If you’re in the mood for a night out in Calgary, you have a lot of options. Whether you feel like cocooning in a cozy wine bar with a few friends, knocking back a craft beer or two on a patio, busting out some dance moves at a club, or chilling out to some live music among locals, the city has you covered. No matter what your tipple of choice is or what your perfect evening plans look like, read on for a guide to the best in nightlife options in Calgary.
You won’t have to look far for a bar in Calgary and the best part is – no matter what type of bar you’re looking for, you’re likely to find it in the city. From pubs and craft breweries to sleek cocktails bars and distilleries, Calgary has proven itself to be a creative place when it comes to drinking venues. Whether you’re hanging out downtown or in one of the city’s other vibrant neighborhoods, there will be a bar to suit most tastes. In addition, Calgary’s growing craft distilling scene is making a name for itself around the world, so be on the lookout for local spirits that help take the city’s cocktails to the next level.
- Cannibale: Do you need a trim and a hot shave with your beer or cocktail? You can do that at this unique space known for hearty food and creative drinks. They also have a small patio and yes, they really are a barber shop on top of all that.
- Shelter: Small sharing plates, an extensive rotating list of cocktails made with unique ingredients and a stylish space all combine to create this cocktail bar and lounge. Décor includes a decorated wall of gas masks (which sounds odd, but works) and eye-catching light fixture featuring an impressive 5,000 individually hung bulbs.
- Bar Annabelle: If it’s a glass of wine in a laid back setting with a warm atmosphere that piques your interest, you might want to make your way to Bar Annabelle. In addition to an extensive list of wines, you’ll also find Japanese whiskey, scotch, and gin on the menu. They also serve a small tapas menu and boast a large collection of vintage vinyl.
- Greta Bar: This eclectic spot offers a little bit of everything over two lively floors. You can take your pick of dozens of arcade games, enjoy some globally inspired street food from the indoor food truck or dance the night away on the dance floor.
There are no shortage of options when it comes to clubs in Calgary, from large venues where DJs spin the latest in electronic and house music, to country and western venues, to more low-key spots where you can dance as well as enjoy a good meal and a creative cocktail. Locals love a good time, and you can feel that energy into the wee hours in venues throughout the city. For a taste of what to expect, below are a few clubs worth having on your radar.
- HiFi Club: The longest-running night club in Calgary, located in the city’s Beltline area, is well known for hosting both local and international electronic acts. They’re also a live music venue where a variety of noteworthy bands and artists have taken the stage.
- Habitat Living Sound: Billing itself as “a boutique electronic music Micro-club,” Habitat is DJ owned and operated and hosts both up and coming local DJs as well as celebrated acts from around the world.
- Cowboys Dance Hall: Grab your best pair of cowboy boots and get yourself to Cowboy Dance Hall for a raucous night out. Whether you want to do some line dancing or sweat it out to some top 40 hits among throngs of revelers, you can do it here.
- Commonwealth Bar & Stage: Located in what was once an old warehouse, this mid-size nightclub in downtown Calgary hosts both live acts as well as DJs. There are two floors on which to party, four bars and a stylish, eclectic vibe.
Late Night Restaurants
Let’s face it, late night cravings happen. Luckily, Calgary has you covered for great food, even into the wee hours. From tacos and hot dogs, to pizza, burgers and everything in between, there are plenty of late night food options to choose from. For starters, make a stop at U & ME Restaurant (open until 4 a.m.) for dim sum, noodle soups, congee, fried rice, and other Chinese dishes. Or drop by Native Tongues (open until 11 p.m.) for excellent tacos and other Mexican goodies, as well as beer and wine, cocktails, and mezcal. Don’t miss their “reverse happy hour” from 10 p.m. to close for some wallet-friendly drinks and snacks. You might also want to consider The Big Cheese Poutinerie (open until 3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday at its two locations) where you can fill up on poutine of all kinds, including many veggie options. And yet another good option is Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey (open until 1 a.m.) for satisfying barbecue, including half-priced meats after 10 p.m.
In addition to the city’s many options for bars and nightclubs, Calgary is also home to a wide variety of live music venues featuring everything from local acts to world-renowned artists in venues big and small. The King Eddy has a long history in Calgary as the second oldest hotel (and longest operating bar and hotel) when it closed in 2004. Now the iconic venue has a new lease on life as part of the National Music Centre and is now a restaurant, bar and a popular spot for live music.
You’ll also want to check out Calgary's Music Mile, which runs from Inglewood to the National Music Centre in the East Village. This is where you’ll find a cluster of over 20 live music venues where music of many genres can be heard throughout the week. Stop by Gravity Espresso & Wine Bar (along Music Mile) for a caffeine fix or glass of wine alongside live music by local musicians.
The Ironwood Stage and Grill is another good spot for live music in the city. The space is also a bar and restaurant and they host more than 400 live shows a year.
Calgary hosts a lot of festivals throughout the year covering everything from music and food to beer and culture. Of course you can’t make mention of the city’s abundance of festivals without talking about the Calgary Stampede, known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” This epic festival features live music, midway rides and games, chuckwagon races, loads of food, rodeos, and much more. High Performance Rodeo is where you can enjoy local and international theater, music, dance, comedy, and more. Calgary International Blues Festival features a whole week of blues music from around the world that also includes workshops and special events. Or Sled Island Music & Arts Festival might be more your speed, which sees over 200 bands, comedians, films, and artists head to more than 30 venues throughout the city. And if you love beer, you’ll want to make time for the Calgary International Beerfest to try more than 700 beers from more than 200 breweries.
Tips for Going Out in Calgary
- While there are plenty of bars to choose from in downtown Calgary, it’s also worth spending some time discovering the bars and pubs in other areas like Kensington and 17th Avenue SW.
- Note that it is customary to tip 15 to 20 percent on food drink when you’re going out in Calgary.
- If you will be going out in Calgary during the winter, it is wise to bundle up since weather can be cold and unpredictable.
- For those going out downtown, it’s free to ride the C-Train throughout the downtown core between City Hall Station and Downtown West/Kerby Station on either line.