To get a read on Calgary's vibrant cultural scene, pick up a copy of FFWD, the local free arts and entertainment weekly. There, you'll find listings for movies, art openings, upcoming concerts, clubs, and theater.
The Performing Arts
The Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts (205 8th Ave. SE; tel. 403/294-7455) -- now called the Epcor Centre, after its corporate sponsor -- is the catch-all venue for live theater, symphony, and opera. Calgary has a vibrant theater scene, with three major companies: Alberta Theatre Projects (tel. 403/294-7402; www.atplive.com), Theatre Calgary (tel. 403/294-7440; www.theatrecalgary.com), and the avant-garde, internationally celebrated One Yellow Rabbit (tel. 403/264-3224; www.oyr.org), all working out of the Epcor Centre. Epcor is also home to the excellent Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (tel. 403/571-0270; www.cpo-live.com), an international-class ensemble.
The Club & Bar Scene
Cover charges at most clubs are C$5 to C$10 for live music. Eau Claire Market is the home of the Garage (tel. 403/262-67620), a hip warehouse-of-a-bar for playing billiards and listening to loud indie rock. A number of pubs and late-night watering holes are just outside the market on the Barclay Parade plaza. Check out Barleymill Neighbourhood Pub, 201 Barclay Parade SW (tel. 403/290-1500), an oldsy-worldsy pub plunked down in the plaza across from the Eau Claire Market.
If you're looking for dance clubs, head south of downtown. Hi-Fi Club, 219 10th Ave. SW (tel. 403/263-5222), offers more alternative music and occasional live music and entertainment. Broken City, 613 11th Ave. SW (tel. 403/262-9976), is a hipster hangout with live local bands on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Put on your cowboy boots and swing your partner out to Ranchman's Cookhouse and Dance Hall, 9615 Macleod Trail S. (tel. 403/253-1100), the best country-western dance bar in the city. Free swing and line dance lessons are usually offered on Sunday afternoons; call to confirm.
Twisted Element, 1006 11th Ave. SW (tel. 403/802-0230), is Calgary's largest gay bar and dance club. The bar, in the city's northwest, not far from Kensington or the University of Calgary, features a cocktail lounge in the basement and a jam-packed dance club on the main floor.
Calgary has several legitimate casinos whose proceeds go wholly to charities. None impose a cover. Located across from the Stampede grounds, the Elbow River Inn Casino (1919 Macleod Trail S; tel. 403/266-4355; www.elbowrivercasino.com) is the largest and most central; it offers Las Vegas-style gaming, plus a poker variation called Red Dog. It has a 24-hour poker room.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.