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Got Calgary on your mind? Think cowboys, Olympics, awesome glass buildings reflecting a more awesome view of the mountains, oil wealth, and ranches…and don’t stop there.

The city is deservedly world-famous for the Calgary Stampede, dubbed the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, with its million dollar rodeo and festival every July.

For ten months of the year, however, the hay bales are scarce as hen’s teeth. What you will see though is tons of half ton pick-up trucks, cowboy boot clad pedestrians and a few well worn Stetsons. That’s part of Calgary’s ambiance and with it comes genuine friendliness that seems second nature to most people who live there.

You will also find some of the country’s best-rated restaurants, five star hotels, a top notch performing arts centre, and the much adored Calgary Flames. NHL hockey games are easily accessible in Calgary as are the dozens of world cup championship events which the city hosts regularly. Name a competition and it’s likely you will find a major instance of it from Lacrosse or Bobsled to Freestyle Skiing or Thoroughbred Racing. You will even find, not far from the city center, the Glenmore Yacht Club which makes its home on a reservoir and from which Canada’s first entry into the prestigious yacht race, the America’s Cup, was launched.

Calgarians are world travelers and shoppers. The shopping is as cosmopolitan and urban as it can possibly get. Kensington on the north side of the Bow River and trendy boutiques which line 17th Avenue on the south side are interspersed with wonderful cafes, coffee houses and great eateries. While the most popular watering holes cluster in the inner city, no visitor to Calgary interested in the local color and flavour of its populace should miss a stop at Ranchman’s for a genuine Country and Western and stompin’ good time.

Another popular Calgary pastime is Dim Sum on weekends in China Town. In summer, Prince’s Island, Olympic Plaza and Stephen Avenue come alive most weekends with events, including the Calgary Folk Festival, Jazzfest, and Carifest.

Between September and April dozens of plays and events will pack every theatre complex in Calgary. Calgary’s Philharmonic Orchestra and the Calgary Opera are among the nation’s most highly touted and successful. The Pengrowth Saddledome is host to a dozen or more mega shows annually. Calgary’s performing arts venues have a difficult competitor, however with the great outdoors. The mountain panoramas, visible from most office complexes that spike the downtown core are very tempting.

Calgary is the stepping stone to nine major ski resorts, in Banff, Kananaskis, Jasper and Fernie in southeastern BC. Come summer the draw is pristine rivers, lakes, hiking and cycling trails and these are all in the city as well as in the mountains. Humans aren’t the only creatures to discover off-the-beaten-path Calgary. Coyotes, beavers, eagle and wild geese are common sites and even the occasional bear has made a royal visit.

If you want to see some real animals almost in the wild, the Calgary Zoo lives up to its reputation of one of the best zoos in the world. You won’t see it all in a day and the dinosaur section is a must. To see what Calgary was like at its beginnings, only 14 decades ago, plan a trip to Fort Calgary and Heritage Park.

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