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It’s the first weekend of December, and the forecast is predicting a snowy one. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do in Calgary to keep us busy.
Whether you want to get outside or opt to stay cozy indoors, there are tons of activities going on to help you get in the festive spirit. And not to worry if you aren’t feeling the Christmas vibes yet: there’s a full roster of other events going on in YYC as well.
Check out a winter festival, visit an indoor Christmas light display, shop local at a holiday market, sample local brews against a mountain backdrop at the Banff Craft Beer Festival, and much, much more.
Here are 26 of the best things to do in and around Calgary this weekend.
What: Warm up to winter with University District’s annual outdoor festival on Sunday, December 5! Northwestival promises to be packed full of family-friendly holiday activities and all things that make the Northwest worth celebrating.
Free and token-based activities will include:
- Live music and entertainment featuring The Royal Foundry
- Winter workshops provided by Pinnovate DIY Studios
- Toasty fire pits and s’mores
- Hot drink and toppings station
- Frosty Memories photo booth, and more!
When: Sunday, December 5
Time: 1 to 6 pm
Where: Northwest Commons Park – free parking behind the Discovery Centre (4410 University Avenue NW, Calgary)
Cost: Admission by donation to a local charity I Can for Kids
What: Find the perfect handmade gift at the virtual Show + Sale Holiday Art Market, presented by Alberta University of the Arts Students’ Association (AUArts SA). Explore art as unique as you are at this online local holiday market showcasing @AlbertaUArts artists, designers, and craftspeople. Discover Calgary’s emerging artists, with all proceeds directly supporting local students.
When: Open for the holidays from November 27 through December 3
Time: Online anytime throughout the week
Where: Online at showandsale.ca
Cost: Varies by purchase
What: Support local and shop over 240 makers, bakers, growers, and small business shakers in the community at The Saskatoon Farm this December. The Christmas market takes place both indoors and outside, and you’ll find everything from savoury goods and house-made sweets to local candles and homewares to children’s items and Bonfires To Go.
When: December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Where: The Saskatoon Farm (#20 – 80181 338 Avenue E, Foothills County)
Cost: $7; advanced tickets required for entry
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: 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
View the Naughty… but Nice! Vaccin8! show
What: Naughty… but Nice! Vaccin8! is back with some new songs, a new cast, and a lot of your old favourites from years past. Stream the performance from the comfort of your own couch and experience the 2021 Rosie Award-winning show for yourself.
When: December 3 to 19
Time: 8 pm Wednesday through Sunday and at 2 pm on Saturdays
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, plus 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: It doesn’t get much better than sipping a cold brew against a mountain backdrop. Held partially outdoors, the Banff Craft Beer Festival allows you to sample delicious Alberta-made craft beer and spirits along the reconstructed and reimagined Bear Street, which now boasts a pedestrian plaza feel.
When: December 3, 4, 9, 10, and 11
Time: Varies by date; check event listing for details
Where: 212 Bear Street, Banff
Tickets: $29.99 for admission, additional cost for sample tokens
What: Featuring Coca-Cola Canada Bottling’s iconic, seasonally decorated truck, the company’s holiday tour is visiting communities coast to coast, and each stop will deliver the festive spirit and offer seasonal photo opportunities with the truck and Santa. The truck will be accompanied by local musical guests and entertainment and snow globe displays.
When: December 5
Time: 3 to 8 pm
Where: Heritage Park (1900 Heritage Drive SW, Calgary)
What: This holiday season, head to the Olympic Oval for a day of fun, family-friendly Olympic games, gingerbread, and, of course, Santa. Get in the festive spirit on the “fastest ice in the world,” and take part in five Olympic games, with a nod to the upcoming 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games. Santa will be onsite for photos, and there will also be a Reindeer Games Craft Station, Olympic Village Ice Cream, and more.
When: December 4
Time: 1 to 4 pm
Where: Olympic Oval (288 Collegiate Boulevard NW, Calgary)
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
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: Beyond Van Gogh has reopened its immersive exhibit in Calgary after a brief hiatus. Get up close and personal this month 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: October 23 to 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
What: This holiday market in the Killarney-Glengarry community will feature local vendors, kids crafts, photos with Santa, and plenty more fun for all ages.
When: December 4
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Where: 3214 28th Street SW, Calgary
Cost: Varies by purchase
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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: Head to Spruce Meadows for the final weekend of the International Christmas Market. The market features over 190 booths in Spruce Meadow’s Equi-Plex, Gallery on the Green Congress Hall, Horizons Pavilion, Twin Peaks Pavilion, and Courtyard. Shop tons of vendors, snack on some holiday goodies, take part in many, many photo ops, and enjoy limited, curated entertainment at the iconic Spruce Meadows event.
When: December 3 to 5
Time: 10 am to 6 pm
Where: Spruce Meadows
Admission: $12 for adults, $6 for children and seniors
What: A Calgary favourite, ZOOLIGHTS kicks off this month, transforming the zoo into a magical winter wonderland. Check out this event for all the family-friendly fun from November 19 to January, or get a sneak preview during an adults-only night on November 16.
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: Want to get cultured without leaving the house? Incredible works from the winners of this year’s BMO 1st Art! competition are available to view virtually from anywhere through the Art Museum at the University of Toronto. See national winner Anna Kuelken’s Father Like Son piece, along with works by 12 regional winners from across Canada.
When: November 16 to December 8
Where: View online virtually through the Art Museum at the University of Toronto
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
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
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
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What: One of Calgary’s favourite night markets is back with several holiday shopping events and live music this season. Inglewood Night Market’s holiday edition kicks off this weekend, hosting all of the locally sourced and handmade vendors you know and love, selling a wide variety of goods, from one-of-a-kind crafts to vintage clothing, antiques and collectibles, artisan eats, and much more.
When: December 3
Time: 4 to 11 pm
Where: South Bank Building (880 9th Street SE, Calgary)
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: Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, celebrates its five-year anniversary with free admission every weekend through the rest of the year. Check out new and updated exhibits, catch instrument show-and-tells, and delve into the history of iconic Canadian musicians. Reserve your tickets online now.
When: Weekends until the end of 2021
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Where: Studio Bell (850 4th Street SE, Calgary)
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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: 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