Celebrate the season on a budget! From Rotary Festival of Trees to New Year’s Eve, here are 16 FREE events to check out in Calgary this December.
For more things happening around town check out our events section.
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- Western Canada's biggest outdoor Christmas light walk returns in December
Explore the city
What: The University of Calgary Students’ Union has put together a whole host of events to help students reduce stress. Pet Therapy, yoga, cookie decorating and more.
When: Monday, December 3 to Friday, December 7, 2018
- SU Spa Day: Monday, 11 am to 1 pm — MacHall Courtyard
- Pet Therapy: Monday 1:30 to 3 pm, Tuesday 2:30 to 4 pm, and Friday noon to 1:30 pm — That Empty Space
- Yoga: Tuesday and Thursday, 11:30 am to 2 pm — That Empty Space
- Terrarium Workshop: Wednesday, 11 am to 1 pm — MacHall Courtyard
- Workshop with Lucy Dunne: Wednesday, 1:30 to 3:30 pm — That Empty Space
- Cookie Decorating and Card Making: Thursday, 11 am to 1 pm — MacHall Courtyard
- “Are You Game?” Carnival: Friday, 11:30 am to 2 pm — MacHall North Courtyard
Where: University of Calgary – 2500 University Dr NW, Calgary
What: Explore the Glenbow at your leisure for FREE on the first Thursday of every month. Check out current exhibitions including The Arctic: Real and Imagined Views from the Nineteenth Century, Cosmos: Gathie Falk, Margaret Nazon and Erik Olson, and more.
When: Thursday, December 6, 2018
Time: 5 pm to close
Where: Glenbow Museum – 130 9th Avenue SE
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 to mid-March 2019
Time: 10 am to 9 pm
Where: Olympic Plaza – 228 8th Avenue SE
Admission: Free. Skates are also available for rent
What: Hang out with a few of Art on 9th’s favourite art instructors for an informal discussion and hands-on activity that explores the basic elements of art and design.
When: Every Sunday to December 23, 2018
Time: 10 am to 12 pm
Where: Art On 9th – 1211 9 Ave SE, Calgary
What: The City of Calgary and the new Central Library are hosting a free New Year’s Eve celebration for the whole family. This year’s events will be at the Central Library, Olympic Plaza, and the Municipal Atrium at City Hall. We have something planned for everyone. There will be a variety of activities like skating, story time, a children’s dance party, and much more. New this year, the ‘Rec Room’ will be hosting fun games and activities that the whole family can enjoy. The Tim Horton’s Truck will be giving away free hot beverages at the Olympic Plaza skating party. There will also be an early indoor countdown for kids that will begin at 9 p.m. in the Central Library.
When: Monday, December 31, 2018
Time: To Be Announced
Where: Central Library, Olympic Plaza, and the Municipal Atrium at City Hall
Christmas Events and Holiday Lights
What: Join the Canmore Rotary Club as they celebrate their annual Festival of the Trees. Stroll through beautiful trees, decorated by local organizations and vote for your favourite one, while gaining inspiration for your own tree back at home. There will also be lots of fun festive activities happening in order to raise funds for the many programs and services that the Rotary Club of Canmore supports.
When: Friday, November 30 to Monday, December 31, 2018
Time: Various times for the various events
Where: Canmore Civic Center – 902 7th Avenue, Canmore
What: Christmas in Kensington invites Calgarians to spread Christmas joy throughout the neighbourhood. Keep an eye out for Santa Claus and explore the community on The Annex Kensington sleigh ride while sipping on warm hot chocolate or coffee generously provided by Starbucks and Adam Helps Finish off the afternoon with a Christmas movie by donation at 3:30 p.m. at The Plaza Theatre.
When: Every Saturday from December 1 to December 22, 2018
Time: Doors open at 3 pm and the movie starts at 3:30 pm
Where: Plaza Theatre – 1133 Kensington Road NW
Admission: Free. Film by donation
What: The Lions Festival of Lights is back for their 32nd year to brighten up Calgary’s 14th Street NW with over 450,000 shining lights. The display is put together by volunteers who spend thousands of hours creating the shining assortment of Christmas figures and decked-out trees. This year’s festival is now 99% green as it is created using LED bulbs connected by nearly three kilometres of power cords.
When: Saturday, December 1, 2018, to Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Time: Opening day 5 pm, then 6 pm to midnight daily
Where: Confederation Park – 14th Street NW, north of 24th Avenue, Calgary
What: The annual Airdrie Festival of Lights is set to illuminate more than a million Christmas lights in Nose Creek Park again, starting December 1. There will be miniature train rides available for $2 and two handcrafted fire pits to gather around. Much needed cups of hot chocolate will also be $2. Santa will also pay a few visits to the park during the festival. The festival is run by volunteers, with entry by donation. All proceeds go to the Airdrie and District Hospice Society and their Tree Of Hope Campaign. At the festival, the Tree of Hope will be illuminated every night in memory of loved ones who have passed and greetings of hope will be left for those suffering.
When: Saturday, December 1 to Monday, December 31, 2018
Time: 6 to 9 pm
Where: Nose Creek Park – 1701 Main Street S, Airdrie
Admission: By cash donation; parking is free
What: The 20th edition of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train brings holiday cheer to 164 communities and collect donations for local food banks. Each stop features live entertainment, music, and festive activities.
When: Saturday, December 8, 2018
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.
What: The third-annual Find Christmas Downtown at the CORE Shopping Centre decorates and provides Christmas trees to local families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. Corporations, non-profit organizations, and media partners will come together to decorate 150 trees throughout the space, and the trees will remain at the mall for the holiday season until December 19. After that, they will be delivered to local families in need across the city. The CORE is also hosting a free Santa photo session from now until Christmas. Monetary donations, toys, and gifts are appreciated and will go towards The Magic of Christmas charity.
When: Now to Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Time: 4 pm to 7 pm
Where: 324 8th Avenue SW, Calgary
What: Inspired by quirky office Christmas parties, the halls are decked with kitschy Christmas decor. Guests are encouraged to dress in their most festive gear as they sip on seasonal cocktails, so take this opportunity to dig out your most cringe-worthy Christmas sweater and reindeer head-gear. The over-the-top atmosphere, which will be hosted at Proof Cocktail Bar, will have even the biggest Grinch feeling goofy. Whether you choose the classy Christmaspolitan or the decadent Run Run Rudolf as your drink of choice, this bar is sure to bring the holliest and jolliest of times.
When: Now to Sunday, December 23, 2018
Time: 4 pm to 1 am daily
Where: Proof Cocktail Bar – 1302 1st Street SW