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The festive season is in full swing, and there are plenty of things to do in Calgary this week to get you in the holiday spirit.
Leading up to the big day on December 25, you can visit an indoor holiday light display, get into Canada’s National Music Centre for free, ride on Aspen Crossing’s Polar Express train, catch traditional holiday performances of The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol, check out a digital immersion gallery, and much more.
Here are 20 of the best things to do in and around Calgary this week.
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What: The Nutcracker, a much-loved holiday tradition put on annually in the province by the Alberta Ballet, is returning to Calgary in 2021 after a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic. The timeless classic runs on select dates from December 10 to 24 at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, bringing all of your favourite characters back to YYC, from Clara and Drosselmeyer to the Mouse King.
When: December 10 to 24
Time: Varies by date; check ticket availability for details
Where: Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (1415 14th Avenue NW, Calgary)
Cost: Available now from $62 and up
What: So you’ve got all your holiday shopping done, but the gifts aren’t wrapped yet? If you’re running a little short on time this season, have someone do the wrapping for you – for a good cause! Cystic Fibrosis Canada’s signature “Wrapping for a Cure” initiative has returned to Southcentre Mall, and volunteers will be providing gift-wrapping services for shoppers in exchange for donations through December 24.
When: December 15 to 24
Time: 11 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday, 10:30 am to 6 pm on Saturday, and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday
Where: Southcentre Mall’s upper level, by the food court (100 Anderson Road SE, Calgary)
Cost: By donation
What: For more than 50 years, The Sound of Music has been delighting audiences all over the globe, and the show will return to the StoryBook Theatre stage for another visit this holiday season. Watch the journey of the Von Trapp family and listen to classics like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “My Favourite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” In-person tickets have already sold out, but you can catch the show virtually from December 10 to 30.
When: December 10 to 30
Time: Various times available; check schedule for more details
Where: Streamed online from wherever you are
Cost: $30 per streaming device
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 season.
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
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)
What: Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, celebrates its five-year anniversary with free admission through the rest of the year. Take advantage of the final month of this offer, and check out new and updated exhibits, catch instrument show-and-tells, and delve into the history of iconic Canadian musicians.
When: December 18 to 31
Time: December 18, and 19 from 10 am to 5 pm, December 20 to 24 from 11 am to 3 pm, and December 26 to 31 from 11 am to 3 pm. The museum will be closed on December 25 and January 1
Where: Studio Bell (850 4th Street SE, Calgary)
Cost: Free; reserve your tickets online now
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)
What: Want to enjoy delicious baked goods while supporting a good cause? The Southcentre Mall Cookie Kitchen returns this year in support of Meals on Wheels, with treats made by the local bakery, Bakeri by Jess. Stop by the Cookie Kitchen to decorate a cookie in exchange for a donation to Meals on Wheels, and help the organization reach its $16,000 fundraising goal. Decorate your cookie onsite or take a decorating kit home.
When: November 12 to December 24
Time: Monday to Saturday from 9:45 am to 8 pm, Sundays from 10:45 am to 6 pm
Where: Located on the mall’s main level across from RW&Co, Southcentre Mall (100 Anderson Road SE, Calgary)
Cost: Cookie kits are purchased with a suggested donation of $2 each
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
What: Shop fine crafts and artwork by over 100 talented vendors and pick up holiday gifts for your loved ones (or yourself) at the Leighton Art Centre’s Christmas in the Country event. Beautiful decorations, gorgeous art, and the home’s historic ambiance combine to make visiting the centre a perfectly festive activity.
Prefer to shop from the comfort of your own home? Starting November 6, you can shop vendors online 24/7 at shop.leightoncentre.org.
When: Tuesday through Sunday from November 6 to December 22
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Leighton Art Centre (282027 144th Street West, Millarville)
Cost: Free parking and admission by donation; varies by purchase
What: Pursuit’s latest experience, Nightrise, combines multimedia, storytelling, and nature at the Banff Gondola for an immersive, multi-sensory journey like no other. The event will bring light and sound together to share a new and inspiring perspective in the heart of the Rockies. At Sulphur Mountain’s peak, guests can explore the many levels of the summit building and enjoy Rockies-inspired eats and drinks. Outside on the viewing decks, guests will discover wonders that only emerge as the night begins to rise.
When: December 2, 2021, to March 12, 2022
Time: Gondola upload time slots between 5:10 and 8:10 pm
Where: Banff Gondola (100 Mountain Avenue, Banff)
Tickets: Starting at $56 for adults
Find Christmas Downtown celebrations at the CORE Shopping Centre
What: Downtown Calgary’s CORE Shopping Centre will feature a variety of festive events and activations this season. Highlights include live musical performances, a 45-foot Christmas tree, photo ops with Santa, and a 24-day countdown calendar of giveaways on Instagram. The CORE will also bring back its stunning 1959 GMC vintage truck, creating a sought-after Instagrammable backdrop for Calgary shoppers.
When: November 26 to December 31
Time: The shopping centre is open 11 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 pm on Sundays
Where: The CORE Shopping Centre – second level glass bridge (324 8th Avenue SW, Calgary)
Cost: The CORE’s holiday celebrations are free to partake in; however, the shopping centre is collecting monetary donations and items on behalf of The Mustard Seed
What: Fort Calgary has launched Otipemisiwak, an exhibition of contemporary visual art, to celebrate Métis Week (November 14 to 20) and remaining on display until June 2022. The exhibit showcases recent works by , a visual artist and plant scientist, using a photo-based technique that mirrors spectacular traditional Métis beading.
When: November 19, 2021, to June 26, 2022
Time: Fort Calgary hours (currently 11 am to 6 pm Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
Where: Fort Calgary (750 9th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: $10 for general admission to Fort Calgary, or free for youth age 17 and under and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit community members
What: Beyond Van Gogh has extended its immersive exhibit in Calgary for a final time, giving you one last chance to “Gogh” check it out before the end of the year. Get up close and personal with Van Gogh’s work through larger-than-life projections of his paintings. To round out this experience of the senses, the exhibit is accompanied by the artist’s own words, set to a symphonic score.
When: On now until December 31
Time: Varies by day; timed reservations available online
Where: The BMO Centre on Stampede Park (20 Roundup Way SE)
Tickets: Starting at $33.99 for adults, available now
Visit Santa at Southcentre’s Enchanted Forest
What: Book a visit with Santa for a physically distanced photo at Southcentre Mall’s Enchanted Forest from November 13 to December 24. A special North Pole mailbox will also be available for children to send their holiday wish lists and letters to Mr. Claus. It’s important to note that to ensure physical distancing all visits with Santa must be booked in advance.
Additionally, from Monday to Saturday between November 13 and December 24, children with sensory sensitivities and mobility issues can experience the magic of visiting Santa from 9:30 to 10 am in a sensory-friendly environment. These visits must also be booked in advance.
Want your furry friend to get in on the festive fun too? From Monday to Saturday between November 13 and December 24, owners are invited to bring their pets to experience a “Paws with Claus” for a pre-booked photo opportunity with Santa from 8 to 9 pm.
When: November 13 to December 24
Time: 10 am to 8 pm
Where: Southcentre Mall (100 Anderson Road SE, Calgary)
Cost: Photo prices starting at $7
What: This holiday season, Alberta Theatre Projects invites families back to their playhouse with the reimagining of a nostalgic classic. In Wonderland is based on Lewis Carroll’s beloved novels and features three artists portraying all the familiar characters. The play follows a young girl navigating the topsy-turvy world of social interactions and skirting the edges of adulthood.
When: November 23 to December 26
Time: Varies by performance; find available dates and times here
Where: Proscenium Stage, Martha Cohen Theatre (215 8th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: Tickets available from $25
What: A Calgary favourite, ZOOLIGHTS transforms the zoo into a magical winter wonderland. Check out this event for all the family-friendly fun and Christmas vibes 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
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
What: Get taken back to the Summer of ’69 in this show inspired by the popular Bryan Adams song. Watch and listen to the story of peace, love, long hair, and music that would change the world, and enjoy a delicious meal alongside your entertainment at Jubilations Dinner Theatre.
When: October 23, 2021, to January 8, 2022
Time: Varies by date
Where: Jubilations Dinner Theatre (1002 37th Street SW, Calgary)
Cost: Starting at $69.95 for adults
What: East Village is bringing snuggly vibes to Calgary with the return of its popular Hygge Hut this winter. The Scandinavian-style seasonal pop-up opened this past weekend in a new location, and it’s bigger and better than ever this year. Visitors will find the Hygge Hut in C-Square, at 4th Street and 7th Avenue SE with fire pits to warm up by, food trucks, live music, ice sculptures, and games, along with a jam-packed schedule of other community programming.
When: November 12, 2021, to March 2022
Time: Fires lit on Fridays from 2 to 7 pm and Saturdays, Sundays, and stat holidays from noon to 6 pm (weather permitting)
Where: C-Square (4th Street and 7th Avenue SE, Calgary)
Cost: FREE community programming