33 Calgary events that will get you in the Christmas spirit

Nov 22 2017, 4:18 am

It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year!

‘Tis the season to participate in a cookie exchange, indulge in sugary delights, help someone in need, and feel the joy that the holiday season brings.

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Gather together with your friends and family to celebrate yet another year slowly coming to an end as you drink cocoa, warm up by the fire, and enjoy the childhood nostalgia of all the Christmas decorations.

From spectacular twinkling lights to unreal Christmas performances, Calgary has a lot to offer when it comes to celebrating the holidays. Here are 33 things you won’t want to miss out on this year!

Get Outdoors

Winter ice skating at Olympic Plaza

  • What: Skate amidst the beauty of downtown Calgary at everyone’s favourite outdoor rink.
  • When: Monday, November 20 to mid-March
  • Time: weather dependent from 10 am to 9 pm
  • Where: Olympic Plaza – 228 8th Avenue SE
  • Cost: Free

Festive Wagon Rides


Horse-drawn carriage on Commercial Drive (Christmas on The Drive)

  • What: Spend the afternoon sipping on a mug of hot cocoa as you tour around Banff in a snowy wagon ride with Banff Trail Riders. Be sure to dress accordingly.
  • When: Every Sunday between November 19 to December 17
  • Time: Noon to 4 pm
  • Where: The wagon leaves from the parking lot of the Whyte Museum – 111 Bear St, Banff
  • Admission: Free!

Hit the Slopes

  • What: Getting snow early this year means that our mountainous backyard is waiting for us with a fluffy layer of the white stuff, perfect for winter sports and activities. Take advantage and get some shredding in during this great pre-season, or take your snowshoes for an adventure around one of the many picturesque lakes that the Rockies have to offer. Each hill also has a variety of Christmas themed activities happening throughout the holiday season, be sure to check the websites before heading up so you don’t miss the festivities.
  • Check the websites for Sunshine, Mount Norquay and Lake Louise to check hours of operation and see which trails are open!

The Great Sweater Run

  • What: Grab the ugliest of Christmas sweaters and get ready to run the Tacky 10 km, the Festive 5 km or the Shih zTu 2 km, all while supporting the Calgary Food Bank.
  • When: Saturday, November 25
  • Where: South Glenmore Park – 8415 24 Street SW & 90 Avenue, Calgary
  • Registration: Online

Santa Shuffle – Fun Run and Elf Walk 


Santa Shuffle (StockPhotosLV/ Shutterstock)

  • What: Grab the whole family and participate in this fun holiday-themed run/ walk to support the Salvation Army in their fight against poverty.
  • When: December 2
  • Time: 10 am
  • Where:  Eau Claire Market – 200 Barclay Parade SW
  • Register: Online, $70-$225

Christmas Concerts + Shows

A Christmas Carol

  • What: It’s not the Christmas season without Scrooge and this annual production of Dickens’ classic tale.
  • When: Thursday, November 23 to December 24
  • Time: 7:30 pm or 2 pm
  • Where: Theatre Calgary – 220 9 Avenue SE
  • Tickets: Online, $71-$135

The Barra MacNeils: An East Coast Christmas

  • What: This beautiful Christmas concert will be sure to blow you away with seasonal melodies, entertaining stories, lush harmonies, and classic favourites – done with a twist.
  • When: Saturday, November 25
  • Time 7:30 pm
  • Where: Eric Harvie Theatre – 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive, Banff
  • Tickets: Online, Adult $25, Senior/ Student $30

The Nutcracker

  • What: For many, Clara and her Nutcracker bring back a warm childhood nostalgia as they brave the evil army of mice and dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Set to the motion of Tchaikovsky’s timeless music in an authentic Russian setting, this classic will have the whole family following along in awe.
  • When: December 15 to 17 and 21 to 24
  • Where: Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium – 1415 14 Avenue NW
  • Tickets: Ticketmaster, $25-$125

A Charlie Brown Christmas



  • What: Learn the meaning of Christmas with Charlie Brown and the gang!
  • When: November 17 to December 17
  • Where: Vertigo Theatre – 115 9 Avenue SE
  • Tickets: Online, $28.35

Christmas Markets + Shopping

Black Friday on the Ave

  • What: There are some great savings to be had all along the Avenue. A good excuse to begin your holiday shopping, perhaps?
  • When: Friday, November 24
  • Where: Various businesses along 17th Avenue SW

Spruce Meadows International Christmas Market

  • What: With over 300+ vendors, Spruce Meadows evokes a magical world of Christmas at Reindeer Alley, Candy Cane Lane, Founders Plaza, Twin Peaks, and so many more!
  • When: Friday, November 24 to Sunday, November 26
  • Time:
    • Friday: 10 am – 8 pm
    • Saturday: 10 am – 7 pm
    • Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm
  • Where: 18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW
  • Tickets: Online, $12 (save $2 when you buy online)

Little Modern Market: Holiday Edition

  • What: Get started on your holiday shopping at this exciting market featuring all of your favourite local vendors, makers, and artists.
  • When: Saturday,  November 25
  • Time: 9:30 am to 3:30 pm
  • Where: Rally Pointe – 11511 35th Street SE
  • Admission: $5 entry

Calgary Expo Holiday Market

  • What: Get in the holiday spirit at this Christmas extravaganza. Stroll through the Nerdy Wonderland consisting of comic book vendors, toy dealers, collectible retailers, and so much more. Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick will even be making an appearance.
  • When: Saturday, November 25 to Sunday, November 26
  • Time: 9 am to 5 pm
  • Where: BMO Centre, Halls B and C – 20 Roundup Way SW
  • Tickets: Online, $10

The Little Vegan Holiday Market

  • What: The market is free admission, and has a full line-up of vegan-friendly businesses selling their products – whether you’re purchasing as a gift or for yourself, no one’s judging.
  • When: Saturday, November 25
  • Time: 11 am to 4 pm
  • Where: cSpace Projects – 1721 29th Avenue SW
  • Admission: Free

Banff Christmas Market


Christmas Market (Iakov Filimonov / Shutterstock)

  • What: Head to Banff for a unique holiday shopping experience, featuring goods inspired by the Rocky Mountains.
  • When: Friday, November 24 to 26
  • Time:
    • Friday from 10 am – 8 pm
    • Saturday from 10 am –  6 pm
    • Sunday from 10 am – 4 pm
  • Where: Warner Stables – 1 Sundance Road, Banff
  • Tickets: $5 Adults, Children 10 and under are FREE

Curated. Holiday Market

  • What: Shop over 85 different vendors for four weekends leading up to the Christmas season. Come get your photo with Santa, while enjoying live entertainment, childrens workshops and more!
  • When:
    • Market 1: November 24-26
    • Market 2: December 1-3
    • Market 3: December 8-10
    • Market 4: December 15-17
  • Time: Hours vary, check the schedule
  • Where: Deerfoot City – 901 64 Avenue NE
  • Tickets:$5

Market Collective Holiday Series 

  • What: Market Collective is back for another year of holiday market cheer for three weekends in a row. These markets make sticking to local gifts and goodies an easy task every year! #locallove
  • When: December 1-3, 8-10, 15-17
  • Where: The Yellow Warehouse – 1390 17 Avenue SE
  • Cost: $5

Greater Goods Month Long Pop-Ups

  • What: Come sip on a Lavender Earl Grey Tea Latte while shopping some of your favourite local artists and checking out the monthly rotating pop up at the shop!
  • Where: 606 Meredith Road NE
  • When:
    • November – Flannel Foxes
    • December – Co|Create Co.
  • Cost: Free

Christmas Light Displays



Courtesy Calgary Zoo

  • What:  The Zoolights at the Calgary Zoo never fail to amaze. Each year, this unforgettable winter tradition of fun activities and stunning lights warms the hearts of many. See the Calgary Zoo light up for seven weeks straight and help celebrate the 20th anniversary of everyone’s favourite holiday experience.
  • When: Friday, November 24 to January 6
  • Time: 6 to 9 pm
  • Where: The Calgary Zoo – 210 ST. Georges Drive NE, Calgary
  • Tickets: General (16+) $14.95, Child (3-15) – $11.95

CORE Shopping Centre Find Christmas Downtown 2017

  • What: Along with the 45-foot Christmas tree they’ll be erecting, the Find Christmas Downtown event on November 23 will feature a performance by country music singer Dan Davidson, a fireworks display, and 150 other Christmas trees that will be decorated and donated to families. All trees will remain on display until December 20.
  • When: Thursday, November 23
  • Time: 6 pm
  • Where: CORE Shopping Centre – 324 8th Avenue SW, Calgary
  • Admission: FREE!

Calgary Christmas Market – One the Table, Under the Tree

  • What: Indulge in local treats, shop for unique holiday gems, and enjoy the seasonal ambiance of the Calgary Farmers Market as they continue their annual holiday tradition.
  • When: November 16 to December 23
  • Time: Thursday to Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm
  • Where: The Calgary Farmers Market – 510 77 Avenue SW
  • Admission: FREE

Lion’s Festival of Lights


Lions Festival of Lights/Facebook

  • What: This festival of lights is the largest drive-by Christmas lights event in Calgary (and it’s free!). With over 300,000 lights and opening fireworks to start the celebration, this is a light show you won’t want to miss.
  • When: Saturday, December 2 to Monday, January 8
  • Time: Opening day 5 pm, then 6 pm to midnight daily
  • Where: Confederation Park – 14th Street NW, north of 24th Avenue, Calgary
  • Admission: Free!

Christmas Lights at Spruce Meadows

  • What: This two-kilometer drive through in Spruce Meadows is lit up so festively that it’s undeniably special for anybody to see. Also free, this Christmas lights event will leave you feeling as though Christmas day is just one sleep away.
  • When: Saturday, December 9 to Sunday, January 7
  • Time: 5 to 10 pm
  • Where: Spruce Meadows – 18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW
  • Admission: $10 per carload

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train

  • What: The Canadian Holiday train will pass by looking like a scene straight out of any Christmas movie ever, and will be presenting a boxcar stage, musical performances, and an important contribution to the local food bank. This is a Calgary light event you surely won’t want to miss out on.
  • When: Saturday, December 9,  2017
  • Where: Anderson C-Train Station – South C-train parking lot
  • Time: 6:45 to 7:45 pm
  • Price: Free! Bring non-perishable donations to support your local food bank.

Food and Drink Festivities

Canadian Maple Shack: Make your own Maple Taffy


CandyTown maple taffy/Britney Gill Photography

  • What: Eating maple taffy on snow is a Canadian culinary tradition and you can pour your own tire sur la neige at the Calgary Christmas Market!
  • When: Thursday to Sunday from November 16 to December 23 with the exception of November 23 to 26.
  • Time: 10 am to 3 pm
  • Where: Calgary Farmers Market – 510 77 Avenue SE, Calgary
  • Admission: Free

Try Ollia’s new “Holiday Collection”

  • What: There is nothing better than biting into a Candy Cane, Turtles, Mulled Cranberry, Tiramisu, or Eggnog flavoured macaron during the Holiday season.
  • Where: Ollia Macaron and Tea – 810C 16 Avenue SW

Greater Goods 2nd Annual Sip and Shop

  • What: Enjoy a free hot chocolate and Christmas treats by Pretty Sweet as you peruse the shop for unique, local holiday gems for everyone on your list. Inspired Findings will also be doing an exciting pop up with her beautiful wooden signs that you won’t want to miss!
  • When: Saturday, December 9
  • Time: 11 am to 9 pm
  • Where: Greater Goods Boutique and Tea Bar – 606 Meredith Road NE
  • Admission: FREE

Happy Chicken Dinner at The Nash + Notable

  • What: Looking for an easy alternative for an impromptu holiday family meal? The Nash and Notable Restaurant are offering a Happy Chicken Dinner, which includes a wood roasted whole chicken, veggies, and all the fixings!
  • Where: The Nash – 925 11 Street SE

Festivals and Events

Dinner + A Movie at Heritage Park

  • What: Holiday date night just got turned up a notch!
  • Where: Gasoline Alley – 1900 Heritage Drive SW, Calgary
  • When:
    • Friday, November 24 – Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
    • Wednesday, December 6 – A Christmas Story
    • Wednesday, December 13 – A Christmas Carol (1951)
    • Wednesday, December 20 – White Christmas
  • Time: 7:45 pm
  • Tickets: Online, $44.95 + GST per person (includes dinner + film), $8 (Film only)

Northern Lights Window Exhibition


Northern Reflections Window Exhibition: First Snow (Buds of Buds)

  • What: Downtown Calgary shop windows will be getting a makeover this December, and it’ll be more than just a bit of paint. Using an Augmented Reality enabled app on your phone, you’ll be able to interact and experience each painted window destination, that will reflect various Christmas stories and memories of local artists. Don’t forget to vote for your favourite window through the app!
  • When: Friday, December 1 to Sunday, December 31
  • Where: In and around Calgary’s downtown core
  • Admission: Free!

The 31 Annual High River Santa Claus Parade

  • What: A town favourite, this annual event returns to celebrate 150 years of Canadian Christmas. Be sure to not miss George Lane Park light up, performances on the Calgary Stampede Stage, carolling, hot chocolate, and other family-friendly activities.
  • When: Friday, December 1
  • Time: 6:30 pm
  • Where: High River, Alberta
  • Admission: FREE

The Brick Teddy Bear Toss 

  • What: See the Calgary Hitmen play the Moose Jaw Warriors and bring a teddy bear to participate in this world-famous toss. In recent years they have collected over 300,000 stuffed toys that have gone to local groups and community partners. Let’s make an effort to beat that this year!
  • When: Sunday, December 10
  • Time: 2 pm
  • Tickets: Online, $13 Kids and $20 Adults

Once Upon a Christmas at Heritage Park 

  • What: Decorate gingerbread cookies, get vintage photos taken, visit the alpaca’s, paint snow, enjoy a wagon ride, and sing Christmas carols as you experience Christmas from years gone by. You can also find some unique Holiday treasures as you peruse The Corner Emporium, Plaza Mercantile, Antiques and Collectables, Switzer’s Grocery & Confectionery and the Toy Shoppe.
  • When: November 25 to December 17, 22 and 23
  • Time: 9:30 am – 4 pm
  • Where: Heritage Park – 1900 Heritage Drive SW, Calgary
  • Admission:
    • General (16+) – $10.95
    • Senior (65+) – $8.75
    • Youth (7 – 15) – $6.95
    • Child (3 – 6) – $5.65
    • 2 & under – Free
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Kristy ArchibaldKristy Archibald

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