Things to Do
by Aubrey McInnis
Sled Island is the only festival in Calgary that makes use of multiple venues and re-imagines unconventional spaces as creative locations for gigs and art installations. The nature of the festival lovingly encourages attendees – locals and visitors alike – to be free spirited explorers during gigs and in between gigs. Whether you are part of a touring band or a kid who hopped on an LRT at Sunridge, a fun expedition lays ahead if you are up for the adventure.
Historic Stephen Avenue is home to Fashion Central, high end shopping, fascinating architecture, the Glenbow Museum, art galleries and all styles of dining. It is also the site of the Calgary’s most dramatic diamond heist as well as the Great Fire of 1886. The fire decimated local businesses and inspired the non-flammable sandstone structures lining the avenue. Back then, four main banks serviced the city – all sites connected by secret underground tunnels leading to City Hall. All of the banks have been transformed into new businesses, but remaining relics of the past have been carefully preserved. If you are an amiable explorer, you may be invited to catch a glimpse of an ancient vault or secret passageway.
Two blocks north of Stephen Avenue, you’ll find the district containing the infamous home base for Sled Island afterparties, the Number 1 Legion. You’ll also find the Palomino (featuring the city’s best BBQ), Art Central and Café deVille. During the day, busy Calgarians live on third wave coffee perfected at Café deVille, Phil & Sebastian, Artigiano, Bumpy’s, Beano, Insomnia, Kawa and many other cafés. At night, Calgarians find cold refreshments and good tunes at lounges and pubs like Milk Tiger, Ship and Anchor, Local 510 and Hop In Brew.
Two blocks south of Stephen Avenue, you’ll see our beloved landmark, the Calgary Tower and hear her melodic chimes at noon. Victor Choy, owner of the Republik and other establishments catering to the local music scene, recently reinvented the revolving restaurant at the top of the Tower. Across the street from the Tower, you’ll find the best gourmet burgers in the city at Charcut. Watch their tweets to find out when the next nationally acclaimed Alley Burger will be spontaneously served out their back door. Or, make reservations to dine indoors.
Charcut’s Chef Connie DeSousa is the newest celebrity chef in town. The Top Chef competitor joins Iron Chef Japan participant, Chef Michael Noble. Chef Noble has successfully shaped several local restaurants including his own, Notable. Another rising culinary star, Chef Michael Dekker helped secure Rouge’s illustrious position on S. Pellegrino World’s 100 Best Restaurants list. While Tubby Dog’s Jon Truch has yet to win three-Michelin-stars for his hot dogs, plenty of locals and touring bands make Tubby a regular destination. Make sure you visit during Tubby’s Taqueria Tuesdays. They might be the best Mexican joint in town. And, like the delicious Una Pizza & Wine, Tubby is open late. On a cleanse? Head to The Coup, Café Koi or Gratitude Café. In the mood for breakfast? Head to Red’s, Dairy Lane, or any restaurant on Edmonton Trail.
In the mood for shopping? Fashionistas will have fun on 17th Avenue – home to Purr, Dick & Jane’s,Leo, Blame Betty, Gravity Pope, and countless vintage clothing stores. If you are searching for record stores, look no further than Melodiya, Sloth, Recordland and Hot Wax. Unlike chain stores that have been unable to rebound from illegal downloads, these revered establishments continue to be patronized by audiophiles.
Float down the river
If you want a break from the crowds, relax like a Calgarian. Consider renting a boat or inner tube and floating down the Bow River with friends and cold beverages, or bike on North America’s best pathway that runs throughout our city, or paddleboat around Prince’s Island lagoon.
Have a great time and, if you’re not a Calgarian for the other 51 weeks of the year, remember to come back and visit us next year. As you can tell by all of the bustling construction, Calgary and Sled Island will have some fresh surprises for you this time next year.