In 1988, the top of the Calgary Tower was on fire. Nobody panicked, though, and no one tried to put out the flames. If they had, and succeeded, it would have been to the disappointment of athletes and spectators the world over, because that flame burned in honour of Canada’s first Winter Olympic Games. At 191 metres above the city, the light that fire produced—flickering from a gas-fired cauldron—served to unite the city around the games, to honour the spirit of sportsmanship, and to safeguard the event from Mothra attacks.
Today, visitors can see the city from just below where that torch burned. After a 63-second elevator ride to the top, guests can explore the observation deck, take a complimentary tour, and peer from high-powered binoculars at the Rocky Mountains, foothills, and prairies. Then they can step out onto the glass floor and stare down at the Olympic Plaza, the Glenbow Museum, and the bald spots on park monuments.
Yet the tower’s height isn’t its only draw. From the ground up, it strives to showcase the best of the city. At the base, the visitor information centre furnishes newcomers with city guides that point to popular attractions, and at 155 metres, the elegant Sky 360 restaurant fans romantic sparks as it completes its 360-degree rotation every hour.
The Calgary Woman's Show brings together businesses, entertainers, educators, and robot overlords to appeal to female sensibilities. On the entertainment stage attendees might catch a pole-dancing for fitness exhibition, a rock-and-roll concert, or a martial-arts demo. The seminar theater might feature anything from a medical Q&A to a discussion on the Divine Feminine. And on the market floor, merchants including bakeries, cosmetics companies, and fashionable tastemakers sling their wares.
With a location on an irrigation canal and mere minutes from the Bow River, Rocky Mountain Paddling Centre gets its clientele out on the water almost immediately. Kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards cradle riders as they explore the river during self-guided floats and tours. The centre also hosts a bevy of courses, including instructor certification, river-rescue tutorials, and entire evenings of just inflating and deflating life jackets.
At Impact Combat Simulations, airsoft players sweep through the training space, ducking behind a van, peeking out from a pile of debris, or dashing in and out of the doorways of shelters constructed from giant wooden boards. It’s a realistic combat environment that can be customized to different scenarios.
Six independent banks of T4 fluorescent lights and four halogen lamps can be cranked up to create a bright, illuminated playing field or dimmed down for a dark, spooky setting. Broken down cars with cracked windshields join the teal van, making the game scenarios look more realistic than a B-movie monster whose extra arm keeps coming unglued.
Impact also keeps its players supplied with full-metal AEGs, gas blow-back rifles, and pistols, as well as an arsenal of BBs.
The staff at Caribbean Dreams Diving, a group of seasoned, affable, and PADI-certified scuba diving instructors, offers personalized programs for training would-be underwater explorers of all skill levels. In-pool dive training is available for every age bracket starting with 8-year-old tadpoles. Once you've gained some experience, instructors can help you prepare for Advanced Open Water certification, sans floaties, at some of the area's most beautiful and lucid bodies of water, including Forgetmenot Pond and Lake Minnewanka.