One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job is the chance to explore the diverse landscapes of Alberta. From the vibrant cities to the serene countryside, some of my cherished destinations lie just outside of Calgary. I hope that sharing my experiences in this blog post will ignite your wanderlust and encourage you to embark on your own journey through these captivating communities as you explore the arts and culture scenes of Alberta!

1. Vulcan

For those who are fans of Star Trek, I suggest visiting the charming community of Vulcan. I recently had the opportunity to teach a class there. Intrigued by the lure of tourists to the town, I soon discovered the fascinating connection to the very popular science and space trend within the town site. In 1995, Vulcan constructed a futuristic tourist information centre resembling a landed spaceship. This attraction has since drawn visitors from across the globe. Additionally, within the town, stands an impressive replica of the iconic starship Enterprise. Even the clouds surrounding the community look like UFO’s! Check out my Vulcan video:

https://pin.it/6NSUZ9nDa

What I loved most about this little community is the way in which it supported the Arts. There is a beautiful art studio in Vulcan where they host their classes which is where I taught. The location of the arts studio is in The Healy Heritage Art Center, conveniently located on main street. Inside the art centre, there’s a selection of beautiful art pieces and handicrafts that are made by local artists. I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful little studio to shop for local art or even to take a class!

You can read more about this amazing little community by clicking on the 2 links below. 

https://townofvulcan.ca/explore/visit/attractions

https://www.vulcanarts.net/

2. Bassano

Bassano is a lovely little community southeast of Calgary. The town has a very vibrant arts community. While I was there, the entire community was hosting a garage sale. I believe this is an annual event called “Parade of Garage Sales”.  One family even hired a band to play in their backyard during the event. 

That evening there was also a band playing at the local tavern. The tavern called “The Imperial Hunter”  is a step back in time. It has been a town landmark since 1911. The community has done a good job maintaining it. It still has the old style sign of bygone days on top of the building. Check out the vintage Coca Cola sign attached to the side of the building!

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What really impressed me about the town was the way in which they support the arts. They have a community centre that hosts a small studio on the side called The Art and Soul centre. (see photo above)

In the studio, they host art classes. They also have a beautiful selection of handmade goods including pottery, cards, paintings, woodworking and woven clothing items available for purchase.

The community of Bassano also has an arts council which hosts a regular concert series made possible by assistance from the town of Bassano, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and The Department of Canadian Heritage (CAPF). 

You can check out their annual concert series events here:

https://bassanoartscouncil.com/

Check out more fun places in and around Bassano here:

https://brooksregiontourism.com/things-to-do/

3. Diamond Valley (formerly Black Diamond and Turner Valley)

This unique corner of the province is home to some of the most stunning views in all of Alberta! The photo you see at the top was taken near the community of Turner Valley. What was formerly known as Black Diamond and Turner Valley has amalgamated to call itself the town of Diamond Valley. This community is a must visit along Alberta’s iconic “Cowboy Trail”!!

https://www.thecowboytrail.com/about-us/

The community is home to many unique shops and restaurants, my favourite of which is, “The Blue Rock Gallery”. The selection of paintings, pottery, jewellery, books, cards and other unique handicrafts is out of this world! This is a must visit stop for local art! 

https://bluerockgallery.ca/

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There’s more! Right down the highway is one of the best outdoor farmers market in all of Alberta where you can immerse yourself in a sensory feast! I highly recommend The Millarville  Farmers Market where the air is filled  with the aroma of local cuisine, fresh flowers and the sounds of live music. Go there hungry so you can eat a feast of locally prepared foods! 

https://www.millarvilleracetrack.com/farmers-market/

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Have I convinced you to travel down south? You’ll need a place to stay! I recommend this campsite situated right in the townsite of Diamond Valley. It’s the Lions campground right near the bridge. 

https://www.diamondvalley.town/Facilities/Facility/Details/Foothills-Lions-Bob-Lochead-Memorial-18

4. Cremona 

Another amazing little community along The Cowboy Trail (highway #22) is a community called Cremona. They are a small but very mighty town! If you plan to go, make sure it’s on July 1st. They have the most amazing events that take place that day which include a parade, pancake breakfast, soap box derby, bake sale, tractor pull and live music in the evening. I also recommend stopping at the cutest little gift shop along The Cowboy Trail. It’s a store called Blue and Bairn. Housed in a bright blue cottage, every corner invites you to explore local treasures both new and old.

https://www.blueandbairncollective.com/

If you are a lover of Celtic music, you absolutely must attend an annual  Celtic Music Festival just up the road from Cremona in a community called Water Valley. In June, there is one day of nonstop Celtic music featuring musical groups from Canada and around the world. Visit the link below to see who’s performing this year.

https://www.watervalleycelticfestival.org/

There are many things to do and see in this area. So many you may want to make your trip a 2 day event. In this case, you’ll need a place to stay. I recommend this amazing campground , Elkton Valley Campground, about 10 minutes north of Cremona on the west side of highway #22.

https://albertacampsites.com/moreinfo.php?campgrounds_id=139&name=Elkton%20Valley%20Campground

Just this past month while teaching an art class in Cremona, I discovered another musical event near Cremona. Get out your stompin” boots! You’re sure to love this amazing venue! It’s called The Windmill. This lively venue, situated in a converted barn near Dog Pound, hosts  a selection of grass roots acoustic musicians. Put your feet up, relax and enjoy a glass of wine or beer and enjoy the sounds of award winning artists! For upcoming show information or to buy tickets, click on the link below:

https://www.thewindmillshowroom.com/

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5.The Saskatoon Farm

Your travels to southern Alberta would not be complete without a visit to The Saskatoon Berry Farm! Situated on the bank where the Highwood and Sheepriver meet, is a picturesque farm brimming with all things local!  Take a stroll along the old fashioned street as you view a variety of annuals, perennials, and beautiful wood carvings. Inside the building there is a beautiful gift shop, restaurant with outdoor cafe and a bakery where you MUST get yourself one of their famous saskatoon pies! The farm has a seasonal market with local organic vegetables as well as u-pick berry picking. Bring your kids because there is ice cream, a delightful rabbit petting pen and an area that houses the biggest turtles I have ever seen!! 

I cannot do justice in my description of this amazing place! You simply must go there for a visit and see for yourself! Check out all their offerings on the link below:

https://www.saskatoonfarm.com/about-us

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There’s always something new to explore in Alberta’s small towns. Exploring these small communities has been a journey filled with delightful surprises and unforgettable experiences! Each destination has offered its own unique charm and warmth. I am profoundly grateful to be able to go to these places and inspire creativity! Every time I teach I realize that I emerge just as enriched, if not more so, by the creativity, culture and warmth of these charming places.

For further information about any of these communities visit Travel Alberta’s website:

https://www.travelalberta.com/