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December has officially arrived, and there are lots of festive things to do in Calgary to celebrate the Christmas season this year.
Revisit old holiday traditions, or make some new ones, with a wide variety of activities happening in the city this December.
Go skating in the heart of downtown Calgary, check out an indoor Christmas lights display, grab drinks at a Home Alone-themed brewery, and plenty more.
Here are 11 of the best things to do in Calgary this Christmas.
Go skating at Olympic Plaza
What: Olympic Plaza has officially opened for the season, welcoming skaters to take a spin around the outdoor rink in the heart of downtown Calgary. Round up your friends or family, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, bundle up, and head to Olympic Plaza for some classic Canadian fun.
When: Now open
Time: 10 am to 9 pm daily
Where: Olympic Plaza (228 8th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: Free; skate rentals available onsite during specific hours for a fee
Drive through the Christmas lights at Spruce Meadows
What: Stay cozy and warm in your car while getting in the festive spirit. Drive through stunning displays of Christmas lights at Spruce Meadows without having to set foot outside during Calgary’s chilly winter evenings.
When: Friday through Sunday from December 10, 2021, to January 2, 2022 (closed on Christmas Day)
Time: 5 to 10 pm
Where: Spruce Meadows (18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW, Calgary)
Grab drinks at a holiday pop-up bar
What: There are a number of bars in Calgary that have transformed into boozy Christmas destinations, with kitschy decor, themed cocktails, and a few fun surprises.
Ranging from a Home Alone-themed brewery to over-the-top festive cocktail bars, Calgary is in no short supply of spots to grab a Christmas beverage or two and get in the holiday spirit leading up to the big day on December 25.
When: Hours vary by location
Where: Check out our list of five holiday pop-up bars in Calgary this month
Enjoy the awe-inspiring spectacle of ZOOLIGHTS
What: A Calgary favourite, ZOOLIGHTS transforms the zoo into a magical winter wonderland. Check out this event for all the family-friendly fun from November 19 to January 2.
When: November 19, 2021, to January 2, 2022
Time: 5 to 9 pm
Where: Calgary Zoo (210 St. George’s Drive NW, Calgary)
Cost: $21.95 for general admission, $14.95 for children
Take a ride on Aspen Crossing’s Polar Express train
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What: Hop on the Polar Express train at Aspen Crossing and journey to the North Pole, complete with hot cocoa, cookies, and characters from the movie. As the journey begins, passengers will be entertained by a reading of The Polar Express, and once you get to the “North Pole,” you’ll be greeted by Santa himself, and each child will receive their own sleigh bell just like in the movie.
Where: Box 30, Mossleigh, Alberta (one kilometre west of Mossleigh on Highway #24)
When: Starting the last weekend of November and throughout December. For available dates and times, visit the website for details.
Cost: Available online now, starting at $66.67 per guest
Walk through the Lions’ Festival of Lights at Confederation Park
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What: Always a Northwest Calgary favourite, the Lions’ Festival of Lights illuminates Confederation Park throughout the season, making for a beautiful spot to walk on winter evenings or adding some joy to your commute as you drive along 14th Street NW.
When: November 27 to January 9
Time: 6 pm to midnight
Where: Confederation Park (14th Street and 24th Avenue NW)
Celebrate an old fashioned holiday at Heritage Park’s Once Upon a Christmas
What: Once Upon a Christmas at Heritage Park offers ten days of entertainment and activity full of old-fashioned Christmas charm. In addition to family favourites like the Kids Only Store and visits with Santa, this year’s event introduces the Roundhouse Christmas Market, featuring unique gift items from local artisans and vendors.
The event includes glimpses into historical celebrations of Chanukah, Christmas, Boxing Day and Hogmanay – a Scottish New Year tradition – through decorations of the Park’s historical homes, theatrical performances, radio plays, woodcarving demonstrations and roaming carolers. Plus, guests who reserve a family-friendly breakfast buffet at the Wainwright Hotel or Gunn’s Dairy Barn will receive a discount on admission.
When: Saturdays and Sundays from December 4 to 19, and daily from December 20 to 23
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Where: 1900 Heritage Drive SW, Calgary
Tickets: $19.95 for adults, $14.95 for children
Visit an indoor light display at TELUS Spark’s Sparkle Sparkle
What: TELUS Spark Science Centre is brightening up the holidays with Sparkle Sparkle, an incredible indoor light display boasting thousands of LED lights, all arranged to create a magical (and warm) winter experience and plenty of Instagram-worthy photo ops.
At 5:30 pm on select days between November 25 and January 2, the science centre transforms into a twinkling wonderland, featuring a glowing LED fire to “warm up” near a massive shimmering winter palace, and more.
When: Wednesday through Sunday from November 25 to December 19, daily from December 20 to January 2 (closed December 24, 25, and 31)
Time: 5:30 to 9:30 pm
Where: TELUS Spark Science Centre (220 St. George’s Drive NE, Calgary)
Tickets: $19 for adults, $13 for youth (ages three to 17)
Shop local at a holiday market
What: There are a number of holiday markets happening in and around Calgary this month, ranging from huge shopping and arts extravaganzas to neighbourhood events across the city. Take a drive to the Saskatoon Farm, celebrate the return of the beloved Market Collective, and more.
When: Various dates throughout December
Where: Check out our list of holiday markets and other Christmas events happening in Calgary this season
Watch Theatre Calgary’s A Christmas Carol
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What: A Christmas Carol is always a holiday classic, and you can carry on the tradition this year with Theatre Calgary’s performance of the iconic tale. Follow the journey of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future this Christmas.
When: November 30 to December 24 (or view it online from December 2 to 31)
Time: Varies by performance; see schedule for dates and times
Where: Max Bell Theatre, Arts Commons (205 8th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: Tickets starting at $48, or $30 per household for virtual access
Give Santa Claus your wish list
What: Christmas is fast approaching, and it might be time to have a chat with the big man himself. Whether you’re asking for world peace or just a few new pairs of socks this year, no one can grant wishes like Santa Claus. Santa will be popping at several malls, markets, and events in Calgary this season (how does he do it?!), so you have plenty of opportunities to track him down and give him your wish list.
When: Leading up to Christmas Eve on December 24; varies by location
Where: Check out our list of places to visit with Santa Claus