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Calgary

10 Calgary Expo Themed Activities

By AGATHA ZARZYCKI

(Photo: Neil Zeller)

(Photo: Neil Zeller)

The sold-out Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo celebrates ten years this April, and whether you’ve scored tickets or not, Calgary’s Expo related events reach beyond the BMO Centre. Here are ten Expo themed activities in and around the city (at the same time!):

Comic Book Fun
Check out April arrivals at one of Canada’s largest comic book stores. Another Dimension Comics in Kensington has received new comic book additions, such as Convergence Aquaman #1 and Archie vs. Predator #1, as well as restocks and new Hot Toys. Celebrate the appearances of Arrow star Stephen Amell and Captain America star Hayley Atwell at the Expo with the Arrow Action Figure and the Retro Captain America Action Figure Set.

Cosplay Costumes
The Costume Shoppe carries over 15,000 women’s, men’s, and children’s (and pet!) costumes and accessories perfect for cosplay fun and the Calgary Expo’s two separate costume contests. Located on Blackfoot Trail and 42 Avenue SE, the shop remains open year-round and its featured attire includes the Classic Superman DC Comics Men’s Costume, the Harley Quinn Super Villain Ladies Costume, and the Anakin Deluxe Star Wars Costume. They also offer costume rentals (an appointment is recommended).

Parties and Games
Dickens downtown pub and music venue has a gamer-friendly vibe, casual pub fare, and Calgary Expo celebrations. On April 17, Kabuki Guns Burlesque presents Nerdlesque with KGB girls and special guests. For a more low-key event, check out Gamer Sundays. Play online and offline recreational and competitive games, from board and card games to barcraft—complete with all day breakfast.

Shop Til You Drop
If you’re seeking a little retail therapy, Chinook Centre makes for the ideal retreat with over 250 stores. Get into the expo spirit with video game and pop culture collectibles from EB Games or superhero, Star Wars, and elf figurines from the Lego Store, and unwind from a day at the Expo at the movie theatre, its adjacent arcade area, or at the Chinook Bowladrome.

A Fairy Tale Production
Calgary Expo guest Lana Parrilla plays the Evil Queen from TV series Once Upon A Time, but she isn’t the only Snow White inspired character near Calgary. DuffleBag Theatre, an interactive theatre that retells fairy tales and Shakespearean classics with a twist for the whole family, puts on their theatre adaptation of Snow White at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre in Okotoks on April 18 at 7 pm.

(Almost) Midnight at the Movies
In commemoration of Stan Lee—co-creator of Marvel’s comic book superhero Thor—and his near-appearance at the Expo (Lee had to cancel at the last minute), check out the Calgary Underground Film Festival’s screening of I Am Thor at The Palomino (April 18, 9:30 pm). No, they’re not the same character, but ’70s and ’80s rock star and body builder Jon Miki Thor will entice you with a similar powerful God-like demeanour. Afterwards, watch Thor: The Rock Warrior Live in Concert with the Outlaws of Ravenhurt & the Ultimate Power Duo at 11 pm.

Fables & Super Shows
Get in a little extra superhero and fable time at Loose Moose Theatre. The popular improvisational theatre in the historic Inglewood neighbourhood presents weekly shows and performances. On the week of the Expo, watch their new Super Scene (April 18), an elimination round where audience members vote for their favourite performers who direct a hilarious scene. On April 18 and 19, Loose Moose puts on their Fabulous Fables show for children aged four to 10.

Pre and Post Expo Eats
Although Poutine Week—an event where select Calgary restaurants feature delicious and unique poutine for people to try on their own schedule—doesn’t directly relate to the Expo, they both overlap on April 18 and 19 and many restaurants are walking distance from the BMO Centre. Host restaurants on 17th Avenue include Anju Restaurant, Bar C, Cleaver, The Coup, National, and the Ship & Anchor.

Magic Tournaments
There’s magic in the air—and not just at the Expo. Join Broken City, a laid-back pub and music venue with a rooftop patio on 11 Avenue SW, for their free standard tournament of the trading card game Magic: The Gathering every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon. Whether you’re a Magic enthusiast or not, Broken City is a perfect summer spot to enjoy the sun, drink specials, as well as a food menu that offers pub favourites, vegan-friendly dishes, and all-day breakfast.

The Last Hurrah
The official Calgary Expo after party, Cowboys’ Land of Legends, kicks off on April 18, 8 pm, at the Cowboys Dancehall and Casino. Dress in costume, receive prizes, and party at the permanent multiplex location of Cowboys Nightclub. All Calgary Expo ticket holders receive free entry with their passes before 9 pm!

Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS enthralls Calgary audiences

By RACHAEL FREY

Mr. Microcosmos (Karl L'Écuyer) and his "intuitive side," Mini Lili (Antanina Satsura). (Photo: courtesy Cirque du Soleil)

Mr. Microcosmos (Karl L’Écuyer) and his “intuitive side,” Mini Lili (Antanina Satsura). (Photo: courtesy Cirque du Soleil)

Travel into the not-so-distant past in a reality that’s both bizarrely alien and completely familiar with Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities. Since its debut in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has become well known and loved for its animal-free circuses that rely on the incredible skill of their performers to entrance audiences around the world, and its 35th production KURIOS is no exception.

The steampunk-themed show delves into the larger-than-life curio cabinet of the Seeker, who sees a collection of otherworldly characters come to life in his makeshift laboratory. They are led by Mr. Microcosmos, a technology-obsessed individual whose unconscious mind is carried inside his rotund mechanical overcoat in the form of Mini Lili, a warm artist and poetess who represents his intuitive self (Mini Lili is played by actress Antanina Satsura who, at 3.2 feet tall and 39 pounds, is one of the 10 smallest people in the world).

The intense characters pave the way for jaw-dropping feats of athletic talent in which performers go far beyond the standard acrobatic stunts. In one act, four contortionists embody electric eels, executing a series of human pyramids at a breakneck pace. In another, dinner guests watch in delight as one of their party climbs a stack of chairs to reach the chandelier—only to discover that their exact doubles are performing the same act upside down above their heads.

With not a single second of downtime, KURIOS is a feast for the senses that will delight audience members of all ages. The show is visiting Calgary until May 24 under its own big top tent on the Stampede Grounds—tickets are available at www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/kurios/tickets/calgary.aspx

In The Know: Speakeasies Make a Modern Comeback in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

Milk Tiger Lounge's co-owner Nathan Head mixes up a Vieux Carre, a classic New Orleans prohibition-era cocktail. (Photo: Marnie Persaud)

Milk Tiger Lounge’s co-owner Nathan Head mixes up a Vieux Carre, a classic New Orleans prohibition-era cocktail. (Photo: Marnie Persaud)

In the Prohibition era of the early twentieth century, going out for a night on the town was a clandestine affair. Bar patrons would quickly glance around for the coppers before slipping into an alley and rapping out a secret knock on an unmarked door to be admitted into a speakeasy for a glass or three of bootlegged moonshine.

Now that alcohol is as legal as apple pie, there’s no need for stealth. But, the impact that Prohibition speakeasies had on social diversity, operating practices, and even cocktail recipes still reverberates through drinking establishments nearly 100 years later.

Over the last few years, modern speakeasies have been popping up all over North America—genteel bars with a vintage or retro vibe, nattily dressed bartenders, and a focus on classically inspired and crafted cocktails. Don your fedoras and flapper dresses (or whatever kids are wearing these days) and check out Calgary’s contemporary interpretations of the speakeasy—secret knock not required. Read more…

20 Things to Do in Calgary Under $20

By AGATHA ZARZYCKI

The Calgary Tower offers a bird's eye view of downtown. (Photo: courtesy Tourism Calgary)

The Calgary Tower offers a bird’s eye view of downtown. (Photo: courtesy Tourism Calgary)

You don’t have to break to bank to experience Calgary’s hallmark attractions! Here are 20 activities in Calgary for under $20:

Calgary Tower
The iconic Calgary Tower opened in 1968 and is a staggering 190.8 meters high (626 feet). Don’t worry, you don’t have to climb its 762 steps—two 25-passenger, high-speed elevators soar to the top in 62 seconds. Once there, stand on the glass floor observation terrace for a bird’s eye view of the Rocky Mountains and iconic Calgary landmarks. An audio guide is available in 4 different languages, and will explain interesting trivia about some of the notable art and architecture in your view. Check out the visitor information centre and souvenir shop at the tower’s base, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on the second floor, and revolving restaurant Sky 360 at the top. Admission: adult $18, senior $16, child (4-12) $9, children three and under are free. www.calgarytower.com

Glenbow 
Western Canada’s largest museum and gallery features 20 galleries with permanent exhibitions on Western and Indigenous cultures, military history, Asian artifacts, and a rotating selection of visiting exhibitions. Their current Cabinets of Curiosity interactive showcase mimics a 17th century wonder-room, with small collections of extraordinary objects from Edmonton artist Lyndal Osborne’s travels to the Australian coast and through the Alberta prairies. Admission: adult $15, senior $10, youth (7-17) $9, children six and under are free. www.glenbow.org

Loose Moose Theatre
Located on the second floor of the Crossroads Market in the historic Inglewood neighbourhood, this theatre company presents weekly improvised comedy shows. Their Maestro Improv show on Friday nights features elimination rounds, where audience members rate performers chosen at random until one performer wins the ‘maestro improviser’ title, going on to direct shows during Gorilla Theatre on Saturday nights. Every show is different, but they’re always very funny. Tickets: general admisison $15, student $12. www.loosemoose.com

TELUS Spark, Calgary’s Science Centre
The science centre houses four exhibit galleries, movies, planetarium shows in Calgary’s only HD Digital Dome Theatre, interactive activities in the Creative Kids Museum, live science demonstrations, and more. The new Brainasium outdoor park features an interactive play area where children learn momentum and teamwork on the five ton spinning rock, explore simple physics on the teeter-totter built for six, slide their hands along the musical railing and climb the netting tower to the 63 foot slide—the largest stainless steel slide in Canada. Adults and children alike will have fun visiting travelling exhibitions and building structures with real tools at the Open Studio Drop-In Workshops. The second Thursday night of every month is Adults Only Night, where the venue is open only to adults to enjoy unique programming, an open bar, workshops and presentations, and kid-free play. Admission: adult $19.95, senior $17.95, youth (13-17) $15.95, child 3-12) $12.95, children three and under are free. www.sparkscience.ca

The Plaza Theatre
The Plaza plays alternative films and functions as a first-run art house cinema. Watch timeless classics or new indie flicks in their 370 seat auditorium. Movie prices vary and usually cost under $10. Every Wednesday night the theatre hosts Late Night at the Plaza—a variety show with a selection of entertainment by talented local musicians, artists, comedians, media, dancers, performers, and more. www.theplaza.ca

Heritage Park Historical Village
This living history museum features more than 180 attractions and exhibits that re-create Western Canadian history from the 1860s to the 1950s. Interact with costumed interpreters, explore pioneer homes and businesses, ride a steam train, board a paddlewheeler on the Glenmore Reservoir, try antique rides and games, and enjoy Western Canadian cuisine at Selkirk Grille. While the park is open seasonally May through October, year-round daily attractions include dining at Selkirk Grille and Railway Café, Haskayne Mercantile Block—a collection of one-of-a-kind boutiques and an antique shop—the Big Rock Interpretive Brewery, and the Gasoline Alley Museum of vintage cars. Access to Heritage Town Square (located before the gates) is free. Park admission: adult $25.75*; senior (65+) $20.25 youth (7-14) $18.50; child ($13.25). www.heritagepark.ca (*Adult admission during the summer season is more than $20, but overall most of their offerings are under $20. And, even at $25.75, it’s still very much worth a visit.)

Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame
Located at Canada Olympic Park, this attraction showcases the stories and memorabilia of Canada’s sporting legends. Interactive exhibits include shadow boxing with world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, 3D hockey and baseball, simulated rowing, wheelchair racing, and more. Admission: general $12, seniors $10, youth (4-18) $8, children three and under are free. www.sportshall.ca

Olympic Oval
The world-class, high performance atmosphere of the Olympic Oval skating rink is not just for professional athletes. Located at the University of Calgary, the 450 meter oval ice surface is open to the public, with equipment rentals available at the Skate Shop. The facility also houses artwork that fosters a connection between artists and athletes—it’s worth checking out. Admission: adult $6.75, child/youth/senior (55+) $4.50, family $18, special needs (with assistant) $5. www.oval.ucalgary.ca

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory
Located on a hilltop in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, The University of Calgary hosts public events and open houses that offer perfect occasions to star gaze. These outdoor gatherings provide opportunities to look through the telescopes to see constellations and other celestial events, and the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory has one of the three largest telescopes in Canada. Admission: $10 per person. www.ucalgary.ca/rao

Lougheed House
The former home of senator James Lougheed and his family is a public heritage centre that features permanent and temporary art and historic exhibits, and is a designated National and Provincial Historic Site. Explore this 1891 Victorian sandstone mansion on your own or with an interpreter for a guided tour. Relax in the Beaulieu Gardens, pick up an antique souvenir in the Lougheed House Museum Shop, or go for tea and a light meal in The Restaurant at Lougheed House. Admission: adult $8.50, senior/student $6.50, child (six-12) $5, children under six are free.  www.lougheedhouse.com

The Military Museum of Calgary
Uncover the triumphs, misfortunes and sacrifices of the Canadian Forces at the second largest military museum in Canada. Their eight museums and galleries include the Army, Naval, and Air Force Museums of Alberta. Walk through a World War I trench, enter the wheelhouse of a World War II ship model, and visit exhibits at The Founders’ Gallery. Their new exhibit The Maple Leaf and the Tulip: The Liberation of Holland in the Second World War opens in May, 2015. Admission: adult $10, senior $5, student and youth $4, children 7 and under free. www.themilitarymuseums.ca

City of Calgary Leisure Centres
Get active at The City of Calgary’s two leisure centres. Admission includes access to the wave pool and slides, fitness centre, gymnasiums, exercise and aquafit classes, as well as scheduled public skating and shinny hockey. The recreation areas also each have their own unique qualities—the 5.5 acre Village Square Leisure Centre, located in the northeast, boasts its own safari-themed waterpark, while the Southland Leisure Centre, located in the southwest, spans 227, 000 square feet and its pool features a rope swing. Admission: adult $11.95, child/youth (age 7-17) $6, preschooler (age 2-6) $3, under two free. www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Recreation/Pages/Leisure-centres/Home.aspx

Aerospace Museum of Calgary
Originally used as a drill hall for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in 1941, the space later turned into the first aviation museum in Calgary. Visit over 20 exhibits that commemorate Canadian flight history, from the first jet combat aircraft to the world’s first certified helicopter. Their ASMAC Movie Nights feature aerospace-themed films the second Thursday of each month from October to May. Admission: adult $10, senior (60+)/youth/students $7, child (age 6-11) $5, children 5 and under are free. www.asmac.ab.ca

Chinese Cultural Centre
The largest stand-alone cultural centre in Canada at 70, 000 square feet, its central dome, the Dr. Henry Fok Cultural Hall, contains four hand-decorated columns with genuine gold and a 70 foot high ceiling patterned after the Temple of Heaven complex in Beijing. Admire beautiful blue tiles imported from China and the 561 hand painted dragons and 40 phoenixes. The Chinese Artifacts Museum holds an award-winning exhibition hall: Our Chosen Land: 100 years of development of the Chinese community in Calgary. Read books about Chinese culture at the Orrin & Clara Christie Might Library, browse the Chinese arts and crafts store, and dine at the Chinese restaurant. Cultural Centre: free. Museum: adult $5, senior/student/child $3, children 5 and under are free. www.culturalcentre.ca

Art Classes
The community-based Grasby Art Studio, located in the Northwest, offers more than just art supplies—they also teach art classes and paint night events, as well as host several art shows a year. Their drop-in open studio offers instructed art classes from 10 am to 4 pm daily. Whether you’re a novice newbie or an advanced artist, choose your medium or genre and work closely with an art connoisseur. All students learn a five-step drawing strategy and the six fundamental principles for professional art production. $15/hour includes instruction and supplies. www.grasbyartstudio.com

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
This archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved buffalo jumps in the world. Learn the traditional ways of the Plains People, who relied on the buffalo hunt, at the interpretive centre. Watch drumming and dancing demonstrations every Wednesday in July and August and hike to the drive lanes with Blackfoot guides on the first Saturday of every month from May to October. While it’s not in Calgary, this historical site is well worth the drive. Admission: adult $11, senior $9, youth (seven-17) $5, children 6 and under are free. www.history.alberta.ca/headsmashedin

Fish Creek Provincial Park
One of the largest urban parks in North America, and the largest in Canada, Fish Creek features the Bow Valley Ranch Visitor Centre, Environmental Learning Centre, and a seasonal interpretive program and Sikome Aquatic Facility—the manmade beach and lake make for the perfect summer spot. Bird watch, fish, bike, and hike through trails in the riverine forest location. Afterwards, take a break to dine at the casual Annie’s Café, the upscale Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant, or pack your own meal and take advantage of the picnic tables and shelters complete with a fire ring and charcoal grill. Whether it’s winter or summer, Fish Creek’s beautiful scenic environment is free and enjoyable year-round. www.albertaparks.ca/fish-creek

Fort Calgary
The North West Mounted Police built this National Historic Site in 1875. Located on a 40 acre riverside park where the Bow and Elbow Rivers meet, Fort Calgary features exhibits, an interpretive centre, and recreations of the fort’s 1875 palisade and 1888 barracks. Learn stories about Calgary’s past, try on an authentic RCMP uniform, stand behind bars in the jail cell, treat yourself to vintage goodies at the Museum Shop, and visit their Community Garden. Admission: adult $12, senior/post-secondary students $11, youth (ages 7-17) $7, child (ages 3-6) $5, children 2 and under are free. www.fortcalgary.com

Dance Classes
Put on your dancing shoes and join Alberta Dancesport for a beginner dance class and party every Friday. Their professional instructors, many who have represented Canada at world championship dance events and starred on film and television, lead the one-hour class at 8:15 pm. Each week features a different dance, workshops range from salsa and the waltz to polka, two-step and the East Coast swing. Afterwards, dance to your heart’s content at their dance party, complete with a DJ until midnight. Tickets: $8 per person, no partner or registration required. Looking for something more advanced? Drop in to the first class of any session (expert level included) for free. www.albertadancesport.com

Butterfield Acres
Enjoy an authentic farm experience from April to October at Butterfield Acres, located on Rocky Ridge Road. Toddlers can play at the Nursery Rhyme Park, while children can enjoy public pony rides and tractor pulled wagon rides through woodlands and over hilltops. Pet and feed old farm friends and new baby arrivals at the Farm Corral, from chicks and bunnies to piglets and donkeys—you can even learn how to milk a goat! Admission: adult $13.99, senior $12.99, child $10.99. www.butterfieldacres.com

Where Calgary’s Comic Book Photo Shoot

By BREANNA MROCZEK

superheroes-moseley-titlepost

Makeup artist Lianne Moseley poses with the characters she painted for Where Calgary’s March/April 2015 issue. Models (left to right): Felix Burton (Royals Management); Matthew Davis (Mode Models); Kaitlyn Phillips (Mode Models); Grace Okeny (Royals Management).

In November 2014, I saw Lianne Moseley’s post on Facebook that she had turned herself into animated character Sterling Archer. The 2D makeup effects were uncanny, and in the weeks that followed she painted herself up as She-Hulk and Green Arrow. Impressed by Lianne’s work, I was inspired to create a comic book-themed photo shoot for Where Calgary‘s March/April 2015 issue in celebration of Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo’s 10th Anniversary, April 16-19, 2015.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click the thumbnails to see photos from the shoot and behind the scenes.

Lianne is a self-taught makeup artist, with no professional schooling or training. “I was always interested in regular beauty makeup,” Lianne says, “even if it was making mistakes with blue eyeshadow or goth eyeliner in junior high.” For the last seven years she’s worked various retail cosmetic jobs and has been doing freelance makeup for weddings for the past three years. “Doing bridal makeup is so rewarding. I love being able to add to someone’s special day, and I love working with customers,” Lianne says.

Moseley's early work, inspired by Ronnie Mena (@rmena). (Photo: Lianne Moseley, Oct 2013)

Moseley’s early work, inspired by Ronnie Mena (@rmena). (Photo: Lianne Moseley, Oct 2013)

Her interest in face painting started in 2013 when she saw the work of Ronnie Mena, a professional face painter in Los Angeles, on Instagram (@rmena). “A lot of his work is what inspired me to start face painting in the first place. A lot of my first creations were re-creations of his work as a means of practice,” Moseley says.

Then Lianne started following the work of Argenis (@argenapeede) on Instagram: “he turned himself into a 2D comic book-like character. It wasn’t a specific character, but I was inspired by it. One day I was with a friend—Scott—and I was feeling creative, so I decided to try it out and I turned him into a 2D character. It worked really well, and minutes after posting it Argenis commented on my photo and said ‘Awe great job! Cute model tooo [sic]’.  That was really motivating to have him like what I did.”

Makeup by Moseley, inspired by (Photo: Lianne Moseley)

Makeup by Moseley, inspired by Argenis (@argenapeede). (Photo: Lianne Moseley)

When Lianne shared Argenis’ feedback with Scott, “he got kind of cocky, saying no one could make a better looking character than he could” she recalls. “So I got competitive and told him ‘I bet I could be better looking than you!’ I knew I couldn’t make myself into a female character because that wouldn’t be an even comparison. I had just finished watching Archer and thought he was the perfect character to try painting—he’s so good looking. So I just played around with my makeup, trying different shading and blending techniques and it just sort of came together… I even painted on the suit and painted my hair black. I posted the photo to my Facebook page, and at that time most of my followers were just friends of mine. So my brother saw the photo and he posted it to Reddit. I kind of forgot about it, but a day later my brother messaged me to say it was getting a lot of positive attention on Reddit. This was exciting, but then I realized no one knew it was me! My name wasn’t on it, there was no link to my Facebook page—the post was called ‘Girl Turns Herself Into Archer,’ and I was just ‘Girl.'”

Lianne certainly doesn’t have that problem now, with publications around the world reporting on her work. Before she started posting her comic book-style makeup, Lianne had 256 fans on her Facebook page. Just two weeks after the first photo from our shoot went viral, her page had 3,930 fans—she gained 1,000 followers in one day after Ashton Kutcher shared her photo. “The experience has been amazing, overwhelming, and outrageous,” Lianne says. My favourite thing is all the love I’ve been getting from my city (Calgary)—locals have been showing me such enormous supportive and I’ve never been more proud to be from Calgary.”

Lianne attributes her skill and her ability to create the comic book looks without any practice to art classes she took in secondary school and as extra-curricular activities—”there’s a lot of overlap between what I learned in art classes and how I’m able to conceptualize the comic book styles now. Creating the 2D look is all about layering, shading, details, and highlights.” “The comic stuff has been pretty successful—so far I’ve done everything in one take with no practice before. I reference the actual comic book art, so I’ll go look at different pictures of the characters in old comics, new comics, and fan art, and I’ll mix all these different takes and create the character with makeup.” Lianne also says Kryolan Cosmetics are one of the reasons why her comic book makeup has turned out so well: “I’ve never used anything else. It’s an artist brand and it just blends and covers well. It doesn’t crack.” Lianne paints all of the details by hand without the use of an airbrush, and it takes her about one and a half hours to paint a half-face character, up to four hours to do a full face and half-body paint.

What’s next for Lianne? She’s going to continue with her comic book creations and eventually wants to hone her skills in special effects and in makeup teaching and training. “As long as I get to be a makeup artist and get to create and have fun and not be limited, that’s the dream.”

Keep an eye out for Lianne at the Calgary Expo—she’s planning to paint herself as Jean Grey.

Comic Book Photo Shoot Credits:
Photographer: Neil Zeller
Photography Assistant: Katie Novak
Makeup Artist: Lianne Moseley
Hair Stylist: April Jones of Diva SalonSpa
Stylist: Tianna Stevenson of Nordstrom and Kierra McIntyre
Models: Matthew Davis of Mode Models; Kaitlyn Phillips of Mode Models
Felix Burton of Royals Management; Grace Okeny of Royals Management
Clothing provided by Nordstrom Chinook Centre and Supreme Men’s Wear
Makeup provided by Kryolan Cosmetics
Location: Calgary Tower
Hair and makeup room provided by: Fairmont Palliser

 

Outdoor Winter Activities in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

Photo: courtesy Fotolia.com

Photo: courtesy Fotolia.com

Those who are looking for winter fun in Calgary usually head straight to the city’s Olympic facilities at WinSport for downhill skiing, speed skating, bobsleigh, and other high-performance activities. But that’s not all Calgary has to offer for enjoying the snow:

SNOWSHOE BUNNIES
While the beauty of a snow-covered field may inspire you to take an invigorating winter walk, getting through the snow can be tough unless you strap on a pair of snowshoes. A lightweight, latticed frame that straps to your boot, snowshoes ease the struggle of walking in snow by distributing body weight over a larger area, which prevents you from sinking into the snow. A bit of technique is required, but snowshoeing is a beginner-friendly activity that is suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities.
Rentals: The northwest University of Calgary Outdoor Centre rents snowshoes, snow boots, and ski poles. They also offer lectures and courses for beginners along with guided snowshoe day hikes in Kananaskis Country. In the southwest, visit Rapid-Rent to rent snowshoes and other outdoor gear.
Where To Go: Nose Hill park in northwest Calgary has small hills, flat expanses, and is kid and dog friendly. There’s also a spectacular view of the city, and on a clear day you can see all the way to the Rocky Mountains. In south Calgary, head to Fish Creek Park. As one of the largest urban parks in North America it provides a true nature experience within city limits. You’re sure to see winter birds flitting among the trees, and with sharp eyes you may even spot rabbits, deer, and other wildlife.

TOBOGGAN TIME
The thrill of sliding down a snowy hill, mittens clenched tight to your sled, wind in your face—winter just isn’t winter without a good toboggan ride. Calgary has 18 designated sledding hills, chosen for their lack of obstacles and safe run outs. Make sure to dress warmly!
Rentals: There aren’t many places in Calgary to rent a toboggan, but the easiest solution is to stop off at a home store such as Canadian Tire, where you can buy a basic sled or “crazy carpet” for as little as $5.
Where To Go: Calgary’s most popular tobogganing hill is St. Andrew’s Heights in the northwest—and with good reason. It’s the perfect steepness to be thrilling but not terrifying, it’s long enough to make the climb back up to the top worth it, and it’s wide enough to safely accommodate all the sledders who flock there after a big dump of snow. Go to www.calgary.ca and search “tobogganing” for a list of all approved locations.

JOURNEY CROSS COUNTRY
Cross-country skiing is an ancient form of travel, practiced for thousands of years in Scandinavia and China. Rather than racing downhill and letting gravity do the work, cross-country skiers provide their own locomotion. The difficulty depends on the terrain, but there are several places in Calgary where tracks are set by machine, making grooves in the snow that keep skis straight and make it easier for less experienced skiers.
Rentals: Stop off downtown at Mountain Equipment Co-op to rent a cross-country package, which includes skis, boots, and poles. It’s also the place to be if there’s any other outdoor sporting equipment you need to buy or rent, including winter-appropriate clothing.
Where To Go: During the summer Shaganappi Point Golf Course is devoted to golfers, but in the winter it transforms into a cross-country skier’s paradise. Close to downtown and the 69th Street C-train line (disembark at Shaganappi Point station), there’s plenty of space and the trails are free to use. Visit calgaryskiclub.org to check if trails are open.

Read It and Eat: Calgary Cookbooks

By BREANNA MROCZEK

cookbooks_post

Bring a taste of Calgary home with these four new cookbooks.

Calgary Cooks Edited by Gail Norton and Karen Ralph (Photo: courtesy Figure 1 Publishing)

Calgary Cooks (Photo: courtesy Figure 1 Publishing)

Calgary Cooks
Edited by Gail Norton and Karen Ralph
Re-create that memorable dining experience from one of Calgary’s notable restuarants at home with Calgary Cooks, a perfect souvenir of Calgary’s vibrant dining scene. The recipes for some delectable dishes from popular restaurants—Jelly Modern’s Sticky Toffee Doughnuts! CHARCUT Roast House’s Lemon and Thyme Poached Tuna Conserva!—are revealed with easy-to-follow directions.

 

Pucker (Photo: courtesy Whitecap Books)

Pucker (Photo: courtesy Whitecap Books)

Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers
By Gwendolyn Richards
The Calgary Herald’s food writer has done something a little different for her latest project: she’s written about how to make food instead reviewing what it tastes like. You need this on your cookbook shelf: there are simple yet delicious “I never even thought about that!” recipes for side dishes and snacks, as well as entrée and dessert recipes that will become your go-to dishes (grapefruit ginger scones and spaghetti a limone are already favourites of mine). The infusion of citrus into each dish adds an inescapable taste of summer to dishes in the winter months. The easy-to-follow recipes won’t leave a sour taste in your mouth—the ingredients are all very accessible—and your creations will earn you a good review by anyone who’s invited to taste your dish.

Gatherings: Bring People Together with Food (Photo: courtesy Whitecap Books)

Gatherings: Bring People Together with Food (Photo: courtesy Whitecap Books)

Gatherings:
Bringing People Together with Food
By Julie Van Rosendaal and Jan Scott
The easy-to-make recipes (with inexpensive ingredients) in this collection are grouped together by category for common occasions—backyard barbecues, weekend brunch, showers, date night, board game night—will inspire you to connect more often with friends and family over food. And, simple certainly does not mean tasteless—these recipes are foolproof but will make it seem like you’re more Julia Child than Betty Crocker in the kitchen. A personal favourite: chocolate chip and stout chili makes the perfect winter warm-up and livens up a familiar dish.

You Gotta Eat Here Too! (Photo: courtesy Harper Collins Canada)

You Gotta Eat Here Too! (Photo: courtesy Harper Collins Canada)

You Gotta Eat Here Too!
By John Catucci and Michael Vlessides
The crew from the hit show on Food Network Canada continue to travel across Canada looking for the best comfort food spots, and in the meantime have created a second compilation of recipes from some of their most memorable dining experiences. Calgary’s dining scene is always well-represented on the show, and now you can enjoy recipes for Wild Turkey Pie from Big T’s BBQ & Smokehouse, the Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burger from Boogie’s Burgers, and Brown Sugar-Brined Roast Chicken from Boxwood. What could be more cozy than enjoying some of Calgary’s best comfort food in the comfort of your own home?

5 Delectable Cheese Plates in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

The Lake House (Photo: Jason Dziver)

The Cheese Plate at The Lake House Restaurant in Calgary, AB (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Cheese is produced all over the world in hundreds of different varieties. It’s also one of the most deliciously indulgent foods, particularly when it’s made under the watchful eye of an artisan cheesemaker. Here are some of the best places in Calgary to sample rich, creamy (or crumbly) cheeses from around the globe.

The Lake House
Perched over the serene waters of Lake Bonavista in Calgary’s southeast, The Lake House is a rustically elegant restaurant focused on showcasing the regional flavours of western Canada. Appropriately, almost everything on the cheese list is produced in Canada and three are from within the province: a semi-hard, medium sharp gouda from Vital Green Farms in Picture Butte, Alberta; a firm, slightly salty goat cheese from Fairwinds Farm in Fort Macleod, Alberta; and an extra aged gouda with a rich, nutty taste from Sylvan Star Cheese in Red Deer, Alberta.
• 747 Lake Bonavista Dr SE, 403-225-3939, lakehousecalgary.com

Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro
Located in the heart of downtown Calgary, Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro occupies a sandstone building on the busy, historic Stephen Avenue. Well known for an excellent wine list, Divino boasts an equally impressive cheese list with varieties from all over Europe and Canada, from the soft, ripe, buttery L’ Extra Triple Crème of Longueuil, Quebec to the pungent, creamy Stinking Bishop of Glouchestershire, England.
• 113 – 8 Avenue SW, 403-410-5555, www.crmr.com/divino

Blink Restaurant
A focus on the best local products and unexpectedly delicious flavour pairings are two of the reasons Blink won Restaurant of the Year in Where Calgary’s 2014 Where to Dine Awards. While the cheese plate doesn’t come with a list of options, it does feature some interesting tastes such as Etorki, a hard, smooth-textured sheep cheese from France with a subtle burnt caramel taste, and Cambazola, a triple cream blue cheese similar in style to a brie. There’s also an extra little treat on the plate—a piece of real honeycomb from Okotoks, Alberta.
• 111 – 8 Ave SW, 403-263-5330, blinkcalgary.com

Farm Restaurant
Expert cheesemonger Janice Beaton opened Farm to complement her next-door shop, Janice Beaton Fine Cheese. Though there’s more to the locally sourced menu than just cheese, Farm serves as a tasting room for the shop’s most delightful cheese and charcuterie selections. While the list is always evolving, it’s very robust and cheese lovers of all stripes are sure to find their hole-y grail here.
• 1006 – 17 Ave SW, 403-245-2276, farm-restaurant.com

Boxwood
Tucked away in the beautiful, historic Central Memorial Park in Calgary’s Beltline, Boxwood is the little sister of the renowned Teatro. Local, sustainable foods and mouth-watering rotisserie meats take centre stage here, but there’s also a Canadian cheese plate featuring Baluchon, an organic, semi-soft cheese with a taste of hazelnut from Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade, Quebec, and St. Benoit Blue, a semi-soft blue cheese with a creamy, slightly salty flavour made by monks at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, Quebec.
• 340 – 13 Ave SW, 403-265-4006, www.boxwoodcafe.ca

Where To Dine Awards Calgary 2014

Blink Restaurant (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Blink Restaurant (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Every year, some of the city’s top food critics convene to decide who deserves top honours in Calgary’s dining scene. Here are Where Calgary’s selections for 2014.

THE PANELLISTS

John Gilchrist is a Calgary restaurant critic, food writer, Where Calgary “Hot Dining” columnist, and author of Calgary and area restaurant review books My Favourite Restaurants and My Favourite Cheap Eats.

Julie Van Rosendaal is a best-selling cookbook author, the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One, and a columnist and freelancer for several publications across Canada.

A. Warren Downs is the Gold Manager and Chef Concierge at the Fairmont Palliser, and the Regional Vice Director of Les Clefs d’Or Canada.

Diana Ng is a digital media strategist by day, and hungry, hungry hippo/food writer by night. She is the co-founder of Eat North, and has written for Culinaire, WestJet’s Up!, and Avenue, as well as other publications like Canadian Living and Fodor’s travel guides.

Dan Clapson is a food writer and columnist in Calgary who helps to chronicle the Canadian food scene for media outlets like Avenue magazine, Food Network Canada, enRoute magazine, and more. He loves London Fogs when it’s minus five or colder.

A CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC
Where Calgary’s Restaurant of the Year is Blink
No gimmicks, no trends, no themes, no features: Blink Restaurant is just simply good. “Year after year, Blink proves that you don’t need to latch onto what’s “cool” to be one of the top dining destinations in the city,” Clapson says. “The wine list is one of the best you’ll find and Chef Chris Dewling’s menu is all local and all delicious.”

WTD_blink1

Blink Restaurant (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Blink opened in 2009 and ever since have served up dishes that do an outstanding job of showcasing local ingredients with delicious—and sometimes unexpected—flavour pairings. “One of the best qualities in a good restaurant is consistency,” Van Rosendaal says, “Blink serves a consistently fantastic menu in a beautiful, historic setting.” This is not to say that consistency, where Blink is concerned, is tired or outdated or frumpy—it’s inviting, contemporary, and unpretentious. Blink is just an enjoyable place to be. The exposed brick walls and soft lighting create an ambiance that’s pleasant for any sort of dining experience—date, business lunch, drinks, group get-together—without being distracting. Memorable meals are what Blink serves up, because you’ll remember everything about it from the presentation to the complimentary flavours to how upset you felt when you got to the last morsel on the plate (good thing there’s always dessert). There’s a sugar pumpkin soup with spiced crème that I’d like to have until it disappears from the menu.

FAMILIAR FAVOURITES: RUNNERS UP
Raw Bar by Duncan Ly
“Raw Bar has always been one of Calgary’s hot spots, a superbly designed room with a unique Vietmodern menu by Executive Chef Duncan Ly and Chef de Cuisine Jinhee Lee, and some of the best cocktails in the city created by mixologist Christina Mah,” Van Rosendaal says. “If there’s a bar to be set in terms of Modern Vietnamese cooking, then Chef Duncan Ly has certainly set it. The plates of food here as beautiful to look at as they are to eat,” Clapson says. “Raw Bar pleases both fans of traditional Asian cuisine as well as people who may not be familiar with Asian food, with chefs Duncan Ly’s and Jinhee Lee’s expert hands at combining Asian flavours and ingredients with solid cooking techniques,” Ng says.

Rouge Restaurant
“Rouge is that charming and rare union between sophistication, casualness, polish, and homegrown,” Ng says. The ingredients are as local as possible, and the techniques and style of the food is timeless, all done in a cozy and historical setting.”
You can’t get more local than a place that grows its own produce in the garden just outside the restaurant and sources everything else from Calgary area producers. “Rouge has become a Calgary icon with skilled chefs, a dedication to local ingredients, and attention to detail—not to mention the best garden party venue in the city” Van Rosendaal says.

YEAR OF THE PIG
Calgary’s Best New Restaurant of 2014 is Black Pig Bistro
It was an easy, unanimous decision to award Black Pig Bistro this title: “I’m always hard-pressed to find something wrong with this place,” Clapson says. “Impeccable service, great-looking room, and the food—those pork and beans are one of my favourite dishes in this province.” Pork and beans? Yes! This dish of savoury porchetta topped with green beans, broad beans, and edemame beans is the restaurant’s most popular, co-owner Larry Scammell says. “Black Pig Bistro offers up an inspiring menu with a Spanish edge and dedication to the pig, but they’re far from one-dimensional” says Van Rosendaal. “It’s worth a visit for their small plates, interesting cocktails, and fantastic desserts, all served in a comfortably current space.” Chefs Allison and John Bieber and owners Denise and Larry Scammel opened the restaurant in April 2014, inspired by Allison and John’s travels to Spain.

Black Pig Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Black Pig Bistro (Photo: Jason Dziver)

The restaurant name refers to the Black Iberian Pig, indigenous to Spain and Portugal, known for its high caliber of flavour. Here, they source their pork from Broek Pork Acres, a family run farm in Coalhurst, AB that raises grain-fed and pasture-dwelling pigs without antibiotics. Beyond tapas and typical pork dishes, the menu at Black Pig Bistro is truly innovative with resulting dishes that will satisfy hungry eaters and don’t just look pretty on the plate (though they do that, too.)

NEW AND NOTABLE: RUNNERS UP
Workshop Kitchen + Culture
Good theatre and good food have always gone together to form the perfect night out. That combination resides under one roof at The Grand, a historic entertainment building that is now home to the contemporary performance company Theatre Junction and the restaurant Workshop Kitchen + Culture. Named for the building’s original theatre group, Workshop 14, the restaurant matches the performances in contemporary innovation with dishes such as gin and juniper cured trout or roasted duck breast with a coriander and espresso glaze. Three, five, and seven course “improv” tasting menus are also available. Workshop even makes its own sodas in flavours such as vanilla maple cream and blackberry cardamom. “Workshop is a little bit of fresh air in a predictable downtown dining scene,” Clapson says. “There’s a lot on the menu here, but it’s all enticing.”

Scopa Neighbourhood Italian
Casual, neighbourhood Italian is the vibe here—and the food is deliciously suited to it. “The setting is part farm house, part Italian rumpus room, and the service is bright and the prices are right,” Gilchrist says. Perfect for families, dates, and friends, Scopa serves up crisp, crusty pizzas, creamy pastas, and authentic Italian desserts. “If you’re looking for a great Italian meal and good drinks without a crowd of hipsters standing in your way at the door, then this is the spot for you,” Clapson says. “Scopa’s inspired take on Italian (especially their polenta bread with pancetta and honey) is worth coming back for again and again.”

MAISON BIRKS SILVER SPOON AWARD
Centini Restaurant and Lounge

“All of our hotels have received many great comments back from our guests about the little things the staff at Centini have done to create a memorable dining experience for them; they will hand out cannoli as they are leaving, or let them in on a family recipe. As well as the excellent food, impeccable service, and consistency, they do their best to accommodate our guests when we call in to make a reservation.”
— Cindy Stewart, Chef Concierge Westin Hotel, Les Clefs d’Or Regional Secretary

BEST OF THE REST
Our judges’ picks for the top three restaurants in 22 dining categories

BEST FOR BEER
National
Craft Beer Market
Beer Revolution

BEST BRUNCH
Grumans Catering and Delicatessen
Yellow Door Bistro
Monki breakfastclub & bistro

BEST BURGERS
Naina’s Kitchen
Buchanan’s Chop House & Whisky Bar
Burger 320

BEST FOR BUSINESS LUNCH
Blink Restaurant
CHARCUT Roast House
Catch & the Oyster Bar

BEST CAFE/COFFEE SHOP
Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar
Caffe Rosso
Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters

BEST MULTI-LOCATION RESTAURANT
Redwater Rustic Grille
Earls Kitchen + Bar
Original Joe’s Restaurant & Bar

BEST COCKTAILS
Model Milk
Milk Tiger Lounge
Raw Bar by Duncan Ly

BEST DESSERT (RESTAURANT)
Yellow Door Bistro
Blink Restaurant
La Chaumiere Restaurant

BEST DESSERT (TO GO)
Yann Haute Patisserie
Brûlée Patisserie
Jelly Modern Doughnuts

BEST EAST ASIAN
White Elephant Thai Cuisine
Thai Sa-on Royal Thai Cuisine
The Himalayan

BEST EUROPEAN
Avec Bistro
Wurst Überkitchen
Cassis Bistro

BEST FAMILY DINING
Diner Deluxe
Cibo
Kinjo Sushi & Grill

BEST INDIAN
Namskar Restaurant
Clay Oven
Moti Mahal

BEST ITALIAN
Bonterra Trattoria
Il Sogno
Scopa Neighbourhood Italian

BEST FOR LOCAL INGREDIENTS
Rouge Restaurant
River Café
downtownfood

BEST PIZZA
Posto Pizzeria & Bar
Double Zero
Without Papers Pizza

BEST STEAK
Vintage Chophouse & Tavern
Wellington’s of Calgary
Rush Ocean Prime

BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD
The Coup
Boxwood Café
Namskar Restaurant

BEST FOR WINE
Divino Wine and Cheese Bistro
Vin Room
Wine-Ohs

*Note: Only restaurants that opened prior to November 1, 2014 were considered in all categories. Choices were voted on and discussed by the judges, with consideration for the visitor and local markets, which are Where Calgary‘s audience.

Warm Cocktail Recipes to Heat Up Your Holidays

By RACHAEL FREY

Photo: Viktor Hanacek  / picjumbo.com

Photo: Viktor Hanacek / picjumbo.com

Calgary is notorious for its cold, blustery winters. While you might set out for the night in the mood for a cocktail, by the time you arrive at your destination a cold drink is the last thing on your mind. Luckily, Calgary’s savvy mixologists are on the case, creating delicious cocktails that are served warm enough to defrost your fingers and heat you from the inside out. And, if you get snowed in, they’ve kindly provided the recipes so you can re-create their inventions at home.

Nouvella Picante (Photo: courtesy Candela Lounge)

Nouvella Picante (Photo: courtesy Candela Lounge)

Nouvella Picante at Candela Lounge
The bar dominates the centre of the room at the elegant and exotic Candela Lounge. The menu reflects its global flair with a focus on small plates with a Latin twist, such as bison chorizo with caramelized onions, tomato and melted cheese curds or “Russian roulette”—six oyster shots, one of which is extra hot. That playful sense of flavour extends to the cocktail menu as well. Created by mixologist Darren Fabian on a frosty December night, the Nouvella Picante is a warm, sweet, rich drink that can be paired with dessert or just replace it entirely. As an added bonus, the espresso component will keep you dancing all night.
• 2 parts Amaretto
• 1 part Frangelico
• 1 part Zanin pepperocino
Add:
• 2 parts hot espresso in room temperature martini glass
Shake 1 oz vanilla syrup and 4 parts whipping cream over ice and double strain on top of liquid in glass to float. Garnish with coffee beans.
♦ 1919 – 4 St SW, 403-719-0049, candelalounge.com

Read more…

6 Places for Gourmet Gifts to Go in Calgary

By STEPHANIE ARSENAULT

Macaron cakes by Yann Haute Patisserie (Photo: Blair Hill)

Yann Haute Patisserie (Photo: Blair Hill)

‘Tis the season for dinner parties, holiday get-togethers, and festivities galore, which also means you’ll be picking up host and hostess gifts on the regular. If your go-to gift is a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers, it may be time to change up your game plan and opt for something just a little more delicious—and ready to eat—for your foodie friends. Here are six spectacular spots for gourmet gifts this season:

YANN HAUTE PATISSERIE
You can’t go wrong with chocolate, and the Five Ways Chocolate Tart from Yann Haute Patisserie features chocolate short bread dough, passion fruit and dark chocolate baked custard, chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, and chocolate glaze. It must be ordered in advance, but it’s perfect for a small dinner party or to give to your host to enjoy on their own. Day-of, try a selection of macarons like the Black Forest Macaron: chocolate mousse and black cherry jelly, kirsch bavaroise, and amaretto cherries. Délicieux, non?
• 329 – 23 Ave SW, 403-244-8091, yannboutique.com

Red Tree Catering (Photo: Blair Hill, courtesy Red Tree Catering)

Red Tree Catering (Photo: Blair Hill, courtesy Red Tree Catering)

RED TREE CATERING
Marda Loop’s Red Tree Catering creates seasonal bites that manage to have both a sophisticated and homemade appeal. Choose from individual desserts, like cheesecakes, petite cakes, and crème brûlée; or, pick up a cake or pie that serves eight to ten people. The folks over at Red Tree generally prefer that orders are made 48 hours in advance, but they do have ready-to-go goodies in store so you can certainly just pop in to pick up your gift en route.
• 2129 – 33 Ave SW, 403-242-3246, www.redtreecatering.com

Janice Beaton Fine Cheese (Photo: courtesy Janice Beaton Fine Cheese)

Janice Beaton Fine Cheese (Photo: courtesy Janice Beaton Fine Cheese)

JANICE BEATON FINE CHEESE
Janice Beaton Fine Cheese has a ton of great gift baskets, like the Trio Burlap Bag—a simple-but-delicious package of three gourmet cheeses and Paris Toast crackers or Savoury Crisps. Or, go all out and opt for the Simply Abundant basket, which includes nine cheeses, two types of crackers, a house-made condiment, almonds, dried fruits, and a cheese knife for $150. Can’t decide? Get creative and pick out some cheeses and preserves for a delicious DIY gift.
• 1017 – 16 Ave SW, 403-229-0900, www.jbfinecheese.com

Ohh La La Patisserie (Photo: Stephanie Arsenault)

Ohh La La Patisserie (Photo: Stephanie Arsenault)

OHH LA LA PATISSERIE
Ohh La La Patisserie serves an assortment of traditional French desserts and pastries, including their to-die-for macarons. Choose from flavours like lychee and raspberry, pistachio, lavender and milk chocolate, lemon velvet, and blackberry—or try out one of their seasonal flavours. Macarons can be purchased individually or in boxes of six or 12. Or, keep it simple and bring some of Ohh La La’s famed maple croissants for your host to enjoy with coffee the next morning.
• 8561 – 8A Ave SW, 587-353-0111, ohhlalapatisserie.com

Wilde Grainz Artisan Bakery (Photo: courtesy Wilde Grainz Artisan Bakery)

Wilde Grainz Artisan Bakery (Photo: courtesy Wilde Grainz Artisan Bakery)

WILDE GRAINZ ARTISAN BAKERY
At Inglewood’s Wilde Grainz, you’ll find fresh, seasonal ingredients incorporated into some of the best artisan baking in the city. Opt for one of their cakes or tarts if you’re bringing something to serve, or simply pick up a handful of individual treats as a sweet gift to your host or hostess. Don’t forget to grab one for yourself while you’re at it! Plan ahead by visiting their website and checking out their pastry schedule so you know what’s available.
• 1218 – 9 Ave SE, 403-767-9006, wildegrainz.com

Mercato (Photo: Stephanie Arsenault)

Mercato (Photo: Stephanie Arsenault)

MERCATO
A visit to Mercato’s Market is like a trip to Italy for your taste buds, but without the long flight. Choose from delicious Italian treats like biscotti, tiramisu, or cannoli, or, opt for something savoury like an assortment of olives, cheeses, and meats. If you want to go all out, pick up a fresly-baked baguette, a container of bruschetta, a bottle of olive oil, and some vine-ripened cherry tomatoes imported from Sicily.
• 2224 4 St SW, 403-263-5535, www.mercatogourmet.com
• 873 85 St SW, 403-685-0460

20 Holiday Things to Do in Calgary Under $20

Zoolights 2

Zoolights at Calgary Zoo is one of the many holiday activities to enjoy in Calgary.

You don’t have to be a Scrooge this Christmas: get in the holiday spirit with these 20 holiday activities in Calgary that each cost less than $20! Enjoy!

1. Christmas in Inglewood
When: December 6, 13, 20
Where: Community of Inglewood
Cost: Free!
Enjoy special events, free parking, festive window displays, an holiday lights as you shop the unique boutiques in Inglewood for creative gift ideas. Be sure to check out new-to-Inglewood businesses The Nash Restaurant & Bar and Lauren Bagliore Concept Shop.
More Info: calgary-inglewood.com/events

2. Spruce Meadows Christmas Market
When: November 21-23, 28-30
Where: Spruce Meadows
Cost: $10; Seniors and Children 12 and under are Free
A reindeer petting zoo, elaborate light displays, hot chocolate and international food kiosks, fire pits, live music, and holiday entertainment make a visit to this shopping market fun for everyone.
More Info: sprucemeadows.com/christmas_market.jsp

3. Zoolights
When: November 21 – January 3, 6 pm – 9 pm
Where: Calgary Zoo
Cost: $14 General Admission; $11 Child (3-15)
See some unique animals at the Calgary Zoo… ones made out of coloured lights! Bundle up and stroll the elaborate outdoor light displays while enjoying ice skating, a visit with Santa, children’s activities, and carols.
More Info: calgaryzoo.com/events-activities/special-events/zoolights 

4. Once Upon a Christmas
When: Weekends November 22 – December 21, 9:30 am – 4 pm
Where: Heritage Park Historical Village
Cost: $8.50 Adult; $7.50 Senior; $6.50 Youth (7-14); $5.50 Child (3-6)
Nothing feels more traditional than a day at Heritage Park for Christmas and Hanukkah crafts and activities, gift shopping, antique photos, sleigh rides, theatre, and homemade treats.
More Info: heritagepark.ca

5. Christmas Art & Craft Shows
When: Weekends November 27 – December 21
Where: Various Venues
Cost: Free – $7 per Adult
Shop for unique, locally-made gifts at Calgary’s art and craft shows including the Festival of Crafts (Nov 27 – 30), Eau Claire Winter Market (Nov 29 – 30), A Merry Market Collective (Dec 5-7, 12-14, 19-21), The Vixens of Vintage Market (Dec 6), and A Merry Makers Market (Dec 6-7).
More Info: where.ca/alberta/calgary/shop-calgary-seasonal-markets-craft-shows

6. ‘Twas the Night
When: Thursday, November 27, 6:30 pm – 10 pm
Where: The CORE
Cost: Free! Donations to the YMCA are accepted.
Shop ’til you drop and get a head start on Black Friday sales at this after-hours shopping party. TV personality Tanya Kim hosts the red carpet and there will be festive music performed by jazz musician Matt Dusk. Stores will offer one-night-only specials and discounts so you can shop for everyone on your list. Plus… valet parking is even free!
More Info: coreshopping.ca/events/core-twas-the-night-2014

7. Christmas in Kensington
When: November 29, December 6, December 13, December 20
Where: Various Venues in Kensington
Cost: Free! (Except for some movies at Plaza Theatre)
Christmas festivities abound in this eclectic Calgary neighbourhood: Enjoy a pancake breakfast, hay wagon rides, tree lightening ceremony, carollers, and a visit from Santa on November 29; A petting zoo, photos with Santa, and a screening of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at Plaza Theatre (FREE!) on December 6; Late night shopping, shopping tours, and a visit from Santa on December 13; Christmas tree karaoke, Ugly Sweater Red Carpet Event and a screening of Love Actually at Plaza Theatre ($15 for both).
More Info: visitkensington.com

8. Hawkers Holiday Feast
When: November 29, 6 pm – 12 am
Where: Test Kitchen, 1436-8th St SW
Cost: $10
The food-and-drink party returns to Calgary for a seasonal edition in support of the Calgary Food Bank. Music, beer, food trucks, and a whole lot of fun. The focus is on the food as you get to sample an assortment of vendors’ most popular dishes as well as some limited-edition seasonal offerings.
More Info: hawkersmarket.com

9. Lions Festival of Lights
When: November 29 – January 8, 6 pm – 12 am
Where:  14 St NW, South of 24th Ave
Cost: Free!
Where: Calgary’s beautiful Confederation Park is covered in light displays that are free to view. Walk or drive by.
More Info:lionsfestivaloflights.ca

10. With Bells On
When: December 1 – 24
Where: Lunchbox Theatre
Cost: $25 Adult; $20 Senior; $20 Student
When an uptight, recently divorced accountant and a drag queen dressed as a Christmas tree get stuck in an elevator together, they forge an unlikely friendship in this hysterical, heart-warming play.
More Info: lunchboxtheatre.com

11. Lougheed House Christmas
When: November 28 – December 21
Where: Lougheed House
Cost: $8.50 Adult; $6.50 Student/Senior; $5 Child; $25 Family
Enjoy a traditional Christmas at this beautiful historic site with live music, crafts, holiday lights, complimentary hot cider and homemade cookies, a gingerbread house competition, and a visit from Victorian Santa. In honour of the WWI Centennial this year, there will be WWI-themed activities the weekends.
More Info: lougheedhouse.com

12. Christmas Cooking Classes
When: December 4, 11, 18, 12 pm – 1 pm
Where: ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen
Cost: $20
These lunch-and-learn sessions include lunch, a demonstration on how to make the dish, and a take-home recipe. December’s classes include a course on how to make Holiday brunch using holiday dinner leftovers, Holiday Hors d’ouvres, and Christmas dinner alternatives to turkey and mashed potatoes.
More Info: atcoblueflamekitchen.com

13. A Merry Market Collective
When: December 5 – 7, 12 – 14, 19 – 21
Where: Chinese Cultural Centre, 197 – 1 St SW
Cost: $5; Free for children (12 and under)
This isn’t your typical craft fair! Here, Calgary’s crafty DIY crowd sells handmade, Pinterest-perfect and Instagram-worthy creations. Shop for gift ideas and holiday decor, and take a break to enjoy food trucks, gift wrapping, and Market Collective’s popular photo booth.
More Info: marketcollective.ca

14. Family Christmas Movies
When: December 6, 13, 20, 11 am
Where: Cineplex Theatres
Cost: $2.50
Enjoy some classic holiday films on the big screen that will put you in the Christmas spirit with laughter and whimsy. Movies in this series are: A Christmas Story, The Polar Express, and Fred Claus.
More Info: cineplex.com/Events/FamilyFavourites

15. Festival Chorus: Christmas in Venice
When: December 6, 8 pm
Where: Knox United Church
Cost: $22 Adult; $18 Senior; $18 Student; $12 Child
We all know that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear! Experience the magic and glory of the Christmas season from historic Venice with rhythmic and memorable melodies by Vivaldi, Palestrina, and Schubert, as well as some Italian folk carols. Plus, the audience sing-a-long will include classic holiday favourites.
More Info: epcorcentre.org

16. Teddy Bear Toss
When: December 7, 4 pm
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome
Cost: $17.50 – $22.50
The Calgary Hitmen WHL team host the Moose Jaw Warriors for this annual spectacle. When the Hitmen score their first goal, the audience showers the ice with teddy bears which are then donated to children’s hospitals and charities. Even Jimmy Kimmel gave some attention to last year’s game!
More Info: hitmenhockey.com

17. Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
When: December 12, 6 pm
Where: ​9511 Horton Rd SW, Gravel Parking Lot on Horton Rd behind The Brick & Schanks
Cost: Free! Food bank donations accepted.
The Holiday Train is coming through town! The 1,000 foot long train has 14 rail cars brightly decorated with hundreds of thousands of technology-leading LED lights and holiday designs.When the train stops, there is a half-hour performance of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs by Odds (you’ll recognize their song “Happy Place” from Corner Gas) and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy.
More Info: cpr.ca/en/community/holiday-train

18. Christmas Sleigh Rides
When: December 20 – January 1, 10 am – 4 pm
Where: Horsin’ Around Trail Rides
Cost: $10 Adult; $8 Children
Go dashing through the snow in a cozy horse drawn sleigh with Horsin’ Around Trail Rides. When you’re done your ride, enjoy a pony ride, petting zoo, and tobogganing.
More Info: horsinaround.ca

19. Christmas with New West
When: December 20, 7:30 pm
Where: Jack Singer Concert Hall
Cost: $16.05 – $22.10
New West Symphony and Chorus, a 100-member choir and orchestra, presents an upbeat and moving performance of new and classic Christmas songs. Sing along and enjoy the sounds of the season!
More Info: epcorcentre.org

20. It’s a Wonderful Life
When: December 20, 22, 24
Where: Cineplex Odeon Crowfoot Crossing
Cost: $6
This classic, heartwarming holiday movie is a holiday tradition for many—now see it in all it’s glory on the big screen! You know the plot: an angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.
More Info: cineplex.com/Events/ClassicFilmSeries