgary and the Foothills in a vintage Russian sidecar

photograph courtesy of rocky mountain sidecar adventures

Warren Cummins and Nicole Egli of Rocky Mountain Sidecar Adventures.

It’s quirky and it’s different. Rocky Mountain Sidecar Adventures offers tours where you ride in the sidecar and a qualified driver drives the vintage Russian motorcycle. (To add to the charm, all motorcycles also have Russian names.) Tour Calgary’s downtown core or ride out into the mountains – you could even stop at a meadery and a distillery. Tours are weather-dependent, so as long as there’s no rain or snow, they’ll go ahead.

403-462-7450, rockymountainsidecar.com

See 19th century Alberta at Heritage Park

Opens May 20

The historical village opens fully on the May long weekend. This year marks its 53rd summer season. You’re going to want to visit the park at least once for a horse-drawn wagon ride, the walk through the old-timey buildings and to visit the antique midway. There are also various special events taking place throughout the summer, such as various workshops, the Country Kickback (August 26 and 27) and the Annual Festival of Quilts (May 27 and 28.) Lunch aboard a vintage Canadian Pacific Railway car (Tuesdays, May 23 to August 29) is also a must-do.

Heritage Park, 1900 Heritage Dr. S.W., 403-268-8500, heritagepark.ca

Get an adrenaline rush at Calaway Park

Opens May 20

If you whiz past this amusement park on your way to the mountains, promising your family (and yourself) that next time you’ll stop, this is the summer to finally do it. For real. The park opens on the May long weekend and has 32 rides, 23 carnival games, five restaurants and several places to shop.

Calaway Park, 245033 Range Rd. 33, 403-240-3822, calawaypark.com

Take a flying trapeze class

Unless you have ever been part of the circus, chances are pretty low that you’ve ever tried “flying” with the help of a trapeze. But this summer, you should try it out. Rocky Mountain Flying Trapeze, located at the Wild Wild West Event Centre, offers classes suitable for a range of abilities. There are two-hour introductory classes offered throughout June, July and August. There are four-week progressive classes for people serious about learning to fly. And if you just want to try it out once and not commit to a class, there is something called “open fly” where you can try the trapeze once for $15.

Wild Wild West Event Centre, 67 Commercial Ct., rockymountaintrapeze.ca

Shop at all the seasonal, outdoor farmers’ markets

Most of the seasonal and outdoor farmers’ markets are up and running by the end of May or early June. A few of the markets to visit before the fall include the Bridgeland Riverside Farmers’ Market, the Marda Loop Farmers’ Market and the outdoor Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Market. If you’re willing to head out of town, also make a point to check out the various out-of-town seasonal and outdoor farmers’ markets.

Cheer for the Okotoks Dawgs

First home game is on June 2

You don’t have to go all the way to Seattle to watch a good game of baseball. The Okotoks Dawgs is a Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) team that takes on teams like the Medicine Hat Mavericks, the Brooks Bombers and the Lethbridge Bulls. The season runs from June to August.

Seaman Stadium, 2111 N. Railway St., Okotoks, 403-262-3294, dawgsbaseball.ca

Embrace the Calgary Stampede

July 7 to 16

It’s so much more than a rodeo: it’s the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. For 10 days, Calgary embraces its cowboy roots and you should join in. Wear your cowboy boots, watch the parade, visit the midway, buy tickets to the rodeo and the evening show, and take your time wandering the Stampede grounds. But at the same time, don’t limit yourself to the grounds – there are various Stampede-related events taking place all over the city, including more free pancake breakfasts than you could possibly attend.

Stampede Park, 1410 Olympic Way S.E., 403-261-0101, calgarystampede.com

Play archery tag outdoors

Archery tag has become a thing in Calgary. If you’ve been to Archery Games, you know what it’s all about. But if you’re looking to do something outdoors when the weather is nice, head to Capture the Flag Paintball and Airsoft to play archery tag outdoors. This game is a new addition to the facility, which also offers paintball and airsoft. As with Archery Games, the arrows here are foam-tipped and you get a full face protective mask. You’ll play across 116 acres and enjoy an all-you-can-eat-hot-dog barbecue afterward.

Capture the Flag Paintball and Airsoft, 72032 N. Range Rd. 40, Cochrane, 403-932-9510, capturetheflag.com


Foodie events and festivals

photograph courtesy of canmore uncorked

Canmore Uncorked runs May 3 to May 14, 2017.

Whether you like trying new cuisines, sampling small bites from various restaurants or eating as much fried food as you can, there’s probably a Calgary food festival you can get on board with.

2017 YYC Taco Fiesta

April 28 to May 7

The city’s second annual YYC Taco Fiesta is a week-long celebration of the best tacos in the city. You’ll be able to purchase individual tacos or a platter of tacos. Close to 30 restaurants are participating in the festival this year, including Native Tongues Taqueria, Dairy Lane Cafe and Subs ‘n’ Bubbles. This year, proceeds support two Calgary charities: Calgary Homeless Foundation and Kids Up Front.

Various locations in Calgary, yyctacofiesta.ca

Canmore Uncorked

May 3 to May 14

Head to Canmore for 12 days of special set-price menus and one-of-a-kind featured events, like the Big Brunch and the Uncorked Wine Festival. This foodie festival runs in May this year instead of April – and the final day of the event lands of Mother’s Day – so treat mom to a great meal or experience in the mountains.

Various locations in Canmore, canmoreuncorked.com

Calgary International Beerfest

May 5 and 6

This festival is two days of sampling beer from local, national and international breweries. And, there’s food from more than 40 local restaurants and pubs. (You’ll probably want to take the train to this event.)

BMO Centre, Stampede Park, albertabeerfestivals.com

National Caesar Day

May 18

This isn’t an organized food festival, like Canmore Uncorked or Beerfest, but it is an excuse to treat yourself to a Caesar or two the Thursday before the May long weekend.

Culinary Race YYC

June 3

This is the city’s tastiest race. Join your clever food friends, get your clues at Eight Ounce Coffee (the starting point) and try your best in the race. More than 30 restaurants and venues are participating, and racers will be tested at each spot. It all ends at Tool Shed Brewery.

Eight Ounce Coffee, 4005 9 Ave. S.E., culinaryrace.ca

Lobsterfest

June 10

This annual food event is all about the lobster, but there is also a DJ and a silent auction. This food event is also a fundraiser, supporting several charities including the Calgary Food Bank and STARS.

Acadia Recreation Complex, 240 9 Ave. S.E., eventbrite.ca

Pig and Pinot Festival

June 15

This charitable event sees chef teams compete for the “Divine Swine” trophy by creating original dishes where free-range pork from Spragg’s Meat Shop is the star. The porky dishes are paired with pinot from different boutique wine stores.

Hotel Arts, 119 12 Ave. S.W., eventbrite.ca

Taste of Calgary

August 10 to 13

This is the 21st annual Taste of Calgary event. Using $1 sampling coupons as currency, sample different foods from all over the world. There’s everything from African to Indian to Asian dishes, represented by more than 40 Calgary restaurants.

Eau Claire Plaza, 200 Barclay Parade S.W., 403-293-2888, tasteofcalgary.com

Brewery and the Beast

August 20

This meat-centric festival first came to Calgary in 2015. The outdoor festival showcases local and ethically raised proteins. Sample all the meat you can eat, while listening to live music performances and drinking beer. (Or wine or cider.)

Pumphouse Park, 2140 Pumphouse Ave. S.W., breweryandthebeast.com

BBQ on the Bow

September 2 and 3

It’s this festival’s 25th anniversary and talented pitmasters will be cooking up a storm at the Montgomery Community Center. Barbeque chefs from across North America cook up chicken, pork ribs, brisket and more to try and win a coveted barbeque award.

Montgomery Community Center, 5003 16 Ave. N.W., bbqonthebow.com


Events for the outdoor enthusiast

photograph courtesy of Rugged maniac

Rugged Manic is in Calgary July 29.

If embracing the outdoors in sub-zero temperatures is difficult for you, then now is the time to get outside and get moving.

If you’re kind of person who likes running and walking

MEC Race Series

Distances range from 5km to 30km (depending on race date)

May 6; June 10; July 22; September 16

$15

Various locations, mec.ca

MEC Trail Series

Distances range from 5km to 15km

June 24; September 30

$15

Various locations, mec.ca

Calgary Marathon

5km; 10km; 21.1km; 42.2km; 50km; 150km

May 28

From $40

Stampede Park, 1410 Olympic Way S.E., calgarymarathon.com

Run For Water Calgary

5km; 10km

June 10

From $40

St. Patrick’s Island, runforwater.ca

Night Race Calgary

5km; 10km

August 19

From $45

South Glenmore Park, 7305 Crowchild Tr. S.W., nightrace.ca

Fun races and obstacle races

Spring and summer is officially race season. But there are fun races as well as races for the serious runner types. Look into events like City Chase Calgary (June 3), Color Me Rad (June 24), Rugged Maniac (July 29) and Spartan Sprint (August 12 and 13).

Walking and hiking in the city

Explore Calgary’s parks this season. Take to the trails in Glenmore Park, Nose Hill Park, Ralph Klein Park, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Bowness Park.

For something a little more organized, make a note to participate in at least one Jane’s Walk. Jane’s Walk is a weekend festival of free neighbourhood walking tours. From May 5 to 7, explore a new neighbourhood and learn something new about the city.

Need more ideas? Read Lori Beattie’s book, Calgary’s Best Walks. It’s full of great suggestions and highlights many of the great walks that can be done in the city.

What to do and where to go with your bicycle

Rent a bike and ride the trails

Rent a bike in the city or in the mountains and spend the day exploring on two wheels. If you’re looking for something a little more unusual than a road bike or a mountain bike, look into renting a Yes Surrey bike with some friends.

MEC Century Ride

May 20 and September 23

For $45, you can ride a century on your bike. That means you ride 100 kilometres. (There’s also a 60 kilometre option if a century ride is too intimidating.) The ride in May starts and ends at the Bar U Ranch, while the ride in July starts in Turner Valley and heads up to the Highwood Pass. There are aid stations, although riders must be self-sufficient.

Bar U Ranch; Flare and Derrick Community Centre, 131 Main St. N.W., Turner Valley, 403-269-2420, events.mec.ca

Ride to Conquer Cancer

August 12 and 13

This multi-day bike tour takes cyclists through the Rocky Mountains. The total distance is just over 200 kilometres. Best of all, it’s a fundraising event and the money raised is for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, directly helping patients and families at cancer centres across Alberta. Registration is $75 and riders also commit to fundraising $2,500.

Cool off in the water

Raft on the river

Rent a raft (and a life jacket) and float down the Bow or Elbow River.

Swim in one of the many outdoor pools

There are free pools (like the South Glenmore Park and Rotary Park pools) and there are pools that will cost you $7 (like the Forest Lawn Outdoor Pool and the Mount Pleasant Outdoor Pool). Get in a few laps or just soak up some rays.

Learn why stand up paddleboarding is such a popular new sport

Register for a beginner’s class through Undercurrents. Classes are $79 and run between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at either Ghost Lake or Arbour Lake. Classes run from June 5 until September 8. As well as stand up paddleboarding lessons, Undercurrents offers kayak lessons and canoe lessons.

Ghost Lake, 403-262-4327, undercurrents.ca


In the mountains

photograph courtesy of banff lake louise tourism/paul zizka photography

In celebration of Canada 150, admission to the national parks is free this year. So be sure to make the most of it and get outside. You know you can go rock climbing, hiking, scrambling, camping, whitewater rafting throughout the Rockies, so here are some other things you can do in the mountains that you might not have thought of.

Banff

Bike the Legacy Trail

There’s a paved pathway that connects Banff and Canmore. It’s a multi-use trail that’s just under 30 kilometres long. Bring your bike (or rent one in Canmore) and bike along the path into Banff. Stop for lunch before riding back. The pathway opened in the middle of April and is open until the middle of October, depending on the weather.

Banff Yoga Festival

May 26 to 28

The second annual Banff Yoga Festival runs at the end of May. You can do intense yoga, you can do meditative yoga, you can do yoga in the wilderness and you can learn about yoga at yoga seminars. The festival also has dance classes, food events, trail runs and social events.

Try the Via Ferrata at Norquay

This is more extreme than hiking, but not so extreme that it’s not open to complete beginners. You’ll climb a mountain, always led by a guide, using steel steps, handles, ladders and steel cables. And you wear a harness, so it’s totally safe. This year there are two new routes, the “Skyline” and the “Summiteer,” meaning there are now four Via Ferrata options. Plan to do this a little later in the summer – last year, tours began on June 18.

Performance in the Park

June 9 and 10

Park your lawn chair and picnic blanket for a weekend of live music and mountain views. This year’s headliners are Hedley and Walk Off the Earth.

Banff Marathon

June 18

Possibly the most scenic race around, the Banff Marathon isn’t just for people who want to run 42.2 kilometres. There are also options for racing a half marathon and a 10 kilometre route. The route passes Vermillion Lakes and you’ll get fantastic views of the Bow Valley Parkway.

Canmore

Canmore Folk Festival

This mountain folk music festival, running August 5 to 7, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Head to Canmore to see this year’s headliners, including Bruce Cockburn, Whitehorse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Foy Vance.

Sign up for at least one Grizzly Mountain event

These events are a little different from the usual races. There’s a Stand Up Paddleboard race (July 15), an open water swim (July 16, right after the SUP race) and an off-road triathlon (August 6). You’ll get sweaty, you’ll get muddy and you’ll have a lot of fun.


Cultural events and festivals

photograph courtesy of lilac fest

This year Lilac Fest is on June 4.

In the spring and summer, you can travel the world without leaving Calgary. Learn about a range of different cultures and attend the city’s biggest street parties.

(For a complete list of the city’s festivals and events, keep checking our online events calendar.)

Calgary Ukrainian Festival

June 3 and 4

The one that’s a big “zabava” with perogies and cabbage rolls.

Acadia Recreation Complex, 240 90 Ave. S.E., calgaryukrainianfestival.ca

Lilac Fest

June 4

The one that takes over Mission and kicks off with a parade down 4th Street S.W.

4 St. S.W., 403-229-0902, lilacfestival.net

Bridgeland Cultura Festival

June 10

The one that showcases the diversity and culture of Bridgeland.

1 Ave. N.E. and 9 St. N.E., facebook.com

Fiestaval

July 21, 22 and 23

The one that’s a free celebration of Latin American culture.

Olympic Plaza, 228 8 Ave. S.E., fiestaval.ca

Packwood Grand

July 29

The one that is kind of like the Kentucky Derby, combining horse racing and food and drinks and really fancy hats.

Century Downs Racetrack, 260 Century Downs Dr., packwoodgrand.com

Inglewood Sunfest

August 5

The one in Inglewood that has a Show and Shine as well as more than 200 vendors.

Mainstreet Inglewood, 403-453-7424, inglewoodsunfest.ca

Expo Latino

August 18 to 20

The one that brings in some big, Latino headliners to perform.

Prince’s Island Park, 403-271-2744, expolatino.com

Calgary Japanese Festival Omatsuri

August 12

The one with sake tastings and kimono dressing demonstrations.

Bowness Community Centre, 7904 43 Ave. N.W., calgaryjapanesefestival.com

Calgary Dragon Boat Race and Festival

August 12 and 13

The one where thousands of Calgarians participate in a sport that stems from a 2,000-year-old Chinese legend.

North Glenmore Park, chinatowncalgary.com

 

Marda Gras Street Festival

August 13

The one that’s kind of like Mardi Gras except that it’s in Marda Loop instead of New Orleans.

33 and 34 Ave. S.W., 403-685-5667, mardagras.ca

Calgary ReggaeFest

August 17 to 19

The one that will transform you into a “Rastagarian.” (That’s what happens when your inner Calgarian and your inner Rastafarian meet.)

Shaw Millennium Park, 1220 9 Ave. S.W., 403-355-5696, reggaefest.ca

GlobalFest

August 15 to 26

The one with incredible fireworks shows, this year by all Canadian teams in celebration of Canada 150.

Elliston Park, 403-569-9679, globalfest.ca

Pride Calgary

August 25 to September 4

The one that celebrates Calgary’s LGBTQ community.

Various locations, pridecalgary.ca

Calgary Highland Games

September 2

The one with piping and drumming and dancing and heavy lifting.

Springbank Park For All Seasons, 32224A Springbank Rd., calgaryhighlandgames.org

Afrikadey

Dates TBD

The one that brings music from across Africa to Prince’s Island Park.

Prince’s Island Park, 403-234-9110, afrikadey.com


Music and theatre events

photograph courtesy of theatre calgary

Theatre Calgary’s Crazy For You runs until May 20.

If you’re an artsy, musical type, you don’t need to wait until September to enjoy theatre and music shows again. There are concerts, shows and productions running throughout the spring and summer you’ll want to catch, too.

(For a complete list of music and theatre events, visit our online events calendar.)

Our Canada

Dates: May 4 to May 6

Cost: From $29

Location: Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 1415 14 Ave. N.W.

Alberta Ballet wraps up its 2016/2017 season with a production choreographed to the music of Gordon Lightfoot. This ballet is a celebration of two things: Canada 150 and Alberta Ballet’s 50th season.

Newfoundland Mary

Dates: Until May 13

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Location: Lunchbox Theatre, 115 9 Ave. S.E.

Lunchbox Theatre’s spring show tells the story of Mary McCarthy Gomez Cueto, a Canadian born in Newfoundland who married a wealthy Spanish businessman and lived in Havana, Cuba. Hear how her life changed after her husband died and after Castro took over control of the country.

Crazy For You

Dates: Until May 20

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Location: Martha Cohen Theatre, Arts Commons

The final show in Theatre Calgary’s 2016/2017 season is a musical by George and Ira Gershwin. A young banker is sent to Deadrock to foreclose a theatre, but something unexpected happens while he’s there.

Macbeth

Dates: May 12 to 27

Cost: Adults $35

Location: Vertigo Theatre, 115 9 Ave. S.E.

The final show of The Shakespeare Company’s season is the Bard’s dark, well-known tragedy, Macbeth. If you haven’t experienced this production since high school, this is the season to revisit it.

The Drowning Girls

Dates: May 13 to June 11

Cost: Tickets from $25

Location: Vertigo Theatre, 115 9 Ave. S.E.

Vertigo Theatre’s final production of the season is about Bessie, Alice and Margaret. They all loved the same man, yet they all end up dead. The show uncovers evidence of the events that led to the three women’s murders.

RBC Emerging Director’s Showcase

Dates: June 1 and 2

Cost: $25

Address: Lunchbox Theatre, 115 9 Ave. S.E

This is a chance to get to know the work and style of the next-best, up-and-coming director in town. This year, see Ride by Jane Bodie directed by local emerging director Paul Welch.

Suncor Energy Stage One Festival

Dates: June 9 to 24

Cost: Free admission

Location: Lunchbox Theatre, 115 9 Ave. S.E.

Now that Lunchbox Theatre’s 2016/2017 season has come to a close, see a series of staged readings and new works over three weeks.

Shakespeare By the Bow

Dates: June 20 to August 27

Cost: Pay-what-you-can

Location: Prince’s Island Park

This year’s Shakespeare by the Bow production is the comedy As You Like It, directed by Samantha MacDonald of Lunchbox Theatre and performed by up-and-coming young actors. During the Calgary International Folk Fest, these productions don’t run in Prince’s Island Park. But, a separate show, Victors, Villains and Vixens, will run at St. Patrick’s Island during that time.

Sled Island

Dates: June 21 to 25

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Location: Various locations

This five-day music, comedy and arts festival takes over the city at the end of June. This year, performers include Flying Lotus, Ex Eye and Cloud Nothings.

Calgary Folk Musical Festival

Dates: July 27 to 30

Cost: Four-day single-user passes from $180 for adults

Location: Prince’s Island Park

This year is the 38th annual Calgary Folk Music Festival. Expect four days of music (and food trucks and local crafts) by artists from across Canada and the world. Performers at this year’s festival include Tanya Tagaq, Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, Basia Bulat and Coeur de pirate.

Calgary International Blues Festival

Dates: July 31 to August 6

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Location: Various locations

See blues musicians including Angel Forrest, The Claudettes and many others at the 13th annual Calgary Bluesfest. There will also be workshops and special events, as well as plenty of blues concerts.

Calgary Fringe Festival

Dates: August 4 to 12

Cost: Prices vary

Location: Various locations

Each year, the Calgary Fringe Festival showcases a range of uncensored and unforgettable theatre. This year make a point to see new styles of work by artists from across Canada and the world.

Chasing Summer Festival

Dates: August 5 and 6

Cost: From $149.95

Location: Max Bell Centre Festival Grounds

The Chasing Summer Festival is an outdoor EDM concert now in its fifth year. The line-up this year include Tiesto, What So Not and Infected Mushroom.

Opera in the Village

Dates: August 10 to 13; August 17 to 20

Cost: Prices vary

Location: Enmax Park, Elbow River Pathway

Opera in the Village won’t be in the East Village this year. Instead, expect to watch the operatic performances at Enmax Park, off the Elbow River Pathway. As before, there will be two shows performed during the festival. Cinderella, a one-act, family-friendly opera that the Calgary Opera has adapted from the Cinderella operas by Jules Massenet and Gioacchino Rossini, and South Pacific. South Pacific is a Rodgers and Hammerstein production that premiered in 1949 on Broadway.

Want more suggestions for the best things to do in Calgary and the mountains? Sign up for our Weekender Newsletter.

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