36 FREE things to do in Calgary this December

Nov 28 2019, 11:55 am

No need to blow your budget this holiday season! Get festive with our list of 36 FREE things to in and around Calgary this December, including Cineplex Community Day, Lion’s Festival of Lighta, and more!

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

Explore the city

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 fall and winter. The exhibition features work from 17 artists.

When: December 2, 2019 to January 18, 2020
Time: Various times
Address: Calgary Central Library — 800 3 Street SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

Who’s in the Hall Wednesdays

What: Enjoy a free night at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. For the first time, the hall will be opening their doors on the first Wednesday of every month featuring free admission, cash bar, fun interactives, and a speakers series.

When: The first Wednesday of every month — December 4, 2019
Times: 5 to 9 pm
Where: Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame — 169 Canada Olympic Road SW, Calgary
Admission: Free

Cineplex Community Day

movie day

Cineplex Odeon/Shutterstock

What: Cineplex wants you to treat yourself to a free movie day on December 7. For the ninth consecutive year, Cineplex Community Day will treat guests to a selection of popular movies. All proceeds from donations and select concession sales will go toward supporting the Boys and Girls Club of Canada. Popcorn, drinks, and select candy will be available to purchase at $2.50, a reduced price. Film this year include: A Christmas Story, Elf, Gremlins, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Polar Express.

When: December 7, 2019
Time: Doors open at 9 am
Where: Participating theatres across Canada
Price: Movies are free, concession snacks at $2.50

Monthly Open House at AVRO Museum

What: Learn more about Avro Canada and its contributions to Canada’s aviation and aerospace legacy, plus see the latest progress on the Arrow II project. There will be a flight simulator on-site, used in AVRO’s design and testing, which will be open for the public to take for a spin.

When: The second Sunday of every month — December 8, 2019
Time: 12 to 3 pm
Where: AVRO Museum — 229 Avro Lane, Calgary
Admission: Free, small donation required for flight simulator to help maintain operation

Bingo at The Mustard Seed

What: Enjoy an hour of Bingo at The Mustard Seed for a chance to win prizes.

When: December 9, 2019
Time: 1 to 2 pm
Where: The Mustard Seed Neighbour Centre — 6060 Memorial Drive, NE Calgary
Admission: Free

Print(ed) Word Salon Series

What: Print(ed) Word is a collection of 12 handmade artist books now on permanent display at Calgary’s Central Library. Each month, a different team of authors and artists present a talk on their process of collaboration.

When: December 10, 2019
Time: 7 to 8 pm
Where: Central Library — Level 4 — Simons-Harvie Community Reading Room — 800 3 Street SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

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

Winter ice skating at Olympic Plaza

november 24

Skating at Olympic Plaza (@danielaislas/Instagram)

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
Time: 10 am to 9 pm
Where: Olympic Plaza – 228 8th Avenue SE, Calgary
Admission: Free, skates are also available to rent

Protospace Open House

What: Check out Protospace’s open house every Tuesday from 7 to 9 pm. Furniture, bikes, robots, electronics — no matter what your jam is, you can make it here.

When: Every Tuesday
Time: 7 to 9 pm
Where: Protospace – Bays 110 and 108, 1530 27 Avenue NE, 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 until Sundays. Closed Mondays
Time: 11 am to 6 pm (until 8 pm on Fridays)
Where: Esker Foundation – 4th Floor – 1011 9th Avenue SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

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 — December 5, 2019
Time: 5 pm to close
Where: Glenbow Museum – 130 9th Avenue SE
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 Avenue SW, Calgary
Admission: Free

Roasterie Tour – Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters

What: This 20-minute tour gives attendees a look at Phil & Sebastian’s vintage retro-fitted roaster and operations. You can also 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 his hear 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 fermentation. 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 Avenue NE, Calgary
Tickets: Online, free

Holiday events and markets

Lion’s Festival of Lights 2019

week

Lions Festival of Lights/Facebook

What: The Lions Festival of Lights is back for their 33rd year to brighten up Calgary’s 14th Street NW with over 500,000 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: November 30, 2019 until January 8, 2020
Time: Opening day at 5 pm, then 6 pm to midnight daily
Where: Confederation Park – 14th Street NW, north of 24th Avenue, Calgary
Admission: Free

High River Santa Claus Parade

What: The 33rd annual High River Santa Claus Parade features the George Lane Park light up, live performances on the Stampede Stage, carolling, photos with Santa, and more.

When: December 6, 2019
Time: 5 to 8:30 pm
Where: Various locations in High River. Interactive Map here
Admission: Free

Granary Road Christmas Market

What: Granary Road Christmas Market’s features festive fun each weekend in December leading up to Christmas. Get your photo taken with an alpaca, enjoy holiday treats, visit Santa’s workshop for holiday activities, shop for your Christmas list, and more.

When: December 6, 7, and 8, December 13, 14, 20, 21, and 22, 2019
Time: 9:30 am to 5 pm. Various times for activities
Where: Granary Road Market — 226066 112 Street West, Foothills No. 31
Admission: Free

Holiday Skate Pop-Up Roller Rink at New Horizon Mall

What: New Horizon Mall, Calgary Roller Skate and Alien In-Line present an afternoon of skating on December 7. The whole family is invited to groove to some great tunes under a disco ball, and glide over 10,000 sq. ft. of skating space. Admission is free, and guests can bring their own skates or rent a pair of quad or inline skates for $10. Bring donations for the Airdrie Food Bank and receive free stickers. Note that signed waivers will be required to skate

When: December 7, 2019
Time: 12 to 4 pm
Where: New Horizon Mall — 260300 Writing Creek Crescent, Rocky View County
Admission: Free, skate rentals are $10 (quad and inline skate rentals available) or guests can bring their own

East Balzac Craft Market

What: New Horizon Mall and Century Downs present a weekend of unique craft vendors and free entertainment at the East Balzac Craft Market. Enjoy live music, visits with Santa, sleigh rides, and more.

When: December 7 and 8, 2019
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Where: New Horizon Mall – 260300 Writing Creek Cresent
Rocky View County
Admission: Free

Century Downs Christmas Market

What: Make your way to the new tent barns at Century Downs for a traditional Weihnachtsmarkt, some mulled wine, and traditional German street food. Attendees can also shop from a variety of local artisan products and fun craft vendors.

When: December 7 and December 8, 2019
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Where: Century Downs Racetrack and Casino – 260 Century Downs Drive, Rocky View Country
Admission: Free

A Whyte Christmas – Open House

What: Whyte Museum hosts its annual open house event, A Whyte Christmas. Attendees will enjoy crafts, carols, cookies, a storytime, and a visit with Santa. Part of Banff Gallery Hop.

When: December 7, 2019
Time: 1 to 4 pm
Where: Whyte Museum – 111 Bear Street, Banff
Admission: Free

Pet Christmas Costume Contest & Fundraiser at New Horizon Mall

What: New Horizon Mall hosts a Pet Christmas Costume Contest and Fundraiser for ARTS Animal Rescue. Dress up your dog in a costume for a chance to win prizes, and also receive a free digital picture with your pet and Santa from 1 to 3 pm. Register in person New Horizon Mall on December 8 with all proceeds donated to ARTS Senior Animal Rescue.

When: December 8, 2019
Time: Registration, 10 to 11 am; pageant and judging, 11:15 am to 12:15 pm, free digital photos with Santa, 1 to 3 pm
Where: New Horizon Mall — 260300 Writing Creek Crescent, Rocky View County
Admission: Registration fee $20 with all proceeds going to ARTS Senior Animal Rescue. Digital photos with Santa are free

CP Holiday Train Calgary

christmas train

CP Holiday Train

What: The 21st edition of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will travel across Canada this holiday season and will be making its annual stops in Alberta this December. Bring non-perishable donations to support your local food bank, and enjoy live performances by Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo (Calgary) and Terri Clark and Dallas Smith (Okotoks, Blackie, Vulcan, Lethbridge)

When: December 8 (Calgary), December 10 (Okotoks, Blackie, Vulcan, Lethbridge), 2019
Time: Calgary between 5:45 to 6:45 pm, Okotoks between 12 to 12:45 pm, Blackie between 1:35 to 2:15 pm, Vulcan between 3:15 to 4 pm, and Lethbridge between 7 to 7:45 pm
Where: Calgary – Anderson C-Train Station; Okotoks – Along Dagget Street between Northridge Drive and Veterans; Blackie – Across from Post Office at 1201 Railway Avenue; Vulcan – CP crossing at 1st Avenue and 2nd Street; Lethbridge – 2nd Avenue North and 12th Street, behind Save On Foods
Admission: Free

Christmas Lights at Spruce Meadows

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

When: December 8, 2019 until January 5, 2020 (closed Christmas Day)
Time: 5 to 10 pm
Where: Spruce Meadows – 18011 Spruce Meadows Way SW
Admission: Free

Children’s Christmas Party at New Horizon Mall

What: New Horizon Mall and Occasional Notes Candy Cane Kids Performance Group invites everyone to an afternoon Christmas party full of holiday fun and entertainment. The whole family can enjoy singing, dancing, and Christmas games on December 14.

When: December 14, 2019
Time: 1:30 to 2:30 pm
Where: New Horizon Mall – 260300 Writing Creek Crescent, Rocky View County
Admission: Free

Find Christmas Downtown 2019

What: The fourth annual Find Christmas Downtown event at the CORE Shopping Centre has corporations, non-profit organizations, and media partners coming together to decorate 150 trees throughout the space. The trees will remain at the mall for the holiday season until December 18. After that, they will be delivered to local families in need across the city.

When: Now until December 18, 2019
Time: Mall hours
Where: The CORE Shopping Centre — 324 8th Avenue SW, Calgary
Admission: Free

Calgary Night Market: Holiday Market 2019

What: Shop over 40 local vendors with everything you need for your holiday gifting. There will be crafts, baked goods, and bath and body items on sale, plus live entertainment and a DJ to keep the party going.

When: Every Friday until December 20, 2019
Time: 5 to 11 pm
Where: Eau Claire Market Centre Court – 200 Barclay Parade SW
Admission: Free

Christmas Family Sing-A-Long at New Horizon Mall

What: Bring the whole family down to New Horizon Mall on December 21 for a Christmas Family Sing-A-Long with 2019 Canadian Entertainers of the Year, Dueling Piano Kings.

When: December 21, 2019
Time: 2 to 3 pm
Where: New Horizon Mall — 260300 Writing Creek Crescent, Rocky View County
Admission: Free

Calgary Christmas Market

holiday

Shutterstock

What: Calgary Christmas Market features favourite market and seasonal vendors, holiday gifts, homemade crafts and more. Attendees will also get a chance to visit with Santa, decorate cookies, have tea with Mrs. Claus, enjoy Grinchmas, and more.

When: Thursday to Sunday until December 23, 2019
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Where: Calgary Farmers’ Market – 510 77 Avenue SE, Calgary
Admission: Free

Christmas in Kensington

What: Celebrate the holidays every weekend in Kensington Village. The annual Christmas in Kensington includes free Horse and Wagon rides, visits and selfies with Santa Claus, decorated storefronts, and more.

When: November 30 and December 1, December 8 and December 9, December 15 and December 16, December 22 and December 23, 2019
Time: All Day
Where: Kensington Village
Admission: Free

Eat fresh at farmers’ markets

Farmers and Makers’ Market at cSPACE

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 3 pm (June to October 12, 2019), 10 am to 1 pm (October 19, 2019, 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, jewelry, 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 Avenue 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

farmers’ markets

Maram/Shutterstock

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