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Pop-up event activates historic downtown Calgary firehall

Calgary’s cold Saturday afternoon was thematically appropriate for one last winter-season event, even if it was past the Spring equinox.

A downtown focused pop-up took place at Historic Firehall No. 1. Visitors had an opportunity to take in live music, peruse a half-dozen vintage vendors, and even have some free hot chocolate as part of the ongoing bring a mug festival.

Calgarians also had a chance to connect with Next Calgary. The UCalgary group was on hand to solicit engagement from Calgarians for some summertime tactical urban planning.

“It’s really great to be able to bring through like local vendors, musicians and just do something for the Calgary neighbourhood,” said Alice Lam, one of the organizers for the event.

The fire hall has remained tenant-less since 2019 when Budget Rent-a-car moved out of their lease at the location. The City of Calgary and the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation transformed the space in 2021, by adding a fire ladder inspired pergola and space for outdoor performances.

Winter city funding for start of Spring

Funding for the event came from the Parks Foundation. The City of Calgary lent the space to the group for the afternoon. Other participants were the Bear Clan Patrol, Downtown Core Association, and volunteers from Good Neighbour.

“The funding was for winter so we were like we have to do it now,” laughed Lam.

“But also we wanted to show Calgarians that you can still have fun in the wintertime, even if it’s cold. There’s a way to get out there and activate your neighbourhoods,” she said.

The pop-up event was also designed to be accessible to first-time entrepreneurs. Lam said that unlike larger festivals that come with higher table renting costs, Saturday’s pop-up had minimal barriers for vendors to participate.

She said that part of this was to allow the vendors to grow. Some would then be a position where they could do bigger festivals in the future.

As for future pop-ups, Lam said that any plans for the spring and summer would be available through Good Neighbour Market and Volleyapp. Proposed ideas have included pop-up events for low-income seniors living in housing near the Historic Fire Hall. And to engage other under served groups in the Downtown Core.

“We’ve gotten a lot of support from the City and the neighbourhood, and so if today all goes well and everybody has fun, we would love to do it again,” said Lam.