May 21

Behind-the-Scenes at the Calgary Tower

by Janice Grey · 2 comments

Located at 101- 9th Ave SW, the Calgary Tower offers panoramic views and fine dining high above the city. If you’ve ever zipped to the top in the high-speed elevator or taken a spin in the restaurant, you know what I mean. However, have you heard about their behind-the-scenes tour? 

This guided tour is offered exclusively through Travelzoo and showcases nooks and crannies of the Tower not normally accessible to the public. Not only are you privy to these areas, but your guide shares a wealth of knowledge on their background and historical significance. Whether you are a tourist or a long-time Calgarian, you will discover something new about the city. For example, were you aware that the chimes you hear echoing downtown at noon were once played live on a Carillon gifted to Calgary by the Dutch? It was subsequently replaced with a digital carillon.

First up on the tour is the now defunct CPR train station. If you use your imagination, you can envision the passengers bustling about as they impatiently wait for the train. Next is a visit to the actual base of the Tower, followed by a short stair climb to the “bat cave” on the third level. This is the space between the outer walls of the Tower and the elevator shaft and is one of the coolest spaces ever. At the bottom, industrial lamps cast an eerie glow and if you gaze upwards, the elevator shaft seems to mysteriously disappear into the darkness.

The guide then escorts you to the elevator for your 62 second ride to the observation deck where you are whisked through a secret door (not really, that just sounds cool - but it is a locked door). After a steep ladder climb, you are even closer to the top and in the mechanical room or “penthouse”. This room functions as the heart of the Tower and is also where the iconic flame gets set ablaze. You will never get closer to the flame than this! Concluding back on the observation deck, your guide identifies a variety of landmarks in the city complete with their historical significance.

Now, has all of that exploration and education left you hungry and thirsty? Head to Sky360, which is the revolving restaurant atop the Tower. The restaurant completes one revolution per hour at dinner and every 45 minutes at lunch time. (Helpful hint – do not place your precious belongings on the window sill as you will get separated from them!). Reservation information and hours can be found on their website.

If you are scouring your Travelzoo e-mails for this tour but come up empty-handed, do not despair! The Calgary Tower offers guided group tours, which can be booked through a contact on their website. These tours, although not behind-the-scenes, are chock-full of Calgary history. Alternatively, wander at your leisure and learn the history at your own pace. Oh, and don’t forget to take a walk on the glass floor!

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