In the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, located between the Prairies to the east and Banff National Park to the west, you will find Calgary, Alberta. As the home to Canada's largest rodeo, Calgary is sure to please the tourist seeking big city entertainment with a generous dose of small town appeal.
Cowboy culture has deep roots in Calgary and is unmistakable when the Calgary Stampede rolls into town for 10 days every July. Catch western hospitality at its best at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. The Stampede, which began in 1912, annually attracts thousands of visitors looking to experience all things western. Its attractions include the rodeo, chuckwagon races, agricultural competitions and exhibits, the popular Indian Village and a whole lot more. Come to Calgary in July and you’ll also experience the famous Calgary Stampede parade kickoff, pancake breakfasts, dancing in the streets, a midway with over 40 rides, concerts by today’s hottest artists and nightly fireworks!
Whatever month you come, you’ll never need an excuse to spend time outdoors here. Within city limits, there are numerous spots for cycling, inline skating, fishing, golfing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming and picnicking. If you’re willing to take a short drive, you can bet your cowboy hat that there are even more outdoor pursuits to chase down just outside of the city.
The unspoiled mountain playground of the Canadian Rockies is just an hour's drive west of Calgary. Whether you enjoy skiing and hiking or simply want a quiet retreat, Banff National Park and the surrounding area offer some of the best outdoor activities in the world any season of the year. Here, you'll discover world-class ski resorts (including Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort), stunning hotels and spectacular hiking trails among snow-capped peaks.
In the nearby town of Canmore, there are plenty of cultural, artistic and outdoor events and activities to keep you entertained. Go for a walk around the town's main strip and have dinner at one of Canmore's quaint cafes or upscale restaurants.
If you're interested in venturing out a little further, continue an hour west of the Canmore/Banff area and you'll find the Village of Lake Louise. Nestled against the majestic Victoria Glacier and often referred to as the Jewel of the Rockies, Lake Louise is home to pristine powder skiing at one of Canada's top ski resorts.
Prefer to watch sports? Calgary is home to a number of competitive sports teams, including the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League and the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders.
In the evening, downtown is the hub for big city entertainment. From live theatre to art galleries, a symphony, the ballet and plenty of nightclubs guaranteed to draw crowds, there's always something to do in downtown Calgary.
If you're travelling with the whole family, you'll also love Calgary's numerous family friendly attractions, including Calaway Park, the Calgary Tower, Calgary Zoo, TELUS World of Science and Heritage Park.
No matter when you visit Calgary, be sure to bring a jacket for the evenings as well as boots, hats and scarves during the winter months.
Calgary is known as one of the sunniest and driest cities in Canada. Winters here can be extreme, with temperatures often ranging from -15 C to -30 C during the coldest spells. Calgarians look forward to chinook winds, which can warm things up dramatically as they pass through, often by as much as 15 degrees Celsius!
Although quite dry, Calgary summers offer a daily average temperature around 22 C in July and August, which is perfect for outdoor sports and activities. The mountains cool things off in the evening and often bring temperatures down to around 10 C. It's no wonder that so many locals see no need for air conditioning.
What makes it different?
A nature lover's haven and a cosmopolitan traveller's paradise, Calgary has a reputation as an easygoing, relaxed place with all the amenities of an urban metropolis.
Calgary offers endless opportunities to spend time in the great Canadian outdoors, hitting the ski slopes or simply walking and biking along scenic park trails. Visitors to the city can also get a close-up view of the Canadian Rockies by making the scenic hour-long drive to Banff National Park. There, you'll find luxurious hotels and gorgeous alpine views - perfect for a romantic getaway or relaxing retreat. Hit the trails at Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort or head to nearby Canmore for incredible hiking paths as well as cultural events.
If you come in July, you can also take part in the uniquely western Calgary Stampede. Head to Stampede Park and take in the rodeos, animal and livestock shows, midway and tasty food. You'll also find plenty of local restaurants serving up special Stampede breakfasts and delicious meals, along with vibrant nightclubs offering a mix of country and dance music.
Still have time for more? Calgary is also home to a zoo (with an animatronic dinosaur park!) and fantastic indoor and outdoor shopping areas (head to Eau Claire Market for unique gifts and souvenirs). You can also go to Heritage Park, a frontier village with historical re-enactments of how Western Canada was won.
For an urban cowboy (or cowgirl) lifestyle you won't find anywhere else, head to Calgary.