20 free things to do in Calgary this winter

Dec 17 2019, 8:00 am

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Lots of fun and free events happening in Calgary this winter! From New Year’s Eve to Ice Magic Festival, here are 20 free things to do in and around the city this season.

For more things happening around town, check out our events section.

Explore the city and great outdoors

Calgary Nativity Pageant

What: The annual Calgary Nativity Pageant tells the traditional story with live actors and animals as well as outdoor lighting and sound. Each performance is 13 minutes long and begins every 20 minutes from 7 to 9 pm.

When: Now until December 24, 2019
Time: 7 to 9 pm
Where: Marina next to Heritage Park
Admission: Free

Rotary Festival of the Trees

What: The Canmore Rotary Club celebrate its 10th annual Festival of the Trees. Stroll through tree decorated by local organizations, wreaths and gingerbread alley, and vote for your favourite one. There will also be other festive activities happening in order to raise funds for the many programs and services that the Rotary Club of Canmore supports.

When: Now until December 31, 2019
Time: Various times
Where: Canmore Civic Center – 902 7th Avenue, Canmore
Admission: Free

Northern Reflections: A Winter Window Exhibition

What: Buds Collective has teamed local businesses with Calgary artists and animators for a unique and immersive art experience unlike any other. Find and enjoy six murals through the AUGLE app. Then use AUGLE to see the animation through Augmented Reality.

When: Now to December 31, 2019
Time: Various times
Where: Various locations in Calgary’s downtown core
Admission: Free

Open Mic Night at Crafted Burgers & Beer

What: Crafted Burgers & Beer welcome musicians, comedians, and singers every Monday for an open mic night.

When: Every Monday until December 30, 2019
Time: 7 to 10 pm
Where: Crafted Burgers & Beer – 3975 17 Ave SW, Calgary
Admission: Free

Scotiabank Backbeat presents: New Year’s Eve Family Bash at Studio Bell

What: Ring in an early New Year with the family at a New Year’s Eve party at Studio Bell. There will be a games room, family sing-a-long, and crafts to enjoy, plus an 8 pm countdown for everyone to enjoy.

All activities within the first floor are free, and anyone hoping to check out all that Studio Bell has to offer — with interactive activities, Canadian Music Hall of Fame memorabilia, and new exhibits — will be able to do so for $10.

When: December 31, 2019
Time: 5 to 9 pm
Where: Studio Bell — 850 4th Street SE, Calgary
Admission: First floor is free, rest of the building is $10 admission

City of Calgary New Year’s Eve Fireworks

What: Enjoy a fireworks display from Calgary Tower to ring in the new year at midnight.

When: December 31, 2019
Time: Midnight
Where: Calgary Tower
Admission: Free

New Year’s Eve Family Party at Central Library

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New Central Library (chelseadaily.co/Instagram)

What: Central Library New Year’s Eve party will include live performances, games, activities, games, and holiday dance party for the whole family

When: December 31, 2019
Time: 12 to 4 pm
Where: New Central Library — 802 3rd Street SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

Winter ice skating at Olympic Plaza

What: Built in 1988 for the Olympic Winter Games, Olympic Plaza has the only refrigerated outdoor ice surface in the city. You can rent skates down at the plaza if you don’t have a pair of your own. Helmets are strongly encouraged.

When: Open daily until mid-March (check status)
Time: 6 am to 11 pm
Where: Olympic Plaza – 228 8th Avenue SE, Calgary
Admission: Free. Skates are also available to rent

Free First Thursday at Glenbow Museum

What: Explore the Glenbow Museum at your leisure for FREE on the first Thursday of every month.

When: The first Thursday of every month – January 2, February 6, March 5, 2020
Time: 5 pm to close
Where: Glenbow Museum – 130 9th Avenue SE
Admission: Free

Christmas Lights at Spruce Meadows

December 24

Spruce Meadows / Facebook

What: Drive or walk through Spruce Meadows this holiday season to enjoy over 90 kilometres of lights sparkling with over 305,000 individual light bulbs.

When: Now until January 5, 2020 (closed Christmas Day)
Time: 5 to 10 pm
Where: Spruce Meadows – 18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW, Calgary
Admission: Free

Ice Magic Festival Banff 2020

january 26

Ice Magic Festival (Banff Tourism)

What: Running 12 days from January 15 to 26, the Ice Magic Festival hosts teams in a competition to create the most stunningly shiny work of frozen art. The artwork will then be on display until the end of the festival on January 26, accompanied by live DJs and nighttime lighting displays. Snowshoeing, skiing, ice skating, and sleigh riding could also fill your days – while you aren’t sitting cozily by the fire, that is – as Banff is home to many great wintertime activities.

Tickets are required to visit the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise lakeside Competition Carving Site during peak periods. Ice Magic is free to attend from Monday to Friday, and on weekends before 10 am or after 5:30 pm.

When: January 15 until January 26, 2020
Time: Times vary, check schedule for details
Where: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – 111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise
Tickets: Online, free to attend from Monday to Friday, and on weekends before 10 am or after 5:30 pm.

Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society’s 2nd Annual Indigenous Art Exhibition

What: Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society’s second annual Indigenous Art Exhibition is being showcased at a number of venues around Calgary this winter. The exhibition features work from 17 artists.

When: Now until January 18, 2020
Time: Various times
Address: Calgary Central Library — 800 3 Street SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

Esker Foundation

What: Esker Foundation connects the public to contemporary art through relevant, accessible, and educational exhibitions, programs, and publications. The gallery reflects on current developments in local, regional, and international culture; creates opportunities for public dialogue; and supports the production of groundbreaking new work, ideas, and research. Admission is free. The gallery is barrier-free.

When: Open Tuesdays to Sundays. Closed Mondays
Time: Various times
Where: Esker Foundation – 4th Floor – 1011 9th Ave SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

Roasterie Tour – Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters

coffee favourite coffee

Coffee/Shutterstock

What: This 20-minute tour gives attendees a look at Phil & Sebastian’s vintage retro-fitted roaster and operations, plus learn about their green coffee sourcing strategies.

When: Every Wednesday
Time: 12:15 to 12:35 pm
Where: Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters – 618 Confluence Way Southeast, Calgary
Tickets: Online, Free

Free Brewery Tours at Red Bison Brewery

What: The tour starts off with an explanation of Red Bison’s name and why founder Steve started the brewery. Attendees will then see the homebrew system Steve used to brew beer on the balcony of his downtown Calgary condo, and talk about malt and how each of the flavours impact the recipes. After this, it’s a walk through the processes for the brew day and the fermentation process. Once the tour is complete, guests will be able to buy flights to try out beer and the kitchen is also open.

When: Every Sunday
Time: 1 pm
Where: Red Bison Brewery – 111, 3016 10 Ave NE, Calgary
Tickets: Online, Free

Eat fresh at farmers’ markets

Farmers and Makers’ Market at cSPACE

farmers’ markets

Maram/Shutterstock

What: Check out 60 local farms, food-makers, bakers, brewers, distillers, and artisan vendors, food trucks, live music, kids arts and cultural activities, and more every Saturday at the Farmers and Makers’ Market at cSPACE.

When: Every Saturday, year-round
Time: 10 am to 1 pm (Now until to May 2020)
Where: cSPACE King Edward – 1721 29th Avenue SW, Calgary
Admission: Free

Calgary Farmers’ Market

What: Explore over 80 vendors supplying customers with fresh local produce, meat, poultry, international food, organic goods, jewellery, art, and more. Whether it’s the arrival of fresh produce or fun events, there’s always something happening at the market.

When: Open year-round from Thursday to Sunday
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Address: 510 77 Ave SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

Granary Road Public Market

What: Granary Road Public Market is open year-round and offers fresh produce, artisan cheeses, pizza, tacos, handcrafted home goods, and more.

When: Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Time: 9:30 am to 5 pm
Where: Granary Road Market — 226066 112 Street West, Foothills No. 31
Admission: Free

Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Market

What: Grab your weekly haul of delicious produce, eggs, baked goods, meats, preserves, florals, and more, all grown and produced on farms right here in Alberta. You can enjoy live entertainment and other fun activities happening at this quaint community farmers’ market. The market will go on rain or shine, so come prepared.

When: Every Wednesday
Time: 3 to 7 pm
Where: 1320 5th Avenue NW, Calgary
Admission: Free

Crossroads Market

What: Enjoy farm-fresh produce and tasty treats plus lots of unique finds from the large variety of vendors.

When: Fridays to Sundays
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Where: Crossroads Market – 1235 26 Avenue SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

The Mercantile at Symons Valley Ranch

What: The Mercantile at Symons Valley Ranch features over 35 vendors under one roof over one counter. Crafts, food vendors, and more.

When: Fridays to Sundays
Time: 10 am to 6 pm (Fridays), 10 am to 5 pm (Saturday to Sunday)
Where: Symons Valley Ranch – 14555 Symons Valley Road, Calgary
Admission: Free

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