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June 16 2021

Summer in Calgary: Local businesses deliver extraordinary experiences

Summer in Calgary: Calgary Tower and Stephen Avenue

From the outset of the global pandemic, each one of us has done the equivalent of life gymnastics – most of us with no warm-up and certainly no prior training.

From shifting public health restrictions to new and often overlapping demands of our personal and professional realms, life as we know it has stretched us, cartwheeled us, and bounced us around.

While it may be tempting to jump into a time machine to revisit a summer from a different decade, Calgary businesses have spent the last year limbering up to make this an unforgettable year. They’ve reinvented with all the requisite pandemic artifacts: Floor arrows, plexiglass, PPE, safety plans, rapid testing, and scheduling systems to coordinate visits and control traffic flow. While it hasn’t always been possible, many have taken the ultimate business survival challenge and, through collaboration and innovation, have made it work. And it’s culminating in some really remarkable experiences for Calgarians.

With summer upon us, it’s up to us to get out and enjoy what Calgary businesses have spent the last year working for.

Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss:

Safe Stampede

Calgary Stampede view of grounds

Re-branded the Safest and Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede promises to look quite different from past years, when the success of the event had been closely linked with number of visitors passing through the gates each day.

This year’s event promises the perfect excuse to brush off those (extra dusty) boots and take in the best parts of Stampede. The benefit to Stampede-goers? Reduced crowds and line-ups, timed entry, improved traffic flow and capacity limits means attendees can enjoy events like rodeo, live music, midway, food and other familiar Stampede attractions in comfort and safety. While chuckwagons will be one event missing from this year’s line-up, guests can expect to see full utilization of the grounds, with many events transitioning from the indoors to outdoor spaces.

Not Your Average Take-Out

Stampede in a Box with Concorde Group

Takeout, delivery and curbside pickup have been the next best alternative to in-restaurant dining for the last several months. Many restaurants have embraced the change, delivering an enhanced restaurant-to-home dining experience.

With over 19 establishments under its banner, Calgary hospitality brand Concorde Group remains focused on delivering exceptional dining experiences. While the in-restaurant experience is impossible to replicate, take-out diners can get a hint of ambiance with a few uniquely conceived offerings.

Restaurants have created custom-scented hand sanitizer, home-crafted cocktails, and tailored Spotify playlists to complement take-out orders – all reminiscent of the restaurant’s character. Along with takeout options, DIY kits to celebrate holidays and special occasions are also a fan favourite.

Next up: Concorde brings Stampede home! Guests can get a taste of their restaurant Stampede favorites with products like custom BBQ rub from The Palomino, souffle pancake mix with vanilla bourbon maple syrup from Pigeonhole, house-made peppered wagyu beef jerky from National, and VIP admission tickets to Wildhorse Saloon for 2022.

For those eager to get back to Calgary’s restaurant scene, patrons are likely to find refreshed menus alongside old favourites and a warm welcome back to the world of eating out when doors reopen.

Staycation Re-invented

Hotel Arts dinner and a movie

Many Calgary hotels that rely on inbound corporate and leisure travel have stepped up their creative game to deliver next-level staycations tailored for locals.

Hotel Arts is unveiling a series of balcony concerts this summer. June 30, X92.9 & Plain Jane Events Present MONOWHALES on the rooftop at Hotel Arts, where guests can enjoy live music from their room’s balcony along with chef-curated menu options.

The hotel takes date night to the next level, offering Dinner & A Movie packages featuring a three-course meal by Executive Chef Quinn Staple, a bottle of wine, and an on-demand movie served up with gourmet truffle parmesan popcorn and locally sourced craft soda.

“While this past year has been really challenging, it’s been fun coming up with creative solutions and getting out of our comfort zone to try new things,” says Tarek Van Doorne, Digital Marketing Manager at Hotel Arts. “We are looking forward to welcoming guests back but grateful for the time we’ve had to innovate and learn.”

Drive-in Experiences

Drive-in entertainment at Grey Eagle Resort

With a reputation for delivering world class concert experiences, Grey Eagle Resort & Casino has pivoted to make the most of its expansive parking lot and top-notch audio-visual technology. The Grey Eagle Drive-In holds the promise of nostalgia with modern conveniences and entertainment. From Toy Story to Dirty Dancing, the drive-in features a full summer film schedule along with a growing roster of live performances from duelling pianos and comedy to an enviable line-up of bands (upcoming include Snotty Nose Rez Kids, CCR tribute band Bad Moon Riders and Men Without Hats). The drive-in is also available for private event bookings.

Culinary Adventures

Alberta Food Tours Game

When the pandemic brought group tours to a grinding halt, Alberta Food Tours pivoted with the launch of the Alberta Food Finder Self-Guided Food Tour Game.

The game takes place in the Kensington-Sunnyside area and for $45, up to four people can immerse themselves in a two to four-hour gamified adventure. Players solve the clues that include a tour of over 20 food businesses enhanced with a guide to neighbourhood points of interest.

The company also introduced Alberta Cares Packages. The next edition, called “Foraged Flavours”, will contain the ingredients to make a breakfast, lunch, appetizer, cookies, a cocktail and two dinners all from food foraged in Alberta's forests, fields and farms.

Summer Sampler

One could spend the entire summer sampling all Calgary has to offer. Here is a small fraction of the options for how to make the most of the season:

#SupportLocal This Summer and Beyond

As we gain back our collective confidence to venture out into the world, and live the #SupportLocal mantra, there are many ways to share love for local business this summer (and beyond):

Share your positive experience on social media, by writing a positive review, or referring a family member or friend.

For those reluctant to shop in-stores, consider choosing curbside pick-up over delivery. Often, retailers will absorb shipping costs.

Volunteer your time and talent with a business or non-profit that could use a boost: whether it’s graphic design expertise, sales and marketing knowledge, or a pair of extra hands to fill orders, consider sweat equity as a way to help Calgary get back to business.

Share a friendly greeting and engage with businesses to share your feedback and appreciation. They’ve missed you just as much as you’ve missed them!

Sign-up for Tourism Calgary’s #LoveYYC Deals Pass for access to exclusive deals for Calgarians!

With the return of summer weather, there is renewed optimism the coming months will have us peeking out our front doors to re-discover the world we’ve missed. With a windfall of new and reimagined offerings emerging, there’s little doubt we’ll soon come back together to enjoy the best parts of life in Calgary