Everything you need to know about Calgary’s new outdoor winter art experience

Feb 11 2021, 12:01 pm

On behalf of almost everyone, if we were to sum up this winter in two words it would be — cold and long!

With February sub-temps setting in, the one-year anniversary of quarantine just around the corner, and no light at the end of the tunnel in sight, it’s no surprise that Calgarians are beginning to feel the adverse effects of the circumstances all at once. One can only be separated from friends and family for so long without a craving for connecting to set in.

Luckily, Calgarians live in one of the most resilient cities in the world. It was really only a matter of time before Calgary figured out a way to reconnect the community and shine. Enter Chinook Blast, powered by Shaw, an outdoor arts and cultural experience designed to provide Calgarians with an excuse to get outside and enjoy the best of winter in Calgary.

Chinook Blast/Tourism Calgary

“Through Chinook Blast, we want to enhance Calgary as a wonderful Canadian winter city, while showcasing its incredible arts, culture, and sport through community partnerships and local artists,” Jeff Hessel, Senior VP of Marketing for Tourism Calgary, tells Daily Hive.

“It’s a challenging time when it’s cold and people have to stay inside, but Calgary is a can-do city, and we achieve things that wouldn’t normally be possible. We push to do great things, and with the aim of elevating spirits and boosting civic pride, we hope to provide Calgarians an opportunity to get a small taste of what Chinook Blast will be in the future.”

From February 13 to 28, Calgarians can bundle up and head into the community to experience the Chinook Blast Art Hub in downtown Calgary, sprawling from the East Village through Olympic Village and Stephen Avenue to 3rd Street. Families and household cohorts are strongly advised to stick together as they enjoy a self-guided walking tour of the art walk that features a variety of bright art displays and glistening light installations.

“This experience is laid out to be visual and keep people moving and not gathering — it’s walkable not stoppable,” says Hessel.

Some noteworthy sites not to miss are:

  • The Cube: An electric multicolour art display representing an artificial intelligence themed puzzle from space, created by Paul Magnuson of Big Art.
  • Bear-ealis: Using a mix of digital and natural elements, these glowing plexiglass sculptures capture the beauty of the Canadian north and the spirited animals amongst it, created by Ken Hacke.
  • Aiksiisopoo: Meaning “Chinook Wind,” this Blackfoot Winter Camp is located at Fort Calgary and will feature Kent Ayoungman, a Siksika Ceremonial Knowledge Keeper who will be telling vivid Blackfoot stories and sharing winter traditions at the camp, presented by Making Treaty 7
  • Colour-Where: A brightly coloured, geometric selfie booth inspired by the bold, preppy stripes and patterns from 90s fashion we know and love, created by Rachael Meckling

Along with the hub, there will be Partner Pop-Ups taking place at varying times during Chinook Blast, throughout the heart of Calgary’s most beloved communities.

Capture Insta-worthy moments as you walk past the Old British Telephone Booth covered in compostable balloons in Kensington, celebrate the Lunar New Year by scouting the five life-size ‘Ox’ sculptures throughout Chinatown, or spot the 10 benches in the Crescent Heights Village, each designed by various artists and sponsored by a local charity.

There will be an unlimited amount of artistic magic flowing throughout the city this month.

Chinook Blast/Tourism Calgary

Last but not least, for those who don’t fare well in the cold or can’t leave their homes, “Friends of Chinook Blast” will be putting on virtual performances and cultural programming that you can tune in to from your computer.

“We wanted to give Calgarians the opportunity to experience the Chinook Blast in-person, digitally, and virtually,” says Hessel. “Many of the ‘Friends of Chinook Blast’ are strong community partners, and although they weren’t able to participate within an interactive setting, we wanted to lay the foundation for the future and showcase what can be expected at Chinook Blast in years to come.”

In order to adhere to the province of Alberta’s health and safety guidelines surrounding COVID-19, there are some important things to take note of when heading out to experience Chinook Blast.

  • Check the weather and dress warmly.
  • Masks are mandatory, plus they will keep your lips and nose toasty warm.
  • People are asked to stick with their family household cohort and abide by the province’s gathering protocols — currently, it’s a maximum of 10 persons outdoors.
  • Social distancing is mandatory.
  • Click here for more information on the COVID-19 health and safety protocols for Chinook Blast.

“We are so excited to celebrate this beautiful season in Calgary, while giving Calgarians a reason to get out of their homes and be reminded of the artistic talent that runs through the veins of our city,” says Hessel. “Chinook blast is meant to give people the opportunity to spend time doing something different with their cohorts, while creating unforgettable winter memories.”

Interested in showing off your artistic talent? Everyone can become an artist by submitting their own Calgary Tower light show colouring template. Take a photo and share your piece on Instagram or Twitter by using the hashtag #ChinookTower for the opportunity to win and have your light show illuminated on the Calgary Tower from Monday, February 15 to Saturday, February 27.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay warm as you become a part of the narrative and enjoy the vibrancy that Calgary’s local arts community is renowned for country-wide.

Chinook Blast


  • Saturday, February 13 to Sunday, February 14
  • Friday, February 19 to Sunday, February 21
  • Friday, February 26 to Sunday, February 28

Time: 3 to 9 pm
Where: In and around downtown Calgary and surrounding communities. Click here for a downloadable map.

Chinook Blast will adapt to the current provincial rules, regulations, and protocols as they change, along with cold-weather advisories. Stay tuned to their social media for the latest news and updates regarding the event.

This content was created by Hive Labs in partnership with a sponsor