Here’s What’s Popping Up in Calgary

Pop-up events seem to be all-the craze right now and the success of these events is really due to two simple ingredients: social media and available public space. 

With online shopping making retail space less of a necessity, many businesses have turned to pop-ups to reclaim their customers. Pop-ups are temporary events that create buzz and excitement around something that is here today and gone tomorrow. With only a few tweets, a like on Facebook and maybe an Instagram or two, customers and on-lookers can help create a crowd in an otherwise quiet part of town. Besides creating hype around retail, these events are also credited with adding vibrancy to otherwise lacklustre communities or public spaces. Pop-ups have been prevalent in the cities like New York and San Francisco for quite some time and the recession only made this trend more accessible. Foreclosures and abandoned buildings are in no short supply in many major U.S. cities, and those forgotten spaces make the perfect place to set up quickly with no real overhead.

Calgary has been hit by the whole cultural phenomenon of pop-ups in the last few years and there is no indication of the trend losing momentum. It began with pop-up markets, pop-up stores like Vintage Affair and of course the food trucks. In 2010, food trucks were introduced to the city in an effort to promote food culture, sustainability and champion local restaurants. Several years later, food trucks dominate the food scene. Calgary’s downtown at lunch hour has a food truck on every corner with line-ups around the block for some of the more popular trucks. Before 12pm hits, many office workers are already on Twitter to see where their favourite trucks are stationed for the day. (@yycfoodtrucks). 

In July, Calgary celebrated its first Diner en Blanc, a classy pop-up dinner that originated in Paris some 25 years ago and has since spread to major cities all over the world. Calgary’s very first event featured 1400 locals converging on Calgary’s Memorial Park in organized chaos, each participant with picnic baskets, chairs and tables in hand. As passersby looked on in awe, the well-dressed crowd set up their dining area next to other party-goers, many of whom were complete strangers.

Considering that Calgary was underwater less than two weeks prior to Diner en Blanc, this really was a magnificent feat and went on to be a huge success. Despite the weather not cooperating, the party went on through a rainstorm. Dinner guests were all smiles as they shared their wine with new friends and enjoyed the fabulous food prepared by Boxwood. Rumor has it that Diner en Blanc will be double the size next year, seeing as the waitlist was over 4000 people for the inaugural edition.

The latest pop-up is part of the pop-up park pilot (say that three times really fast).

The project is set to takeover the north side of Calgary’s downtown in August 2013  in an effort to revitalize the somewhat struggling and often forgotten north side of downtown. The community and the city of Calgary will be chipping in on benches, chairs, tables and planted pots to make the space more comfortable for pedestrian traffic. For more information on the pilot program, click here.


Image Courtesy Of Best Calgary Homes