Shakespeare, Sci-Fi Night and Pumpkin Meccas: what's on in Calgary this weekend

The weather might be bonkers, but Calgary's cultural calendar keeps on chugging right along. There's lots of shows and festivals on the go this weekend. CBC's Tracy Fuller shared a few highlights on The Homestretch Thursday.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

University of Calgary

If Hamlet is your favourite Shakespearean character, Calgary's Shakespeare Company has programmed the season of your dreams. That's because their entire 2018-19 season is devoted to variations on the story of the legendarily broody Danish Prince who thinks aloud in rhyming couplets.

It launches (in a co-production with Alberta Theatre Projects and Hit & Myth Productions) with an absurdist, existential classic from Oscar winning writer Tom Stoppard: namely, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead!

This was once a film, way back in 1990, starring Oscar winner Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, in a hilarious romp through the fictional world of Hamlet, with cameos by all the bold faced Shakespearean characters, people like Hamlet, Polonius, Ophelia, Claudius and Gertrude, so brush up on Shakespeare's original.

In this one, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are childhood friends of Hamlet who get asked by Uncle Claudius to get to the bottom of what's ailing the Prince of Denmark, conveniently overlooking the fact that what's ailing him is that Claudius killed his father and is now sleeping with his mother.

All of this gets a new twist in this ATP/Shakespeare Company/Hit & Myth co-production, which features Julie Orton and Myla Southward, two of Calgary's finest actresses, in the lead roles.

Pumpkin Meccas

Benjamin Laird Photo

Have you bought a pumpkin yet, or is this the weekend to hit the patch? 

If you like a little more fanfare for your great pumpkin hunt than just rolling into the local Co-Op and plucking one out of a bin, here's the thing: Butterfield Acres, Cobb's Adventure Park and the Calgary Corn Maze have all transformed into Pumpkin Meccas.

With hay rides and kid-friendly activities galore, this figures to be a fantastic way to spend a sunny Saturday.

The Corn Maze is even hosting its Flashlight Nights, every weekend in October. That's where you try and make it through the maze in the dark.

Sci-Fi Night

Grant Linton/CBC News

The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory — who knew? — along the Cowboy Trail will have a whole host of fascinating speakers Saturday night discussing the topic, Ocean Worlds in the Solar System and Beyond.

You can hear Steve Vance, an astrobiologist and planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, who will talk about this research into oceans on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. He'll talk about NASA's plans to explore these moons and search for life.

Jessie Andjelic and Phillip Vandermey will present talks about how they tackle some of the challenges of living in space.

Of course, the real show will be overhead, in the sky: Cygnus the Swan will be overhead, lit by thousands of exoplanets.

It all kicks off at 8 p.m. and costs $30 per car.

Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival

Over 450 of the best local and international tattoo artists are gathering this weekend at BMO Centre, for the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival.

They've got a whole schedule of contests, from best sleeve (arm or leg), to Tattoo of the Day to Best Traditional to Best Bad Tattoo.

That last one happens Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

If tattoo art isn't quite your thing, right next door in the BMO Centre you'll find the best sample sale in town.

That would be the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival, which features samples of all sorts, from wine and whiskey to gourmet foods such as pulled pork sliders with pineapple, rolled ice cream, mini poké bowls,  and mini lobster rolls.

Canadian comedy icon

University of Calgary

CBC's own Steve Patterson, who hosts the popular and very funny Debaters show, gets out of the studio and up on stage this weekend.

He's in town for a single night, Sunday night at the Laugh Shop, at 7 p.m.

With files from The Homestretch