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Host City in Hot Demand

All the major sports and entertainment events are heading to Calgary

X Games Calgary rendering at the Stampede Grandstand, by Michael Grills of Union Illustration.

Calgary is vibin’.

Kicking off the first half of the year with appearances by Snoop Dogg, Jarome Iginla and Barack Obama, Calgary continues to score one major event after another – to entertain, inspire, engage and to showcase the city to those who live beyond it.

X Marks the Spot

Envision a skier pulling off a massive triple cork 1620 in the Big Air competition at the Stampede Grandstand….

On March 13, 2019, Tourism Calgary announced Calgary secured the exclusive Canadian rights to host the Winter X Games for 2020, 2021 and 2022. This extreme sports, music and youth culture event features international athletes competing in skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. Oslo and Shanghai have held it, and Aspen has hosted every year since 2002 and will again next year. This marks the first time a Canadian city would be on the X Games host circuit.

X Games Calgary is being developed by Calgary-based Manifesto Sport Management that specializes in event bid strategy and represents high-calibre athletes and Insight Productions, producer of The Amazing Race Canada and the Juno Awards.

This rad event is scheduled for late February/early March 2020, subject to securing approximately $4 million in corporate sponsorship. Tourism Calgary and the Government of Alberta have already committed. The X Games are hosted, produced and broadcast by ESPN, and coverage is also shown on ESPN’s sister network, ABC.

After working for almost a decade on this opportunity, Tourism Calgary is stoked for it to become a reality. The city will have the answer by late summer. Hosting the X Games would result in an estimated $75 million injection into the economy, more than 10,000 out-of-region visitors and 75,000 spectators, annually, says Carson Ackroyd, senior vice president of sales for Tourism Calgary.


Country Crooners

Polish those Stampede boots and buckles because the 43rd annual Canadian Country Music Week and Awards Show is coming to town from September 5-8, 2019. Calgary will be hosting this event for the ninth time, the most of all host cities, which features a ton of exciting, new programming since last here in 2005.

Introduced at Country Music Week 2018 in Hamilton, Fan Village is a free, lively mini-festival with stages featuring Canadian and U.S. performers. There are photo opportunities and signings with artists, activation spaces for families, and morning fitness sessions with instructors and country artists all sharing the stage.

“We’re lucky because we have artists who are very close to their fans and want to spend time with them and it’s not just from a distance,” says Tracy Martin, president of the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA).

The Legends Show is a ticketed concert at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on the Friday night showcasing new and legendary artists performing each other’s songs, renditions of their songs and singing together. Industry events such as the songwriters’ series, education workshops and kickoff party will be held at Studio Bell.

The dazzling finale, the red-carpet Awards Show will take place on Sunday, September 8. It will be aired on Corus Entertainment’s Global Television, the CCMA’s new broadcast partner, which will give great exclusivity to Canada’s top country radio station Country 105. The Awards Show host and Hall of Fame inductees are soon to be announced.

“We already had a great relationship with Phil Kallsen and his team at Country 105 and now that we’re officially linking arms with them as our broadcaster, I think you’re going to see really robust things coming from them during Country Music Week,” says Martin.

The anticipated economic impact of the 2019 Canadian Country Music Week and Awards Show is about $9 million with 6,000 out-of-town visitors expected.


Grey Cup Fever

It’s all about pacing…. One month after Canadian Country Music Week, the party keeps on going as Calgary celebrates a slew of high-spirited events during the Grey Cup Festival launching November 20, culminating in the 107th Grey Cup on November 24 at McMahon Stadium.

Centralized at Stampede Park, the Shaw-presented Grey Cup Festival’s “Experience the Energy” features great opportunities for corporate client engagement. The ever-popular CFL Legends Luncheon takes place on Friday, November 22 and presents Hot Stove with league player favourites, past and present. Friday night’s signature Grey Cup gala dinner and entertainment is a more formal affair on the Saddledome rink.

For a new event, the festival is introducing Grey Cup Rodeo at the historic Stampede Corral. “Anybody who’s from out of town, this will be one thing they’ll want to see,” says Mike Franco, Calgary Stampeders’ senior director of business operations. “We’re pretty excited about this special event that stitches together a taste of Calgary and the Grey Cup experience.” The Saturday rodeo leads into the evening concert series; its lineup to be announced in September.

Of course, the festival will feature the team parties where football fans connect with each other and their favourite teams in a party environment. While the Grey Cup is a real piece of Canadiana, a strong contingent of U.S. fans travel every year to the festival and game, especially from the 1994 CFL expansion cities Baltimore and Sacramento.

“That’s the most special thing about the Grey Cup, that a Stamps fan stands shoulder to shoulder with a Riders fan who stands shoulder to shoulder with a Bombers fan … and they’re all united in sport,” says Franco.

Grey Cup festivities expect more than 30,000 visitors from outside of Calgary and $50-$60 million in local economic impact. More than nine million Canadians watch the game on TSN. The 2018 Grey Cup champions play their first preseason home game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on May 31, 2019.


Feeling Fly on the Bow

If you want to take it down a few notches to serenity, a guided fly-fishing trip on the Bow River is a fantastic excursion. Calgary’s Fish Tales Fly Shop has been guiding fly-fishing tours since 1997 and takes out about 400 trips each season.

“We have a truly world-class fishery,” says lifelong fly fisherman David Blair, who co-owns Fish Tales with his wife Nancy Storwick. “There isn’t another river in the world that has a wild self-sustaining population of trout that runs through a city of 1.2 million people.” Anglers on the Bow catch rainbow and brown trout, and the native Albertan Rocky Mountain whitefish.

Fish Tales offers three main trips, the longest of which commences 50 kilometres outside of the city at McKinnon Flats. Company trips generally take out four to six boats, with each boat holding one to two people plus a guide. Trips run for eight to 10 hours on average, and a minimum outing lasts five.

Storwick is president of the Angling Outfitter & Guide Association of Alberta, most of whose 75 members also offer guided trips, such as Trout Farmer, Trout Chasers, and First Cast Last Pass.

“At an average size of 18-19 inches, people say ‘Holy Cow!’ when they see the size of the fish here,” says Blair.


All this, as well as the Flames in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Calgary Stampede in July, Cirque du soleil’s Luzia in mid-August, the Shaw Charity Classic at the end of August, Spruce Meadows Masters’ tournament in September….