Between the screenings: A Guide to Calgary Beyond the Calgary International Film Festival

With well over 200 of the best new movies from around the world in the line- up, Calgary International Film Festival visitors will spend hours in dark theatres transfixed by the relevant, topical, illuminating and just plain entertaining films on the screen.

Ranked “One of the top 25 film festivals in the world worth its entry fee” by MovieMaker Magazine, CIFF is ten days of pure bliss for hardcore cinephiles and those of us who just enjoy a good flick (September 24th – October 3rd)

Between all the movies, the red carpets, galas and parties, join the who’s who of the film festival circuit as they put down the popcorn, pick up their shades and head out to scout locations around Calgary.

Here is your guide to Calgary beyond the CIFF.

Best places to get the movie star treatment
Indulge your inner Julia Roberts at one of the many great spas in Calgary. Get wrapped, waxed and relaxed at the Stillwater Spa at the Hyatt Regency downtown, SpaDirect at the Coast Plaza Hotel or one of many other great spas around the city.

Best places to wear black in daytime

Share wannabe designer Brad Pitt’s passion for beautiful objects, furniture and art by strolling along 11 Avenue SW. Pop into Kit to try out an Eames chair and check out Phillipe Starck’s latest New Design.  Continue your tour of all that is fabulous at Nood, Robert Sweep and Domicile. Wander into the Weiss Gallery to see where Calgary's most well-healed collectors buy their art. Further down the street pop into the Virginia Christopher gallery, where a meal at you can enjoy a work of art at Calgary’s most beautiful lunch counter. Calgary's most beautiful lunch counter comes with a backdrop of fine art.

Hotel Le Germain
Outside of Hotel Le Germain

Best places to wear black at night
Join the rest of the stylish set for duck tacos or lobster corn dogs and a fancy beer at Belgo, a popular brasserie in Calgary. Check out Hôtel Le Germain, one of the city’s newest boutique hotels to toast your favourite film with a glass of champagne. Over at the well-loved Hotel Arts, enjoy fine food and drink in the Raw Bar while steeling glances at the modelesque people mingling outside by the pool (you’ll swear you’re in L.A. with a few more layers of clothing).
Write your next script
Settle in with your laptop and a cup of locally roasted coffee, latte or Americano at Phil and Sebestians in Marda Loop. If the high ceilings, minimalist décor and beautiful people don’t offer enough inspiration, perhaps the story of Phil and Sebastian will.

These two young Calgary software engineers were inspired to ditch code for coffee beans after Sebastian made a truly awful tiny cup of espresso. They started studying the process and machinery needed to make good coffee and ended up with their own line of roasted coffee. Sounds like a Damon/Affleck script.

Best places to take a meeting (with piercings)
Even carnivores will love the grilled tofu delights at The Coup + Meet on 17 Ave SW. The creative vegetarian fare is a hit with everyone from the Art House to the boardroom. The Coup uses local, whole and organic foods, composts all organic waste and asks people to bring their own reusable containers for take out orders. They also plant 36 trees a month to offset waste and are 100 per cent wind powered.  

Calgary  International Film Festival
Calgary International Film Festival
Best places to take a meeting (with suits)
If you’re pitching a manly-man action flick, you may want to try Chicago Chophouse in the historic Bank of Montreal building downtown on Stephen Avenue Mall. You and your potential producer will enjoy a great cut of Alberta beef and world class wines amidst lots of brown leather, warm stone and high- powered people. You can almost smell the cigar smoke (not really, we're just setting the scene)

Best places to look for props and wardrobe
Whether you’re looking for 1950s milk bottles with the original paper caps or vintage dishes, the perfect wild purple polyester blazer or a prom dress circa 1972, you’ll find it at Pretty Little Things in Ramsey. You’ll also find contemporary stylish and high end consignment clothes. It’s one part museum, two parts eclectic and three parts fun.

Just up the street in historic Inglewood, there are plenty of treasures waiting to be discovered in hole-in-the-wall antique stores or Calgary’s superstore of farmhouse finds, Junktiques. Down the street, Recordland will make your head spin perusing with more than a million records.
Go Bollywood, or Good Morning Vietnam?
Feel like whiling away the afternoon trying on saris in every colour of the rainbow? Maybe you’re hankering for the best Vietnamese sub in town (in case you were wondering, you can thank French colonists for introducing the baguette, and therefore the sub, to Vietnamese cuisine). You’ll find saris and subs and everything in between on Calgary’s International Avenue, 17 Avenue SE.

Best places to hear bands that aren’t famous yet (but will be after they write the score for your next movie)
Calgary’s vibrant music scene is on display every night of the week with live music and cool DJs at various clubs including the Palomino, Broken City, the Ironwood Stage and Grill, the Hifi Club and the Whiskey. Try to dance like no one is watching.

Holt Renfrew Exterior
Shopping at Holt Renfrew
Best places to shop like a celeb
Pick up a few togs for the red carpet at Calgary’s huge new Holt Renfrew or the always excellent Harry Rosen. For some local haberdashery, try O'Connors on 1st St SW or, just for women, Primitive on 16 Ave SW. Once you’re suitably decked out for a gala performance, put your sunglasses on and head back out to the fabulousness that is Calgary and the film festival. Make sure to leave enough time to sign a few autographs along the way.

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