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Calgary things to do

Theatre Calgary play tells a universal tale


Film and television star Michelle Thrush is directing Honour Beat. Photo courtesy Theatre Calgary.

A play in which two grown sisters face off over their mother’s deathbed. A set design that almost becomes its own character. A story that takes place in a palliative hospital room and inspires deep emotion, yet also makes you laugh. That’s what you should expect from Honour Beat, according to film and television star Michelle Thrush, who is directing the play, and Stafford Arima, artistic director of Theatre Calgary. Thrush says the play is ultimately a human story.

“It’s a story anyone can relate to,” Thrush says. “It’s about family, love, death and betrayal.” She describes the relationship between the sisters as genuine, raw and beautiful.

“I’m an only child so I’m so intrigued by sibling relationships,” Thrush says. “I watch my daughters who are teenagers, and it blows my mind when I watch them argue. I didn’t grow up with that so I always wonder, do I get in there? Or do I let them figure it out because it’s building people skills?”

When Arima went to a reading of Honour Beat last year, while it was part of a new play development program at Theatre Calgary, he instantly fell in love with the story. He lost his own mother 10 years ago, and the play’s exploration of family relationships deeply impacted him.

“I think this story connected with me on a very personal level because on some level it’s a story about family, it’s a story about forgiveness, it’s a story about awakenings and transformations,” Arima says. “I connected with it on that level, and what I found so interesting about the piece was that it also made me laugh.”

He describes it as a family drama that lets you laugh and cry at the same time, and since it explores family relationships and goes to the core of human behaviour, it will also make you think and feel.

Both Arima and Thrush are excited by the voice of Canadian playwright Tara Beagan, who wrote a universal story focusing on the significance of family, with an Indigenous family at its core.

Thrush says the production features a full Indigenous cast, and many on the creative team are Indigenous, which she hopes will further open the doors in the Calgary theatre community for Indigenous artists to tell their own stories.

She says the momentum started with Making Treaty 7, a Calgary theatre production that explores the historical signing of Treaty 7 through the Indigenous perspective. This year her one–woman show, Inner Elder, returns to the stage and takes audiences on a comedic journey through her life as she transforms from young to old using Indigenous clowning.

“I’ve been working in the industry for 30 years now,” Thrush says. “The progression that’s taken place as Indigenous people step forward in the arts community is an absolute revolution.”

Her ultimate hope is that Calgarians will connect with Honour Beat’s universality.

“I think it’s so important right now that for the place we’re in as Indigenous artists that we’re seen as human beings,” Thrush says. “If we have people coming in through the audience watching the show and they can relate to it as a human story, then I’ve done my job. I hope they walk away with an understanding that there’s not as many barriers between us as human beings as sometimes is portrayed — that we all grieve, we all love, we all share kindness and jokes.”

15 Things to do in Calgary in August


Get the most out of the summer with this list of great things to do in Calgary!

Photo courtesy Heritage Park.

Presented by the Calgary Young People’s Theatre comes Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people” with shows August 1 – 5.

Check out this destination dog show with exhibitors, vendors and judges from around the world from August 3 – 6.

Celebrate Heritage Day at the very place Calgary began on August 6, with free museum tours, a Blackfoot ecology education session, Indigenous artisans, a family friendly movie, kids crafts and much more!

If their names alone don’t set the tone, their aptly titled show certainly does — An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life is in town August 4th.

Focused on the themes of play, recharge and wonder, these two back-to-back weekend camps will see a different guided art activity each evening.

Listen to this Grammy-Award winning group of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali as they perform at the Bella Concert Hall on August 7.

Photo Courtesy Joachim Cooder.

The legendary guitarist, songwriter and producer returns to his Americana roots with covers of old blues, gospel and folk songs on Prodigal Son, plus a few new originals. His first album of six years aims to give a message of hope and resilience. See him August 10.

No matter the weather, Wednesday evenings throughout the month of August will fill Heritage Town Square with live music!

Get whisked away with the soulful sounds of this Alabama native on August 12, who’s touring his second studio album Encore. East’s gravelly voice will glide effortlessly through expertly crafted songs that blend blues, R&B and country.

On August 12, “Bamboleo” all the way to the show!

From August 16 – 19 experience seminars, tastings and networking events, all centered around the enjoyment and development of Calgary’s cocktail scene.

The American blues musicians join forces for their collaborative new album, No Mercy in This Land. See them August 20. 

Photo courtesy Kelly Hofer.

On August 22, the founder of shock-rock returns to Calgary for a night of theatrics and psycho-drama. A Paranormal Evening will undoubtedly live up to Cooper’s signature performances, where heavy metal and punk rock meet horror show, electric chairs, guillotines and fake blood.

Running from August 24 – September 3, Calgary’s best and brightest will be on display at the 28th annual Calgary Pride Week, in celebration of diversity, inclusivity and community. From humble and difficult beginnings, the Calgary Pride Parade has grown to become the second largest parade in the city and is followed by Pride in the Park, where live music and beer gardens continue the festivities.

After quarter finals in Berlin and New York, the world-class international piano competition declares a winner in Calgary. From August 30 – September 8.


Your Ultimate Calgary BBQ Guide


You don’t have to head south to get a taste of authentic barbecue — from St. Louis ribs to Carolina-style pulled pork to true-Texas brisket, Calgary chefs are bringing it home.

The true-Texas barbecue at Hayden Block is a labour of perfectly smoked love. Located in the bohemian Kensington neighbourhood with both a street-side patio and a whiskey garden out back, the communal tables and chilled-out vibe set the stage for some downright delicious meat. Best done family- style (so you can taste more stuff), the food is served on old-school metal trays. Even vegetarians profess love for Hayden, with dishes like watermelon mint salad, deep fried pickles and gooey mac ‘n’ cheese gracing the menu. They also make three of their own sauces — don’t miss the espresso version.
Eat: The beef short rib.
Drink: Michter’s American.

Photo courtesy Hayden Block Smoke and Whisky.

When Alec Ferguson and Torin Shuster started Holysmoke BBQ, they recognized a need in the catering market for high-quality, delicious food that wouldn’t break the bank. Shuster, a lover of Southern barbecue, knew it would fit the bill. They opened their flagship location on Manhattan Road in the middle of an industrial park, and people quickly flocked to get a bite of tasty and sizable portions without a hefty price tag. The seating is banquet-style, so you could be rubbing shoulders with people in suits or coveralls and everything in between. “We often get remarks from American visitors that we succeeded in capturing the essence of Southern BBQ — no nonsense surroundings and keeping true to the recipes and methods,” Ferguson says.
Eat: Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich, Kansas City-style ribs, and Chef Shuster’s sweet corn bread.
Drink: Southern sweet tea.

Belle’s tagline is “making barbecue beautiful” and it shows. The welcoming space showcases stylish picnic tables, a pink pig smoker, and the food is exquisitely presented on cookie trays. Wood is stacked neatly in the corner — you may catch staff picking up a piece for the smoker. The menu is full of Southern-inspired dishes and lets you build your own feast, with the ability to pick from multiple snacks, salads and sides. They also offer a vegan main — the grilled cauliflower steak topped with creamy cashew olive remoulade is always a hit.
Eat: The “Daisy Duke” platter which includes Cajun-roasted chicken, 14-hour applewood smoked brisket and St. Louis ribs.
Drink: The Belle peach tea.

Photo courtesy Belle Southern Kitchen and Bar.

Cowboys, punk rockers and suits on their lunch break are all welcome at The Palomino. Western memorabilia is wedged on the walls next to playbills and the iconic poster of Johnny Cash’s angry finger. The popular live music venue has supported many local and touring artists over the years. Food-wise, they specialize in dry rubbed and smoked Texas-style barbecue and have developed their own special Palomino dry rub. “Our goal is to do the best barbecue, showcase the best live music and have the coldest beer,” says Arlen Smith, one of the operating partners of The Palomino. “That’s what we’ve been aiming for and want to keep hitting.”
Eat: Sliced Alberta beef brisket.
Drink: Good, crisp, light, cheap, American-style lager.

Jane Bond BBQ first rolled through Calgary as a food truck before expanding to a barbecue house in 2016 on International Avenue, a cuisine hotspot in the southeast. The space is classy yet comfortable, thanks to black leather, wooden planks and light- up marquee letters that spell out “BBQ.” Jenny Burthwright, owner and chef, says they aim to create an atmosphere where guests feel like they’re in a second home. The menu features some tasty and unique dishes, including croc bites — that’s right, crocodile battered and fried. You can still catch the food truck out and about, and they offer full-service catering too.
Eat: The jerk chicken.
Drink: Tennessee sweet tea.

Photo courtesy Jane Bond.

Bookers is all about Southern style, from the smokehouse barbecue, to the music, to the laidback, welcoming atmosphere in a century-old brick warehouse. It’s also about some epic all-you- can-eat sprees — every Sunday from 4 pm, dine on piles of succulent ribs and crab legs until you can’t possibly take another bite. More than 200 pounds of Alberta chicken, turkey, beef and pork are slow-smoked every single day, and if you’re not into barbecue (why are you even reading this!?) there are other Southern favourites like shrimp po’ boys and jambalaya. This is a place to relax, kick back and let the good times roll.
Eat: The BBQ platter featuring pork ribs, brisket, smokehouse turkey breast, pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw and fries — add crab legs for market price
Drink: The sangria (it’s a secret recipe!)

If you want to chow down on Southern-style barbecue with small-batch craft brews never far from your side, this “brewbecue” is the place for you. For years before he opened the joint, owner Paddy Sorrenti worked with smoked meats in the family catering company. Once he started home brewing, it wasn’t long before he envisioned a barbecue brewery. Nestled in Manchester Industrial Park in a cluster of craft breweries pegged the “Barley Belt,” it’s a casual and family friendly spot. “We want people to feel at home and then do everything at their own pace — take time to enjoy the beer and food,” Sorrenti says.
Eat: The in-house pastrami served only on Thursdays.
Drink: A house lager.

While Big Sky isn’t exactly in Calgary (it’s about a 30-minute drive south), it’s well worth the trip to this massive, no-frills barbecue emporium with indoor and outdoor seating for hundreds. Don’t go alone — bring your hungriest friends to help you defeat the mountains of Texas- style smoked meat, including brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs and chicken thighs. Add sides such as scratch-made cornbread, smoked beans and scalloped cheddar bacon potatoes, plus a giant candied bacon chocolate chip cookie for dessert. You won’t find any fryers, freezers or grills at Big Sky — everything is authentic and made with 100 percent Alberta-grown meat.
Eat: The Whole Pit is made for eight to 10 people and comes with brisket, pulled pork, chicken, pork ribs, beef ribs, house-made sausage, hog spuds (potatoes wrapped and smoked in bacon, drizzled with honey and sour cream) and a tub of beans.
Drink: One of the 12 different Caesars on the menu.

Photo courtesy Big Sky BBQ Pit.



Grandson shakes up Calgary Stampede Coca-Cola Stage


Photo courtesy Warner Music.

Where rock and roll and activism meet, that’s where you’ll find Grandson. The McGill University drop-out who relocated to Los Angeles to pursue music is angry, optimistic and has something to say.

His debut EP, A Modern Tragedy Vol. 1, released last month, is a commentary on corruption, social disenfranchisement and apathy, as much as it is a help line to those grappling with where they stand in the current political climate.

Where Calgary had the chance to catch up with Grandson before his performance on July 10 at the Calgary Stampede Coca-Cola Stage, where he’ll be opening for Our Lady Peace.  

Have you played in Calgary before or is this your first time here? I played in Calgary one time before opening for my dear friends The Glorious Sons; it was one of the first shows that I ever played in Canada where people knew Blood // Water and where there was some familiarity. It was an incredibly exciting time, and with all the support we’ve been getting I can’t wait to come back.

You were born in New Jersey but moved to Toronto when you were quite young. Do you feel Canadian? Or Canadian and American? I absolutely feel a relationship to Canada. To the natural resources there, to the disposition of Canadians; whenever I use the word “out” or “about” in the US I get called out for it. But with everything going on in America I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud to be able to speak on things not just as an outsider but as someone who has the right that every American has to vote, to express their opinions and to be heard.

How did you get started on your music, was it something that you knew you always wanted to pursue? My family are a bunch of musicians, but my sister really excelled academically and I didn’t really know where I fit in. Music just kind of became an outlet for me. At first I would write songs about girls I had a crush on in high school. In [university] I was just going through the motions. Then someone heard a video that had only a couple hundred views and they wanted to bring me down to Los Angeles to try writing for other artists. So within the span of five or six weeks I dropped out of school and found a sublet for my apartment, and all of a sudden I was living on a couch in Los Angeles writing songs.

That seems crazy, to make a decision like that in a span of six weeks. I was 20 at the time and I just really felt like okay, let’s say this doesn’t work, in two years or three years I’ll just go back to school. Grandson for me represented the first time that I was willing to fail at something. I had no money and I was just like, ‘alright, well this is me, this is what I have to say, and if no one likes it well you know f–k ‘em, I like it.’ I think that when you enter a headspace like that in any endeavour in your life, be it a career or a relationship, when you’re really willing to put yourself out there and risk rejection or embarrassment or whatever those uncomfortable feelings are, that’s when I think the universe starts cutting you a break.

What’s the scariest thing about being an artist and making music? The scariest part can be the sense of vertigo as you depart from the safety of normalcy. As I am more public with my opinions, as I am more nomadic in my tour schedule, my life looks so much different than I ever could have imagined it. So of all the scary parts, it’s just the fear of maybe losing yourself in it. 

Your debut EP, A Modern Tragedy Vol. 1 just came out so walk us through the creation of that. What does this body of work mean to you? I actually wrote “6 o’clock” around the time that Trump was elected. I was just sitting on all of this music for a while and I knew that I wanted to make a sort of cohesive state of the union – the union not necessarily being America but just a sort of ‘this is where we’re at’. I feel like there is an incredible gravity to this time. It’s such a critical juncture for democracy and youth culture and for you know, how the f–k are we gonna all learn how to cooperate? And if we’re not then how can we confront these issues without getting too burnt out? Can we escalate and work through some of the systemic failure that is plaguing this society without necessarily burning it all down?

Which is a tough line to walk. It requires a lot of confrontation and humility. You have to be able to listen to everybody’s side. I have a hard time relating to people who feel differently from me and I think that that’s human, but it’s also the sort of problem that plays into the hands of the people who are making decisions that wanna keep us at odds with one another. Songs like “6 o’clock” and “stick up” and even “blood // water” touch on some of those failures and some of those conditions, and then songs like “overdose” and “despicable” talk about the the apathy and the escapism that I think this environment can encourage. For me that was what this process represented, it was a lens into the world that I’m writing in.

You mentioned that these topics can be exhausting to dwell on – what gives you hope? One of the things about touring that I love most is that I get to be confronted by people who are really passionate and who are working on the front lines of issues. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to activists and community organizers and teachers that have been through school shootings. I’ve talked to recovering addicts, I’ve talked to people that are recovering from self-harm, and those sorts of things give me hope and optimism. I think that the young people in this society both in Canada and the United States are more engaged than our parents were. I think that they are more connected to one another and that there are more systems in place for them to organize and mobilize. When I think big in the kind of change I want to make and when I see people respond well to that, that makes me pretty f–king stoked. I think that there is a change coming.

15 Things to do in Calgary in July




Open each weekend during the summer, this innovative shipping container, shopping, and event hub offers lots to love, from retail therapy, workshops, music, and art to food trucks. 


From July 4-8, show-jumping heavyweights from across the Americas will face-off at the third marquee tournament of the world-class Spruce Meadows summer series.


Photo courtesy Sebastian Buzzalino.

If the Calgary Stampede is a beloved tradition, tack on one of the concerts at the historic and newly re-opened King Eddy, which kicks into gear during Stampede from July 6-15 as a pop-up country bar.


Admission to Stampede gets you access to this special event, occurring once daily on July 8, 9, 11, 14 and 15.


Hey soul sister, on July 11 grab a friend and catch this year’s headliner, Grammy award-winning Train, perform alongside fellow rock acts Goo Goo Dolls, The Wallflowers and The Grapes of Wrath.


On July 12 you’ll be in good company when this Canadian folk-bluegrass ensemble comes to town.


This modern day market will be in Inglewood on July 13, hosting over 50 local vendors selling everything from handmade items to vintage clothing, antiques, collectibles and more.


From July 17-22 this award-winning Broadway musical will be performed.

Photo courtesy Matthew Murphy.


On July 18 explore 65 years of art over the course of your lunch hour.


Where the city’s best ribs, barbecue chicken and pulled pork will be cooked, smoked and served up from July 20-22. 


Go cheer on the Stamps on July 21 as they face off against the Montreal Alouettes.


Catch 71 artists from 13 different countries perform from July 26-29. Headliners include A Tribe Called Red, Bahamas, The Barr Brothers and Lee Ann Womack.


Known for his distinct brand of unapologetic comedy and candor Jeffries will be in Calgary on July 27 with The Night Talker Tour.  


This event from July 28-29 will share the richness of Arabian culture through folk dance, traditional music, food, art and more.


Bulldogs race, puppies stampede and our furry friends do some diving at the west coast’s biggest pet festival from July 28-29.


15 things to do in Calgary in May


Photo courtesy Alberta Beer Festivals.

Calgary International Beer Fest

From May 4-5, sample some of the 500 beers onsite, take part in beer seminars, vote for the best and more. (more…)

10 different ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Calgary


Paint and sip

Flex those creative muscles for this special edition of paint night at Vin Gogh Paint & Sip Studio. You’ll be greeted with a charcuterie board and a glass of bubbles, followed by appetizers and a flatbread pizza with wine or beer. An artist provides step-by-step guidance and in just two hours, you will complete your very own joined canvas painting with that special someone.

Learn about the birds and the bees at the Calgary Zoo

At this adults-only event at the Calgary Zoo, you’ll delight in picking up facts about courtship, mating and reproduction in the animal kingdom, while digging into a romantic dinner and being serenaded by wandering violinists.

Penguins at the Calgary Zoo. Photo by Rachael Frey.


5 things to do in Calgary this week: Dec 11 to 17



This Lunchbox Theatre show is stirring up some laughs by playing to the naughty elf in all of us. Based on the bestselling adventures of David Sedaris, who once worked as an elf at a Macy’s Santaland himself, this story follows a down-on-his-luck New York City actor as he finds himself in the exact same predicament. The show runs select dates until December 23.

Lunchbox Theatre, 115 – 9 Avenue SE, lunchboxtheatre.com


On December 14, watch the Calgary Flames take on the San Jose Sharks. Enjoy dinner (and dessert!) before the game at Cardinale, a new Italian restaurant. Cardinale is a short walk away from the Scotiabank Saddledome. From 3 to 6 pm, Cardinale’s happy hour features $6 glasses of red and white wine, $8 Negroni cocktails and more.

Cardinale, 401 – 12 Ave SE, cardinale.ca
Scotiabank Saddledome, 555 Saddledome Rise SE, ticketmaster.ca   (more…)

7 things to do in Calgary this week: Nov 27 to Dec 3



Enjoy $4 Alberta Draft, house wine and highballs at Craft Beer Market during the week, Monday to Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm.

Craft Beer Market, 345 – 10 Ave SW, craftbeermarket.ca (more…)

Escape to Calgary and Grey Eagle Resort & Casino

Aug. 5, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Fancy a taste of the city during your mountain vacation? Calgary is a dynamic and friendly urban oasis at the foot of the Canadian Rockies.

Canadian Rockies, Calgary, places to stay

Why Calgary?

Just an hour and a half from Banff, Calgary is right on your doorstep if you’re staying in the national park. If you’re flying through Calgary International Airport, the city a great place to explore before or after your time in the mountains.

From historic sites to urban glitz, the city is pocketed with eclectic districts. Sample the unique shops, funky bistros and buzzing nightlife in Kensington Village, Stephen Ave Downtown Pedestrian Mall, Inglewood and 17th Avenue SW. With endless bike and walking paths (many along the Bow and Elbow Rivers), it’s very safe and child-friendly. (more…)