Photos by Kayley Luftig.
I went to Calgary for a weekend and fell in love. What I expected to be just an Expo in another city turned into a trip I know I’ll be clinging onto until I get to return.
Calgary was a mix of Chicago, Montreal, and Philly. There was gorgeous architecture and amazing public art on every corner, the food was so good that even our hosts were overwhelmed by it, and the warmth that locals showed us made it feel like they were transplanted from the smallest town in Nova Scotia.
We were in town for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, but the experience was so much more than that. The amazing folks at Calgary Tourism made up a jam-packed itinerary that gave us just enough of a taste of the city that has us all wanting to come back and visit.
We hit up some incredible restaurants, took a road trip to Vulcan, Alberta (The official Star Trek Capital of Canada…who knew?), took in a stunning view of the city at the Calgary Tower, visited some great comic book shops, checked out the Telus Spark: Star Trek Starfleet Academy Experience, and visited many other places that make Calgary, a city that’s so easy to fall in love with.
My first Calgary experience took place downtown at the Parade of Wonders downtown. The street was covered with thousands of people young and old who watched as Mayor Naheed Nenshi lead a parade of celebrity guests and a few thousand cosplayers. It was like watching a Disney parade but with better costumes, more energy from the crowd, and Hodor riding through on a convertible. Huge shoutout to the Forrest Gump cosplayer who grew the beard and ran for the entire parade; that’s dedication to cosplay if I’ve ever seen it.
That day we were able to take in a stunning view of the city at the Calgary Tower, spent a few hours at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. For lunch we went to Regrub, where we had some of the most absurd milkshakes handmade by the Calgary milkshake gods, and some delicious burgers. With a rotating experimental burger each month, there’s always something new to try. If you’re looking for a unique spot to lunch with some Instagrammable food, Regrub is the perfect choice.
On Saturday morning Fraser and Christie of Hotel Arts Group were our generous hosts at Yellow Door Bistro, one of their restaurants in downtown Calgary. Known for their brunch buffet, beautiful interior, and friendly staff, Yellow Door Bistro was quickly added onto my list of restaurants to re-visit. In celebration of the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, the restaurant served a delicious Death Star Waffle which was a popular choice at our table. Although downtown Calgary might not be nearly as big as Toronto’s downtown core, their food scene is definitely on the same level.
With a guest lineup featuring talent like Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, Bob Morley, Kristian Nairnt, Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane, Nathan Fillion and Jeremy Renner, there was no shortage of exciting panels to attend at the Expo. With three buildings to venture between, it was unlike any Toronto Comicon or Fax Expo we’ve attended. The amount of comic artists and art vendors was overwhelming.
In order to add an adventurous element to exploring the Expo, the individuals behind the event created a passport that attendees had to get stamps on in order to win prizes. It was not only a unique point of engagement between vendors, the expo and the attendees, but it added a memorable aspect of the event that separates it from similar events.
On Sunday we closed out our trip with a visit to the Calgary Science Centre for the Telus Spark Star Trek: Starfleet Academy Experience. The exhibit was extremely interactive, bringing you through a series of tests to see which job you would have on the starfleet. Although there were an abundance of kids visiting the exhibit, the exhibit had the inner Trekkie coming out of all of the adults there as well. It will be headed on the road soon, so whether you’re a fan of Star Trek or not, it would make for a great family outing.
Emily Expo, the face of the massive event said that seeing people create happy memories and have happy experiences at their show is what she finds most rewarding about working on the Expo. After a weekend at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, there’s no doubt that her team did just that.
Emily Expo’s thoughts on the Expo sum up our experience in Calgary perfectly; “You’re not going to feel like a stranger in a crowded room.” I was only in Calgary for a short three days, but there wasn’t one moment where I felt like a stranger in a new town. Although we were there for one of the city’s biggest events surrounded by thousands of people for most of the weekend, the trip felt intimate, engaging, and definitely one that left us with a hundred and one reasons to visit Calgary very soon.
The trip would not have been the same without the amazing crew that Kristyn and Andrea at Tourism Calgary put together. Make sure to check out our friends at: Comictrips, Gunnarolla, Forever Geek, and Geek with Style for some more coverage of the trip.