11 free things to do this holiday season

Dec 14 2016, 5:01 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Kristy Archibald

The Holiday are such a fun time of year and it’s easy to get carried away in the merry moment! However, between shopping for gifts, Christmas parties and all of the festivities happening around the city, your credit card bill might be a hard pill to swallow when it arrives in January – if you aren’t careful of course.

This year more than ever, and rightfully so, Calgarian’s are being much more cautious with their money and thinking twice before making extravagant purchases and binging on luxuries they would have never thought twice about in previous years.

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So grab your friends, family, boss, physiotherapist, nail lady, coach and anyone else that is looking for some good ol’ classic Christmas fun and check out these 11 different holiday activities happening this month.

Rotary Festival of the Trees

Image: Christmas Tree / Shutterstock

Image: Christmas Tree / Shutterstock

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 favorite 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.

Where: Canmore Civic Center – 902 7th Avenue, Canmore
When: December 2 to 31

Outdoor Skating

There is nothing more holiday-esque than grabbing some hot chocolate and your skates, and taking a spin on an ODR. Head down to Olympic Plaza and listen to Christmas tunes while being surrounded by our beautiful city center. If you feeling a bit more ambitious and you are up for the drive, take a day trip up to Lake Louise and spend sometime in the Rocky Mountains while skating in a picturesque winter wonderland. It was named the World’s Best Skating Rink in 2014 for a reason!

Where: All around Calgary
Cost: FREE

Kensington Movie Series

What: Grab your movie date and catch your favourite Holiday flick on the sliver screen during Christmas in Kensington. Dream of spending the Holidays in the UK or in the warmth of LA, while you feel all the feels at “The Holiday” playing December 17 or check out the 90’s Christmas classic, ‘Home Alone’ playing on December 24.

Where: Plaza Theatre – 1133 Kensington Road NW
Time: Doors open at 3pm and movie starts at 3:30pm
When: Every Saturday between December 3 and 24
Cost: FREE

Christmas in Kensington

Head down to Kensington for a day of holiday activities that they whole family will enjoy. There will be old fashioned wagon rides, carolers, selfies with Santa and opportunities to snag some last minute holiday deals at local shops and boutiques. Also, be sure to look your best on December 17 , as there will be a variety of fashion photographers roaming the streets looking to capture the best holiday looks throughout the day.

When: Every Saturday between November 26 to December 24
Where: Kensington
Cost: FREE

Volunteer at a local Charity

What: If there’s one thing Calgary is known for is it’s close-knit community! Lend a hand to a charity in need and spread some of that magical Christmas cheer throughout our city this holiday season. Here are a few initiatives that are currently looking for volunteers this month:

  • December Hampers – Calgary Food Bank
  • Salvation Army Christmas Program – Salvation Army
  • Adopt-a- family – Salvation Army
  • Teen Christmas Totes – JR League of Calgary
  • Christmas Meal Delivery – Calgary Meals on Wheels
  • Magic of Christmas Assistance Program – The magic of Christmas
  • Birthday and Christmas Gift Program for Seniors – Seniors Secret Service

When: throughout the Christmas season
Cost: FREE

Check out the Best Holiday Light Displays in YYC

Make some hot chocolate and venture out on an adventure to explore the many light shows that brighten up our city during the Holiday season. Drive by over 105,000 beautifully arranged lights along 14th Street at the Lions Festival of Lights or stroll down Stephan Avenue and bask in the beauty of our city’s holiday décor. You an also check out the Calgary Christmas Lights Map Marker and listen to holiday music as you drive around to the many light shows local Calgarian’s have set up at their homes.

Where: Calgary and surrounding areas
Cost: FREE

Host an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

Get the gang together and celebrate the holidays dressed in tacky sweaters, while drinking cheap wine and eating delicious homemade Christmas goodies! To save you both time and money make it a potluck, so there will be lots of food to go around – and the leftovers are a bonus. After the food is consumed and your bellies are full, you can play board games, do a $5 gift exchange or just hang out and chat. The main thing is that you are spending quality time together making wonderful memories, rather than spending money on gifts that no one can really afford.

Winter Hike

Bundle up and head out into the mountains for an afternoon and experience some unreal frosty views. If you are looking to go on a stroll that isn’t too hard, but is still serene then check out Grotto Canyon, Troll Falls or Johnston’s Canyon. If you are looking for something a bit more intense grab your snowshoes and head to a more challenging trail. A cheaper option could be just adding icepicks to your hiking shoes to ensure you make it up and down in one piece.

Where: Grotto Canyon, Troll Falls and Johnston’s Canyon

Remax Skate with Santa

Bring your skates and a donation to the food bank, and hangout with Santa for an afternoon and show him that you truly do deserve to be on the nice list. If you bring him a cookie and some warm milk that probably wouldn’t hurt either! Kidding – but only slightly!

Where: Canmore Nordic Centre – 1988 Olympic Way, Canmore
When: December 22, 2016
Cost: FREE with a donation to the food bank – includes skate rentals

Netflix and Chill – Holiday Version

With the subarctic temperatures that Calgary has been getting lately, it’s no wonder that most people are more interested in staying in. Make hot chocolate and Grinch Popcorn, a festive salty sweet alternative to the regular butter option, and settle in with your special someone while binge watching all of your favourite holiday classics.

Where: The comforts of your warm cozy home!
Cost: a Netflix subscription

Go Tobogganing

Head to one of the many city-maintained hills and enjoy this old-time winter classic just as many generations have before you. Don’t forget your helmet!

Where: Around Calgary at City-maintained hills
When: Weather dependent – check listings before heading out.

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