Image courtesy of Tourism Calgary Credits: Image courtesy of Tourism Calgary
Most people know about The Calgary Stampede -- The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth -- but, we Calgarians love getting together, year-round, to celebrate good food, good music and each other. Neighbourhoods like Inglewood (voted #1 neighbourhood in Canada by the Canadian Institute of Planners), Hillhurst/Sunnyside, Victoria Park, and Marda Loop host very successful community festivals. And our music festivals are emerging as some of the best in the world. Last year, Sled Island was one of TIME magazine's top festivals of 2014. I have a soft spot for the Calgary Folk Music Festival; every July, I participate in the "tarp run" and soak in the awesome atmosphere at Prince's Island Park. Every weekend between May – September, you can find a festival somewhere in Calgary.
We put on an act (or two)
Calgary is home to several vibrant theatre companies and I have enjoyed plays at pretty much every one. The innovation and creativity that I've witnessed on stage are as good as anything I've seen in New York or London or Toronto (often better). If you happen to be in Calgary in January, you must check out the High Performance Rodeo -- Calgary's International Festival of the Arts -- it is the largest of its kind in Western Canada and brings together many of Calgary's major arts organizations.
Our community spirit
Calgarians love their city and they aren't afraid to show it. The citizens of Calgary received the Governor Generals' Commendation for Outstanding Service to recognize how we helped each other recover from the 2013 flood, and it's something we are all very proud of. But the reason Calgarians responded to that disaster in such an incredible way is because they care about what happens here every day -- in both big and small ways. A few years ago, we launched a program called 3 Things for Calgary that calls on each Calgarian to first think about three things they can do to make their community better, do those three things, then encourage at least three friends to do the same. It's had tremendous uptake and communities across Canada are welcome to steal the idea!
So much good food!
Calgary is home to many cultural communities and nearly all of them have set up small restaurants where you can find authentic cuisine from around the world. A number of them can be found in a strip mall called -- no lie -- Short Pants Plaza, just northeast of downtown Calgary.
Since we started licensing food trucks in 2011, many Calgarians have taken advantage of this opportunity to chase their dream and start their own business. We now have trucks that offer Asian, Ukrainian, Cajun, Greek, East African street food -- to name just a few. For those who prefer a more traditional culinary experience, Calgary is just the place. Our chefs and restaurants are among the best in the world.
Take it outside
Calgary has an abundance of green space and a pathway system that is the envy of many other cities. And we use it… a lot! While most people assume that when Calgarians go outside, we all head west to the mountains, there is actually plenty for us to do right here in the city. My personal favourite way to spend a summer afternoon is on a raft floating down the Elbow River. Others enjoy hiking in Nose Hill or Edworthy Parks, swimming at Sikome Lake in Fish Creek Provincial Park (which is three times the size of Vancouver's Stanley Park), or cycling down the Bow River Pathway.
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