Find art and inspiration in Calgary
Its proximity to the Rockies and reputation for embracing the snow and cold makes Calgary an ideal wintertime destination for those who love to eat, drink, shop and discover visual and performance art, both inside and out. Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada – a bonus when days are short – and a great place to be if you like to get outside.
Do Calgary’s annual six-week winter festival, Chinook Blast, lights up the city from Feb. 4-27. The celebration of art, music, theatre and sport includes Glow Downtown Winter Light Festival (Feb. 10-12 and 17-19), the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s Block Heater (Feb. 17-20) and Ethnik Festival, a showcase of Afro-Canadian and Caribbean culture (Feb. 17 and Feb. 26). In the downtown core, The Hub will feature six weeks of free art installations, pop-up performances, a community stage and an artists’ pavilion. chinookblast.ca
See Explore the Music Mile during the day or at night. From Studio Bell to the Blues Can on 9th Avenue SE, the Music Mile connects two of the city’s oldest and most walkable neighbourhoods, Inglewood and East Village, with independent shops and restaurants and over 20 live music venues. musicmile.ca
Eat and Drink The new downtown Orchard Restaurant is luxurious yet comfortably unpretentious. Chef Jenny Kang builds upon her experience at other iconic Calgary restaurants to deliver unique Asian-Mediterranean-inspired brunch, lunch and dinner menus as well as delicious cocktail-hour snacks, with plenty of plant-based options. And, located inside the Westley Hotel, Fonda Fora is a new contemporary eatery with a focus on Mexican cuisine. Chef Rafael Castillo’s menu is a journey from Yucatan’s tamal de cochinita to traditional tetelas from Oaxaca, to pescado zarandeado from Nayarit for breakfast, lunch or dinner (plus happy hour). orchardyyc.com; fondafora.com
Stay The stylish Westley Hotel occupies a building that was constructed to house corporate offices during Calgary’s 1970s boom; its 88 guest rooms and 16 suites are sleek yet cozy, and there are event and meeting spaces and a fitness centre. Its downtown location is also close to Prince’s Island Park, which connects with Calgary’s 1,000-plus kilometre pathway system for a stunning winter walk. thewestleyhotel.com
Let Banff spoil you with adventure activities
It takes less than an hour and a half to drive from Calgary to Banff, and the views make the journey as enjoyable as the destination. Though the small resort town in Banff National Park is often a home base for skiers during the winter months, there’s plenty to do off the slopes, too.
Do Have you ever been to the top of a mountain at night? Nightrise, at the Banff Gondola, offers a wonderfully unique multi-sensory immersive experience of the Rockies at night. The collaboration between Montreal’s Moment Factory and the Stoney Nakoda Nation combines light, sound and video projection; the experience begins when you climb into the gondola and finishes with your ride down, with sounds and stories that honour the mountains through the voices of the First Nations communities who have called them home for many generations. Nightrise runs until March 12, 2022. banffgondola.com
See Explore one of Canada’s longest cave systems under Grotto Mountain with Canmore Cave Tours, a group of passionate cavers who have been helping visitors capture a unique perspective of the Rockies since 1992. They offer a variety of tours year-round, and the Rat’s Nest Cave maintains a temperature of 5 C regardless of the weather outside. canmorecavetours.com
Eat and Drink On the summit of Sulphur Mountain and accessible by the Banff Gondola, Sky Bistro provides a stunning vantage point to experience unique Canadian ingredients and Alberta-made beers and spirits. High Rollers is a little-known spot right on Banff Avenue; with six 10-pin bowling lanes, New York-style pizza and 50 craft beers on tap, it’s a great spot for families or groups of friends, and there are live local DJs later at night if you’re looking for some after-hours action. banffjaspercollection.com/dining/sky-bistro; highrollersbanff.com
Stay About 45 minutes from the Banff townsite, the iconic Relais & Chateaux Post Hotel & Spa in Lake Louise, built in 1942, has recently been acquired by Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts to add to its collection of rustic mountain lodges. With a small spa, indoor salt water pool, notable dining rooms (including the cozy 24-seat Fondue Stubli) and world-renowned wine cellar, it’s an idyllic getaway – and in winter there’s a skating rink just outside the front lobby. posthotel.com
Keep up to date with the weekly Sightseer newsletter. Sign up today.