A modern, spirited and diverse city with community at its core, Gay Calgary is an offbeat queer destination for those who love to explore. With a petite but proud gay scene, sparkling skylines, avant-garde dining and proximity to the beautiful Canadian Rockies -- where Brokeback Mountain was filmed -- there is a lot to love here
And trust us -- the longer you stay, the more there is to surprise you.
The largest city in Alberta, Calgary, is a mountain-high city renowned for its high quality of life, proud ‘Cowboy’ traditions, impressive mountain scene, and meteoric growth as the center of Canada’s oil industry. You can see understand why it is often called the ‘Texas’ of Canada.
As a result of this oil boom, Calgary has been the fastest growing city in Canada for the past decade and now has the youngest average age of any major Canadian city. It is also one of the most ethnically diverse, with around one-in-three people living in Calgary being born outside Canada.
There is a lot for the citizens of Calgary to be proud of, and they are not exactly known for being modest. They throw the Calgary Stampede every year -- a celebration of all things Calgary, featuring everything from big-name concerts to rodeo shows just to show how great their city really is. This 10-day event attracts about a million visitors every year and is our favorite time to visit, closely followed by Calgary Pride.
We won’t claim the gay scene in Calgary is reason alone to visit -- but certainly has enough to be worth exploring if you are already in the area. In terms of dedicated queer nightlife, there is one excellent nightclub, two fun bars, and a genuinely fabulous pop-up party series, Hot Mess, whose parties are absolutely not to be missed.
Canada is renowned for its openness, meaning gay explorers can be ensured a safe and fun visit in Calgary where they are free to be themselves and love whomever they wish. LGBT rights in Canada are some of the most advanced in the world, and in modern times the Government of Canada has a strong history of commitment to protecting and advancing the rights of queer people — both at home and abroad.
While Montreal’s Gay Village is probably the most vibrant in Canada, you can also see the physical manifestation of Canada’s queer spirit in Toronto’s Church Wellesley Village, Vancouver’s Davie Village, and Ottawa’s Bank Street Gay Village. Much like in nearby Edmonton, there is no specific gay village in Calgary. However, you will find gay bars dotted around the Beltline area (between 14th and 13th avenues SW from 6th to 7th streets SW), just outside of the downtown.
A youthful city with strong creative tendencies, a thriving culinary scene, live music to die for, and more outdoor adventures than you could ever want…Gay Calgary is guaranteed to be a roaring good time!
In this article we will cover...
Naturally, being gay does not define which attractions most of us will want to see in each destination, and most queer travelers will merely want to check out the top things to see in Calgary during the day! We found our favorite memories were hiring a car and exploring the vast and Canadian wildness landscapes, dining in the chic, upscale eateries of Calgary’s revitalized downtown, and dancing till dawn surrounded by our fabulous queer community.
However, if you’re someone who wants to see it all, we have put together a few more popular things to do in Calgary that are sure to keep you busy! Whether you’re a refined foodie, an outdoor adventure seeker, or a first-time visitor, rest assured that progressive Calgary will have something for you.
Being a very liberal country when it comes to sexuality, almost every hotel, and hostel in Calgary can be considered open to LGBT guests.
Being gay-friendly is about creating an environment of inclusiveness, where all people are treated equally, and diversity is welcomed and respected. Elegant design, helpful staff, and excellent value for money never hurt anyone, though! You won’t have to hide your same-sex relationship or sexuality when you check-in at any of these fabulous hotels -- but obviously you don’t have to declare it either.
While there are no exclusively gay hotels in Calgary, any hotel in the downtown of Calgary or near the Beltline gay bars is sure to have more than a few gay guests staying. Plus, being a stumble home from wherever the night takes you is always pretty desirable. Otherwise, we recommend finding a hotel that is as central as possible to minimize travel time during the day or to the best nightlife spots after dark.
There are hundreds of other good hotel options in Calgary if you don’t find what you are looking for, but we are confident you’ll find something here for you. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap place to crash after a night of partying or a chic designer option to sip cocktails and surround yourself with fabulous people – Gay Calgary as something for everyone!
Calgary isn’t exactly well-known for its wild nightlife that goes until sunrise, but in our experience, there were plenty of options for us to chose from as the sun faded away, and the moon begins sliding into the sky. Fancy cocktails, chilled drinks, live performances, and all-night dancing are each on offer.
Calgary has a fabulous selection of gay-friendly venues to tempt you out. Still, only one specific queer club and two gay bars remain open today as a direct result of growing social acceptance and the increasing ability to live our queer lives openly.
Many gay locals today simply preferred to plan their nights around music, DJs, and cool venues rather than the sexual orientation of the crowd. The rising rent prices have also likely hastened the demise of many gay spaces in Calgary. While we would never give up our hard-fought freedoms, we still think there is something special about queer spaces and that to lose them ultimately would also be a devastating blow to our community.
Besides, who doesn’t want to party the night away with our fabulous queer global family? We are just more fun. Regardless of where you head out, night owl adventurers should feel safe in most establishments in this open-minded city. So, we would encourage you to mix, mingle, and dip your toes into the variety of venues on offer (gay or straight) to find the best for you!
Had enough of gay cruising in Calgary – either in the bars or elsewhere? Why not explore the steamier side of this sexy town…
While French-Canadians in Montreal and Quebec City seem to have bucked the trend of closing bathhouses and gay cruising spaces, Calgary has followed in the footsteps of other North American cities like Atlanta, Washington DC, Portland, Boston. As a result, there is only one such gay cruising space left in town. You could always try one of the gay hook up apps…
In such a foreign-friendly city -- and country -- you should have no issues visiting the Calgary gay sauna and will be welcomed openly, as in the rest of the scene here. You can read our guide, however, if you are nervous about visiting a gay sauna for the first time. So that you know what to expect.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you...
Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big queer world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!
Many gay travelers (including us) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access and pre-arrange airport transfers to take the stress out of travel. Naturally, we would never leave home without a more mainstream travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!