There are all manner of things to do in Alberta this summer: Plan an evening of eating in Calgary, honour the bison’s place in western history, sing along with Blue Rodeo and more!
SAVOUR A LOCOMOTIVE LUNCH IN CALGARY
Experience the timeless glamour of train travel during lunch at Calgary’s Heritage Park Historical Village, which serves a gourmet midday meal in a vintage rail car. Elegantly restored, the circa-1929 River Forth Canadian Pacific Railway car travels around the park (the dining car is pulled by an antique steam engine) while your party of two or four savours a period-inspired three-course lunch—think trout with potato rosti and summer vegetable ragout—served with wine, naturally. Tuesdays from May 24–August 30
ENJOY AN EVENING FOOD TOUR IN CALGARY
Downtown Calgary’s East Village is steadily growing into one of the city’s buzziest neighbourhoods, with condos, a new central library and the National Music Centre all under construction. The historic Simmons Building—a former mattress factory that’s now home to a trio of culinary destinations—is already a local hub. Calgary Food Tours offers the chance to discover this mouth-watering hot spot. Its “Eating the East Village” experience begins with a tasting session at homegrown Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, then takes you next door to Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, where you’ll make your own dessert. The basement butchery at CharBar is the final stop: You’ll learn about the restaurant’s farm-to-table ethos and savour a family-style feast, which ends with the treat you put in the oven earlier in the evening. Wednesday evenings starting in June
FOLLOW THE PATH OF HISTORY IN CONSORT
Everyone knows the Calgary Stampede, but for a brief period in the early 1900s, a Wild West show near tiny Consort also roped in the crowds. Cowboys and girls can celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Big Gap Stampede by joining a wagon trek and trail ride, a 24-kilometre journey from the stampede’s original site to the Gooseberry Lake Provincial Park rodeo grounds. (Don’t own a horse? You can hitch a ride on a chuck wagon.) After the ride, rest your spurs at supper and in the beer garden, or hoof it to the evening dance. July 9
CROON WITH BLUE RODEO IN DRUMHELLER
There are many rocks to see in Alberta’s Badlands. But for one unique night you can hear them too, as rockers Blue Rodeo amble into Drumheller. More than 3,000 music lovers are expected to gather at the Canadian Passion Play outdoor amphitheatre to sing along with Jim Cuddy and his denim-bedecked band mates. The hoodoo- and coulee-ringed valley’s superb acoustics are just one more reason the Badlands remain a must-visit natural wonder. August 6
SING HILLSIDE SONGS IN GRANDE PRAIRIE
Few things say summer like spreading a blanket on the grass and basking in the sun with friends. Take the experience up a notch by adding a soundtrack of your favourite tunes. The inaugural Bear Creek Folk Festival brings good vibes to Grande Prairie, where upwards of 30 musicians and bands—including k.d. Lang and Corb Lund, as well as Bruce Cockburn and Ashley MacIsaac—are scheduled to perform on Muskoseepi Park’s Borstad Hill. If you want to stay near the action, Bear Creek and Pipestone Creek campgrounds offer discounted rates for festival attendees. Festival admission is also free for kids under 12 and seniors. August 12-14
HONOUR ALBERTA’S BISON IN FORT SASKATCHEWAN
Elk Island National Park was founded as a reserve to protect what had become a severely depleted population of its namesake animal. While hundreds of elk now roam the park, these days it’s even better known for its large herds of two other once-threatened beasts: wood and plains bison. (Elk Island played a crucial role in saving plains bison from extinction in the early 20th century). The park’s annual festival celebrates ongoing bison conservation and cultural impact, and their place in regional cooking. August 13
+ AMARewards: Save $10 on the purchase of an annual Parks Canada Discovery Family Pass at AMA Centres.
GET YOUR GREENS IN INNISFAIL
Alberta’s fields, barns and greenhouses are home to so much agricultural activity. Edgar Farms is a great example. Just west of Innisfail, off Highway 2, the family-run operation is the province’s largest asparagus grower. The farm’s country store is a destination for the spear-like vegetable in May and June, while sugar snap peas, beans and more are sold throughout July and August. (But pickled asparagus, relish and other asparagus-based preserves are available throughout the year.) If you’re craving more of the seasonal bounty, Alberta Open Farm Days provides an opportunity to meet some of the province’s many food producers and learn how their nourishing bounty makes it from their farms to your fork. August 20-21
PLAY A SURVIVAL GAME IN RED DEER
You’ve heard of escape games; call this a stay-escaped game! Red Deer’s Heritage Ranch invites visitors to don their best camouflage and evade eagle-eyed Ranch Tracker Joel Martens. You’ll be given a map, a compass and one hour to capture flags hidden on the property—or be captured yourself. Win or lose, a post-chase dinner awaits at the ranch’s acclaimed West Lake Grill.