Three Ways to Weave Local Culture Into Your Next Meeting in Calgary

A Sponsored Message from Tourism Calgary

Author: David McMillin       

high-rises downtown

Head to Crescent Heights for some of the best views of Downtown Calgary. (ROAM Creative)

As many major cities work on their downtown revitalization strategies, one city stands out as a role model that can help them harness new possibilities: Calgary. The third-most populated city in Canada is in the midst of a massive transformation that is best summed up by The Washington Post“Almost every direction one looks in downtown Calgary,” the paper’s editorial board wrote in the middle of 2023, “there’s a crane.”

Those cranes are all part of a plan that is turning downtown into a buzzing district for residents and visitors alike, and what’s good for the local and visitor community is just as great for organizers searching for the right host destination. Calgary will soon become the largest convention destination in Western Canada, thanks to both the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre and a $500-million expansion of the BMO Centre at Stampede Park — part of a $1-billion investment in the city’s meetings and events infrastructure.

But what differentiates Calgary isn’t just what’s brand new; it’s also the local experiences and community spirit that distinguish Alberta’s largest city as a capital of culture and creativity. Read on for three ways that Calgary can create a bigger impact on the attendee experience.

1. Showcase the Community Spirit of the Stampede.

The legendary 10-day Calgary Stampede may happen only once a year, but the new Sam Centre will honor the spirit of “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” every day of the year. The 30,000-square-foot venue, held at Stampede Park and the BMO Centre, will open its doors in May. Groups will have a chance to immerse themselves in the rich history of the Stampede with rotating exhibits in two galleries, an archive of more than 10,000 artifacts, and storytelling experiences.

aerial view of highrises downtown at twilight with purple lit bridge over river

The Bow River, which originates hundreds of miles away in the Canadian Rockies, snakes through Downtown Calgary. (Ian Matheson)

2. Bring Indigenous Culture to the Main Stage.

Calgary sits on the traditional territories of the Treaty 7 peoples and is also known by its traditional names as Moh-kins-tsis (Blackfoot), Wicispa Oyade (Stoney Nakoda), Guts-ists (Tsuut’ina), and Otos-kwunee (Métis). By showcasing the rich and distinctive Indigenous cultures and histories of this region in your event, you not only demonstrate respect for the land and the peoples who have called the area home since time immemorial, but also create a deeply meaningful experience for attendees. Incorporating a land acknowledgement, authentic Indigenous suppliers, or Indigenous performances and activations in your program will help attendees gain a deeper appreciation for the community and people who define its spirit. For example, at the most recent edition of the World Petroleum Congress, mikho maskwa (Red Bear), the artist and owner behind Redman Customs, did a live wood-carving demonstration for participants, aweing the audience and showcasing traditional Indigenous craftsmanship.

3. Hear Local Music History at the National Music Centre.

Today’s chart-topping names — Drake, Shawn Mendes, and Justin Bieber, for example — are proof that Canadians shape the world’s soundtrack. It’s not just about what’s happening in the present, though. The National Music Centre brings more than 450 years of music to life, immersing attendees in the diverse cultural stories that have contributed to Canada’s rhythm. With event spaces like the 276-seat Performance Hall and the intimate Soundscapes Gallery at Studio Bell, organizers can give attendees a chance to join in harmony with that rich history.

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