On a visit to Portland, Oregon, a few years ago, I found myself engaging in all kinds of nerdy activities and, it being Portland, I usually had a locally made craft beer in hand. They had adult-only nights at the science museum, with beer. Talks from scientists on nerdy subjects (the one I went to was all about parasites), with beer. Arcades even served beer. It was a nerdy paradise and I’m pleased to report that Edmonton is catching on to the fact that grown-ups want to to do nerdy things and, when possible, we want to do it with alcohol. In time for Valentine’s Day, here are five nerdy events and activities perfect for sweethearts or groups of friends. All but one can be enjoyed with a drink in hand.
“Where the science is served on the rocks and the adults come out to play”
Held once a month on Thursdays, Dark Matters is your chance to explore the Telus World of Science without competing with hordes of children. Each month is based on a theme: this month is horror and sci-fi, with a short-film festival running in the IMAX theatre. There will be drinks, entertainment and plenty of science demonstrations to satisfy your thirst for knowledge. This month you can also see the Indiana Jones exhibit, for an additional charge. Tickets cost extra at the door so think about getting them in advance.
“Be there and be square”
If you’re interested in listening to passionate experts wax on about soil, bees, dinosaurs, witches, or other completely random topics while you sip a glass of wine, then Nerd Nite is for you. These are just a few of the topics that I’ve seen at Nerd Nite, which usually takes place in the elegant Club Cabaret in the Citadel Theatre. Interaction with the hosts and the speakers is encouraged, and there is often a trivia component with prizes to be won. Since these events usually sell out, I would recommend getting on their mailing list to ensure you can get tickets as soon as they go on sale.
Next event: Almost any night
Have you always wanted to try painting but feel intimidated by traditional art classes? Paint Nite is an easy way to try it out in the company of friends and with the social lubricant of your choice. A local artist guides the group step by step through the creation of an acrylic painting — you can see what you’ll be making when you register. Though there are events happening almost every night at various bars around town they sell out really fast, so get your tickets well in advance.
Part of a new phenomenon of live escape rooms, Breakout gives you the chance to put your puzzle-solving skills to good use. You book one of the four themed rooms with a group of up to six people and get 45 minutes to try to find your way out, with the option of getting two clues from the staff. The themed rooms currently include a spooky murder scene, a secret passageway in the Louvre, a laboratory threatening the release of a deadly virus, and a ship with a bomb about to explode. These themes change so check the website for details, and book ahead as space is limited. Read Crystal’s first-person experience of trying to “breakout” of one of the life-size puzzles.
Board Game Cafes
There are currently two ultra-nerdy cafes for you to choose from: Table Top on 75th Street, and Hexagon on Whyte Ave. Both have a vast assortment of games — we’re talking hundreds — that could keep you busy for months. Both charge a nominal fee for playing, serve light food, are licensed, and have games for sale if you really fall for something. Read more about Table Top in Robyn’s article.