The Victoria Day weekend in Alberta is considered by many to be the official start of camping season. However, to many more it’s known as one of the most fickle weekends of the year, with unpredictable weather, over-excited revelers prematurely going whole hog for summer and kids restless in the face of the soon-ending school year. Give yourself a break and take it easy by picking from our list of nearby, last-minute options for long weekend fun. From sporty to leisurely and boozy to supernatural, you can find something to accommodate whatever strikes your fancy this weekend.
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Seven different galleries in Banff are participating in the month’s edition of the Banff Gallery Hop. Taking place Saturday, May 18 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m,. entry will be free at most galleries and each of them will have some kind of special programming. You can plan your own self-guided route with this map, or hop on the free shuttle to ride in style. All the galleries are worth visiting, but we especially recommend the mead tasting at Luxton Home Museum and traditional storytellers at Buffalo Nations Museum.
Free shuttle comes from Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, 111 Bear St., Banff, 403-762-2291, banfflakelouise.com/galleryhop
Not the most novel advice, but hear us out: Sunshine is one of the few ski hills still open at this stage in the season and they have a variety of special programming going on. There are three days of slush-themed fun in the form of the SlushShine Rail Jam (May 18), Watergate Banked Slalom (May 19) and Slush Cup 91 (May 20). As well, Daniel Wesley performs live in the beer garden of the Mad Trapper’s Saloon (May 18 and 19), where you can enjoy après-ski with Champagne specials.
Sunshine Village, 1 Sunshine Access Rd., Banff, 1-877-542-2633, skibanff.com
Do you have the courage to walk amongst the dead? Prove it by taking the short jaunt west for Theatre Canmore’s spooky storytelling and walking series. Canmore Ghost Walks meet at Good Earth Coffee House in Canmore at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday from May 3 to October 31. Tickets are $30 per person and the walk is recommended for ages 8 and older. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
718 8 St., Canmore, theatrecanmore.com
Shake up your drinking habits this weekend by introducing yourself to mead, a wine made from honey. You could head northwest to Fallentimber Meadery near Water Valley or scoot south, then west, to both Chinook Honey Company and Spirit Hills Honey Wine — the Okotoks Erratic (a.k.a “Big Rock”) lies halfway between them. Read more about mead.
Fallentimber Meadery, Box 27, Water Valley, 403-637-2667, fallentimbermeadery.ca
Chinook Honey Company, 386079 16 St. West, Okotoks, 403-995-0830, chinookhoney.com
Spirit Hills Honey Winery, 240183 2380 Drive West, Millarville, 403-933-3913, spirithillswinery.com
Airdrie-based Fitzsimmons Brewing Co. took home two prizes at this year’s Alberta Beer Awards for its Anniversary Saison (Farmhouse Ale, silver) and East Lake Amber (Amber Ale, bronze). Try those or a special themed cask at a free screening of the original Jurassic Park on May 18.
4, 220 East Lake Blvd. N.E., Airdrie, 587-892-2739, fitzsimmonsbrewing.com
Okotoks Tailgate Flea Markets kicks off its 2019 season on Sunday, May 19. Browse a dizzying array of goods (antiques, vintage, re-purposed, DIY, fruit, vegetables, eggs, golf balls, crafts, handmade goods, sporting goods, horse tack, clothing, jewellery, books, knitting, art and more) while you munch on goodies from food trucks. Being that this is the first event of the season, it’s a great chance to see what wares the vendors have been hoarding before they get picked clean in the coming months.
Held at All Through the House, 185, 100 Stockton Ave., Okotoks, 403-995-2399, allthroughthehouse.ca
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Explore in Black Diamond and Turner Valley — just shy of an hour from Calgary on the Cowboy Trail. Quick picks include a tour of Eau Claire Distillery, Sunday brunch at The Westwood and a stay at the saloon-style Black Diamond Hotel.
Catch a Show Written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell in Rosebud
The historical Rosebud Theatre is world unto itself. Fully operational as a public theatre since 1983 (as part of the town’s centennial), the Rosebud Theatre has established a legacy for one-of-a-kind dinner theatre over the last three and a half decades. Its current production, Bright Star, is a romance inspired by real events from the 1920s to 40s. There will be a matinee and evening show on both Friday, May 17 and Saturday May 18.
106 Martin Ave., Rosebud, 1-800-267-7553, rosebudtheatre.com
The furthest destination on this list is Coulee Brew Co. in Lethbridge. That said, it is definitely worth the effort given that it took home five different prizes at this year’s Alberta Beer Awards including second place in the Brewery of the Year category. Prize-winning beers include the Barrel Aged Coulee Quad (Barrel Aged, gold), Coalbanks Porter (Porter, silver), Milk River Vanilla Milk Stout (Spiced Beer, silver) and Bears Hump Nut Brown Ale (Brown Ale, bronze). Bring a designated driver.
4085 2 Ave. S., Lethbridge, 403-394-2337, couleebrew.co
Designed for competitors aged 4 to 17 years of age, Building Futures 4 Friends is a fundraiser for a new mental health facility for kids and teens being built by the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. Bring the kids (and teens) out to Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 18 to register. The entry fee is $15.
800 Griffin Rd. E., 403-932-1635, facebook.com
Bonus: Opening Weekend at Calaway Park and Cobb’s Adventure Park
Both of these attractions are technically inside Calgary city limits, but each feels like its own little getaway. This is your first chance to see their respective attractions, which are likely to have shorter lines than you can expect in high season. Notable at Calaway is a new ride called Bumble Blast (plus new stage shows and a 3D movie), while Cobb’s has a fresh litter of baby kangaroos and wallabies.