Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium

1415 14 Ave NW, Calgary, AB

The Government of Alberta owns the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (SAJA), and operates it in conjunction with the non-profit Alberta Jubilee Auditoria Society. Located in Calgary, this venue is twin sister to the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, which resides in Edmonton. Both opened in 1957, and in 2005, by way of celebrating Alberta’s 100th anniversary, both were re-opened to the public following renovations and updates (such as refurbished seats and improved acoustics).

Located next to the Alberta University of the Arts, the SAJA has close ties with Alberta’s creative community: in addition to promoting local theatre and performance art, the SAJA’s Lower Lobby features a rotating exhibition of visual art that showcases the work of Albertan creatives. 

As an old-school performance hall, fit for musicals, orchestras, and theatre, The SAJA offers a slightly alternative vibe compared to arena-style concert venues. It is a dignified and civil place - instead of a “General Admission-style” floor area, there is an orchestra pit; and in lieu of exposed rigging and nosebleed seats there are ample amounts of polished wood and pleasantly upholstered seats (all of which directly face the stage). These seats are arranged into three levels - the main floor plus the first and second balconies - and each level is broken up into four sections. The venue’s total capacity is 2,484; although if the Orchestra Pit is occupied by, well, an orchestra, then the capacity is reduced to 2,366. In addition, the Alcove Sweet - located on the first balcony level - has its own private bar and, during performances, can be booked by private parties for pre and/or post-show receptions. 

Despite having an atmosphere that’s more “high culture” than “rock ‘n’ roll,” the SAJA can still host a proper gig: the venue has an complex array of hanging lights, and is fully compatible with the special effects the band brings with them (such as pyrotechnics, props, hazers, projections, etc.). The SAJA’s speakers, all which come from Meyer Sound (a California-based audio company), consist of three main clusters on the main floor (one in the centre and two on the sides), a set of stage lip fill speakers, plus a set of delay speakers for the balconies. The subwoofer is comprised of six separate reinforcement loudspeakers. Plus, because the SAJA was designed and built as a place for the performing arts, the walls and ceiling are meant to facilitate the best possible acoustics - which means that, in theory, any seat in the house can get the most from the venue’s plethora of speakers. Clearly impressed with the SAJA’s sound, lighting, and overall atmosphere, TripAdvisor user Nick D writes that “the acoustics are great; the lighting set up is wonderful; and the seating is arranged so that every seat gets a good view. The interior with all the wood gives it such a warm feel” (2019).  

These are good qualities to have in a venue, especially when seeing acts such Alice Cooper, Collective Soul, Billy Idol, Barenaked Ladies, Weird Al, Heart, ZZ Top, Chris Cornell, Peter Frampton, Queens of the Stone Age, Jethro Tull, Marilyn Manson, and Johnny Cash - all of whom have played the SAJA over the years. 

But what if you want to play the SAJA yourself? If you’re in a band but you’re not on a high-budget world tour, the venue can be rented by anyone: you can play this venue in return for 10% of your gross ticket sales. If you’re interested in doing this, you’ll be happy to know that all the SAJA’s dressing rooms are equipped with mirrors, makeup lights, showers and toilets - plus, there’s a rehearsal room with its own kitchen area. When you’re on stage, the venue provides you with over 50 stage monitors and a top-notch mixing booth with equipment from DiGiCo. If necessary, the SAJA can loan equipment such as mics, smoke machines, and music stands.

Concerning practicality and accessibility, The SAJA’s webpage boasts that there are “two parking lots within walking distance of the building” - the North Surface Lot and the parkade next to the Alberta University of the Arts building. But that being said, certain TripAdviser users report that “it takes almost an hour to get in and the same to get out because of the poor layout” (from Edwin F). If you’re not driving in, Calgary Transit can take care of your logistical needs: the C-Train stop, for the northbound Tuscany line and the southbound Somerset/Bridlewood line, is located immediately behind the building at the AU Arts/Jubilee Station.