25 Best Things to Do in Calgary This May

This month, go see a movie at some film festivals, pick up a new read at two huge book sales, cheer on Calgary’s professional basketball team and more.

Elvis Stojko will be performing in the 2024 Stars on Ice tour. Photo by Danielle Earl.

 

Get tickets to Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ latest dance production, Party Time

When: April 25 to May 12

In Party Time, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks takes the idea of a house party and turns it into an incredible dance production complete with music from a live band. Catch one of these performances featuring choreography by Kimberley Cooper at the DJD Dance Centre.

DJD Dance Centre, 111 12 Ave. S.E., decidedlyjazz.com

 

Watch a movie at the FascinAsian Film Festival

When: May 2 to 5

This film festival “celebrates Asian contributions to the film and media landscape and aims to showcase the talents of Asian-Canadian and Asian-American artists in film.” There are a variety of cool events to check out, including a free screening of the 2023 film Past Lives, an author panel moderated by Ins Choi, the creator of CBC TV show Kim’s Convenience, and an awards banquet at Chinese Culture Centre Cuisine.

Multiple locations, fascinasian.ca

 

Buy a book (or five) at two giant book sales

When: Calgary Book Sale runs from May 2 to 5 and May 10 to 12; Calgary Reads Big Book Sale runs from May 10 to 20

If you love reading, you’re in luck — there are two huge used book sales taking place in Calgary this month in support of worthy causes.

First up is the Calgary Book Sale hosted by RESET Society of Calgary at Crossroads Market from May 2 to 5 and May 10 to 12. The money raised will go towards RESET’s EXIT Program, which helps women impacted by sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

You can also shop at the Calgary Reads Big Book Sale this month, which runs at the Calgary Curling Club from May 10 to 20. The Rotary Club of Calgary puts on this sale in support of childhood literacy.

Both sales are marking their 20th anniversaries this year, and shoppers can expect more than 100,000 books to choose from at each sale.

Calgary Book Sale, Crossroads Market book sale tent, 1235 26 Ave. S.E., resetcalgary.ca; Calgary Reads Big Book Sale, Calgary Curling Club, 720 3 St. N.W., bigbooksale.ca

 

Grab some dessert at a new 2D café in Kensington

 

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A post shared by Seoul Cafe (@seoulcafeyyc)

The latest addition to Kensington, Seoul Cafe is entirely decked out in cool black and white decor and illustrations that are a feast for the eyes. Guests can take in the artsy vibes while sipping on drinks from the extensive coffee menu and snacking on tteokbokki, croffles, slices of cake and more.

273 10 St. N.W., 403-453-5131, @seoulcafeyyc

 

Learn more about the city on a Jane’s Walk

When: May 3 to 5

Named after urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walks offer a way to learn more about the city through free guided and self-guided walking tours. There are tons of walks to choose from this year, including one exploring front yard art and installations in Crescent Heights, a public art walk in East Village, a birding walk by the McKenzie Towne Pond and more.

Multiple locations, janeswalk.calgarycommunities.com

 

Tour the studio of a local artist

When: May 3 to 5

If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of an artist’s studio might look like, you can find out now. The Calgary Artists Studio Tour invites guests to peek inside the studios and homes of more than 80 local artists. Take yourself on a self-guided tour to meet the artists and learn more about their work, which ranges from jewellery to photography to sculpture. A full list of participating artists is available online.

Multiple locations, calgaryartistsstudiotour.com

 

Visit a new exhibition at Studio Bell, Violins of Hope

When: May 3 to June 16

A new featured exhibition at the National Music Centre at Studio Bell, Violins of Hope features restored string instruments from Holocaust victims and survivors, as well as stories and historical imagery. In addition to visiting the exhibition itself, guests can also attend two live performances where some of the instruments will be used: The Socalled With Strings event will feature a performance of Yiddish songs on May 26, and there will be a performance with composer and singer Lenka Lichtenberg, Drew Jurecka and Rebekah Wolkstein on June 2.

Studio Bell, 850 4 St. S.E., studiobell.ca

 

Snack on treats at afternoon tea

 

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With its refreshing cups of tea, dainty sandwiches and colourful desserts, afternoon tea services offer a fun and unique dining experience. Thankfully, there are at least a dozen spots in the city where you can treat yourself to afternoon tea the next time you’re feeling peckish.

Read more: Where to Go for Afternoon Tea in Calgary

 

See incredible dance performances at the East Side Dance Festival

When: May 9 and 10

Running since 2013, the East Side Dance Festival is dedicated to breaking down barriers that may prevent students from pursuing dance. It also provides opportunities for performances, training and mentorship. You can support this year’s festival on May 9 and 10 as students from 17 Calgary schools demonstrate their dance skills at the University of Calgary Theatre.

University Theatre, 230 University Court N.W., eastsidedancefestival.ca

 

See some of the world’s best skaters on Calgary ice

When: May 10

Some of the best skaters in Canada and the world are set to arrive in Calgary this month. At the Calgary performance of Stars on Ice, see Olympic Gold medalist Patrick Chan, Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko, world champion Ilia Malinin and more hit the ice in a fun and awe-inspiring display of skating talent.

Scotiabank Saddledome, starsonice.ca

 

Dress up in cosplay for Otafest

When: May 10 to 12

This celebration of Japanese anime and pop culture is back at the Telus Convention Centre. The festival promises plenty of fun with events like anime screenings, an exhibitor hall, gaming tournaments, a Sketch Drive where you can get your portrait done and more.

Telus Convention Centre, otafest.com

 

Check out an exhibition that depicts a huge sea voyage using LEGO

 

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When: On now until May 19

Toronto-based artist Ekow Nimako is behind the latest exhibition at Glenbow at the Edison, which is on display until May 19. In Building Black Civilizations: Journey of 2,000 Ships, Nimako uses LEGO bricks to create extraordinary sculptures depicting a sea voyage with 2,000 ships led by Abu Bakr ll in the 14th century. Admission is free.

Glenbow at the Edison, second floor, 150 9 Ave. S.W., glenbow.org

 

See a modern revamp of a Sherlock Holmes story at Vertigo Theatre

When: May 11 to June 9

The latest Vertigo Theatre production offers a fresh spin on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, with a modern revamp set in 2021. This marks the Canadian premiere of Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – #2B, a mystery following Ms. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Joan Watson as they set out to catch a murderer in London.

The Playhouse, 115 9 Ave. S.E., vertigotheatre.com

 

Watch Star Wars: A New Hope while the score is played live

When: May 17 and 18

This month, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Calgary International Film Festival bring a fresh, musical spin to the 1977 film Star Wars: A New Hope. During three screenings at the Jubilee Auditorium, the orchestra will be playing the out-of-this-world score live as the film unfolds.

Jubilee Auditorium, calgaryphil.com

 

Listen to local musicians performing in one-off bands at the Sled Island Rock Lotto

When: May 18

What happens when you take 25 musicians, have them draw names from a hat, give them less than 10 hours to create new material and ask them to perform in a one-off band? You get the Sled Island Rock Lotto, of course. Taking place at The Palomino, this event promises to be a fun night of musical creativity. Tickets are only $10 in advance or $15 at the door.

The Palomino, 109 7 Ave. S.W., showpass.com

 

Go downhill karting at WinSport

When: Opens May 18

Get ready for a rush when Downhill Karting returns for the season this month. Book a time to race from the top of a chairlift terminal down the 1,800-metre track at WinSport. Choose from individual packages offering two to four rides, or get a group friends and family package to share multiple rides.

WinSport, Canada Olympic Park, 88 Canada Olympic Rd. S.W., downhillkarting.ca

 

Cheer on Calgary’s professional basketball team at its season opener

 

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When: May 21

Calgary sports fans love a Battle of Alberta, and this month, Calgary’s professional basketball team is giving us just that as it takes on the Edmonton Stingers for its 2024 season opener. While the Calgary Surge normally plays at the WinSport Event Centre, this game will take place at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Scotiabank Saddledome, calgarysurge.ca

 

Go shopping at a spring market

Looking for a locally made gift, or just something cool for yourself? There are tons of spring markets taking place in and around the city where you can shop for apparel, food products, art and more.

Read more: Spring Art and Craft Markets In and Around Calgary

 

Watch a baseball game in Okotoks

When: May 24

Calgary may not have its own baseball team, but you can make the short drive to Okotoks to see the Okotoks Dawgs in action this spring and summer. Cheer on the 2023 Western Canadian Baseball League champions on May 24 as the team opens its 2024 season against the Brooks Bombers at Seaman Stadium.

Seaman Stadium, 256 Don Seaman Way, Okotoks, dawgsbaseball.ca

 

Go to a movie at the fourth annual Calgary Black Film Festival

When: May 24 to 28

Now in its fourth year, the Calgary Black Film Festival presents films from around the world highlighting Black filmmakers and stories. The films are available to watch in-person and online from May 24 to 28. All-access passes and individual tickets are available now, and you can see the lineup online.

Memorial Park Library, 1221 2 St. S.W. and Globe Cinema, 617 8 Ave. S.W., calgaryblackfilm.com

 

Dress up and check out amazing art at Contemporary Calgary’s Dada Ball

When: May 25

Contemporary Calgary’s annual Look fundraiser is back as The Dada Ball this year and promises to be an exciting night filled with art, fashion and entertainment. The event’s art auction is a great opportunity to pick up some stunning pieces for your home.

701 11 St. S.W., 403-770-1350, contemporarycalgary.com

 

Dine at a new restaurant specializing in Japanese hand rolls

Assorted dishes from Raw Japanese Hand Roll Bar. Photo by Chris Landry.

The next time you’re in East Village, head to this new spot that is all about Japanese hand rolls. At Raw, you can choose from a small selection of appetizers and 10 kinds of hand rolls in flavours like yuzu salmon, prawn ceviche and mushroom kimchi. Hand roll sets with miso soup and three, four or five rolls are also available.

Read more: This New Calgary Restaurant is Dedicated to Japanese Hand Rolls

150, 615 6 Ave. S.E., 825-747-5354, rawyyc.ca@rawhandrollbar

 

Go to a concert during East Town Get Down on International Avenue

When: May 25

This popular music festival that takes place along International Avenue returns on May 25 with more than 40 participating bands and artists performing across 10 different venues. R.A.P. Ferreira, FOLD PAPER, Ora Cogan, Amanda Penner and Pallor are just a few of the concerts you can check out this year.

Multiple locations, easttowngetdown.ca

 

Run the 60th Calgary Marathon with a friend

When: May 26

The Servus Calgary Marathon, one of the oldest marathons in the country, hits a major milestone this year as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. For this year’s race on May 26, runners can take part in distances of five kilometres, 10 km, 21.1 km or 42.2 km, as well as a special, one-time, 60 km ultra race. Racers can also participate virtually from May 26 to June 23.

calgarymarathon.com

 

Go shopping at a night market in the University District

When: May 29

Calgary’s University District is once again holding a series of night markets featuring more than 35 local vendors. The first market of the year takes place on May 29 from 5 to 9 p.m. in the University District’s Central Commons Park. If you can’t make it this time, there will be another night market every month until September.

University District, Central Commons Park, myuniversitydistrict.ca

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