Visit Calgary: The Seasonal Guide to Calgary Tourism
Home to over 1.2 million people, 50,000 businesses, and just over 1 hour away from the Rocky Mountains, Calgary is a thriving place to visit for ultimate enjoyment. The weather in Calgary is constantly changing, a fact often joked about by the locals, and regardless of the time of year, there is always some form of entertainment for locals and visitors.
Calgary is ripe with activities and events like local markets, cultural festivals, themed events or city-wide happenings. There is unlimited opportunity for you to engage with the city at any time of year. Visit Calgary and see what the city has to offer you!
Visiting Calgary in Summer (June – August)
From June until August, summer shines down on Calgary. These beautiful months are one of the peak times to visit Calgary and participate in some of the city’s most thrilling and marvellous events. Throughout the summer there are hundreds of activities taking place each day, all around the city. These events focus on anything from being a dog owner at Pet-A-Palooza to jaw-dropping fireworks at Global Fest.
Another thing to do in Calgary during summer that is fit for the whole family is the outdoor music festivals. If you visit Calgary in the months of July and August, you can purchase tickets to attend the Calgary Folk Musical Fest, Chasing Summer Festival, or Reggae Fest.
One of the other most well-known summer fun events in Calgary is the Calgary Stampede—known as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” Occurring in July, the Calgary Stampede takes place in the downtown core of the city, and is complete with rodeos, strange and unique foods, a huge trade show, thrilling rides, and the always-exciting Grand Stand Show.
The stampede is not limited to the Stampede grounds, but live music, pancake breakfasts, cowboy and cowgirl attire, and plenty of other engaging activities suited for the whole family available most of July throughout the city.
Visiting Calgary in Autumn (September – October)
Once the summer festivals have slowed down, the liveliness of Calgary shifts to celebrate the changing colours and cool, autumn days. Despite the chill in the air, locals are found perusing the surrounding areas for fall-themed events and festivals.
Residing just outside of the city limits is the famous Calgary Corn-Maze at Cobbs Adventure Park. This 10-acre field is a delightful way to spend an afternoon or evening (Flashlight Nights are available starting September 21). Pet local farm animals, carve pumpkins, and of course, partake in Southern Alberta’s number one corn maze.
Once autumn draws to a close, Halloween takes presidency over the city events. Local shops and busy neighbourhoods decorate their doors and front steps with cobwebs and pumpkins, awaiting the arrival of October 31.
For fun and spooky encounters when you visit Calgary at the end of October, consider attending the Halloweekends at Calaway Park or Boo at the Zoo at Calgary Zoo with your children. For something scarier, the Calgary Zombie Walk, Calgary Ghost Tours, and Screamfest are sure to give you a fright.
Visiting Calgary in Winter (November – February)
Calgarians often poke fun at the seemingly-endless length of Winter, but despite the long cold, visitors can always find thrilling entertainment. Instead of shutting down, the city of Calgary opens up when the snow begins to fall. Each November and December an abundance of Christmas Markets open up their doors to share locally crafted goods, services, and warm food and drink.
More widely known Christmas markets include the Spruce Meadows International Christmas Market and the Calgary Expo Holiday Market. Yet another Christmas event that takes place every year around the holidays is Zoo Lights – walk through the zoo at night while it is lit up with over 1 million beautiful Christmas lights.
The snow provides the perfect chance for visitors to head outdoors to engage in winter sports and activities. Hockey, skating, curling, dog-sledding, and tobogganing are just some of the many winter activities you can participate in, in and around the city. For more winter sport options, Win Sport is the inner-city location for skiing, snowboarding, luging, or tubing.
Skating is also held in various arenas (indoor and outdoor) around the city, and the most popular leisurely skates can be enjoyed at Olympic Plaza downtown and the Olympic Oval located in the University of Calgary.
Visiting Calgary in Spring (March – May)
The season of Spring can be unpredictable, sometimes still too cold to stay outdoors, while other times having warm temperatures that lead locals to believe that summer is on its way. It is spring time that is best for exploring the indoor entertainment opportunities that Calgary has to offer. Alongside the hundreds of year-round events and courses available, the permanent museums and historical centers regularly display new and engaging exhibits and features.
For young families, Heritage Park Historical Village is a beautiful outdoor and indoor tourism adventure that teaches the history of Calgary in an interactive way. Additionally, families will find plenty to do and see at the Telus Spark Science Centre, where the primary topic of focus changes every few weeks.
For those without children, the Hangar Flight Museum (formerly the Aero Space Museum of Calgary), displays rare and historical aircrafts and often hosts specialized events. Another option for indoor entertainment is the Rec Room – a gaming, entertainment, and dining location filled with non-stop things to do, including popular virtual reality games.
As a broadly diverse city, there is a constant hum of activity in every quadrant of the city, all year long. The city is broken down into 198 different neighbourhoods, each offering their own selection of retail and dining options, localized community-hosted events, natural scenery, and recreational opportunities.
As a visitor to Calgary, having specific interests in mind can help to narrow down the vast number of happenings to find the events that truly catch attention. Consider the season you visit Calgary to help determine exactly what there is to do, but always know that there is excitement waiting for you!