Colours of Calgary

/ New Delhi
Calgary in western Canada may not be the first destination that comes to your mind, but the Oil Capital of Canada has a lot more than just the Black Gold to offer.
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Alberta is best known for being home to the world’s largest deposit of tar sands oil. But the province is also a paradise for holiday makers’ as it offers a huge variety of experiences – from the Rockies and glaciers to desert Badlands and over 600 lakes sprinkled through the vast stretches of the prairies.

Calgary, in southern Alberta, a cosmopolitan city and a financial hub for the province, acts as a gateway to most of these experiences that Alberta has to offer. Located at the confluence of Bow and Elbow Rivers, Calgary is the third largest city in Canada.

Endowed with a bountiful of amazing landscapes and a rich diversity in experiences for tourists, Calgary is literally a destination through the seasons, all year round. And what distinguishes Calgary, and indeed the rest of the country, is the palette of distinctive colours that each season brings with it.

Lush green summers

If you are headed there in the summers, one of the most preferred seasons due to the moderate temperatures and the lush greenery spread all around, consider hiking and camping as a serious option as most locals would do. And if camping it is, then head to Banff at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It is the biggest attraction in the entire province and is best known for the Banff National Park and its natural beauty. Little wonder then that it is also the favourite camping site in not just Calgary, but entire Alberta.

Like almost elsewhere in Alberta, Calgary is almost entirely flat, the roads run straight for several km and have little vehicular traffic, if any. Hence, driving is a pleasure here in Canada, in all seasons, perhaps with the exception of winter. Summer offers you glimpses of lush green landscapes and turquoise blue of the numerous lakes and water bodies sprinkled all around.

The abundance of water bodies in and around Calgary also open up the possibilities of various activities for tourists, notably kayaking or white water rafting in the rivers. One of the better spots for water-based activities is Canmore, a small tourist town, about 70 km from Calgary. Canmore is most well-known for its Three Sisters Peak as well as the Canmore Provincial Park and Ski resorts. The kayaking on Bow River is an activity not to be missed if you are there before the onset of winter.

The summer is also a great time to be in Calgary to participate in the Calgary Stampede Festival, an annual rodeo, exhibition, and festival held every July and spread over 10 days, with an impressive fireworks display at the end of each day. The Stampede is a nod to Calgary’s origins as a ranchers’ town.

Flaming red autumns

One of the best known images of Canada is of course the flaming red maple leaf, which is also the national symbol and sits prominently in the national flag. Red is indeed the colour of the autumns as a multi-fold of flora such as Maples, Yellow Birch, Red Spruce and Pines are found all around the country that has forests in abundance.

Autumns also offer a great time for picnics, boating or simply admiring the colourful splashes made by Mother Nature. One of the best spots to visit during the autumn is Jasper, arguably one of the most beautiful places here. Its diversity is almost unique as its peaks resemble the Swiss Alps, while vast stretches of barren land remind visitors of Ladakh in India and of course Jasper also comes with its fair share of lakes, hiking trails, waterfalls and glaciers. The main road here, named Icefield Parkways, is said to be one of the most scenic routes in the world.

Whites of winter

Even before autumn fully yields to winter, Canada’s wilderness is covered in a shiny, white blanket as it begins to get heavy snows fairly earlier than most other parts the world. In winter, almost all of Calgary becomes a playground as people begin indulging in skating, skiing or simply playing in the snow, be it the city centre or a remote locale.

Princes Island Park could be called Calgary’s Central Park. It is a large patch of green in the middle of the city, and it has Bow River flowing beside it. The bridge connecting to the island is called Peace Bridge, which gets completely covered with the snow in the winters and deeper into the winters, the Bow River also freezes over, offering a great spot for winter sports. It could also be the best time to take a ride on a horse-pulled sleigh.

Another nice spot to relish the winters in Calgary is Lake Louise that lies near Banff. Overlooking Banff is the Castle Mountain that is called so due to its peculiar, castle-like shape. At the base of Castle Mountain lies the Lake Louise, one of the most famous and attractive lakes in the country. Lake Louise is known for its summer beauty, when the water turns turquoise and winter attraction when it freezes completely and people do skiing and play ice-hockey on the lake.

Calgary also hosts an annual fireworks festival that attracts participation from around the world. The Global Fest, Alberta, as it is called, is a competition where various countries display their pyrotechnic skills. There were four participants, all from Asia, this year, China, India, Philippines and Japan. At the end of impressive fireworks display by the four teams, India was chosen as the winner.

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