The Best Nightlife in Calgary, Alberta

Calgary's nightlife offers everything from sophisticated cocktails to live music venues and late-night dancing
Calgary's nightlife offers everything from sophisticated cocktails to live music venues and late-night dancing | © Xin Chen / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kathryn Beeson
30 September 2020

Itching to get out on the town? These suggestions from our Calgary insiders have you covered, whether you’re looking for sophisticated cocktails, live music venues or opportunities to party into the wee hours.

Shelter

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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“Small but otherworldly” is how our local insider describes this southwest cocktail joint. You’ll certainly be struck by the decor as you walk in, with gorgeous light fixtures that feature over 5,000 individually hung bulbs providing somewhat of a contrast with the apocalypse chic of the gas mask wall. Come for the exciting cocktail menu, and visit often to try out the ever-evolving selection of drinks that the bar’s team of expert mixologists comes up with. Recommended by local insider Yamila Godoy

Proof

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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Even the Instagram-ambivalent won’t be able to resist taking a snap or two while at Proof. Their drinks really are stunning to behold – you may need to take a while to get over the artistry behind each cocktail before you feel able to drink it. Film and literature buffs will love that their cocktails are inspired by books and movies, with works as diverse as The Lord of the Rings, The Shining, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Sun Also Rises all represented. The menu is even divided up by genre, which is a far more novel way of choosing a drink than the usual longs/shorts division. Recommended by local insider Yamila Godoy

The Blues Can

Music Venue
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The Blues Can brings all the joys of a night out in New Orleans to the frozen North, offering drinks, dinner and live music in an intimate venue. It draws in local musicians and well-known blues acts alike – grab a beer or a cocktail and enjoy the show. Those looking for food will be treated to a mouthwatering selection of Southern-style comfort, including po’ boy sandwiches, jambalaya, ribs, burgers and blackened catfish. Recommended by local insider Stuart Forster

Cowboys Dance Hall

Nightclub, Cocktails, $$$
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If you’re bored of your usual drinks-and-dancing spots, head to Cowboys Dance Hall for a night out with a difference. Calgary’s largest club offers cavernous interiors for Western evenings, line dancing and good old-fashioned late-night partying. During the Calgary Stampede – the city’s annual rodeo festival which takes place in July – Cowboys puts on a range of themed events. Keep an eye on the calendar if you want to max out on Western-themed fun. Recommended by local insider Stuart Forster

Greta Bar

Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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Greta Bar is a glorious mashup of sports bar, retro gaming arcade and a trendy street-food spot. Grab a beer, select your ’80s arcade game of choice, or sit back and watch the hockey, and prepare for a great night. Fuel your evening with the internationally inspired street-food menu from the truck at the back, which offers North American classics like hot dogs and cinnamon donuts alongside bao buns, shawarma wraps and Indonesian fried rice. Recommended by local insider Coco Hiu Tung Yuen

The Rec Room

Bar, Restaurant, Canadian, $$$
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If you’re big on nights out, but not so hot on traditional nightclubs, the Rec Room might just be your new favorite spot for late-night socializing. Grab a pint from the bar, load up your RFID bracelets with credits and head off to explore the arcade games. If you amass enough game points, you’ll be able to claim a prize from the trophy case – this includes guitars, Michael Kors purses and even iPads alongside firmly established arcade favorites like stuffed animals and those terrible temporary tattoos you loved as a child. Recommended by local insider Coco Hiu Tung Yuen

These recommendations were updated on September 30, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.